Letter to the Editor: Island businesses should support local farms
November 9, 2010 · 12:53 PM
In response to the letter about Thriftway’s tent sale event (“Thriftway shouldn’t undersell local farmers”), I must confide that I am a big fan of Thriftway. I have sold them vegetables at times, and many Islanders know that they give fair wholesale prices to local growers on occasion.
The issue is that many of us who grow for a business need to sell much of our crops at retail prices through farmers markets, farm stands or other arrangements. And under current economic conditions with stable fuel prices, Thriftway is able to reach far and wide and ship in large amounts of produce from far-off farms in Chile to California to east of the mountains. This suppresses demand for local produce, and therefore our capabilities for growing on Vashon are smaller then they would be.
The question is: What happens when conditions change? What happens when fuel prices spike again? The price of transportation and refrigeration spike with it!
We will be less resilient because we have a smaller farm base, hardly enough to supply 5 percent of the 30,000 or so meals needed each day to feed us here on the Island.
That is why we need to grow our farm base on Vashon. Local food production will help us weather financial or resource depletion storms that may be in our future. It is in all of our best interest to have a vibrant local food production industry that is close to where we live.
I encourage Islanders to support their local producers and encourage big players like Thriftway, IGA and the restaurants to shop locally and purchase local products when available. This builds our production capability and resilience. And if any of you are under-employed, I encourage you to join in the production, processing and distribution of local food here on Vashon. It’s a growth industry!
— Joe Yarkin