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Save money by supporting farmers

Readers' Letters
by: Christopher Onstott, John Emerson and Brenda Sparks find produce at Kruger's Farm Stand in St. Johns, where people on a tight budget can buy inexpensive, locally grown produce.

My experience agrees with the article 'Buying local has its price' (Sept. 23). In the Portland area it seems to have become chic to buy and say that you have bought at the farmers market.

The reasons I went were to support local farmers and get fresher produce. What I found was that the prices were sky high and I wasn't saving a penny - in fact, I was spending more than I did when I was shopping at Fred Meyer or Safeway.

Lucky for me, I worked outside Portland and by taking a few back roads found several farmers' stands along the roadway. I purchased the fresh produce (and eggs) that I wanted at a much cheaper price than either the grocery store or the farmers market, and I was still supporting my local farmers. Like many things, the farmers market in Portland (and Beaverton, for that matter) has evolved into something other than what many of us thought it was originally set up to be. Sad!

Michael C. Wagoner

Hillsboro

Frozen produce more nutritious

Actually, buying from a farmers market may not be the most nutritious - fuzzy feelings aside (Buying local has its price, Sept. 23).

Veggies begin to deteriorate right after picking. Depending on the time between farm and table, a lot of the benefits are lost. Frozen vegetables can be much healthier, as most are processed within hours of picking. For the freshest, either grow or pick it yourself.

Julie Woelfer

Northeast Portland

Markets serve business elite

I always assumed the farmers markets were pretty straight up about who they were serving - the major downtown ones are populated almost entirely by the downtown business and art set. You see lots of lawyers, bankers, people in ties. A lot of them would be shopping at New Seasons or Whole Foods anyhow, so the farmers market represents a comparable product and doesn't actually make for much additional expense.

The idea that boutique urban farmers markets were supposed to be competitive with Fred Meyer price-wise is just insane (Buying local has its price, Sept. 23). Of course you get better prices when you actually leave Portland and head out to stands on Sauvie Island or Hood River. The farmers market is basically New Seasons Mobile.

Aaron Knott

Southeast Portland

Command economy doesn't work

I would love to buy local, but the farmers markets have become elitist (Buying local has its price, Sept. 23).

When they spurn large local producers just because they're large, they are telling the public you can't buy local on a budget. They are also telling the public to participate in a command economy. If you want to buy local we will dictate the price you will pay by who we allow to participate - I think we all know how successful that was in the former Soviet Union.

Oh, and Mr. (Don) Kruger, please come to Southeast Portland. I'll be your first customer.

Jim Werner

Southeast Portland

Let's not give up on capitalism

I think you'll enjoy this 1845 essay by the French economist Frederik Bastiat, 'The Candlemaker's Petition,' in which he satirically petitions the government to require the French people to block their windows from free sunlight in order to enhance the domestic candle industry.

I sensed a 'we better do something quick or China will 'bury us' ' (to paraphrase Khrushchev) nature to your article (Fears of an early eclipse, Sept. 30). Relax! China cannot subsidize failing industries anymore than we can. If it requires subsidies, it's not sustainable.

The misallocation of our precious resources will prevent us from developing viable energy technologies. We couldn't make housing affordable through subsidies, and we won't make wind and solar viable either. It's called mercantilism. Trust the market - it gave us the wheel, candles, buggy whips, the horseless carriage, airplanes, cell phones and Skype. Computers aren't subsidized, and they're a thousand times cheaper than they were in 1980. Who'd a thunk it? IBM didn't!

My son is studying nanotechnology at university. I think they'll come up with lighter, stronger cars that can be powered with less fuel, or lighter stronger building materials that retain heat. Let's save our energy and capital for products that work without government intervention and 'expertise.'

If China is willing to give us 'free' solar panels, let's buy them. Let them subsidize our energy crisis while we do what we do best - innovate!

This 'fear' is killing us.

Stuart MacLean

Southwest Portland

Oregon joins race after it's over

Excellent article. Iberdrola Renewables' Don Furman: 'We invented this technology in the United States. We did nothing to support the industry. It went to Europe, and it's now spread to India and China' (Fears of an early eclipse, Sept. 30).

Rings true. I was a practicing attorney in the early 1980s and next door to me was a solar panel sales office. Nearly 30 years later, the U.S. stands to be an also-ran in solar panel manufacturing and sales. Nothing in between then and now seems to have made an impression on the country's leadership.

What does it take to spur leadership? It hasn't been the gas crises, nor the continuing prospect of depletion of fossil fuels, nor the recession, nor global warming, nor the ascent of China in the world's markets.

International trade is a national issue that must be solved nationally. There seems to be little that Oregon can do to compete with any country much less one the size of China. Maybe California. But arguably Oregon and Portland are betting on the wrong horse even when the race is over.

Frankly, even without China's competition, it is not clear that the solar and wind alternatives would produce the jobs claimed. One suspects that panic is setting in.

Larry Norton

Northwest Portland

People want lower prices

None of this surprises me. With all the regulations and high pay and the continued demand for an outrageous price for these (solar/wind) products, who can afford them in this downturned economy (Fears of an early eclipse, Sept. 30)?

Now is the time to drop the prices in a world where the U.S. believes in a healthy free market. The only reason anyone would complain is they are being undersold in their products. I have yet to find any store anywhere where everything is 100 percent U.S. made.

Look at the packaging and the products inside of the item you are buying: Nearly every company buys from a foreign company. They just do not tell you that their raw materials are foreign imports.

What do the people want - cheap prices or high prices?

Richard J. Melton

Scappoose