Sunday, September 16, 2007

Local food for seniors

A cold and rainy Saturday couldn't stop me from spending some time down at the Regional Market in Syracuse. What a delight to see the incredible produce! And at such fabulous prices. A bundle of scallions - crisp, dark green tapers at least a foot long - cost a mere $1. A dozen ears of fresh-picked butter and sugar corn for $2. Red bell peppers, each the size of my doubled fists, for 50 cents each.

My favorite yogurt producer, Wake Robin Farm, was there! I discovered they sell milk, too. I saw Sundance Farm, too, from Marcellus, which was nice - I like to see stuff from my roots. Their heirloom tomatoes were irresistable!

But the best thing I found at the market wasn't food. It was opportunity.

Inside one of the sheds was a little table at which sat three women with a boatload of pamphlets from the New York State Senior Farmers Market Program. What's this, I asked? Turns out it's a program for people age 60 and over whose income is a certain level (it may also be open to families in the WIC program). What happens is once a person is accepted into the program, they are given a certain number of checks in the amount of $2 each that can be used at certain farmers' stands at local regional markets up to Nov. 15. The checks can only be used to buy locally grown foods (not honey, flowers, ornamental pumpkins or gourds, etc.).

I was delighted to learn of this program because so often, older people just don't have the money to buy good, wholesome food. And even though the program's been around for some 10 years or so, not everyone knows about this program - I was pretty sure my mom didn't. So I grabbed a pamphlet for her and brought it home to share with her later.

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