The Power of New York City's Farmers' Markets

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The scene at the Greenmarket at Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza.
In a populist sense, a farmers' market is like the gastronomic version of a town hall; citizens come to barter with other citizens, trading locally grown strawberries instead of talking points. Every day of the week, you can find one of these fine establishments in almost every borough. It is a trend of the Great Recession: swap the supermarket for the cheaper, more utilitarian alternative. And, according to a report just released by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, New York City is steamrolling this food upheaval forward as farmers' markets slowly take over public spaces.

The report states that there are now 138 farmers' markets in the Big Apple - a number that, statewide, has doubled to over 500 in the past decade. And this isn't just a metropolitan thing anymore: across the country, there are more than 7,000 farmers' markets operating daily; in 2000, there were about 2,000. Why such a spike?

"Farmers' markets boost local communities and promote a healthy and sustainable food system," DiNapoli said. "These markets enhance communities and the lives of those who live nearby."

So let's take a quote from Bill Clinton to answer that question: it's the economy, stupid.

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OWS Plants Seeds, Rides Bikes, Protests Corporations

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It is pretty lovely weather outside today -- which times well with Occupy Wall Street's latest action. We've seen how this winter, as mild as it has been, has created some problems for the Zuccotti Park activists.

But today, the sun is shining and OWS is gearing up to do sunshine-appropriate activities, like biking. And planting seeds! And visiting gardens!

Today is "Occupy Our Food Supply," a global day of action targeting corporations and food inequities. The idea originated in San Francisco and apparently over 60 OWS groups and advocacy organizations will be joining in the fun today.

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Organic Farmers Challenge Monsanto Patents in NY Court Hearing

A U.S. District Court hearing in downtown New York today could determine the eventual fate of several organic farmers from across the country, including some in upstate New York.

The hearing centered on a "pre-emptive" suit led by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGTA), against agricultural giant Monsanto. In it, OSGTA says it brought "this action to protect [farmers] from ever being accused of infringing patents on transgenic seed." Monsanto filed to dismiss the case, and today lawyers for both sides made their arguments in front of U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald.

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