WASHINGTON– In a surprising turn of events, new financial data from the Federal Reserve brought jubilation to both Main Street and Wall Street yesterday as the economic picture for job growth, new business starts and overall household income improved markedly since last month. But financial analysts were bewildered about the source of this sudden economic rebound: farmers markets reopening for spring with fresh produce.
“The looming economic recession that kept Americans on the edge of their seats for the past months has been entirely and unexpectedly averted by an infusion of revenue generated at local farmers markets,” said a grinning Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, at an appearance with President Bush at a farmers market in suburban Reston, Virginia. “We should never have underestimated the economic prowess of public markets simply because of their small size, lack of business experience, or previously tiny share of the commodity system.
The outlook is even rosier for April and May, as farmer’s markets reopen in many states outside the Sun Belt. Concerns were raised by many economists about what happens late next fall when local farmers markets shut down at the end of harvest season, but Congress was busy all day yesterday drafting emergency legislation to construct thousands of indoor year-round public markets.
The Clinton-McCain-Obama Act, named for its chief sponsors, passed unanimously in both the House and Senate yesterday and was signed by President Bush in a special ceremony at Washington’s Eastern Market this morning. It appropriates more than $37 billion dollars to construct and manage indoor public markets in every county seat and community of more than 2500 people across America.
“Obviously, these sources of local food, public gathering places, and intra-neighborhood commerce are the engine that will drive the economy of the United States,” Bush said as several members of the White House press corps fainted in shock.
While this marks a sudden and fundamental shift in the Bush Administration’s policy, press secretary Dana Perino reminded reporters, “George Bush and Dick Cheney have always been true believers in market economics.”
“This administration may have devoted too much attention to large businesses in our first seven years,” Perino admitted. “But in our last ten months we will do everything possible to level the playing field by boosting small-scale farmers and enterprises that serve Americans right in their communities. Farmers markets are just the beginning. We also intend to boost small, independent neighborhood businesses.”
Economic analysts attribute this huge growth in farmers markets to consumers’ newfound interest in eating locally-sourced food, improving public health, boosting their local economies, creating community gathering places and supporting small, environmentally-friendly farmers everywhere.
“We must publicly acknowledge the new power of farmers markets in the U.S., and admit that we have so far missed the boat on what consumers want: healthy, locally-grown food,” said Alice Walton, daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. “We cannot stand in the way of progress. We plan to add organic farmers markets to each Wal-Mart store and will look into tearing up the parking lots to plant heirloom tomatoes.”
Interest in locally produced food is expected to grow substantially, fueled in part by a report to be released next week by the federal Centers for Disease Control that unearths long-buried research establishing clear links between eating locally and wildly prolonged human life expectancy.