Recently in the news there has been some comments from Galen Weston, the executive chairman of Loblaws, regarding Famers Markets- stating that they are “great, but one day they are going to kill someone.” I attend Farmers Markets selling produces and bread, soup, pies, etc., and I suppose I should be as outraged as everyone else is by his off the cuff remark, but I’m not. I actually almost-kinda agree with him.
In the province of New Brunswick, there was a licence designed for vendors who attend markets with items made from their home kitchens. (This isn’t a concern for us, as we have a commercial restaurant kitchen and have a host of other criteria to follow.) This licence, essentially, let the department of health know what you were up to- if there was ever an illness outbreak, they would have a starting point at the very least. Occasionally the DOH made an appointment to visit a household with this licence just to make suggestions and check things out. There was also a licence for not-for-profit groups, like churches and community centers. At one point, the government was trying to make it mandatory for every property with a licence to guarantee that there was a person who had a health and safety course on site when food preparation was in progress.
I have taken training, and still have to take health and safety courses- while I still find it mind-numbingly boring, it is a must. We are serving the public- all of us are. The restaurants. The vendors at market. The churches. The amount of risks that are around should be made aware to the people who can prevent it- it only makes sense to me.
After a certain amount of bruhaha, the goverment has removed all licences for not-for-profit and markets. The churches, ladies groups, rotary clubs, and market vendors claim that they can not afford to pay for licences, and take the courses that they proposed and still make money. One of the markets that we attend requires you to take a free health course from the DOH. It used to be that you had to take it every 2-3 years, this has changed to once. Forever.
When did we start going backwards? As far as I am concerned, if you can’t afford to shell out $25 to $40 for the licences for the market and not-for-profit licences and go to a FREE health course, maybe you should look at another way to make some cash. Just for information- we pay $225 a year for a licence, and $150 every 5 years for a condensed health course, I don’t believe this is even unreasonable when it comes to serving the public food…
People need to step up (and total kudos to those who do already!) and stop taking it as a personal attack, the government picking on the small guys or trying to make money off of the not-for-profit groups. However inapropriate it was, Galen Weston brought up a topic that nobody wants to address, and because of the source it’s even harder to swallow: a corporate guy from a corporate chain telling us, the artisans, that we are going to harm the people that we work to the bone for. Maybe we should be looking at why he said it, not that Galen Weston said something bad about our local markets.