Authorities Against a Healthier Future
I recently read a shocking news story from my hometown of Vancouver, Canada. A local fruit stand has been forced to close downby the City of Vancouver because it has become too popular (i.e., because the citizens liked it too much). Entrepreneur Rob Smith and his team were just too good at selling high-quality fruits and vegetables, and people loved them too much. Not good! Stop the business said city officials.
The stand is too large, confirmed Tom Hammel, the city’s deputy chief licence inspector. He said Smith shares his vending licence with the corner grocer, and can only sell a volume of produce that matches what the shop owner could stock and sell.
“He could stay at that location,” Hammel said, “if he’s willing to scale it back.”
But why is this necessary? As a former Vancouverite, I’ll try to explain. Vancouver, as well as all of British Columbia, has a great many people who are concerned with health issues and the environment. This area of Canada is also particularly suitable for growing delicious fruits and vegetables (e.g., mild climate and abundant rainfall).
Even though large grocery chains, such as Whole Foods, Safeway, and Save on Foods, supply Vancouver with a wide variety of fresh local foods, there’s still a great demand for smaller services too. Farmers markets beyond the famous Granville Island are vital to people, and smaller stands like Mr. Smith’s are often quite convenient for people. Demand is increasing all the time!
Mr. Smith opened his stands to serve Vancouver by offering healthy and tasty food during the summer. People seem satisfied and keep coming back and spreading the word to their friends. This would be a good example of a free market economy, but apparently city officials don’t think so. Instead, they think Mr. Smith needs to close his business, and many people have been outraged.
The Vancouver Sun prints this quote from one of Mr. Smith’s regular customers, which puts everything into proper perspective.
“It’s not like they’re selling fake Rolexes: Let people sell fresh B.C. fruit.”
Whatever happened to the government serving the needs of the people? Isn’t this what they’re supposed to do? Shouldn’t the government want to do what the people want? As Abraham Lincoln said, “…government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
The city of Vancouver is not really a demon, of course, and it actually does a better job than many others cities do. And not all government officials do a bad job either, but such things happen far too often. In Finland, the government paid hundreds of thousands to pig farmers to create a healthier brand image for their (mass produced) meat. And, in the UK the government spends again million to buy “wellness” products from Mars, Kellogg’s, and many other industry giants.
I know the major companies contribute much more money to the politicians than small farmers do, but we need some common sense. Are officials not well educated? Perhaps they have never lived on a farm. I don’t know, but what has happened to Mr. Smith just isn’t right. Politicians don’t necessarily have to accelerate the implementation of healthier habits (even though this would be ideal), but they should not stop progress!
With extreme passion,