The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 9 No. 5 - October 22, 2008

BUSINESS

Inaugural run for AMI organic produce co-op

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/LAURIE KROSNEY Anna Maria Island now has an organic
produce co-op with deliveries every Friday. Here, Alice Newlon,
left, organizer of the co-op helps Andrew and Alyson Noune
unload the first delivery at the AMI Community Center.

ANNA MARIA — Fresh, attractive, tasty, clearly better than what I’ve gotten elsewhere. Those are all descriptions applied to the organic produce purchased by eight families last week during the inaugural run of the AMI organic produce co-op.

Two Anna Maria residents, Alice Newlon and Mary Shelby, both of whom are regular consumers of organic produce, thought there had to be a better way to get their fruits and vegetables. They were tired of trekking to Sarasota or into town to one of the health food stores.

"It’s time consuming and difficult to get to Sarasota, and the local stores really don’t do enough volume, so things aren’t too fresh," Newlon said as she waited for the first delivery to be made to the café at the Community Center.

"Some of the produce comes from Jessica’s Stand and Organic Farm in Sarasota. That stuff may be picked that morning and delivered to us in the afternoon on the same day."

That’s the local seasonal produce. Other items come from an organic wholesaler.

Foods delivered include farm-fresh greens, vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, grains and seeds.

The company processing the orders is Harvest Produce, which is basically an organic produce delivery service, according to Newlon. To deliver here to the Island, they needed to get enough people to make it worth their while.

"You order exactly what you want via the internet by noon on Friday, and the food is delivered in a plastic bin that day at 4 p.m. at the Community Center," Newlon said. "Pickup is from 4 to 7 p.m."

Brother and sister Andrew and Alyson Newlon pick out everyone’s order and place it in the plastic bin and then deliver to the Island. There is a $10 delivery charge for each order.

Organic produce is something that people either want to use or don’t want to use. It’s generally between 10 and 20 percent more costly than traditionally grown food, but the co-op prices compare quite favorably with prices usually paid for organic produce on the Island.

For example, on Friday, Oct. 17, the co-op price for a head of romaine lettuce was $1.99. At Publix, in the organic produce area, you could purchase three small heads of tired looking romaine for $3.99.

Publix organic apples were $2.99 a pound for galas and $1.99 a pound for golden delicious, while the co-op price was $2.69 a pound for gala.

In terms of freshness, there was really no comparison. The Publix produce was tired and wilted. The skin of the apples was wrinkled. The co-op produce was all fresh looking and plump.

The organic nuts, which aren’t available at Publix, were quite expensive when compared to the non-organic nuts. Non- organic pecans sell for $8.99 a pound at our local supermarket; the co-op price for organic pecans is $14.39 a pound.

The people who were picking up their first orders on Friday, were not necessarily die-hard organic consumers.

"We have not eaten organic before, but many of our friends do, and we are in a health and fitness phase, so this seemed to fit nicely into our program," Janet Aubrey said. "Gene (Aubrey) does the cooking, ordering and picking up and everything food related, and he said the produce looks really good and fresh."

Newlon, who prefers to use organic products, said that the red leaf lettuce she ordered was quite fresh and tasty: “It was clearly better than what I’ve gotten elsewhere. I couldn’t tell much difference in the romaine lettuce than the other organic I get. Perhaps it’s because the red tip is so fragile."

Charlie Shook and Lois Finley were among the initial co op members who picked up produce on Friday.

“It looks wonderful," Shook said of the produce. "It looks good and young and energetic. It’s fresh and attractive and nicely packaged."

Shook added that he thinks there was an air of excitement as everyone picked up their tubs of produce.

"It’s great to be part of something new, and it’s great to be part of something that’s going to be good for us."

The co-op is open to anyone, according to Newlon. To register, log onto www.harvestcycle.com/market/. There’s an application on line, and you can check out what’s available as well of the price of each item. They ask for a $100 deposit. Your produce is deducted from the deposit. Credit cards are also accepted, but there’s a 3 percent charge for using a card.

Any one with questions not answered by the Web site can call Newlon at 778-4184.

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
Investment Corner

Great Depression not likely to recur

Many people are currently fearful that our economy is about to experience another Great Depression, similar to the period from 1929 through most of the 1930s. News media outlets are quick to jump on board because nothing will attract eyeballs to the printed page or the TV screen like the specter of some really bad news.

I am not an expert on the Depression, but I thought some research and a review of some basic facts would be important to help alleviate some of the fears starting to creep into the minds of our clients.

The Hoover Institution of Stanford University has an excellent article ( link at: http://www.hoover.org/publications/policyreview/3476271.html ), which is equally critical of the Federal Reserve’s actions in the late 1920s and early 1930s and Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal policies. The article is lengthy, but the main references to the conditions which created the Great Depression are included in the first section. Below is a quote from the source above and is an important distinction between the Great Depression of the 1930s and the point in history at which we find ourselves today.

"The Federal Reserve is the most powerful institution of a new order that believed in the efficacy of government and its ability to do good. The same Federal Reserve caused the Great Depression when its wise men made a series of cumulative mistakes that contracted the money supply by one-third and wiped out purchasing power in an unprecedented fashion."

Although the complete description of the sequence of events is too long and detailed to cover here, the important point is that the conditions and actions being taken today are not a replica of 1929. It is presumed by most that the stock market crash of 1929 caused the Depression. While the dramatic decline in stock prices was a domino that started a chain of events, the chain could have easily been broken very quickly with a proper monetary policy response.

In the market decline of 1929 to the low point in the mid-1930s, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined about 80 percent, about the same amount by which the NASDAQ Index declined from March 2000 to March 2003. In the six years leading up to the crash in ’29, the market went up more than four-fold, an average annualized gain of about 28 percent per year, not including dividends.

The modern NASDAQ Index had a slightly higher rate of annualized return in the six years from 1994 to the peak in 2000. Some historians have equated the industrial revolution and the coincident rise and fall of the Dow Industrials to the technology revolution and the rise and fall of the technology heavy NASDAQ Index.

If stock market declines alone cause recessions or depressions, why did we not have one following the 80 percent decline in the NASDAQ from 2000 to 2003? Back in 1987, the stock market declined almost 40 percent in about three months with more than 20 percent of it coming on one day, Monday, Oct. 19. Pundits warned of recession, but none came. Why? The Fed lowered interest rates and took action to expand the monetary base in both of these cases – the proper response.

Next week we will review the mistakes which compounded a bad situation into a disastrous one in the early 1930s.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing.


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