Tag Archives: food

Food Sales Tax Saga: Continued

(cross-posted to Utah Legislature Watch)

Who benefits from food sales tax breaks? Why, everyone of course. Food is a basic human right, whether you are rich or poor. Everyone must had food and must have it accessible.
But there are legislators who feel that the food sales tax break was too much of a benefit to the wealthy and therefore should be reinstated. The state’s Tax Review Commission announced its support for the restoration of the food sales tax rate an, in an article published in the Salt Lake Tribune, the chair of the commission stated:

Like the other groups endorsing the idea of restoring the full food sales tax, the commission said it sought to create a more stable, sound tax base and was not motivated by the desire to increase revenues to help plug an estimated $850 million budget deficit.
“In my mind, the real issue — in spite of the emotional effects — is efficiency,” said Commission Chairman Keith Prescott. “There’s an efficiency issue that doesn’t reach its target audience. By taking the sales tax off food, it gives too much benefit to the wealthy — an unintended, not well-thought-out result of what we got.”

Huh? Excuse me?
The article continues:
While consumers have enjoyed the reduced sales tax on food, implemented in January of last year, state coffers have missed out on an estimated $160 million in revenues.
The commission preferred revenue refunds that would be cost-effective and easy to implement. Several options were discussed, such as tying the benefit to the federal earned income tax credit, adding a few lines on the state’s tax return or increasing the pool of food stamps.
Again: Huh?
This would clearly hurt struggling families and citizens living at the poverty level. Get a credit when they file their taxes? How would that help with daily needs and cash flow? It wouldn’t!
Using the excuse that the sales tax on food must be raised for everyone in order for the wealthy not to be able to “get away” with that benefit is really, really lame. Don’t impose what I consider a sanction on everyone to get revenue from the wealthy. Tax the wealthy on other things such as luxuries. A luxury tax (skiing, recreational vehicles, etc.) would certainly be more in line that with the mindset that the wealthy need to be paying their relative share of taxes in this state.

Robbing from the poor to make the poor poorer

The Deseret News reported today that two Utah Senators are pushing for a restoration of the 6+% (from the current 1.75%)  sales tax on unprepared food.

 

Senate budget chairman Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, and Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, in separate statements said it was a mistake when Utah legislators bowed to the “influence” of former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and cut the food tax.

This tax restoration would place undue burden on poor people.  Why should there be a tax on something everyone must have?

One legislator doesn’t think that such a tax would impact poor people:

 

For more than a year, Rep. Kay McIff, R-Richfield, has been trying to get lawmakers to put the tax back on food and, through other means, give tax cuts to low-income Utahns.

 

McIff says the food tax cut really didn’t help low-income Utahns that much, but instead went to large Utah families or more well-to-do Utahns who buy a lot of food — people who likely really don’t need that kind of a tax cut.

From what source does McIff get his data?  What does he mean “didn’t help low-income Utahns that much“? Where is the evidence to back such a statement?

I’m willing to bet that poor people spend most of their income on food while rich people spend a fraction of their income on food.

Taxing food is preposterous.  Don’t hurt families this way.

Speaking of locally grown food….

….when we arrived home from our vacation yesterday, we were pleased to see our gardens doing well.
Here are the gardens with irrigation water in them:

Before we left I had harvested a number of herbs (basil, oregano, sage and horehound) and dried most of the harvest plus made a couple of batches of basil pesto.

Oregano, Sage and Basil:

Our first vegetable harvest of the season was yesterday when we arrived home:

It pleases us that we are able to grow much of our own food and are also able to give a fair amount away to others.

The weather crisis in the midwest: effects on crops and fuel

Aside from the devastating effects to residents in the midwest from the recent weather causing floods there, crops will be significantly effected this year.

On the heels of a year long rise in corn prices due to the rising cost of crude oil, Corn is now at an all time high and other crops, such as soybeans, are also on the rise. 

Corn prices have shot up more than 80 percent in the past year amid a spike in crude oil prices, a weak U.S. dollar and rocketing demand for food in developing countries like China and India.

Other agriculture futures also climbed Friday, with soybeans nearing all-time highs.

Soybeans for July delivery rose 23.5 cents to settle at $15.60 a bushel on the CBOT, after earlier rising as high as $15.70. Soybeans hit their all-time high of $15.96, reached in March.

Meanwhile, wheat for July delivery gained 31 cents to settle at $8.82 a bushel.

(Associated Press)

It will be interesting to follow the development of this food crisis, particularly since there is a push towards production of alternative fuels using corn.  Will the production of bio-fuels now decrease so that people can be fed?  

(See my earlier post on Growing grain for fuel and meat: There’s something wrong with this picture.)

The People’s Market

I was really impressed with the organizations doing outreach yesterday a the Step It Up! event. One that really intrigued me was The People’s Market, an alternative to the annual Farmers Market in downtown Salt Lake City. I have usually never attended or pursued being part of the already established market for various reasons.  One of those being that I have always felt that there was somewhat of a non-grassroots, almost “nose-in-the-air” quality to the event.  Not that it isn’t a good thing for the community, just not 100% in my comfort zone.

The People’s Market, on the other hand, seems more of a grassroots effort.  The cost to participate is quite reasonable, and non-profits can participate for FREE.  Additioanlly, it is held in Jordan Park, on the “west side”.  This is a good thing since there is a whole community on that side of Salt Lake that needs more of this type of activity.

Here is information from The People’s Market website, which also has some of its items in spanish:

Our Mission

The People’s Market will help build a more robust food system, small-scale entrepreneurship, and community pride.

Our Goal

The People’s Market is an opportunity for residents, local growers, and city-wide consumers to come together for good food and great bargains on locally produced items.

Our Roots

Originally conceived within a local, community leadership program, the People’s Market is a
true grassroots effort to improve our local quality of life. Get an idea about the development and history of the People’s Market by reading this email log.

They also offer this information and services, including a barter board:

How you can participate

  • Come to the market – meet your neighbors, purchase some fresh foods or locally produced items.
  • Become a vendor – bring something you have produced to the market. Download the Vendor Application.
  • List your service on the Barter Board – If you possess a specialized skill, perform a useful service, or own a unique piece of equipment then you can share it with your neighbors on our services board
  • Volunteer to help organize the market – This grassroots effort needs people like you to help “cultivate” the market. Sign up and make a difference.
  • Spread the Word Download and print this brochure. (Español) or Download a Flyer

For more information about how you can help conatct Kyle LaMalfa at 801-842-1619 or email slcpeoplesmarket@gmail.com


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I plan to check out this new market, and perhaps even pursue some tabling opportunities.

Last minute Thanksgiving tips

Organic Bytes from the Organic Consumers Association


TreeHugger 100-Mile Thanksgiving Challenge: Time to Vote

TreeHugger 100-Mile Thanksgiving Challenge: Time to Vote

It is time to vote for your favorite entry in TreeHugger’s 100-Mile Thanksgiving Challenge. Go here to check out each of the five finalist’s recipes and then vote below for the one that is the most creative, tasty and/or appealing. The reader-voted winner will recieve a year’s worth of organic milk from contest sponsor Organic Valley. The winner will be selected after midnight tomorrow (11/23), so be sure to vote right away!

                     

More on Thanksgiving – Building Community

Every student in my school is required to serve on one of the 11 committees that contributes to the school community in some way. I am the advisor of my school’s Social Committee. Our committee plans activities to promote a sense of community by bringing everyone together for fun activities such as dances, chocolate parties, talent shows, etc.

For the second consecutive year, our committee is planning a Thanksgiving Feast for the entire school – all for free. Parents have donated all the food and today is the day we will all gather in our school kitchen to do the cooking. That part of it – the preparation – is part of the building of community. It’s so fun to come togethter – students, parents, and teachers – and engage in this activity. I have parents whose kids can’t help prepare this year who want to help anyway because they had so much fun last year.

We are providing food items for everyone – vegans and meat-eaters; grocery-store bought items to homemade items and free range turkeys; pies made by the foods class.

The feast is tomorrow and practically guaranteed to be a success (what teen doesn’t like food – especially free food?). Mostly because of the sharing that takes place – of food and conversation – with students, staff, and parents all together.

Where does our food come from?

As the traditional U.S. Thanksgiving holiday approaches, there are numerous articles and posts about food.

I was pleasantly surprised today to see this headline in the Salt Lake Tribune:
From farm to feast: How Healthful is your meal?

The article delves into the different food movements and changing mindsets of consumers.

A growing number of people are relying on different values to shape their meals, buying organic or locally grown produce whenever possible. They support local farmers and small, artisan producers of milk, cheese and bread, and share the bounty with family and friends. This “Slow Food” movement began in Italy 20 years ago in response to the opening of a McDonald’s in a historic section of Rome. Today, Slow Food has 80,000 members across the globe, including a group in Utah.
Better flavor is just one of the reasons that “eat local” is one of Slow Food’s mantras.

The article also gives local alternatives to Thanksgiving food items:

A plate full of America

Where in this country did all the fixings come from? Or maybe they just came from Utah.
Canned pumpkin – Libby’s, Ohio
Utah option: Pecan pie, from Thompson Family Pecan Farm, Hurricane

Brussels sprouts – Various farms, California
Utah option: Mushrooms from Mountainview Mushrooms, Fillmore

Cranberries – Ocean Spray, Massachusetts
Utah option: Apples from orchards in Santaquin, Payson and Orem

Mashed potatoes – Eagle Eye, Idaho
Utah option: Spuds from the neighbor

Turkey Jenny-O, Minn.
Utah options: Norbest turkey, Moroni; or hormone-free bird from Wight Family Farms, Weber County

See other food alternatives to more conscious eating at these blogs:

  • Folk Food
  • Kalyn’s Kitchen
  • Veggie Friendly
  • Planet on a plate