Editor:

Thanks for Ashley Archibald’s excellent summation of the Farmers’ Market debacle involving baker Jack Bezian, which should be required reading for anyone interested in the occasionally perplexing thinking of elected officials (“Farmers’ Market bread man to leave town,” Sept. 19).

Archibald’s story reveals that the City Council and city attorney, in trying to keep the Farmers’ Market fresh, competitive and legal, set up an RFP process in November 2009 empowering an anonymous panel of five to select prepared-food vendors using a five-point criteria. An astonishing 75 percent of the criteria rewards a local vendor using sustainable goods, regardless of how their food actually tastes. It is a food contest where the food is not even tasted. What’s next, an architecture competition where no one sees conceptual plans for the building and we just hire someone because they have a cool name?

As Archibald’s story explains, this bizarre approach to food is why we are losing a 19-year vendor with a splendid product of remarkable consistency, to be replaced next month by a vendor who started their business in January, sells a loaf of bread for $10 (according to their über-hip website, which is the only place one can currently buy the product), and uses all of the right sustainability jargon (they even use bicycles to deliver their product).

Since the council established the criteria putting so little weight on experience and zero emphasis on food taste, we are left to wonder what the committee was thinking. Yet because this governmental process is a secret, we can’t be entirely sure what else went into the committee’s thinking that led to our city replacing a loyal, upstanding and longtime Farmers’ Market vendor with a wildly unproven commodity. The City Council needs to revisit the evaluation structure immediately and reinstate Bezian Breads until a common sense and transparent process regarding prepared-food vendors can be established.

 

Geoff Shackelford

Santa Monica