Counterfeit Money at Our Markets

Here is a great post from Brian F. Moyer, Program Assistant Penn State Extension – Lehigh County:

There are many reasons we chose to sell our products at farmers markets. Some of these may include helping the public understand where there food comes from and who produces it. Another might be to capture more of the “food dollar” to keep our farms viable so the last thing we might be expecting is for someone at our markets to hand us a counterfeit bill.

Recently I received an email from a market manager who told me that their market was hit for about $600 in counterfeit $100 dollar bills. I proceeded to get the word out to as many contacts as I have so other markets in the region would be aware. What I got back surprised me. I heard from managers and vendors throughout the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast that this has happened to their markets. So, what are we to do?

Markets are very busy places and we do our best to take care of the customer as fast as we can so how are we supposed to do that AND check the money they hand us to make sure the currency is legitimate? Farmers markets are also supposed to build community so there is also a level of trust that is broken when something like this occurs. How can we as a community use that trust to strengthen our markets and prevent these types of incidents from occurring?

The market manager who contacted me said that the counterfeit bills that the vendors received were bleached five dollar bills that were reprinted to look like one hundred dollar bills so the water marks were intact and they could pass the pen test so it was very difficult for a vendor to detect even if they were being vigilant. The U.S. Secret Service is the agency responsible for investigating counterfeit currency. The following is from the U.S. Secret Services’ website on some things you can look for when receiving paper currency.

How To Detect Counterfeit Money

The public has a role in maintaining the integrity of U.S. currency. You can help guard against the threat from counterfeiters by becoming more familiar with United States currency.

Look at the money you receive. Compare a suspect note with a genuine note of the same denomination and series, paying attention to the quality of printing and paper characteristics. Look for differences, not similarities.



The genuine portrait appears lifelike and stands out distinctly from the background. The counterfeit portrait is usually lifeless and flat. Details merge into the background which is often too dark or mottled.

Federal Reserve and Treasury Seals

On a genuine bill, the saw-tooth points of the Federal Reserve and Treasury seals are clear, distinct, and sharp. The counterfeit seals may have uneven, blunt, or broken saw-tooth points.



The fine lines in the border of a genuine bill are clear and unbroken. On the counterfeit, the lines in the outer margin and scrollwork may be blurred and indistinct.


Genuine serial numbers have a distinctive style and are evenly spaced. The serial numbers are printed in the same ink color as the Treasury Seal. On a counterfeit, the serial numbers may differ in color or shade of ink from the Treasury seal. The numbers may not be uniformly spaced or aligned.



Genuine currency paper has tiny red and blue fibers embedded throughout.
Often counterfeiters try to simulate these fibers by printing tiny red and blue
lines on their paper. Close inspection reveals, however, that on the counterfeit note the lines are printed on the surface, not embedded in the paper. It is illegal to reproduce the distinctive paper used in the manufacturing of United States currency.



Since markets usually have a focus on community, perhaps we can have a discussion as a community on how we can prevent incidents like this from occurring. Some markets have local banks as sponsors. What role can they play in helping to protect the market? What about the local law enforcement? Can we train our volunteers to help vendors with checking the money they are receiving? What message can we send that lets anyone who comes to the market know that there is zero tolerance for this type of activity?

This is perhaps a larger problem that could be affecting the surrounding small businesses and not just the market so it will take more than just the managers and vendors to prevent these types of incidents.


Burt minus the bees

The NYT reminds us that the documentary about the founder of Burt’s Bees who lives a pretty simple life in Maine these days is available for

“When a cadre of screaming fans in fake beards and bee costumes greet Burt at a Taiwan airport, it’s impossible not to marvel at his strange existence.” – Abby Garnett, Village Voice, Jun 3, 2014

“I’ve got 40 acres. And it’s good and sufficient and it takes good care of me. There’s no noise. There’s no children screaming. There’s no people getting up at 5 o’clock in the morning and trying to start their car and raising hell. Everybody has their own idea of what a good place to be is, and this is mine.”

NYT article

Restaurant Day

Restaurant Day enthusiasts sell food that they have prepared themselves in locations as creative as the fare they serve up – in parks, on street corners, in courtyards, or in their kitchens. The foodfest takes place roughly every three months. It offers anyone the opportunity to set up a restaurant, coffee shop or bar, for just one day, without having to apply for official permits – as long as alcohol is not on the drinks list.


Restaurant Day is the world’s biggest food carnival and happens worldwide four times a year. All together 9600+ one-day restaurants by estimated 38 500+ restaurateurs have catered for estimated 1 060 000+ customers in the past Restaurant Days.

21 May 2011: 45 restaurants, 13 cities
18 August 2011: 190 restaurants, 30+ cities, 4 countries
19 November 2011: 287 restaurants, 40+ cities, 2 countries
4 February 2012: 304 restaurants, 50+ cities, 12 countries
19 May 2012: 711 restaurants, 90+ cities, 19 countries
19 August 2012: 784 restaurants, 100+ cities, 17 countries
17 November 2012: 702 restaurants, 130+ cities, 25 countries
17 February 2013: 629 restaurants, 130+ cities, 31 countries
18 May 2013: 1701 restaurants, 200+ cities, 30 countries
18 August 2013: 1683 restaurants, 220 cities, 35 countries
16 November 2013: 1383 restaurants, 190 cities, 31 countries
16 February 2014: 1210 restaurants, 27 countries
One-day restaurants have so far popped up in 56 different countries including Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, French Polynesia, Germany, Greece, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Venezuela, USA and Uzbekistan.
Please note that all restaurants with a clearly commercial, political or religious aim, or restaurants linked to existing commercial brands, or advertising a commercial space or a business, will be removed from the service.

Restaurant Day Map

The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism -Review

The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of CapitalismThe Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism by Jeremy Rifkin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First, I agree with other reviews that suggest author Rifkin often has a “Gatling” approach to supplying facts and theories, and a tendency to offer the same theory over and over in his writing which can be tiresome after a bit-all true.
Even so, his contribution here that pure capitalism is in a transition to a hybrid economy made up of part capitalism and part collaborative commons is valid and worthwhile enough to pick this up.
He reminds us that the feudal system transitioned to the market economy starting in the ninth century and then with The Great Enclosure Movement of the 16th-19th centuries, built a legal system that protected private property just as the Industrial Revolution began in earnest. Now, he predicts that another shift is happening: capitalism has begun to share the global stage with one that uses collaborative data, has free or almost free goods and services available (because the cost of producing more goods is zero online) and allows for more efficient (or sufficient) use of natural systems.
How businesses will make profit in this future economy is certainly undecided and just as economists from Keynes to Marx wondered about it too. In other words, there are some scary unplanned moments ahead.
It’s also important to discuss how the collection of data (which is almost always used as a negative in popular media) has allowed the emergence of shared information for distribution systems, food production, human health, social revolutions and of course communication and is allowing for more interdisciplinary scholarship and maybe most importantly a reduction in ecological impact.

All of this should be interesting to anyone who hears the argument against the collaborative commons almost daily. My experience is that people’s concern is based on the legal implications of (in Rifkin’s words) how we are “moving from exclusive ownership to conditional rights.” His statement that “markets are giving way to networks and ownership is less important than access” is beguiling language for any community activist and as a farmers market partisan, I already believe in the power of the commons and see every week how informal relationships can build a new economy. I also regularly see fear and mistrust of this type of collaborative production or virtual distribution as many believe it impairs adding or improving necessary infrastructure. I might argue that we need to reduce our dependence on that as our main economic driver in municipal or civic systems anyway.
Do I worry about loss of privacy from all of this new activity? Some, but less so from my neighbors and fellow citizens who are bound by networks of social capital or because of the lack of shared networks with me, I am warned against sharing information or goods. Anyway, these virtual networks are less important than my existing (more important) physical networks and maybe that is one of the lessons of community food systems too.

Rifkin’s theory is that this will not be a total eclipse, but only a partial one and will allow for more diverse relationships and systems in other sectors while still retaining some capitalist characteristics when valid, like maybe in local food production. It may also reduce the possibility of monopolies or at least reduce their length, since technological innovation is harder to stifle in collaborative systems.
As for Rifkin himself, I like his quirky way on these subjects, but he should never be your only theorist on economic systems. If you are interested in reading someone who expands his thinking and has long embraced the need to address the ecological impacts of modern life, you need to read this.

View all my reviews

Beard Foundation Presents Leadership Awards

From the NYT:
“Ben Burkett is still farming a parcel of land in Mississippi that his great-grandfather homesteaded in 1889, about two decades after slavery ended. He grows 16 vegetables, including okra and soybeans, on 320 acres, but he is also active in several organizations that promote local food production for local consumption.“Our work is to bring awareness to the plight of the true family farm,” Mr. Burkett, 62, said over the phone from his farm in Petal, in Southern Mississippi. Mr. Burkett is one of five winners of the James Beard Leadership Awards, which recognize visionaries in the world of food politics and sustainable agriculture.”

Ben Burkett-farmer and activist

Ben Burkett-farmer and activist

Great news. I have learned a great deal from working with the folks at Indian Springs, the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives and truly, from Ben himself (and for the last few years, his daughter Darnella too.) This past Saturday, he accepted congratulations from his peers and shoppers at the New Orleans farmers market where he showed up to sell his products, just as he has every season since 1995 even with the grueling schedule he keeps assisting with initiatives near and far to expand local wealth and health for communities. No one deserved this award more this year.

and congrats to his fellow winners, all of whom also richly deserve the honor:
“… include Karen Washington, the former president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition and an urban farmer; Michael Pollan, the writer and journalist who has written extensively about food and food politics; Navina Khanna, a fellow at the Movement Strategy Center who has worked to create awareness and action around food justice issues; and Mark Bittman, an author and food writer for The New York Times.”

Beard Foundation Presents Leadership Awards –