WHERE IS THE FARMER IN THIS MARKET?
Farmer’s Markets are a place where farmers sell their produce: meats, eggs, nuts, fruits, vegetables and products made from their crops, like salsa.
All across America there are people sitting on the side of the road under umbrellas selling you a lie. Some are for real, others are not. Read on to see how you can tell the difference.
Farmers markets today are often Resale Markets where the boxes under the table come from your local Wal-Mart.
Fair? Not to you and not to farmers. Why? Because you thought that you were buying local-home-grown produce straight from the farmer. Instead you could have gone to Wally-World and paid less money.
How to remove the veils of confusion?
Farmers Markets are neither regulated, monitored, or have a set of definitions that the produce be grown by the person selling it, so your best defense is to talk to the person behind the table and ask a few simple questions:
- “Where did you grow these vegetables?” Keep in mind that not all produce grows in all seasons in all soils. For example, if you are in North Texas in August you are not going to find fresh potatoes, garlic, lettuce, or kale. None of these can grow in the hot dry summers. But basil, tomatoes, eggplant, okra, and melons? Those crops LOVE the hot summers.
- “How did you get such a perfect tomato?” If it is too perfect it was most likely commercially grown. Commercial operations harvest their produce while still immature for ease of shipping. Tomatoes sold in most supermarkets lack flavor because they were NOT harvested ripe and red, produce does not ship well ripe.
- Check the produce for wax. Nature does NOT wax produce so if it has been waxed or processed it is commercial produce.
- Be bold- look at the boxes they are pulling the produce from. Is it blazoned with a label ‘grown by BlaBlah Farm in California or Mexico’ while you are standing in New Jersey? Ask if they are re-cycling and re-using boxes or did they go to a Produce Wholesaler and buy a pick-up truck load of commercially grown vegetables, jack up the price, and set up a cute no-frills ‘market’ stand. These folks COUNT on an ill-educated public that thinks ‘sold-in’ and ‘local’ are the same thing.
- If the seller grew the produce, they will have pride in their crops and be eager to share their knowledge and growing methods. Farmers grow for the passion of the produce not just the profit margin. Be aware that not all farmers are good with people; they may be shy or exhausted from a day in the field. Don’t be fooled by that charismatic salesman standing beneath a sign professing Local Produce that you know cannot grow in your climate.
- Learn what grows in your area every season. Visit your local feed stores, pick up literature from your county agriculture extension, and learn what crops grow in which season.
THIS is to date my favorite Famers Market