The New Generation of Farmer’s Markets

What do you think a Farmer’s Market is?  I think it’s a super cool central location where farmer’s and artisans come to sell the wares, goods, and foods.  The prices are great, the energy is alive and everything is fresh and organically grown.

Here’s what Wikipedia thinks a Farmer’s Market is:  Produce found at Farmers Markets is renowned for being locally grown and very fresh. People argue farmers markets allow farmers to pick produce at the peak of flavor, preserve the nutritional content of fresh produce, and since locally grown produce does not travel as far to get to your table, the difference in mileage saves fossil fuels.

I learned a difficult lesson recently, that the 2012 Farmer’s market, in Baltimore at least, is not what it has always been.  I’m wrong, and so is Wikipedia.  So our Saturday market has about 10 different farmer stands–some have only a few things, some have one thing, like the apple stand, and still others have a huge variety.  Being that I am in Raw Diet purgatory, I was thrilled to see the guys with the huge variety!  I thought, GREAT, I’ll get all my shopping done for pennies on the dollar and feel great about my contribution to local farms.  And, to boot, as Wiki states, everything will be even more delicious since it’s grown right here in our soil.  You would think.  Had not the woman in front of me asked, “were these grown on your farm?”, I may have never asked my question, “is this organic?”  Turns, out the answer to both was a resounding “No.” 

It’s sad, but it’s true.  I went to each farm stand, and got the same answer: They didn’t grow it, and they could neither confrim nor deny whether it was organic.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, they also did not know where exactly it had even come from.  So not only is there misrepresentation going on here–if I hadn’t asked, I wouldn’t have known–but there’s also a lack of integrity going on.  The latter disturbs me most.  I get it–not everything is in season all the time, and with the unseasonable year we’ve had, it’s hard to even keep things alive, and know when the crops are ready.  But, I like to think of food, and growing as a craft, an art.  One its producers should be proud of!  Proud enough to know AT LEAST where it comes from, and why they chose to outsource their zucchini.

Whatever have we turned into that Farmer’s Markets are non-organic, non-integritous, and by the way, none of the farmer’s were smiling.  I ended up going to MOM’s (My Organic Market) afterall.  At least there I could get great service, from knowledge and forthright associates, and I knew everything I picked up would be organic.  Why go to the Farmer’s Market anymore?? I mean the prices are good, but they’re not awesome, because now apparently they DO have to make up for fuel and transportation costs.  They have to pay the middleman like everyone else.  In the store I expect to see stickers on my fruits and veggies, not at my local Farmer’s Market!

Speaking of money, maybe that’s it?  The ONE farmer who was selling all of his own produce, was limited to greens–different varieties of kale, spinach and collards, chard and dandelion.  It came from his own hands, and was all organic.  And he was lonely.  He treated me spectacularly, as if I was the first and only person he had buying from him!  I “took the farm” for pennies!  It was the bigger guys, with the variety of non-descript, foreign stickered produce with the lines.  So maybe it’s that they have to sell out of seaon foods in order to make a buck.  I’m sure whatever the reality is, it deserves more than I’m giving it in this post.  The life of a farmer is impossible these days, so my kudos to the Greens guy, and even with a raised eyebrow, to the other guys too.

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6 thoughts on “The New Generation of Farmer’s Markets

  1. That is a total BUMMER!! The whole point of going to a farmers market (at least for me)

    1) I am getting organic, locally grown produce.
    2) I am supporting the farmers that actually put their hands in the dirt and take the care and time to grow said local/organic produce.

    I would be SOO mad. The particular farmer’s market that I go to has pretty stringent guidelines about being local and organic, so hopefully you can find something awesome like that in your area.

    I think the local and organic would be even more important when it’s raw.

    • jinji says:

      EXACTLY! When eating such an abundance of fruits and veggies, of number ONE importance is that it hasn’t been treated with pesticides or other chemicals. I was appalled to learn that I could not trust my Farmer’s Market for that very reason. Thanks for reading–I will definitely have to broaden my reach to find some farmers I can count on!

  2. Little Sis says:

    Even here, in the super agricultural county to your West, I see a lot at the farmer’s market that is definitely not organic and quite a bit that seems WAY early or WAY late for the season. Those are usually the more affordable folks as well. We have one great relatively local guy (from out of state, but only just) who is organic and who is the quintessential farmer’s market guy. He’ll talk gardening with you, give you the stink on stinkbugs, tell you anything you want to know, let you taste, give you advice on which variety will work with what you want to eat… you know the guy I mean. HE’S the guy we all want to meet at the farmer’s market. If he keeps selling there, I’ll keep going, but as for the other offerings, I have a hard time justifying the hassle. My food coop is closer and only carries organic, and LOTS of it is local.

  3. sumnirv says:

    Buyer beware. Good to synch what you know about “in season” with what’s on display at the markets. The farmers are hungry too….

  4. Somer says:

    Man. That is depressing. Thanks for educating the rest of us! Trying to eat mostly raw and in season is super challenging. You would think you could trust your local farmer’s market to provide you with the things you need….Organically.

    Sometimes I wish I still lived under the food ignorance blanket!

  5. barbara says:

    Jinjii i love what you are doing.
    About Farmers Markets.
    You have to be aware of what is in season in your state. Also have compassion for the farmers who make often very little money and have no income in the off season. People
    want fresh beans, oranges and bananas etc in the beginning of April?
    Where is this supposed to grow?

    Some of the bigger farms do have Green houses for local (and a bit bland) salad greens…
    There are special rules in place for goods sold, if you are willing to brave the weather and
    need the income to keep their farm going until the season kicks in….
    Strawberries and Asparagus are a good sign of Spring.
    the `Winter produce` sold in the farmers markets is purchased from the Jessup whole sale market. (it is often much fresher and cheaper compared to the super market, when purchased in an outdoor market usually fro california, Florida or South america)
    My advice is to support these farmers because they are hurting in this economy and
    believe me……we need to keep their farms alive if you want to continue to enjoy all the great Vegetable/ Fruit and Honey we are still so so fortunate to to enjoy later Spring/ Summer and early Fall. Please do not forget the Meats and Dairy Farmers and
    some really hard working Food artisans . We need your support.

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