Farmers Markets and Farmers - Conventional vs Organic
Our family has been going to farmers markets for years to buy our produce. Farmers markets are located in nearly every town and they host a variety of different farmers. At the beginning of each season we do an internet search for farmers markets in our area as well as use the Minnesota Grown Directory published by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Most states have a farmers market directory available; just call your state Department of Agriculture. Most of the local farmers markets in our area end by 12 noon on Saturday, but if we get up early we can hit 3-4 markets on a Saturday morning. Weekday farmers markets are usually held in the afternoon to early evening. There has been a big increase over the years in the number of farmers selling vegetables, flowers, honey, cheese and meats at these markets.
There are 4 broad types of raw food vendors at the local farmers market.
the first type of vendor at a farmers market is an organic certified farmer. The second kind of farmer is one that takes all the steps in organic farming methods but does not have the organic certification because it costs too much. The certification to become an organic farmer is often not affordable to most small farmers so look for the pesticide free, chemical free signs at their tables. Famers who adapt organic practices often have lower pricing than certified organic farmers. You can always ask a farmer what type of pesticide or fertilizer they use on their crops to determine if they are pesticide or chemical free. Chemically free produce is the healthiest food you can purchase at the farmers market.
Produce that is purchased from a warehouse has been nicknamed "dock food" by our family. Dock food is purchased in bulk, refrigerated and trucked long distances before being sold to vendors who sell it at the farmers market. Most of the dock food is grown in factory farm style with pesticides and chemical fertilizers and harvested using machines that use little care for bruising and imperfections. You can usually tell dock food in the morning at the farmers market because you will see condensation on the produce from being in the refrigerator. Look into the vendor's truck and see how many of the same brand vegetable boxes they have in their truck. This may be a clue that its warehouse dock produce. Some farmers get their boxes used by calling up the supermarket so the boxes are not always an indicator of produce from a warehouse. The shelf life of dock produce is greatly shortened due to the time it is spent in transport.
The fourth kind of farmer at the market is farmers who use conventional farming practices where the farmer's main goal is production and yield. In order to achieve the largest quantity they may use harmful pesticides and fertilizers that most people are not aware of. When you walk into the farmers market you will see that conventional farmers that use pesticides have good looking produce and their prices may be lower than other farmers. Please be aware that this food is harmful and in the end your body will pay the price with poor health from the chemicals that are used.
Steer clear of dock food and conventional farmers and you'll be healthier, feel better and live longer. When you go to the farmers market look for the pesticide free and chemical free signs at each farmer's booth and don't be afraid to ask each farmer what kinds of chemicals they use on their vegetables. If his answer is a little contrived there are other farmers to buy from who have food that may be safer for you. Once you find a farmer that you like ask them what other locations they sell at and you can add this to your list. Having a list of safe farmers makes it easier to make good choices when buying food for you and your family.
Please help support this website by purchasing organic products from these sponsors.