How Could A Farmers' Market be Bad?!
Nothing is better than grabbing a cup of joe and heading down your local farmers' market on a Saturday morning to stock up on the freshest produce and food in town right? Farmers' markets are a hot ticket these days with the number of markets shooting up nearly 20% in the last year alone. When you think Farmers' market what immediately comes to mind is clean, wholesome foods grown right in the garden of someone local. Although this is true in many cases it is not always so. Farmers' markets have become so popular that they're being co-opted by wholesalers, retailers, and farmers who may be local, but aren't necessarily committed to a sustainable food system. If you're looking for markets that sell the kind of 'farm fresh' food that most of us expect, then take this nutrition advice for women (and everyone) so that you can avoid these 4 Farmers' Market Scams.
Myth: All farmers’ markets sell local food.
Fact: There are two types of market models: real farmers’ markets and “farm markets” where buyers resell produce they bought at wholesale markets. The produce is usually not local and often comes from faraway states or other countries. For a while, some grocery stores were even selling their own produce in their parking lots and calling those “farmers’ markets.” To find the real thing, look for “producer-only” markets, meaning that the farmers at the market grew the food they’re selling on their own farms, explains Bill Duesing, president of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. Find out if your favorite market is producer-only by asking the director or market coordinator. And use your own judgment: If your local market is selling watermelons in May, they’re probably not local!
Myth: Local = organic.
Fact: Local farmers that aren’t certified organic are just as able as the big guys to use pesticides linked to ADHD, autism, diabetes, and hormone disruption. So don’t assume that just because a farmer shows up at a small market, his or her produce is pesticide-free. Under the USDA’s National Organic Program, farmers who market their product as “organic” must become certified by a USDA-accredited third party and keep very detailed records regarding their farming practices. There is an exception: If growers earn less than $5,000 a year, they can legally market their produce as organic, provided they keep records to prove they are organic. They just don’t have to go through the certifying process.
There are some farmers who do use legitimate organic growing practices but choose not to enter the certification process, but technically, they’re not allowed (legally) to say their produce is organic. Bottom line: If a farmer is marketing food as organic, ask if he or she is certified by the USDA. If the answer is no, ask how weeds and insects are controlled (more about that coming up).
Myth: Food from the farmers’ market is so clean, you can eat it right there.
Fact: Before you polish off that entire quart of cherry tomatoes on the ride home, think of all the people who may have picked over them before you got there. Dirty hands = dirty produce. And although it may be free of pesticide residues, it could still harbor dirt and other bacteria that aren’t good for you. Get your produce home, then clean it with this cheap and effective produce spray: In a spray bottle, mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, and 1 cup cold tap water. Shake well to mix it up, spray on your produce, and rinse before eating.
Myth: Bugs on your food are bad.
Fact: Bugs in processed foods are bad. On farms, that’s a totally different story. Biodiversity is a major part of organic farming. Farmers who install wildlife corridors and pollinator plantings, including meadows, will attract beneficial insects into the field to prey on
pests that like to eat crops, and that means they can use fewer pesticides, whether organic or synthetic. So if you see a worm in your apple, cut him out and be thankful you’re getting truly organic local food!
How about you?
Tell us where you find YOUR fresh, local produce!
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