Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Farmers Markets Authenticity

A discussion came up today in the cheese room.  It has come up many times before in many different settings.  Still, it nags at me.

When you shop at a farmers market, and buy from a known local producer, do you "assume" that everything on their table is from them, produced or grown by them, and represents only their farm/operation?  That is of course, unless they have clearly labeled it otherwise?  How do you feel about the produce person who may supplement their table with other locally grown items, but not told you?  Do you automatically assume they grew all of it themselves?  Not picking on produce here, just an example.  Another example might be who really actually produced all that honey in that jar?  Who really actually milked that animal that gave the milk for that bottle of milk or hunk of cheese?  Or who actually grew that animal for meat?  And from what point, birth, or purchased to "finish off" just prior to marketing?

This is not finger pointing, as I know of very little of this going on, but it does happen.  One thought is a) it is deceptive and not right b) one thought is that it is the buyers duty not to assume and ask c) one is that no one really cares.

Where are you on this one?

3 comments:

  1. I think it would be nice if the farmer did differentiate between things they have grown/made and things they have gotten from other places/people. Local is most important for me, so I wouldn't mind if one vendor was selling from several different LOCAL sources. And as a consumer I do assume what is being sold by that vendor is produced by them unless otherwise labeled.

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  2. I also assume it is the product of the person selling it to me. I guess we all need to be more careful shoppers. With all the booths offering product, that is one way to narrow it down. Local, from some one you know, raised humanely.
    Don't think we don't care. I think most folks who take time to go to local markets care very much. We just need to be more canny shoppers.

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  3. Personally, it angers me. When I see a farm, vendor, etc at a true, local farmer's market, my assumption is that everything they are selling was produced by them unless clearly stated otherwise.

    The reason it angers me so much when this is not the case isn't because I believe that the vendors who sell these products know full well that customers are assuming the products came from them, and intentionally use that assumption to their advantage on location at the market.

    Another thing that frustrates me are farms that supplement their CSAs with non-local produce. For instance, I think it's great that more and more consumers are joining the local food movement, but when they join the Full Circle Farm CSA, at least half the produce in the weekly box is non-local, usually from Mexico, Chile, etc. Even though the non-local items are clearly marked, I wonder if sometimes consumers who are new to CSAs just don't realize that there are better, 100% local options out there.

    Also, it seems disingenuous to me to be running a CSA at all that sells non-local produce. “CSA” Means Community Supported Agriculture. Chile and Mexico are not my communities. Even though the produce is clearly marked, I think including things like oranges and bananas as a standard is pandering to people who don’t want to change their foods or habits too much, which to me, is not in the spirit of what a CSA is really about.

    I suppose you could make the argument that joining the Full Circle CSA is at least better than easing nothing local at all, but I really feel it’s just a cop-out that provides a convenient excuse to continue supporting the type of commerce that is not doing our local economy any good.

    If a farm is unable to produce enough variety on their own, they can easily team with other local producers to continue supporting local agriculture, rather than relying on imports from other countries.

    I don’t mean to bash on Full Circle exclusively, theirs is just the first name that comes to the top of my head because they are so prominent. But my same beliefs and frustrations apply to anyone else who working the same way.

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