Our friend and Contributing Author Lynn Cameron has been talking to us about farmers’ markets — markets where local farmers bring their products directly to the public. I’d originally not thought this was a particularly good source of food, since the fact that something is grown locally does not automatically equate to organic, or to good food production or farming practices — it could have been grown or produced in any way at all. As it turns out, the good news is that I’m not quite right, and that there’s more to it than that.
While the USDA has a farmers’ market section, it’s a little confusing and doesn’t give us consumers the information we need, at least, not all that easily. I found something there earlier today and darned if I can find it again. (Added: Found it! USDA Farmers Market List.) <sigh> That’s where FarmerNet.com, an industry-related website, steps to the fore.
With a tagline declaring "Certified Farmers’ Markets of Southern California", the FarmersNet.com FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page gives us this clear information:
Certified Farmers’ Markets are places where farmers sell their crops directly to the public. Consumers can find a wide array of fresh and locally grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Some markets have other vendors outside of the certified section to complement the farmers’ produce, selling bread, meats and fish, dairy products, prepared food, and local crafts.
Certified farmers’ markets are approved market sites by the County Agricultural Commissioner and the Health Department.
That sounds pretty good, but this is even better:
Q: How do I know if produce is organic?
A: You can be sure that produce is organic if a certificate is clearly posted at the farmers’ stand stating that the produce is certified organic. However, some food is grown without chemical fertilizers, but is not certified organic. Why? Some farmers believe that becoming certified is too costly and bureaucratic, and would rather not go through the trouble. Other farmers may grow food that is mostly organic, but does not meet all the guidelines. Most farmers who sell directly to the public are committed to producing healthy food in a sustainable manner. The advantage of shopping at a Farmers’ Market is that you can ask the farmer about their growing methods and then choose what kind of produce you buy.
And there you have it. They also have a list of farmers markets. We hope to visit one or two soon, and hopefully will return with photographs. ‘Til then!
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