I ran across two separate articles today that essentially shared the same alarming trend. Unethical farmer’s, agricorp, and chain grocery stores all want to cash in on this Farmer’s Market – Local Food craze. Those of us who love greener living and natural foods LOVE our farmer’s markets and when I read this stuff I get REALLY pissed.
Farmer’s markets are one of the number one ways we have to tap into local food. I myself also use a local food delivery service but other than that.. the farmer’s market is the way to go. Our local Whole Foods is great but when I want food that is grown within 50 miles of my house then I go to the Farmer’s Market. I know from speaking to the vendors there that my apples were grown nearby and that the booth next door is selling apple butter that incorporates their apples. I know that the lady who sells the honey has bee boxes on her property and you can go and see them yourself. All that is sold there can be verified as local by simply getting in the car and taking a drive. We HAVE to be connected to our food chain. We just HAVE to be. When we allow a disconnect then we eat processed mystery foods that have questionable ingredients and nutrition. You know the whole phrase about when you stand for nothing you will fall for anything. As a society we have made some hugely BAD decisions in regards to food and for many us, local food has been just what we needed to get back on track. But now even that is under attack.
In Seattle, Washington, Idaho, and Oregon lately… some chain grocery stores posted signs with the term “Farmers Market” above produce displays in front of their stores. Even if the food is local this is just plain wrong. The beauty of the market is that you buy direct from the farmer without the middle man. You get to talk to the person who grew your food AND they get decent pay for their food. With chain grocery stores you have to take their word on how the food was grown and the farmer may have gotten paid a few pennies out of the deal. These companies are recognizing certain power words like Farmer’s Market and are trying to get in on the action when the very essence of what they represent goes against these terms.
In bigger cities you may also have something else to worry about… that your favorite market may have been corrupted. In Southern California some Farmer’s Markets have been caught in false claims and outright lies. A group of NBC investigators recently discovered that some of the “local farmers” are in fact getting their produce from major agricorp and even from out of the country while their own farms were nothing but dirt lots. The group also tested some of the produce they got for pesticides after the farmers promised that no pesticides were used. 3 out 5 had pesticides and too much for it to be cross contamination, which was the lame excuse given by the farmers when they were confronted. I guess it shows that if some farmer’s cannot hack it, they will get creative with their truth telling.
All of us need to be vigilant when we attend our local markets. We need to talk to the vendors, question them, and even do our investigative homework by taking farm tours and driving by their operations. Ethical farmer’s will welcome our inquiries because we have to protect the one system that exists to keep us connected to our food. We can also help them by spreading the word about wonderful farmers.
So what do you think? Are these isolated incidents or is this just the beginning of big agri-business trying to co-op our local food chain?