Saturday, August 20, 2011

Farmers market report Aug. 20, 2011

In which Going Green Mama ponders the meaning of "local."

Last night, on a whim, we did what my little boy has been begging to do: Stop at a farm stand that was once routine for us, but had died off once they made the business decision to stop accepting checks. (I just don't carry cash except on market days.)

With the last of my garage sale dollars burning a hole in my pocket, we pulled up the dusty driveway, expecting the usual corn and cantelope that the markets have this time of year. I was surprised.

What had once been a few varieties of seasonal produce had blossomed into jars of jams, fresh and refrigerated produce, varieties of pre-packaged treats. And peaches. My mouth watered.

Then I saw the sign: The peaches were from South Carolina. And I live in the great state of Indiana.

Something about that didn't seem right to me. I am perfectly fine with buying extra-regional American produce at the grocery store, but when it presents itself at the local farm stand a few miles down the road, it seems out of place. Granted, I realize farmers may need to create their own networks to survive in this crazy summer and economy, but isn't there an unsaid promise that when I buy from Joe's farm stand that the food might actually come from somewhere remotely close to Joe's?

What do you think?


Bobbie said...

Personally if this supplements needed cash for them to be able to provide the local farm fresh produce I do want, I'd prefer to buy from the "farmer" than the grocery store. A few products may be out of place but they are still offering what I came for.

DramaMama said...

This is a poor example, but it highlights my concerns. On vacation this summer, I stopped at a farm stand in SD. I asked the man where his farm was. Judging from the large number of watermelons he had, I pictured this huge field of vines! He laughed and told me he got his melons from the local WalMart. "Oh." I was too shocked to come up w/a better response!! I guess he was honest, but I was quite disgusted and did not buy anything from him. Conversely, when we were in IA, the man had pictures of his farm, his truck was dirty and so were his hands. I truly believed he grew the corn, even though I did not have a way to check. It turned out to be the best corn I ever ate!! No lie. Anyways - what I am trying to get at is, unless you see their farm, how can you trust where the produce came from? This doubt doesn't completely stop me from buying from farm stands and markets, but I would like to hear what others have to say...

Jenn the Greenmom said...

Reminds me of the time in our local grocery store I saw them selling "local" apples...from California. (I live in Illinois.) So if "local" means "not grown in New Zealand," I guess it's accurate...

But yeah, you're right--grocery stores we know to watch out for, but at the farmer's market, you don't expect to find them peddling stuff they trucked in from elsewhere--or bought at Wal-Mart. It's kind of sad that this new layer of suspicion has to enter into what we like to think of as this nice local business of buying local food...and I guess it is a local business, the food just might be from somewhere else.

My own opinion--the seller should be up front about it, like posted, in writing. If Joe's Farm in Indiana is selling South Carolina peaches, there should be a sign there (which it sounds like there was, or did you have to ask?) saying "Brought in specially from Pete's Farm in South Carolina." Then it doesn't bother me so much. If you have to ask to find out...that's way uncool.

IMO. :-)

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

That would definitely rub me the wrong way. I think the assumption is always that the produce sold at a farm stand or farmer's market is from the person's own farm. I think that is what most buyers think. But I have heard of this happening, even at farmer's markets. I think some farmer's markets organizations probably have rules about this -- I don't know, but just a guess.

Elizabeth said...

I would be perfectly happy to buy a case of peaches at my farmer's market even if they were from Carolinas. We can't grow peaches here and my only other option is shipped in peaches from the grocery store. As long as they are clearly marked. The market could even set up specials days...watermelon day or peach day or blueberry etc. We have a pretty short season and not a good climate or right soil for many fruits.

robbie @ going green mama said...

Many of our local FMs do have rules that food is to be produced locally, which is interpreted to networks within the part of Indiana we live in.

Another farm stand obviously does bring in produce (we can't grow lemons here for instance), but it's set up on its own property.

The farm I'm talking about I've driven by for 6 summers now, so the change just took me by surprise.

Green Bean said...

This drives me crazy!! I live in California - a very very long state. I very much want to support small farmers and love the idea of farm stands - to supplement my CSA and farmers market addictions. However, every time I pull over at a farm stand - often in ag land - there are stickered fruits from all over the state, and outside of the state. Geesh. What about the local stuff?


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