“Do you REALLY know where your farmers’ market produce comes from?”

Groan, redux.

Here in a bit, I’ll walk downtown for the weekly purchase of tomatoes at our farmers market. I like to buy the misshapen, dirty and slightly unripened ones. It’s just a quirk, I suppose.

Frequent readers will recall many blog posts on the topic of farmers market infrastructure and location, as here.

Jeff Gahan’s quarter-million dollar farmers market fluff job commences this week. (March 30)

Yes, every City Hall argument deployed in favor of the Coyle site development simultaneously argues AGAINST the farmers market build-out. The build-out begins this week. By the way, it’s an election year.

On two separate occasions this summer, I’ve been asked a variant of the same question: Is there any standard, or regulation determining whether the food sold at the farmers market actually is grown by the seller, or came from another secondary source?

In short, is the food really what they say it is?

I don’t know the answer to this question, although it isn’t unique to New Albany, and is discussed in greater detail here.

Do you REALLY know where your farmers’ market produce comes from?, by Katherine Martinko (Treehugger)

Every market has its own set of regulations. In New York City, most of the major farmers’ markets are run by a non-profit organization called GrowNYC, which ensures that markets are producer-only. That means that vendors can only sell items that they’ve grown themselves; no reselling, even if clearly labeled, is allowed. As Modern Farmer reports, GrowNYC maintains its high standards by employing investigators who keep an eye on vendors, taking note of any suspicious things such as retail boxes, waxed fruit, or consistently high volume of produce.

By contrast, markets in Los Angeles allow for resale, as long as it’s clearly marked.

I’m told there is an informal standard at the New Albany Farmers Market expressed as a percentage of food grown by the purveyor, versus what he or she has purchased for resale.

However, there isn’t any mention of this formula at the FAQ section of the web site, and I’ve never seen clear labeling at the stalls which might help make the distinction more clear.

Who can sell at the Farmers Market?

Items sold must be created/produced locally in our region (from Southern Indiana, Northern Kentucky, Ohio, etc).

What about YOU, the consumer? You have responsibilities, too, and here’s a list of annoyances straight from the producers’ mouths.

9 Annoying Things You Do at Farmers’ Markets, According to Farmers, by Jessica Leigh Hester and Vicky Gan (City Lab)

Recently, CityLab interviewed a number of farmers and vendors at some of our favorite markets. Their responses were overwhelmingly enthusiastic—they love that locals are excited to support small-scale local agriculture. But after a little while, they loosened up and swapped tales of nightmare customers, such as serial produce nibblers or sample snatchers. Then there are the aesthetic elitists, who sniff at the “misshapen” heirloom tomatoes.

Below are some of these vendors’ most common—and most surprising—complaints. They just might help you make the farmers’ market experience more bucolic for everyone.