Farmer's Markets: The Untold Story

Farmer's Markets: impractical exercise in idealism or a Newer Better Way?

Ever wonder? We did. (Okay, okay, I did.) So... our hard-hitting reporter (me) went undercover to get the REAL story, an exposé of the soft flabby underbelly of the world of Farmer's Markets.

This is what I expect to find in a Farmer's Market

Not this:

Myth #1: Farmer's Markets are a place where local farmers can bring local fruits and vegetables to local people. That way, people can bypass big chain grocery stores that have been known to haul food from hundred or thousands of miles away.

Well, they probably have local pies... maybe even fruit pies

Truth #1:
It's local, but sometimes it's animal or mineral rather than vegetable.

In other words, you might have to look hard before you can find a vegetable stand at a Farmer's Market. Our reporter reports that the local market near her house features 3 or 4 food stalls for every 1 vegetable stand. Also, there were stalls selling insurance policies, crafts, and assorted weird stuff. (Yes, I realize the insurance policies and crafts were probably local. I don't care. It's just not the same.)

I have seen the light... Beer has hops... hops come from farms... maybe this is okay...

Myth #2: Farmer's Markets are organic

Truth #2: Really? Where's that written down anywhere? It's local and it's fresh, but that doesn't mean Farmer Phil didn't spray pesticides on his stuff. If it ain't specified, don't assume. It's local, which means it's so fresh you might want to slap it, but that doesn't automatically mean organic. You're going to find a wider selection of organic produce than at the store, but not all of it is.
Organic BBQ?

Myth #3: Farmer's Markets are more expensive than the grocery store.

Truth #3: Well, okay, so this one isn't necessarily a myth, or rather it's only a partial myth. In other words, It Depends.

I couldn't find white-coated research studies that dealt with the subject in an ept manner. According to one survey, people bought from farmer's market or roadside stand because 'freshness' was important. That seems so obvious that I wonder why they would ask the question.

On the other hand, when science lets you down, there's always Blogland. The blogger Mama Goes Green led me to the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance blog, who conducted their own research and collected data from a class statistics project that showed buying locally actually was cheaper on the whole:

Average savings at market: $.62

Average miles saved by buying local: over 900

Granted with a name like Farmers Market Alliance there just might possibly be a wee bit of bias there, but they obligingly show the data that led to the conclusions.

I think it's really cool to buy local, whether we're talking vegetables or crafts and BBQ. I wouldn't have a problem with people coming to a street near me to sell these things. It just bothers me that it's called a "Farmer's Market" when it's really a no-calories-barred street fair.

Am I being too fussy? Are your local Farmer's Market events full of stuff fresh off the farm?

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