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milanessa
06-15-2012, 04:56 PM
The only farmer's market in my area is held Wednesday morning at the county fairgrounds. Very little (if any) local produce there. By local I mean harvested within 50 miles. The vendors travel to south Florida load up trucks and hit all the different flea and farmer markets in the state during the week. The food isn't much fresher than that available in a grocery store and after it sits out in the heat day after day isn't very pretty. There are occasional road side sellers that are local - I stop and buy from them when I see them but that's hit and miss and nothing that can be planned on.

Luckily my husband has gotten all excited about organic gardening so we have lots of produce from the backyard. He just hasn't learned yet how to space things out so there's usually a surfeit of something and none of something else. :lol: Thank goodness the cucumbers are gone - only so much you can do with them.

michiruwater
06-15-2012, 05:00 PM
At the Ypsilanti Farmer's Market last year, there were two vendors next to each other. One of them had a tableful of vegetables grown in his garden, with lots of lovely pictures of his garden. They looked like garden vegetables, too - not as ridiculously huge as the supermarket kind, still had a bit of dirt on them.

Next to him was a man whose produce still had the stickers on them from the supermarket. I just stared at him in incredulity. He actually had the gall to say they were from his garden and I picked up an apple and showed him the sticker he'd forgotten to take off. He went bright red. It was against the Farmer's Market regulations for Ypsilanti, too, which I pointed out to him. Not to mention that his stuff was more expensive than everyone else's, because he had to make a profit after buying it in the first place.

I'm still mad about that a year later :shuffle:

PDilemma
06-15-2012, 05:15 PM
Items for sale at one large Farmers Market in our area include CDs, jewelry, pre-made foods, beverages, face painting, temporary and henna tattoos, more jewelry, clothing, more jewelry, and by my count on a visit in early August (prime growing season) exactly three booths selling actual produce.

My local one usually has six tables. One is jewelry. Another is pre-made food. Of the other four, one has large professionally made banners about buying local to save the world, magazines to give out, and the produce is arranged in beautiful baskets. They charge $4 for a small bunch of green onions. Another has a smaller banner and charges only slightly less. The third runs about the same as that one price wise and is run by fundamentalists with a "quiver full" of children doing the work.

The last table on the far corner of the parking lot where this is held is an old farmer. Quite likely in his 80s. He wears a seed corn cap. His produce is stacked in the back of his old pick-up with a small sample selection on a card table in front of it. His prices are written on a sheet of paper with a marker and are lower than the grocery store. The produce still has dirt on it. The Farmers Market opens at 8 a.m. If you aren't there by 9:30 or so, this guy is sold out of nearly everything. Now I just go straight to his table, get what he has that we will use and go home.

agalisgv
06-15-2012, 05:42 PM
My experience largely mirrors milanessa's and PDilemma's. The stuff sold there is over-priced, and not even locally grown in many cases. One vendor was selling WI cheese from their family farm in WI, but having lived in WI, I remarked this tasted nothing like the local cheeses I had tasted there. They admitted it was really mass produced stuff sold to supermarkets and not the local cheese I was familiar with.

Anyhow, apparently it's common practice for people to buy non-organic supermarket produce and sell it at a premium as locally grown organic produce at Farmers Markets.
NBC Los Angeles' news team decided to do some checking around at local farmer's markets, and paid visits to the farms where the vendors claimed they grew the food they were selling. In some cases, they found fields full of weeds or dry, empty fields. The vendors were selling vegetables and fruit they had bought wholesale, and were selling it at premium prices at local farmer's markets, claiming it was locally grown and organic.

As to the "organic" claim, NBCLA also sent several items purchased from vendors who claimed not to use pesticides to labs for testing, and the results came back positive for pesticides. One of the "farmers" claimed that the pesticides found on their produce was the result of overspray from nearby farms, but the levels found on the tested produce were too high for it have been mere "drift."

This particular story was reported in California, but there's no doubt that it's happening all over the country. Near my home, for example, there is a "farmer's market" in a church parking lot every weekend during the summer. How they managed to have perfect-looking "locally grown" watermelons in early May in Detroit is beyond me. Needless to say, I don't shop there.http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/scammers-at-the-farmers-market-and-make-sure-youre-supporting-local-farmers1.htm
Re-sellers Farmers Markets – more often than not, you’ll find small farmers markets on the side of the road set up just like the real farmers markets, but the produce they are selling has been bought from a wholesale grocery or marketer that has gotten the produce from other states, or even other countries.http://jughandlesfatfarm.com/blog/2012/05/11/farmers-market-scams/

FWIW, I've lived in MI as well (Ann Arbor), and I didn't see any Farmers Markets there that came close to the price of produce sold at Homefoods in town. I didn't travel to Ypsilanti though. Generally I've found Farmer's Markets to be scams catering to yuppies who'll pay more for worse produce without really knowing what they are purchasing. I don't really bother with them anymore.

cruisin
06-15-2012, 05:45 PM
We have a lot of farm stands locally. They are open every day, during growing seasons. Different produce for different seasons. Right now we are getting a lot of berries and summer fruits. Jersey tomatoes will be soon. Jersey white corn, not at peak until mid summer. Best corn anywhere! Apples and winter fruits in the fall. But they are closed in winter, except for selling Christmas trees. The pricing is less than the grocery stores and is so fresh, it's still warm from the fields.

PDilemma
06-15-2012, 05:51 PM
My experience largely mirrors milanessa's and PDilemma's.

My parents live in the town with the nearly produce-free Farmers Market I described. It is a town of over 250,000 smack in the middle of the Midwest. For many years this was the only Farmers Market in town and it is so dominated by other crap that you can hardly buy produce there. There is a second one that started a couple of years ago, but my dad stopped at it a few weeks ago and was disappointed to see the jewelry booths starting to move in. I truly don't understand how this happens. The city's original Farmers Market has become a street fair of sorts that has little resemblance to the intent of one.

My parents have started growing more of their own since they retired and we get most of our produce from them in the summer. My brother also started a vegetable garden this year and plans to give most of it to us because he doesn't even like what he's raising; he just likes the process of doing it (how weird is that?).

cruisin
06-15-2012, 05:58 PM
I'm confused about farmer's markets. We don't have any near here, but I've seen them in other areas. I thought farmer's markets were just for selling food. Produce, baked goods, meats, prepared foods. The other stuff, jewelry, crafts, clothing, etc, is sold at flea markets around here.

Badams
06-15-2012, 06:06 PM
The farmer's market here is great. All locally grown stuff for good prices. We have loads of farm stamds here too, all working on the honor system. Nobody would dare steal from them, we don't wamt them to stop selling! It's always sad when they close up shop in late fall :(

pingu
06-15-2012, 06:13 PM
I love farmers markets!! I wish we had them here, I loved buying fruits and vegetabes there when I was in Toronto :) Before leaving, everyone was telling me how crap the food was in north America (and they had never been there of course), but I ate so much good food in Toronto. I think it's just a matter of knowing where to go to find the right things.

PDilemma
06-15-2012, 06:13 PM
I'm confused about farmer's markets. We don't have any near here, but I've seen them in other areas. I thought farmer's markets were just for selling food. Produce, baked goods, meats, prepared foods. The other stuff, jewelry, crafts, clothing, etc, is sold at flea markets around here.

In the early years, that one was. Around here a lot of them have been steadily encroached on by other stuff. I truly don't know the reason. My husband calls one near us (not our tiny local one) a "hippie street fair" and that's about right. At a party last summer, we listened to two people discuss how much they both loved visiting one in Denver where they got awesome jewelry, crafts, and clothing. My husband's response "aren't those for selling fruits and vegetables?" The woman looked at us like we were crazy and said "what?".

milanessa
06-15-2012, 06:15 PM
I think the NE is much better at regulating this sort of thing or maybe local vendors/farmers are just more ethical. That's a broad statement in itself. ;) One more reason to resist making broad statements that may only apply to your area. It ain't so cut and dried elsewhere wherever elsewhere is.

skatingfan5
06-15-2012, 06:44 PM
I'm confused about farmer's markets. We don't have any near here, but I've seen them in other areas. I thought farmer's markets were just for selling food. Produce, baked goods, meats, prepared foods. The other stuff, jewelry, crafts, clothing, etc, is sold at flea markets around here.We don't have any "flea markets" in my town anymore -- the nearest one is about 20 miles north of here and a lot of the stuff was really ticky-tack the last time I ventured there (at least 7-8 years ago).

We do have several "farmers' markets" though (on various days of the week) -- some are quite small (only 7-8 vendors selling local produce and/or food items), but the main one usually has about 75-80 vendors, of which at least half sell various food items, ranging from sort of "junk" variety (kettle corn made on site, soft serve ice milk) to organic micro-greens and a wide gamut in-between. There are several fairly large produce growers, at least 8-10 smaller farmer/home gardener produce stands, a couple of purveyors of locally-raised poultry, beef, and pork, a half dozen sellers of baked goods (two local bakeries and several "home kitchen" bakers) who sell a range of stuff, from "artisan" type breads (rye, whole wheat, Swedish limpa rye, "Russian" black bread), to challah, English muffin bread, muffins, cookies, and even peach, apple, and rhubarb pies. There are several "specialty" produce vendors who arrive from further away (30-40 miles) when their products are in season -- including sweet corn, pumpkins, and an orchard for peaches, nectarines, plums, and then apples. In addition there are even three local beekeepers selling various honey products, a goat farm with their assorted goats milk cheeses (several types of fresh chevre and aged varieties), a pasta maker, and several nurseries selling plants and seedling starts (floral, vegetable, and herbs).

Then there are the various artisans and crafters, selling everything from wooden bowls, nature photography, jewelry, blown glass, beeswax candles and speciality soaps. I'm leaving out lots of stuff -- the atmosphere is almost always buzzing (except on bad weather days) and it's open from 7 a.m. until noon from the first Saturday in May through until the first Saturday in November, after which things move indoors until Christmas (when the produce is greatly reduced -- mainly winter squash and root vegetables -- and the craft items increase).

After reading here about other people's negative experiences with farmers' markets, I feel a bit guilty to have such a good one only 4 blocks from my house. I suppose that the prices on some items are a bit higher than what's available in the supermarkets, but the quality of the produce is so much better -- at least for the items that I buy -- that I don't mind paying a bit more. Of course, I'm not someone struggling to feed a family on minimum wages.

sk8er1964
06-15-2012, 06:48 PM
Michigan has an active Farmers Market Association (http://mifma.s434.sureserver.com/home), which might account for the quality of Farmers Markets here. The government I work for sponsors our market, and we've worked a lot with the association.

Our (quite small) market sells fruits, veggies, flowers (both potted and cut), crafts, and some handmade food items. Those have regulations on them. It's open two days a week - I think we started it about five years ago and it is thriving.

milanessa
06-15-2012, 06:57 PM
Isn't Ypsilanti in Michigan? Just goes to show....something. ;)

PDilemma
06-15-2012, 06:59 PM
Seriously, why do so many markets have so much space taken up with crafts and such? Anyone have any idea? To me that is not at all the intent of a farmers market and having to wade through it to find foodstuffs is annoying. Especially when the craft people are so pushy. Last weekend at the local market, the jewelry woman was yelling at me "You need some jewelry! Come look!". Ugh. No. I don't. I need some snow peas and good onions. And cucumbers as soon as someone has some.