|Don't Hesitate To Ask Questions Of Farmers.|
Let’s face it, we all enjoy attending outdoor events where we can experience new products, explore new services and have some fun on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
This reminds that farmer’s market season is now in full swing, especially as we enter the early Fall season, where we get to see the bounty of the year’s supply.
As a Virtual Farmers Market we get asked a lot of questions; below I address the most popular:
Are the products I am looking at really local?
Not all farm markets represent local farmers. As a consumer how can you tell? Look around, is there an oversized truck every week with a large produce distributor selling items, or do you see produce that is out of season, or worse pre-packaged? This is a clue that the person or persons selling you your produce are buying in bulk from an out of town suppler, many times from distant places and reselling at your local stand or on your local virtual farmer’s market website. This type of behavior is a huge indication that “Big Agro,” is honing in on the local territory and pushing the small farmer out of business.
Is it Organic?
It is okay to ask if the produce you are contemplating buying is organic. Sometimes farmers use pesticides for reasons that we have no knowledge of. Organic farming is hard, it is time consuming and it takes time to get certified. Becoming a certified organic farmer is a process that develops over time, it just doesn’t happen overnight. If you are purchasing your products virtually, ask the market administrator if the vendors they have on the site are selling you organic products.
Growing produce in a natural state is difficult and competing with the grocery stores and with large farms that mass produce food is very difficult for a small local farmer.
However, if you see a truck at your local market and their products are perfectly shaped and shiny, with perfectly looking produce and the local small farmer’s is the way God intended it to be, meaning not perfect with slight flaws here and there, please don’t be turned off. As consumers we are expecting flawless, shiny veggies and fruits, but most of those perfectly good looking fruits and veggies contain pesticides, hence, why they look so perfect. In addition, many of those food products are coated in chemicals so they can last longer during transport.
Sometimes a farmer doesn’t use pesticides, or uses minimum amounts of pesticides, or may be waiting for his/her farm to be ready for the organic certification. Don’t be shy about asking the farmer if they spray, why. If they are local, ask how the produce is grown and cultivated. Organic or not, buying local is still safer than buying through the giant farming chains and with a farmer who may be waiting to get certified, you may in fact be buying organic and just don’t know it. So ask.
Does buying organic really matter?
Let’s face it… pesticides cause many health issues. Some plants accumulate more chemicals than others. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a list of the most contaminated products and calls them the Dirty Dozen. There is also a least contaminated list, called the Clean Fifteen. I always try to buy organic whenever and where possible. After all, I would rather pay now… than pay later in medical bills. My advice to you is for you to familiarize yourself with these lists and become an educated consumer. (Stay tuned as we are revising our current website and our new one will have a resource page where we will be posting these two lists, informed consumers are the best consumers, because they know what they are getting, we at NOCVFM would not want it any other way).
By and large you should stick to organic tomatoes, apples, peaches, grapes, peppers and most thin skinned vegetables. Potatoes are also a product that should be organic as it is submerged in the ground and gets subjected to greater chemical contamination from spraying as well as from ground contamination.
Do I need to bust the budget to shop at a farmer’s market in person or virtually?
I have learned how to set and maintain a budget. The following ideas have worked for me, maybe they may help you:
- Make a plan and follow it.
- Set a spending amount and you will be less likely to overspend.
- Buy items that are in season, and high-quality cheeses, meats or specialty products.
- Have an idea for how you will incorporate the goods you purchase to your meal plans for the week. Perhaps you can have a menu in place and you can pick products to complete the dish or add on specialty products to enhance your dish.
- Look for sales, yes, farmers do place some items on sale, or buy in bigger bunches for less cost.
- Buy virtually, and pick up the items or have them delivered. This will prevent impulse buying.
- Save time and shop online, specifically for products you need and want and you find that you will not be tempted to overspend.
Check out our virtual market right here. https://www.nocovirtualfarmersmarket.com we supply in a virtual atmosphere locally grown, sustainable, organic, high quality products as well as local arts and crafts, beauty and skin care products made with only the highest quality ingredients from locally sourced farmers and artisans, we are growing and we add new products and new vendors frequently.
Whether you are shopping at a local farm stand, an organized market, or online, know that the products you are purchasing are supporting small businesses and local farmers. After all, isn’t that the way of today and well into the future? Sometimes going back into our past, like in the “olden days,” when people would go out to market each week to buy fresh produce was the norm, we, as a society through the decades have allowed the food industry to dictate to us how we should live and eat. We at NOCO Virtual Farmers Market are taking it all back. One step at a time, one step back for two steps forward.
Shop our market all year round for healthy food, unique products and amazing gifts, while enjoying your farm-to-table food and specialty goods!
Live, Love, Shop Local… For All Your Bear Necessities!
See you next week!
Candida and Alexa