There's nothing better than shopping at a farmers' market. The benefits are endless. But, as anywhere, buyers beware! Take the opportunity to buy the freshest, most local organic goods, and make sure you know what you are buying, who your money is going to, and what you are supporting.
Just a few questions we all need to be asking our farmers (before we say "thank you"):
1. Are you the farmer or part of their team?
(Remember the closer you are to the person who grows your food, the better.)
2. Is all of your produce grown on your farm?
(You'd be surprised how many buy produce from the food terminal.)
3. Is your produce organic? Is it certified organic?
(There IS a difference -- support those who are paying to be verified for your sake.)
4. Where are your seeds from?
(Are they GMO-free? You'll also get great stories about generations before, or how their crops came to be.)
5. What is this?
(Try new things -- if they grow it, they will also have the BEST recipes or ways to prep, and often, farmers are posting them -- imagine them making the time to have websites and run social media platforms!)
Also, just because it's at the farmers' market doesn't make the food automatically healthy. Some markets have vendors selling donuts made from white flour and fried in conventional oil. No, I have no idea how they were allowed in to this special community! Happily, a few stalls away will be someone selling lovingly-made stuffed French toast made with the finest ingredients. Choose wisely, and choose real.
A few questions we all need to be asking prepared food vendors:
1. Are all of your ingredients local?
(If they are using bananas, obviously not, but a commitment to using local is what you are after -- there is no need for me to ever use onions from anywhere but around here in Toronto, year round.)
2. Are all of your ingredients GMO-free?
(Do not tolerate anything less than 100 per cent yes!)
3. Are all of your ingredients organic, and certified organic?
(Know what you are eating -- ask the question, and get a clear answer, if you don't, that is an indication in itself!)
4. Where do you prepare your food?
(This is good to know that it's prepared in a verified kitchen, that is inspected, and also you can learn if there might be cross contamination if it's in a shared kitchen.)
5. Are you on Twitter or social media?
(Tweet them a thanks! Sharing is caring! #ThankYourFarmer)
The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. ― Masanobu Fukuoka
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
Bryce Pincham via Getty ImagesWe're glad you take your kid to the farmers market, but a stroller is an aggressive decision. Especially if that stroller is carrying a dog. We've seen it -- far too often.
Henglein and Steets via Getty ImagesWe agree: going to the farmers market is very exciting. But please contain your giggles and your photo-ops.
Heather Weston via Getty ImagesYou seem to think the people behind you in line don't have anything better to do with their day. You also think that being overly serious makes you some kind of authority. Enjoy yourself!
Education Images/UIG via Getty ImagesIt's not cool to judge someone if all they want is bread and cheese. But we agree, they should probably take advantage of the gorgeous vegetables too.
Alison SpiegelIf your farmers market has a compost program, you're a good human for participating.
ParkerDeen via Getty ImagesYou may not be in your chef's uniform, but we spy you, and we will try to learn from your choices.
Betsie Van der Meer via Getty ImagesDo you think we want that tomato after you've squeezed it 11 times? And what? Now you're not even buying any tomatoes?
Image Source RF/InStock via Getty ImagesYou guys are too cute. Really.
Image Source RF/InStock via Getty ImagesYou're in your element.
Hulya Ozkok via Getty ImagesGet out! No, we kid. It's all good. Just don't do it again.
40260 via Getty ImagesYou take up all the room and you're moving way too slowly! Stop taking selfies, buy something and leave!
Betsie Van Der Meer via Getty ImagesWe applaud you. You know what you're doing, you're efficient and you're not obnoxious about it.
Richard Jung via Getty ImagesAs long as you tie your bike up outside the market, we're cool with you. However, please don't bring the bike into the market. That's just rude.
_e.t/FlickrYou know who you are.
Sam Edwards via Getty ImagesWe suppose the farmers market is as good a place as any to pick up a date, but can you at least pretend you're there to shop?