07/07/2014 05:48 EDT | Updated 09/07/2014 05:59 EDT

All the Questions You Should Ask at the Farmers' Market


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


  • The stroller pusher.
    Bryce Pincham via Getty Images
    We'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.
  • The first-timers.
    Henglein and Steets via Getty Images
    We agree: going to the farmers market is very exciting. But please contain your giggles and your photo-ops.
  • The person who wants to know the seller's entire life story.
    Heather Weston via Getty Images
    You 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!
  • The person who judges what you buy.
    Education Images/UIG via Getty Images
    It'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.
  • The person who brings his own compost to the market.
    Alison Spiegel
    If your farmers market has a compost program, you're a good human for participating.
  • The chef.
    ParkerDeen via Getty Images
    You may not be in your chef's uniform, but we spy you, and we will try to learn from your choices.
  • The person who touches everything.
    Betsie Van der Meer via Getty Images
    Do you think we want that tomato after you've squeezed it 11 times? And what? Now you're not even buying any tomatoes?
  • The adorably wholesome family.
    Image Source RF/InStock via Getty Images
    You guys are too cute. Really.
  • The person who brought her own bags.
    Image Source RF/InStock via Getty Images
    You're in your element.
  • The person who forgot her bags.
    Hulya Ozkok via Getty Images
    Get out! No, we kid. It's all good. Just don't do it again.
  • The tourists who form human chains and take excessive photos.
    40260 via Getty Images
    You take up all the room and you're moving way too slowly! Stop taking selfies, buy something and leave!
  • The person who just looks enviably good.
    Betsie Van Der Meer via Getty Images
    We applaud you. You know what you're doing, you're efficient and you're not obnoxious about it.
  • The biker.
    Richard Jung via Getty Images
    As 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.
  • The person who's just there for the free samples.
    You know who you are.
  • The person looking for a date.
    Sam Edwards via Getty Images
    We 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?