Food Provenance (Part 4) - Markets
In the last few weeks, we have explored the origins of the food we buy whether this be from your local grocery shop, supermarket chain or market stall. We have asked questions around the supply chain and whether we are truly aware of what we are eating or buying and we’ve also looked at the livelihoods of farmers which begin this chain. To read our previous blogs on food provenance, click here.
The long standing tradition of where we sourced most local produce was from market stalls however in years gone by the cynical amongst us have raised thoughts around whether even this produce is being appropriately grown and sourced. So to help you, we’ve looked at what to ask and what not to ask next time you’re down the market to help you best understand the produce you’re buying.
Questions you should ask:
Is the food you're selling local or from a larger wholesale market?
Some vendors at farmer's markets actually aren't local but travel from market to market, sometimes crossing state lines, selling wholesale produce. Sometimes these vendors pull up to the market with large amounts of produce and sell straight from the back of a truck. Just because it's sold at a farmer's market, doesn't mean it's local. It could come from a larger distributor.
Do you use pesticides and how much do you use?
Some local growers and family farmers strictly use no pesticides and bring chemical free produce to the local market. This is the best food, even though it may show signs of pest damage. Some small growers admit to using pesticides, but only sparingly. If you are a stickler for really fresh produce like us - try stay clear of these!
Questions you shouldn’t ask:
Since it’s the end of market, can I get a special deal on what you’ve got left?
In order to stay in business year after year, farmers must get the price they ask for. Discounting at the end of market might seem harmless and even logical, but it’s an unsustainable practice for the farmers themselves. If they are true to their word and the produce is local and organic, asking for end of day discounts insults their hard work - not always best received after a long day (you’ve been warned!)
Was this picked fresh this morning?
So what’s wrong with this question… you just want to know if it’s fresh, right? That’s totally understandable. But let’s take a moment to think about how a farm really works. Obviously, even locally farmed produce has to take some journey to reach the market and can’t always be picked first thing and in the case that the farmers are doing their job right (more often than not) you’re unlikely going to get fresher produce unless you grow it yourself.
Next week we will explore the role of restaurants and their responsibility to buy the appropriately sourced food to go on your plate.