Why should I shop at a Farmers Market?
Shopping at Farmers Markets are a wonderful way to promote an eco-conscious lifestyle. Buying fruits, vegetables, honey, plants and other products grown and produced locally are a great way to support local businesses. Since the food travels a relatively short distance from the farm to the market the transportation emissions and resources used are reduced compared to food that travels from farms in other parts of the country or world to warehouses and then finally to the supermarket. This not only saves the consumer money, it benefits the environment! The fruits and vegetables found at a farmers market are often harvested just hours before they arrive at your local farmers’ market – fresh produce is much more nutrient dense and lasts longer at home. There is a positive community vibe at farmers’ markets – many farmers’ markets have hot food vendors and entertainment. You can eat, shop and enjoy yourself with family, friends and neighbors. Here are 10 Reasons to Shop at a Farmers’ Market and 10 Things to Remember When Shopping at Farmers’ Markets.
What are California Certified Farmers’ Markets?
In California Certified Farmers Markets are locations that have been approved by that county’s agricultural commissioner for California producers to sell agricultural products directly to the consumers. California farmers that sell at Certified Farmers Markets are required to register with their county’s agriculture department. These departments certify that the information the farmer registers (crop types, number of acres, location, estimated harvest, harvest season) is true. All farmers are required to post their certification at the farmers’ market. “California Certified Grower” does not mean “Certified Organic”.
What does Organically Grown/Certified Organic mean?
All products sold and labeled as “organic” must be certified. Certification is carried out by organizations accredited by the USDA and includes annual submission of an organic system plan and the inspection of farm fields and processing facilities to verify that organic practices and record keeping are being followed. Organic farmers may not use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, genetically modified crops, growth hormones, or antibiotics. Organic meat and poultry can be fed only organically-grown feed.
What does “Antibiotic/Hormone/Pesticide Free” mean?
Some farmers follow the equivalent of organic farming but are not certified. At the Farmers’ Markets you may see signs advertising “No Spraying/Pesticide-free” or “No hormones/No antibiotics”. If a farm advertises “no antibiotics”, “no hormones”, “no spraying” or “pesticide-free” that means they do not engage in these practices. Farmers may even select to follow all organic practices but are not certified. It is possible that these farmers have not pursued certification because of the cost, time, paperwork and/or outside intervention that is required to be certified organic. However, even if a farmer adheres to all the organic practices required for certification they may not call their produce organic unless they are certified.
Where can I find a Farmers Market?
The Greater Los Angeles area has an abundance of Farmers Markets. On any given day you can find the freshest fruits and vegetables, meats, seafood, breads, dairy products and other locally produced items often just minutes from your doorstep. Click here for a list of Farmers’ Markets in the Los Angeles County area.
For markets in other parts of California click here.
Be sure to check out What’s in Season to find out what you fruits and vegetables you can expect to find at your local Farmers’ Market each month.