Yesterday, I was reading the online vendor list for a Farmers Market located at a nearby Agway store, and I noticed this week they were also allowing Girl Scout Cookies for sale.
Sorry, a Farmers Market is not the place to sell high-sugar junk-food made with partially hydrogenated oils, I don’t care what the organization is!
This same market is also allowing multi-level-marketing vendors selling “so-called natural” skin-care products and over-priced cookware. Disgraceful!
Farmers Markets Are “In” and Integrity Is “Out”
In the past couple of years, there has been a lot of buzz about Farmers Markets; it’s the current “in” thing to do, with one popping up in virtually every town in my area.
I’m really happy that we have so many choices locally, but unfortunately, with more popularity, there is now a tempting opportunity to exploit the public’s trust! :(
Similar to how most local New England country fairs have turned into commercial marketplaces offering slicer-dicers, t-shirts, and crappy jewelery, it’s a shame that some winter Farmers Markets in our area have slowly turned to the same direction.
Besides the Agway Farmer’s Market referenced above, I took a closer look at another local garden store’s cleverly named Winter ”Farmers-plus” Market, and was surprised to find a local butcher was participating.
No, this butcher does not sell meat from local farms, or even antibiotic/hormone-free meat. Will consumers realize that? Or will they quickly make assumptions about the quality of their meat based primarily on the fact that this business was allowed to participate?
Allowing vendors like this cheapens the idea behind Farmers Markets and takes advantage of the public’s trust. Just as the food marketing labels “natural” and “free range” have been abused beyond recognition, I am hoping our beloved farmers markets are not heading down a similar path.
Yes, I understand that market organizers need to cover their costs, and could feel pressure to minimize their standards during the winter because there are not many New England farms that offer winter produce.
But the issues I’ve seen, seem to be with markets held at established businesses, (like garden centers), so it really makes no sense…their store is open anyway, what extra expense is there? Even if there were only a handful of reputable vendors, they are still benefiting because potential customers are gathering in the store. Why compromise their character and allow inappropriate vendors to participate? Hmm, I can’t even guess $$$ – hehee
Thankfully, there are still a few independent New England winter markets in the area that successfully retain their high standards throughout the year without compromise!
What can consumers do to protect themselves against irresponsible Farmers Market organizations?
- First and foremost, you must check the integrity of the farmers market. Do they have a mission statement? And if so, do they have specific standards that each participating vendor must adhere to before they are accepted?
- Do not be afraid to ask questions. Get to know the vendors at the markets. Ask them specifically about their products and do not feel pressured to purchase from them if they do not meet your standards.
- Do not assume that just because they are a vendor at a Farmer’s Market that they offer a sustainable, quality product.