Some Local Farmers Markets Are Turning Into Commercial Marketplaces

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?

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. Do not assume that just because they are a vendor at a Farmer’s Market that they offer a sustainable, quality product.

3 thoughts on “Some Local Farmers Markets Are Turning Into Commercial Marketplaces”

  1. It is sadly just a sign o the times. Even though we had Live Aid over a decade ago, today, now more than ever, farmers are hurting. And the farmers market farmers are actually hurting the most because of the low volume of business that they do. Kinda like your mom and pop bookstore vs Barnes and nobles of farming.
    It is very difficult for local small farmers to turn a profit (even the big wheat and corn farmers) and sometimes they just have to “sell out” to stay in business. If they have to include sugar in their repertoir -if u will- It is still better than the grocery store and I can ignore the chocolate section (maybe – it’s hard for a girl scout out here…)

  2. The farmers have nothing to do with other vendors allowed at the farmers markets. It’s the organizers.

    And it’s not chocolate that is the problem, it’s sugar, refined flours, and hydrogenated oils.

  3. In my city, NY, the farmers at the farmers markets which come from some of the best farms in the north east, Have for sometime now sold packaged products that you would find in a bodega along with a large supermarket. That’s just the way it is now. It may be the organizers, but many of the organizers are the farmers themselves realising they can’t turn a profit or make ends meet.
    And we are splittin hairs as to chocolate vs sugar. Beyond the bittersweet stuff, most chocolate is made with some type of sugar. At the end of the day, sugar is sugar. And of course now we have plenty of sugar substitutes with all manner of new potential health issues.

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