Farmer's market cracking down on non-local products

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by french fries, Apr 26, 2010.

  1. french fries

    french fries

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    So my Farmer's market is cracking down on non-local products. Great! Now what does that mean exactly? Well, for one, this woman who was selling clothes that she imported from Europe can no longer do that. She can only sell clothes that are manufactured locally. Hmmm ok, great.

    But let's stop and think for just a second: there's a stand that sells pop corn. I asked where their corn came from, and they couldn't even answer. Most probably not from southern california. And yet they're considered local, because they make the pop-corn right there at the Farmer's market. Hmmm.

    Same goes for those guys selling roasted conventionally mass produced chicken, which, for all I know, come from another side of the country: they roast them right there on the Farmer's market, so they're local.

    Same with the fruit juice stand, the burrito stand, the crepe stand, etc...: fruits from other countries, burrito meat from other countries, flour from who knows where...: local products, because they are cooked at the market.

    I went back to see that woman who sells clothes, and told her all she'd have to do to resume her business selling clothes imported from Europe is to apply a sticker, or maybe saw a little patch somewhere on the clothes. Then they'd be considered locally made.

    Kinda ridiculous, don't you think?

    Oh and by the way, the guy selling kids made-in-China balloons at the entrance of the market? He inflates the balloons at his house before he shows up to the market, so they're local as well.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2010
  2. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Ridiculous? Maybe so. But not surprising.

    Have you been following the Food Inc. thread at the Late Night Cafe? Lot's of discussion there about this very issue.

    The term Farmers Market can mean an incredibly large number of things. F'instance, the fact that your market even sells things other than food, to me, makes it a central market more than a farmers market. Or maybe even a flea market.

    To understand what's going on at your market you need to read the market rules and by-laws, check what "farmers market" means in your jurisdiction, etc. Otherwise, you easily fall into the same situation I discussed on that thread: Blackberries are grown in State X. They're exported to China, where they are converted into pulp. The pulp is then shipped to Canada, where it is made into blackberry jam. And yet, the labels legitimately bear the label, "Product of State X."

    The sad part is that most people, when the term "farmers market" is used, have an image of a growers-only market, where the freshest produce and other foodstuffs are available, strictly from local growers.

    As is the case with your market, such is not always the case.
     
  3. skatz85

    skatz85

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    yeah sounds like a flea market or something along the lines. i went to a few famers markets here and they just sell food fruits and vegis. except last time when i was their i went with one of my chefs and we were handing out food that the lady who was in charge of the farmers market had given us. this is when i was hoooked on farmers markets and will hopefully do more. but sometime as stated she will give the chefs produce and they will make food and hand them out when people visit the farmers market.everything was locally grown though
     
  4. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    I see no problem with that, its called the Local farmers market. If she wants to sell cloths from Europe, then open up a International market. Who the heck goes to a Farmers market to buy a shirt.......Chef Bill
     
  5. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    The whole question of samples is as widespread as the definition of farmers market itself.

    In some jurisdictions, cut samples are not permitted by the health department. So a farmer could, for instance, give you an entire tomato to take home and try. But he can't cut it up and have you try a piece there.

    Relatively few farmers markets have on-site cooking at all. When they do, there are differences in how that's handled. Some actually allow concessions that sell food (which may or may not represent the locally-grown philosophy). Others may have local chefs demonstrate recipes, using the foodstuffs available in the market. Their output is then given out as samples. And so forth.

    Chef Billy, I couldn't agree more. An outdoor venue that sells clothing, and crafts, and anything not food isn't a farmers market. It's a flea market that includes produce.
     
  6. french fries

    french fries

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    Well I couldn't agree more with you guys and really wish that the market was JUST that: a farmer's market selling local farmer's products.

    But it just isn't. It seems like here in Socal, you can't have a farmer's market without all the standard fair attraction around it: petting zoo, jumper, balloons, burrito stand, crepe stand, etc etc... I mean at least half of the market is actual local farmers selling their stuff, the other half is... BS.

    I would have no problem if they really cracked down and said "Ok no more non-food items" for example. I just find it ironic that in the name of selling "local products" they prevent someone from selling imported clothes, but they allow someone to sell "handmade jewelry" as "local art" when it's just made-in-china beads that are glued to a pin. That's what I was trying to share in this thread. I think KYHeirloomer hit it on the nail with the description: 

    A bit ironic, don't you think? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
     
  7. french fries

    french fries

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    So you see no problem with selling chickens that may be imported from another country at a local farmer's market, just because they're roasted on the scene? That's what I was complaining about. Not the fact that they're cracking down on non-local stuff, the fact that the way they're doing it doesn't make any sense. If you're going to sell stuff from all over the world at a farmer's market, so be it. I don't like it but if that's the rule they make, whatever. If you're going to crack down and only sell local stuff, use some common sense and don't just crack down on 5% of the stuff just to give yourself the illusion that you are becoming a "local" farmer's market. That was my point.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2010
  8. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    Santa Monica FM is growers only....there are a bunch of growers only in the LA area.

    We used to have cooking demos, food events, omelet booth....all were monitored by the health dept. every  few years they'd get a bee in their bonnet and want to regulate shtuff differently.....it usually meant a detailed conversation about how we would do it to appeaze them.   I still remember the conversation with the inspector who wanted us to use liquid eggs at the market.....was on vacation and it took some serious shuffling to work through it.
     
  9. gonefishin

    gonefishin

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       Myself, I don't care if they sell roasted chicken that they bought at the BigMart grocery store with chicken they imported from across the country.  I'm really not concerned at all with ANY of the prepared foods, I'm there for the farmer's market items.  

       you certainly are lucky to live in such a rich part of the world!

       dan
     
  10. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    Boy are you over thinking this...............You want everything local, like the chicken, the Rotisserie oven it roasts in, the truck in was delivered in, All the spices grown locally, all the paper plates made local, plastic forks Locally..............can I have a fork for my chicken, sorry they are not made locally, eat with you hands, how about a napkin, sorry don't make those either., use your European shirt to wipe your mouth.................Start your own local market, see how many items you make locally....Chef Bill
     
  11. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Bill, I reckon you're going a little overboard with this. Nor can I figure why you're pretending to be obtuse on this issue.

    There is a rational "local" definition, used by the majority of legitimate farmer's markets: the food item must be grown or raised by the person selling it.

    Nobody cares about the plates and forks. But in a farmers market that allows the sale of cooked chicken it's only reasonable to expect that the guy selling it raised it. That's the way it works in a real farmer's market (except that the chances of finding such a booth in a real farmers market range from slim to none).

    But I think you're missing the basic point. This isn't about buying shirts or about rotisserie chicken. It's about applying the rules in an even-handed manner. The women selling clothes was banned not because her product was clothing, but because it wasn't made locally. In that case, anything not local should be banned, including the rotisserie chicken from a different country, and the popcorn from who knows where.

    The plates, and forks, and napkins and rotesserie itself are irrelevent. Nobody is selling them, they are not products (whereas the chicken is). 

    Granted, things can get a little fuzzy with value added products. For instance, if I was selling blackberry jam at a farmers market, it's only reasonable that my customers expect I grew the blackberries myself.

    What, you may ask, about the sugar etc? That's where the market rules and state regulations come into play.

    Frankly, it's difficult for me to argue in favor of FF's position, only because I don't accept that she's talking about a farmers market. They can slap any name they want on it, but the fact is it's a flea market pretending to be something else, and I wish they would drop the masquarade. But fair is fair, and if they have a local-products-only rule, it should be enforced across the board.
     
  12. mgchef

    mgchef

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    I bought some key limes at my local "farmers market". I asked the lady why there was a little sticker on the side. She shut up, and immediatel turned to another customer. I was so mad to find out that some people do these things. Luckily, my mom is good friends with a local farmer and we get really good produce from him.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2010
  13. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Mfchef, unfortunately, calling something a farmers market is no guarantee that it's a growers-only market. Thus, it pays to ask any vendor whose produce you're interested in where it was grown.
     
  14. free rider

    free rider

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    I went to a farmers market that featured only local produce.  The farmers brought the culls.  It was sad.  One of the farmers wives used to bake awesome quickbreads though, so I would go back regularly.  I'm quite sure the flour she used was not local although the bread "flavors" seemed to be.
     
  15. bobbleheadbob

    bobbleheadbob

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     As a kraft hobby I make and sell sausage, bacon, pancetta, canadian bacon etc. in an inspected and licensed kitchen, I have all the licenses and permits a man could need along with safe food handling certificates and 40 years experience. The local farmers market would not let me sell my product because the hogs did not come from the 5 counties surrounding the market, thats their rule. The problem is no one in those 5 counties raises enough hogs to supply my needs so I must buy my hogs from a farm up near Denver. I have tried for several years to get in, no luck. Seems odd considering all the things sold there like granola, mustard, flavored oils and vinegars, and hand made furniture that do not use local ingredients. Maybe they don't  like carnivores.
     
  16. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Bobblehead, I would check their by-laws, market rules, and any legal requirements to see how they define "local." If, indeed, somebody is selling granola made with non-locally grown products than there's something definately out of kilter----either that person has to go, or they have to let you in, or they face possible legal problems of the first order.

    Sometimes farmers market organizations behave as if they were exempt from the rules and regs than govern the rest of us. But as soon as your lawyer writes them a letter they back of quick.

    That aside, have you looked into having a local farmer raise your hogs on a contract basis? The problem with quantity, for many farmers, is that they're reluctant to take the economic risk on a maybe. Can't blame them for that. But with a guaranteed sale they'll be more than happy to raise anything you want.

    Might be worth looking into.
     
  17. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    Crud.....I was just interviewed for the Post Dispatch, the article was on  the state of farmer market managers. 
    June 13th I'm giving a talk at Mizzou Columbia on "Building better farmers' markets"....talking will be easy, power point is going to be something else.
    Bob Perry (KY) and I are talking about sourcing local....should be a hoot....love Bob.

    KY has been spot on.  As a past owner of 2 farmers markets it was always a hassle to be threatened with lawsuits....really detracted from the gig.  
    Farmer's Markets have grown exponentially in the past 5 years, every city wants the warm fuzzies involved in having a farmers market...they just don't understand what goes into a good one.
     
     
  18. jamlady

    jamlady

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    Been working (sometimes managing) at area farmers markets for 14 years.  After 5 markets, never seen one with crafts, clothes, etc.  That's a flea market, and we have them down the road.  Pretty much, the flea m. produce is the same as Meijer, Walmart, etc.  Our farmers must grow, raise, bake, or can their items within a 50 mile radius.  It's hard work finding enough farmers locally to make the market inviting and exciting.  But we usually have around 20, give or take, depending on the season.  The farms are inspected by the market manager to ensure that the products are truly local.

    I can jams, relishes, chutneys, and such, and the market had given me wonderful relationships with farmers who are willing to grow the exact berries/tomatoes/etc. I need.  Last year I purchased 3000 lbs. of locally grown strawberries, thus doing my job of helping to keep local farms in business.

    Of course I have to go outside my Ohio area to buy nectarines, lemons, etc.  But I use local produce whenever possible.  

    The idea of "local" is that the fruit was raised for immediate, enjoyable consumption -- not trucking a 1000 miles and sitting in a cooler for a week.  Anyone in Ohio can tell the difference between a CA strawberry and an Ohio strawberry within a 100 yards!  When local produce is used, the final product is much more flavorful and healthy.  And folks are willing to pay for a better product.  The cycle is then complete.  Farm to kitchen to consumer.  All within a few miles.

    Good luck to the folks cracking down on the market rules.  It truly helps the consumer who wishes to buy local, and doesn't want to get fooled.
     
  19. french fries

    french fries

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    Quote:
    Hey shroom girl, do you mean the wednesday morning one Santa Monica? I've yet to try that one. I've been on the Saturday morning one in Santa Monica, the Hollywood one, and the Studio City one, and they're all the same: about 60% local products sold by the farmers, 40% hot food and craft or whatnot.

    If by growers only you mean no craft, no hot food vendors etc..., please tell me where I can find them! I haven't seen them. L.A. is a large city.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2010
  20. french fries

    french fries

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    Quote:
    Well it's not so much that I absolutely want the chicken to be locally raised, I just thought the way they are cracking down on non-local products is ... ironic. As far as what I want... I guess I understand the need in Los Angeles to attract people with a lot of hot food stands and various craft, but I feel like it's diluting from the original purpose of the farmer's market... apparently many others in this thread would even debate the proper use of the name "farmer's market".