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Markets & Stores

Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Produce at Farmer's Markets really from farmers?


Markets & Stores 21

Produce at Farmer's Markets really from farmers?

chefhound | Aug 26, 2009 10:43 AM

I wanted to bring up this topic because I've noticed this when shopping at farmer's markets.

A friend recently told me that while shopping at the Square One farmer's market, her husband started chatting with one of the vendors who spoke his native language. During the course of the discussion, it was revealed that only some of the produce that vendor was selling was actually grown on his farm. The rest was purchased (I would assume from the food terminal where supermarkets/restaurants etc. get their produce) and resold. When asked why, the vendor said that people want these items and if they don't grow it they want to meet the demand.

I can't be sure but I often shop at the Nathan Phillips Square farmer's market and I've seen vendors taking produce (cherry tomatoes/berries) from plastic clamshell containers and re-packaging the produce in the cardboard "farm" containers. I've also seen trays with the brand name of a well-known tomato producer in the back of the truck. And English cucumbers shrinkwrapped in plastic being sold.

I'm not saying that all the produce being sold is not actually being farmed by the vendor - I'm just saying that I think some vendors, particularly the ones with a huge variety of produce, may not be selling all farm-fresh produce. I think I can be fairly sure that the stand that only sells melons, corn and berries actually farms all those items. And the guy that only sells apples. But some of the others, not so sure.

I feel pretty confident that the vendors at the Evergreen Brickworks farmer's market are all selling freshly picked produce that they've grown themselves. There's an obvious just-picked quality in all the produce sold there.

I just wanted to bring this up to see if others have noticed this as well. I don't think it's right that I pay more to buy a tomato at a farmer's market that is the same this I would have got at the supermarket. The reason I shop at the farmer's market is to get produce that is fresher and of a higher quality than I can get at the supermarket. If it's the same tomato, what's the point? I'm a pretty savvy shopper and I inspect the produce very closely before I buy, and I think I've been able to identify the "real" stuff but I think there should be some regulation or something, requiring vendors to identify the resale items.

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