This post was written by my husband. He previously worked for a major player in Big Food (I won’t name names) and knows first hand how backwards some of their business practices can be….
In my professional life I work with the procurement department of giant retailer and I’ve learned a few things about retail produce. More specifically I’ve learned about food wholesale or after markets.
Retail produce is traditionally sold in various grocery channels large and small. Often times there are excess or damaged produce that is either purchased by a food broker or less often sold to an individual who directly sells it to you at a wholesale food market.
We don’t want to confuse the wholesale food market with the locally grown organic farmers market.
The ‘Wholesale Food Market’ is basically a swap meet for second hand food. It’s the same produce that could show up in your chain grocery stores. Generally speaking it’s not locally grown and, unless listed, not organic. So don’t be fooled, not everything at the Farmer’s Market is grown by a local farmer. It might just be leftovers from the chain grocery stores!
The ‘Farmer’s Market’ as I know it is a congregation of local produce farmers and other merchants who mainly sell products they’ve either grown or produced themselves.
Now to be clear, I’m not calling out the vendors who sell second hand food. It’s a legitimate business. But if you’re looking for all the health benefits locally grown organic produce can offer, make sure you’re shopping at a Farmers’ Market and sourcing the right vendors.
Some general tips to keep in mind next time you’re at the farmers market:
1. Ask questions to the vendor: Did you grow it? Is it organic? Where’s your farm?
2. Always wash you food. Like any food market, people are touching it and it’s probably dirty
3. Don’t outsmart yourself. If there are Mangos are your Minnesota farmers market, you’re buying from a wholesaler
It’s always good practice to know where your food comes from whenever you can. I hope this sheds a little light on how to shop at your local Farmer’s Market!
For more information on what to eat, I highly recommend Nina Planck’s amazing book: “Real Food“