Posts tagged ‘Farmers Market’

from the ARE YOU #$@% KIDDING ME department…

We all know that food safety issues are a problem.  Although the cardinal law of business is “don’t kill your customers,” businesses like Peanut Corp. of America and Earthbound Farms are negligent or evil enough to continually attempt just that.

“If we want to have bagged spinach and lettuce available 24/7, 12 months of the year, it comes with costs.” -Bill Marler (the lawyer who represented plaintiffs in the 2006 spinach E. coli outbreak)

In an article that could be out of a spoof magazine, this article in the San Francisco Chronicle outlines how, rather than holding Big Ag and food processing companies accountable for food safety, giant food retailers are imposing new restrictions on farmers.  Okay, that’s fair enough, I guess… except when their regulations are based on pure paranoia, at the expense of science.

In perhaps an unconscious nod to the fact that it’s managing the perception of safety rather than safe practices, it’s called the “leafy greens marketing agreement.”  Here are some of their great ideas:

  • An Amish farmer that uses a horse to plow his fields can’t sell his greens to retailers, who would much rather purchase bagged lettuce trucked from hundreds of miles away (check the “product of” signs on those packages)
  • neither can a farmer who has children under 5, because, of course, diapers are our biggest threat to food safety.
  • “I was driving by a field where a squirrel fed off the end of the field, and so 30 feet in we had to destroy the crop”  “On one field where a deer… didn’t eat anything, just walked through and you could see the tracks, we had to take out 30 feet on each side of the tracks and annihilate the crop.
  • ponds are poisoned and bulldozed, poison traps are placed on the edges of fields and between rows, and companion plantings on the edges of fields are razed for “bare-dirt buffers”.

in the name of sterility.  Because everyone knows that the ecosystem is out to harm us, and the best way to interact with a system that has sustained life since the beginning of time is to beat the living shit out of it.  Real live UC Davis scientists understand that  “vegetation buffers can remove as much as 98 percent of E. coli from surface water”, but the perception of safety is more important than actual safety.  News flash:  we’ve been growing food in the dirt for a very very long time.  Did you ever notice that food safety issues seem to be happening more now than they ever did?

“In 16 years of handling nearly every major food-borne illness outbreak in America, I can tell you I’ve never had a case where it’s been linked to a farmers’ market,” Marler said.

Farming isn’t the problem.  Sustainable farming definately isn’t the problem.  Gigantic companies that can afford the occasional customer drop off here, in the name of saving some cash there, are.  (Which do YOU think is more dangerous: a container of poison, or a toad?) Instead of buying your food from companies that are trying to kill you, or that think that scorched-earth practices are a good idea, visit the farmer’s market.  The businesses there are small enough to know the value of a healthy customer.  Or better yet,  grow your own.  The dirt won’t hurt you, I promise.

(just remember to wash your food!)


July 14, 2009 at 11:20 pm 1 comment

Deception at the local “Farmer’s Market”

I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend at the farmers market lately. More and more vendors at the farmers market are selling imported produce, and you have to pay attention to the labelling to know if you’re actually buying from a local farm, or if you’re at a quaint supermarket stand. Yesterday’s trip to the market was particularly disheartening.

We were perusing the outdoor vendors, and came across a stand with zucchinis and tomatoes that caused me to go on my usual envious rant about Leamington having an earlier season. But there were strawberries there. I wait all year for the summer berry binge of Ontario strawberry season, so I was pretty surprised, especially since it said product of Ontario on the sign. I asked the guy where in Ontario strawberries season starts in May. Short answer: It doesn’t. They were product of California. Then why was he using a Foodland Ontario sign? He wasn’t trying to lie, he assured me. When people ask he tells them that they’re from California, as he did with me. He was just using the signs provided by the market. Obviously, if that was the case, he could easily have used the back of the sign, or cross out the “Product of Ontario” claim at the bottom (which we suggested to him). But since he was the only one around using Foodland Ontario signs, and he had taken the time to put the strawberries in cardboard pint boxes, it was pretty clear that deliberate deception was exactly the point.

We didn’t ask about the rest of the produce, but let the market office know what he said about the strawberries. They were not interested in having their customers deceived and made him change his sign. But he vends at 4 local markets, they informed us. Taking advantage of people who are trying to locally source their food.

It’s definitely worth chatting with your market vendors before you buy.

UPDATE: Foodland Ontario said, “It is illegal to sell produces [sic] as ‘Product of Ontario’.” Thought so. They also investigate abuses, like food police!

May 24, 2009 at 11:22 am Leave a comment

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