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Making the Most of Your Farmers Market

Farmers MarketShopping at your local farmers market is one of the best ways to reconnect with your food and support those who seek to make healthy food available.

Not sure if there's a farmers market near you? LocalHarvest offers a public nationwide directory of small farms, farmers markets, and other local food sources.

Many farms offer consumers the opportunity to share in the upcoming produce season through CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). By purchasing a share ahead of time you receive a designated portion of the fresh food each week. For more on CSAs and to find one in your area, visit LocalHarvest's CSA section.

New to farmers markets? Want to be sure you're purchasing high-quality food? Sustainable Table, a leading food advocacy group, offers valuable resources for making well-informed choices, including this list of questions taken from the downloadable handout General Questions to Ask a Farmer.

(To learn more about each specific type of farming and why you should be asking these questions, click on the category headings below.)


BeefCows Grazing

  • Are your cows raised on pasture?
  • Do you feed your cows anything besides grass and hay?
  • How are your cows finished?
  • If cows are finished on grain you should ask: How old are your cows when they're started on grain and how long are they fed grain?
  • Are your cows finished in a feedlot? If so, how old are they when they enter the feedlot? Approximately how long are they there? How many other animals are in the feedlot at any given time?
  • Are your cows ever given antibiotics?
  • Are your cows ever given hormones, steroids or other growth promoters?

PoultryFree-Range Chickens

  • How are your chickens/turkeys raised? On pasture, indoors, confined?
  • How much time do your chickens/turkeys spend outdoors each day?
  • What do you feed your chickens/turkeys?
  • Are your chickens/turkeys ever given antibiotics?
  • Are they given hormones, steroids or other growth promoters?

ProduceFresh Carrots

  • Who grows the fruits and vegetables and where is the farm located?
  • How big is the farm?
  • Does the farmer use chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers on the crops?
  • Is the farm a diversified operation, with many varieties of vegetables and fruits?
  • Does the farm grow any heirloom varieties of fruits or vegetables?
  • Are any of the fruits or vegetables genetically engineered varieties?

Sustainable Table also offers detailed questions for those shopping for products in the Dairy and Hogs categories.

Wondering what NOT to ask your local farmer?

Forrest Pritchard, author of the book Gaining Ground, offers a lighthearted yet informative answer in his article 4 Questions You Should Never Ask at Farmers Market.

Even if you don't come with questions, you'll enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, the delicious food, and the fun of supporting your local food growers.

Quotes

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

"...at age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

Dedication