Do you grow everything you sell yourself?
You should be asking at least this one question at every vendor stall you visit during your Saturday morning run to the market.
Don’t trust only on the signs that say, “grown in Ontario,” “fresh produce,” “organic,” not even if it says, “From our farm to you.” Being grown in Ontario can mean many things and it really isn't as transparent as it seems.
The produce may be "from Ontario" but from WHERE is the question—you want to know WHO is growing this food and his/her methods. The produce being grown in Ontario only means that it is local but it doesn’t tell you much else, you have to do a little digging.
Ontario produce can come from the Food Terminal, greenhouses, other farmers. You don't really know until you ask. If you think you are a buying produce that is 100% grown by your farmer, you may be surprised to find out that is not always the case. The Globe and Mail wrote a great article about the growing tensions at farmers markets with the rise of resellers and the unfairness this brings to real farmers.
"For farmers, the main issue is that resellers don't have to carry the high costs of running a farm, such as paying for labour and maintaining crops. This means they can often afford to undercut farmers and still go home with higher profits." Richa Syal, Globe and Mail, 2017.
We've become very naive and ignorant when it comes to our food. We need to stop being such trustworthy consumers when it comes to our food. How come we do so much research when it comes to getting a new phone or car? We should know more about not only food but where it comes from!
Yes, even at the market.
It hurts me to see so many people fall into the trap of resellers and think they are buying real fresh produce from local farmers!
That is why we must ask, ask, ask! I know, if only it were that simple! That's why I am here though, to help you! I am on this journey just like you and I have to ask these questions every time I go to a new market or I am buying from a new vendor.
But before I get to the questions, let's talk about the ask.
Asking is hard!
Why?: You feel like you are being rude or holding up the line or you simply don’t want to “intrude.”
The market is crowded. There are people who are regulars and know exactly what they are buying. There are others who don’t really care to talk to vendor and just want to buy. So naturally you may feel like you are in the way.
Well don’t worry about that. People can wait—everyone gets their turn and yours just may be 2 minutes longer, and it is okay! Plus, real farmers want to talk to you and they will make the time to give you the answers you need.
How you can make it easier:
Why you should do this:
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.