Five Questions for the Discerning Shopper


p>Shopping at a farmers’ market should mean that you can trust the market management to meet minimal standards of sound business practices and the reasonable expectations of the farmers, customers and the community at large. The following are a few questions for the management at your favorite market. The answers should either be readily available or easily accessible at the market or on the Web.

1.    If you are advertising this market as producer-only, what are you doing to guarantee that?
2.    How do you handle the confusion and concern caused by food scares such as the recent tomato and meat recalls?
3.    What  do you know about how the farmers raise their produce, such whether they use chemical fertilizers or insecticides and fungicides?  Do you encourage or reward certain practices over others in your selection process?
4.    To what extent do you request or require that your value-added producers use local ingredients in their products, and how do you ensure that your wishes or demands are met?
5.    What are your goals and objectives as a market manager, and how do your management decisions serve those ends?

The answers to these questions will enable you to better understand the operation you are supporting  and help you to compare the goals and practices of the various markets in your area.  The answers will also provide you with information that can help you to monitor what you see yourself in the markets you choose to support.