There's nothing better than shopping at a farmers' market. The benefits are endless. But, as anywhere, buyers beware! Take the opportunity to buy the freshest, most local organic goods, and make sure you know what you are buying, who your money is going to, and what you are supporting.
Just a few questions we all need to be asking our farmers (before we say "thank you"):
1. Are you the farmer or part of their team?
(Remember the closer you are to the person who grows your food, the better.)
2. Is all of your produce grown on your farm?
(You'd be surprised how many buy produce from the food terminal.)
3. Is your produce organic? Is it certified organic?
(There IS a difference -- support those who are paying to be verified for your sake.)
4. Where are your seeds from?
(Are they GMO-free? You'll also get great stories about generations before, or how their crops came to be.)
5. What is this?
(Try new things -- if they grow it, they will also have the BEST recipes or ways to prep, and often, farmers are posting them -- imagine them making the time to have websites and run social media platforms!)
Also, just because it's at the farmers' market doesn't make the food automatically healthy. Some markets have vendors selling donuts made from white flour and fried in conventional oil. No, I have no idea how they were allowed in to this special community! Happily, a few stalls away will be someone selling lovingly-made stuffed French toast made with the finest ingredients. Choose wisely, and choose real.
A few questions we all need to be asking prepared food vendors:
1. Are all of your ingredients local?
(If they are using bananas, obviously not, but a commitment to using local is what you are after -- there is no need for me to ever use onions from anywhere but around here in Toronto, year round.)
2. Are all of your ingredients GMO-free?
(Do not tolerate anything less than 100 per cent yes!)
3. Are all of your ingredients organic, and certified organic?
(Know what you are eating -- ask the question, and get a clear answer, if you don't, that is an indication in itself!)
4. Where do you prepare your food?
(This is good to know that it's prepared in a verified kitchen, that is inspected, and also you can learn if there might be cross contamination if it's in a shared kitchen.)
5. Are you on Twitter or social media?
(Tweet them a thanks! Sharing is caring! #ThankYourFarmer)
The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. ― Masanobu Fukuoka
ALSO ON HUFFPOST: