Farmers markets, a welcoming oasis especially for city dwellers, gives us that sense of connectedness to other people and more importantly to our food. When I worked in Washington, D.C. I lived near Eastern Market, which every weekend would showcase an amazingly diverse and abundant array of fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses, seafood, and more.
I don't ever remember questioning the authenticity of who
produced the food - or even if they produced it at all.
I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal
that talks about the rampant re-sellers that are infiltrating Farmers Markets across the country. Now, it's not unfair to ask for purity at a Farmers Market. We all expect fresh products and produce, grown by the vendors who show up. But one particular paragraph caught my attention.
"For the past few years, Luis Vazquez has been waging war against a popular baked-goods vendor from the Ann Arbor Farmers Market in Michigan. Mr. Vazquez suspects the bakery, Kapnick Orchards, is selling
pre-made baked goods."
I'll admit the fact someone could be "waging a war" against a "baked-goods vendor" for being a "suspected" fake baker is somewhat hilarious. But as the USDA has shown, the number of farmers markets have grown significantly in the past 10 years - now up to 5,300 - double the number a decade ago.
There's little doubt the organic and even green movement have attributed to this increase. The Slow Food movement, although small, also probably seeps into the larger culture and documentaries bring to our attention the need for being closer to our food.
Perhaps I've been a little naive when it comes to the innocence of "farmers" at farmers markets...but not quite ready to "wage war" or succumb to farmers market paranoia. When it comes down to it, we're all in the food industry in one way or another. And the reality is that it's often up to us to weed out the posers, resellers, and yes, even the fake bakers.