When I was a kid growing up in Los Angeles, my grandmother lived in central LA. She came to visit us on the streetcar and showed up at our doorstep with shopping bags laden with goodies such as Hardy Boy novels, Nancy Drew mysteries, and produce from the Grand Central Market. Although LA has undergone significant change since my grandmother first shopped at the market, the facility, which opened for business in 1917, has been in continuous operation to this day. In this era of supermarkets and warehouse stores, farmer’s markets are still alive and well. A Google search will locate those in your area.
Katie Pratt is a farmer and mom who believes in shopping at your local farmer’s market. Her family comprises one of the 95% in the US that are responsible for producing our food. She is interested in the food quality that her family eats as well as the quality that her and other farm families supply to the US market. I interviewed her to get her food shopping opinions, which she shares with the organization she belongs to: the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance.
Katie is a firm believer in shopping at your local farmer’s market. She recommends that you get to know the individuals behind the vegetable bins and query them regarding their produce. Organic produce contains about the same nutritional content as non-organic produce; however, it is grown without pesticides that can be harmful. Controversy is ongoing regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs); however, harmful effects are currently unproven. Katie uses GMO seeds on her farm because they yield a superior crop that is may be more disease-resistant.
Most would agree that meats containing hormones or antibiotics are not a good thing. Katie notes that responsible ranchers avoid hormones and, if an animal requires an antibiotic for an infection, it is not sent to market until a veterinarian attests that the medication has cleared its system.
Additional information on the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance Web site, Food Dialogues, can be found at this link.
Take home message:
Katie makes a good point in recommending that, if you shop at a local farmer’s market, chat with the merchants. In this way, you should be able to determine whether the produce is grown organically and pesticide free. A good question to ask is whether the merchant is a member of the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. If answers are evasive, shop elsewhere. Many farmer’s markets do not operate on a daily basis—a number are open only one day a week. For that, and other reasons, many of us will shop at our local supermarket. Most have a section devoted to organic produce and also offer organic and hormone-free beef and chicken.