Farmers Market Reinforces My Thoughts on Mainstream Food Production

Prairie Gleanings

I don't know how folks can consider some of these practices sustainable.

Published on: May 12, 2011
Last week, the wife and I drove to St. Louis for the kickoff of one of the city’s many farmers markets.

We have some friends who run a gourmet grilled cheese stand at the Tower Grove Park farmers markets. It’s called “The Big Cheese” if you’re interested.

Anyhow, I love the sandwiches, but could do without all the “other” stuff. On the way over, I was grumbling about how folks are continually duped by buzzwords like organic and sustainable. My wife told me I need to be more open minded.

As we traipsed through the park, I tried to heed her advice. I did not point out that a vendor from Newburg, Mo. travelling over 100 miles one way to sell raw milk from a refrigerated trailer the size of a small camper is the antithesis of what I consider sustainable. Nor did I discuss that “organic cupcakes” sure sounds like a way to cash in on a buzzword that many are convinced means premium.

Now, I want to be very clear here. I don’t disagree with everything surrounding farmers markets. I intend to buy fresh tomatoes and other produce later in the year. Problem is, those fruits and vegetables aren’t available in the Midwest in early May. Still, I will buy them once they hit the market, albeit from someone who doesn’t have “organic” emblazoned on a massive banner.

I’d also buy meat from reputable-looking vendors. I even came close to buying some goat meat. However, the cooler it was stored in had little to no ice.

My beef with said markets lies with the folks who think they are helping the environment with their purchases. Again, I point to the refrigerated trailer from Newburg. A 200-mile round trip to sell 50 gallons (even that may be generous) can’t compete with a semi load direct to the grocery store.

On the way home, my wife admitted that she now understands many of my grumblings. In fact, I think she’s more mainstream food minded than even myself.

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