Decoding the Farmer's Market

July 26, 2016

There's so much to love about a farmers' market; shopping in an open air market, smelling the handmade soaps, sampling gourmet honey or freshly baked goodies, and of course, all the healthy, colorful produce--it's the perfect way to spend a summer afternoon. If you've ever been confused by some of the signage at a farmers' market (e.g. organic and Certified Fair Trade), here's a quick guide to help you distinguish what's what. 

Artisanal: refers to a high-quality or distinctive product made in small batches, usually by hand or using traditional methods.
You might see artisanal cheeses or breads or even soaps. 

Fair trade: refers to the production of goods using strict social, economic, and environmental standards--no forced labor or poor working conditions, no GMOs, goods must have a "floor price" (meaning they cannot be sold for less than the floor price).

You might see coffee, cocoa, bananas, and tea.

Locally sourced/locally grown: refers to produce and other agricultural products (e.g. flowers), food,  and other items that have been grown, produced, processed, and then sold within a certain area, typically within 100 to 150 miles. 

Since you're at a farmer's market, it can be assumed that the produce is locally grown. You might see 'locally sourced' on handmade goods.

Organic: refers to produce and other ingredients grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge (yes, it is as bad as it sounds), GMOs (genetically modified organisms), or ionizing radiation. Any animal products come from animals that have not been given antibiotics or growth hormones.

You might see produce, cheeses and other dairy products, coffee, meat jerky, etc. You may also see clothing items, such as scarves, made from organic cotton.

Small batch: refers to the production of an item--from coffee to cookies--in small amounts (e.g. 9 lbs of coffee beans roasted at a time versus the 100 lbs a larger company would roast at a time).

You might see this on baked and handmade goods, or any item that has to be processed in some way (e.g. roasted, baked, crocheted, milled, etc).

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