I had an interview recorded on my cell phone with one of our market managers, Virginia. We were talking about the advantages of shopping at Farmers markets and why she initially wanted to get involved. But somehow between the end of the conversation and the time the cell phone/recorder was getting slipped in the pocket the audio was lost. Unfortunately I lost the glitz and glamour of having her quotes and I’m stuck having to paraphrase what she said.
Ginger with her husband Jess created the Dixie Lee farmers market just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. What I found out about there experiences wasn’t a punch in the face type of surprise but something a little more subtle and uplifting.
She started off with a story.
A few years back Ginger asked a girl where lettuce came from and the girls flat, innocent and honest response was, Ingles( a local grocery store). This was a sad statement for Virginia, or Ginger what people call her when they aren’t acting professional. Building from that she said that one of the biggest benefits that people gain from shopping at farmers markets is an understanding of where food comes from and meeting the people who get their hands in the ground to make it.
She went on to discuss the debate between which is better, organic or local and commented that what people are coming to find out is that local food seems to be winning the debate. Organic is nice in concept but just because it’s earned the label doesn’t necessarily mean much. The food that isn’t organic isn’t necessarily worse, many farmers work with a policy on food that isn’t organic in the government certified version of the word but the process’ that these farmers use can actually be more beneficial to the health conscious consumer. She went on to explain how some organic produce is sprayed with “safe” pesticides and explained that even if food is organic it can still come from anywhere.
Organic cows from Nebraska being shipped to Tennessee may make for healthier meat, but odds are the farms that produce them are corporate owned and the cattle don’t necessarily get a better life, just better feed. Another point of concern to the truly sustainably minded consumer is the fuel used. Buying from local farmers will save on the price hike for gas as well as the environmental consequences brought on by shipping mass amounts of Organic corn fed cows.
What I brought away from my conversation with Ginger was a sense of understanding food.
Just as a disclaimer I can’t remember if she actually asked the girl where lettuce came from, it could be any vegetable but my mind has a hard time retaining the subtler details.
After a short hiatus due to traveling and exhaustion, I am now returning to the weekly step. This weeks step is I will be planting a garden. I’ve been picking brains and planting seeds all week so tomorrow I’ll starting plotting my progress.