I love life!

Hi, I am Jo and this is my blog about my life. Here you will find entries on cooking, gardening, food safety and the interesting things happening in my search for an inexpensive and healthy way of living. My home is located in North Florida and I am relearning how to take care of myself at almost 50. This is the deep South so my garden and season may be a bit different than yours. I look forward to seeing what you have to say as time passes. Read on and have a beautiful day!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

On Farmer's Markets

After having surgery in December, then the holidays rolling in I was a bit stretched to blog often. Last week I swore I would post something and did I ...nope. I spent a large portion of my week end listening to "Mamaw Jo Jo!" from two very precocious two year old's who garnered a great bit of my time. Needless to say one whole day was needed for recovery.

Today I worked inspecting a farmers market. It was the usual conglomeration of non local produce vendors  mixed in with the legit produce vendors trying to sell non local produce to unsuspecting buyers. I don't inspect them but I know where they get the products that they sell to the seasonal residents who are none the wiser. If you are at a farmers market ask where the food comes from. Ask if it is organic and ask if it is in season. Chances are you may be surprised with the answers you get.

I can't post about the places I inspect due to a conflict of interest but you should ask if foods are made in a permitted facility or if they are produced under the Cottage Foods Laws. Cottage foods are foods that can be produced in a persons home. Usually non hazardous foods with little water content cakes, cookies, brownies, and breads - provided there are no cream fillings or butter-cream icing.  Honey, jams and jellies also fall into this category due to the high sugar content. Pickles, relishes and jarred salsas are not cottage foods as they do not meet the ph requirements set out in Florida's laws. You can look up your states information online by simply typing cottage foods and the name of your state. DO NOT BELIEVE information that is not from a state source. Misinformation abounds. I have seen really scary interpretations of our laws on Facebook. Anyone can post on Facebook. For that matter anyone can blog so take what I say at face value and do your own research as well.  

Unscrupulous vendors aside Farmers Markets are great places to get local produce, baked goods and even homemade soaps and crafts. One may simply walk through a market and enjoy the sights, aromas and sounds of the market without the annoyance of muzak or the beeping of a cash register. You are outdoors under the sun mingling with people who support local businesses.  All in all not a bad day!


  1. I totally agree with you on asking where things come from. We used to have a little produce stand along the highway. When I first started going there, the produce looked home-grown and they were in season. The last time I went, however, there were some suspicious looking tomatoes. I asked where they came from, and my answer was "Brought in from Coffeyville just this morning!" Coffeyville's in KS, not far away from here.... but that answer was too vague for me. WHERE in Coffeyville? The local Walmart store? Those tomatoes were obviously gassed to ripen them. So trust your instincts, too. Expect the colors to be right. Touch the tomatoes and the cucumbers and don't buy them if they've been waxed.

    At our Bartlesville "Heart of Town" farmer's market, I do see things that are supposed to be organically grown and there is not one bug-bite in evidence. That, to me, is really suspicious. Someone at a farmer's market could SAY their stuff is organic and most of the shoppers there would not have any way to prove otherwise.

    What concerns me just as much, though, is the cost of local produce and how it has sky-rocketed. It used to be, you could get locally grown cheaper than the shipped-in stuff, where your money goes to the grower, the packer, the shipper and the seller. With locally grown, those are all the same person so I really expect locally grown to be more reasonably priced. But, just as with everything else, there's a growing market for something that's in short supply, and so the price is higher. My response to that is to grow my own, as much as I can, which allows me a little extra in the budget to pay for things I'm so far unable to produce myself, such as honey and sorghum, which I buy in large containers (it's cheaper that way) from Kansas producers.

  2. We are usually on the same page aren't we :)Ilene.
    It is so hard to tell with a lot of items anymore. If you have your own garden you can tell better what is in season as you know what you can grow during a given time period.

    We have a lot of large commercial growers in the area so people will go to the packing houses and fields and purchase the seconds to resell. I don't have a problem with that. I am actually glad to see the food not go to waste. It is just that the farmers market buyers assume it is fresh and wholesome because it is at the market. Heck a lot of it is not even from the area. It is from S. America and they drive over to Miami to buy it.

    Everyone assumes that because we are in SW Florida most things grow here year round. Nope. We have seasons just like other places.

    It is a case of buyer beware.


Your comments are always appreciated and I love to hear what you think. Especially my overseas reader! Have a great day!