David Becker, a blogger who writes for The Huffington Post, suggests some basic questions to ask your local farmer when you’re buying produce from him or her. Becker recently launched Friend of the Farmer, a farm-to-table blog based on this simple premise: the more we learn about how food is produced, the more we’ll buy from small farms and farmers we know.
Becker suggests that by asking questions “you learn something new, show respect for the farmer and make an invaluable connection to your food and local community.”
What questions should you ask a farmer?
- Ask if there’s anything he or she grows that they’re particularly proud of.
- Another question could be, in regard to a fruit or vegetable: “Is it ready to eat today? How do I store it?”
- “Are you able to use organic or sustainable principles on the farm?”
- “Does this produce come from your farm?” Some farmers may sell produce from growers they know in addition to their own stuff. They should be able to answer questions for their peers’ produce, too.
- “Do you use any synthetic products like pesticides or fungicides?” The correct answer for organic is no, not ever.
- What was the animal fed? Was the animal raised outside or indoors? Was there supplemental food? If so, when was it provided? Was the grain GMO (genetically modified)? You may have a great chicken, heritage breed, raised outdoors — but then the farmer uses GMO feed.
- At what point do you give your animals antibiotics? Organic means never.
Most farmers who work farmers’ markets and farms stands are proud of what they produce. And many want to tell just how they do it. So why not ask? The key is to be polite and respectful of their livelihood.
After all, you are what you eat. You have a right to know what you’re buying.