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Questions You Should Never Ask At A Farmers’ Market

Submitted by Kim Allison
Posted on 15 May, 2016

Questions You Should Never Ask At A Farmers’ Market
Farmers markets are one of the few places where customers can directly connect with the people who literally grew, raised, baked, milled, brewed, fermented, pickled, gathered, butchered, and harvested your food. Farmers are an amazing resource, and questions are expected at market, and even encouraged. Though most farmers will happily answer all inquiries, there are some questions that put farmers in an awkward position.

Was this picked fresh this morning?

Essentially, you just want to know if it’s fresh, which is totally understandable. But let’s take a moment to think about how a farm really works.

Imagine market has just opened, and it’s 8 a.m. For the last hour and a half, the farmer has been setting up his booth. Before that, he drove two hours to get to market. Sometime earlier he brushed his teeth, made a pot of coffee, and—with any luck at all—put on his pants. At what point this morning would he have had time to pick 20 bushels of tomatoes, 100 pints of blueberries, or gather 50 dozen eggs?

Truckloads of fresh food don’t magically load themselves in fifteen minutes. It takes many hands many hours to pick basketfuls of green beans or apples. This doesn’t even count moving the harvest from the field to the packing shed, or loading it onto the truck itself.

Most market produce is picked a day or so before, then loaded onto the truck in the cool of the evening before market day.

If you want it any fresher than that, you’re probably going have to grow it yourself.


Can you save this for me?

If they say yes, and you don’t come back for it, they may lose out on selling it to someone else. And when they say no, some customers take offence and feel that the seller does not want their business badly enough.

Unless you are dealing with a seller you’ve had a long relationship with, just buy it on the spot if you like it. Don’t put the seller in a position where he or she has to take your word that you’ll be back.


I know you’re not open yet, but I’m in a hurry… could you sell me something before the bell?

Hello, Starbucks? Sorry to call so early, but your door is locked and I really need a latte. Could you open up early just for me? I’m in such a rush, and it’ll only take a second!

Where else in the world could someone get away with this question? If farmers opened early for even one person, it would set a precedent that over time will turn into lawlessness. A time is fixed for opening so that every vendor has time to unload their trucks, set up their tents and arrange their products with the least disruption.


Since it’s the end of market, can I get a special deal on what you’ve got left?

If stalls gave discounts at the end, then people would simply wait till the last ten minutes of market to shop. And what about the loyal customers who paid the normal price? They’d be insulted to learn they got charged more for showing up on time. Discounting at the end of market might seem harmless and even logical, but it’s an unsustainable practice for the farmers themselves.

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