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Jul 18, 2010 11:36 AM

JFX Farmers Market: Do some stands sell supermarket produce?

As much as I love the farmers market - and I really do - there are a few stands that trouble me. Either they have a bizarre assortment of produce that I can't imagine one farm planting, or their produce looks a little TOO uniform, or as I saw today, their produce has those little tiny stickers that you see on each individual piece at the super market, with a bar code or SKU number or something. Are they getting their stuff at Bel Air produce? Is it just the usual trucked-up-from-Guatemala stuff that we go to the Farmers Market to avoid? I feel like a dummy for not knowing the answer to this already.

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  1. What did you see? Which stands?

    1 Reply
    1. re: chowsearch

      I don't know them well enough to identify them but one stand had vidalia onions that were all individually labeled with those little stickers. That was the weirdest thing I saw. Nothing else was as much of an obvious red flag.

    2. I think there is a problem with re-sellers in many farmers markets, but the JFX is just so big that's it's probably hard for the management to make sure that everything's local, if that's even required. Stickers on produce, and stuff like mangoes, oranges, and pineapples are pretty dead giveaways that the stuff's not from an area farm. One way to do this is to make sure you know what's in season and only buy that, and you can ask the farmer as well. I agree it's not fun buying the same stuff at a farmers market that you can get at Safeway. And, to further confuse things, some farmers also have greenhouses, if you every wondered why you ended up buying a red tomato in May. All and all, caveat emptor!

      1. Vidalia onions aren't local by definition.

        Edit: The Chowhound software's practice of doing word matches to make links is really annoying. This post has nothing to do with Vidalia restaurant.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Hal Laurent

          I don't think that I knew that there are no local vidalia onions. I guess educating yourself is a good step to protecting yourself from buying the wrong things.

          1. re: kukubura

            Hey - don't be embarrassed. To clarify, if it's labeled a Vidalia onion, it can only come from Georgia. The authentic ones do usually have that sticker (altho, it IS an onion with that papery skin that does come off in the bin sometimes, so at a supermarket, you probably won't see 100% of the Vidalias with a sticker just because they do come off) Anyway you bring up a good point, Kukubura, at the Howard County farmer's market I'm suspicious of one vendor in particular - she had produce in May that simply was not have been available from local farms yet. I don't patronize her stall at all, it has tainted my view of her wares completely. If something doesn't look right to you, go to another vendor and speak with your money. As Baltoellen says, start learning what's in season in our area at a particular time. Overall, farmer's markets are a GOOD thing and we should patronize them when possible. Don't let a couple "bad" vendors sour you from the whole market!!!