While shopping healthy and shopping at the farmers market may seem synonymous, this may not always be the case. With the common response of ‘no spray’ among non-organic farmers it is hard to weed out which farms actually grow within the organic guidelines and which ones have practices that are more inline with conventional farming practices. After working the market for over 10 years I still have a hard time trying to distinguish between the two.
Here are some of my recommendations for obtaining the healthiest foods at the farmers market:
1. Look for the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) certification. While it is not a 100% safe-zone, it does set good guidelines for organic farmers to follow. Make sure to specify with the farmer which items they are selling fall under the CCOF certification. Some farmers sell both certified organic and conventional foods.
2. The “no spray” term is meaningless. A crop can be grown on a heavily sprayed field but because the crop wasn’t directly sprayed it could be considered “no spray”
3. Look for imperfections. When produce has holes from bugs or actual bugs on it, it is a good sign that the food wasn’t exposed to the toxic chemicals we’re trying to avoid consuming.
4. Try a sample. Produce and fruit that have strong flavors (bitter, spicy, sour etc.) usually do so because they had to build a high amount of phytochemicals to ward off inspects which is usually an indication that they weren’t exposed to high amounts of pesticides.
5. One of the best ways I filtered out which farms I want to support is by meeting the farmer. You will get a good sense of what motivates them to farm whether it is producing healthy, delicious foods or to maximize profits.