produce markets

i love the concept of these markets, i really do...

i love the idea of market gardeners coming together to local community hubs such as schools, showgrounds, public spaces, to sell their home-grown fruit & vegetables, home made jams & cakes, honey harvested from their property, milk, cheese, yogurt, free range eggs and chooks, etc.

it all sounds rather lovely, and it would be, if that was really what occurred.

now there are some very good exceptions to the rest of this blog - the pyrmont market run by the SMH and the northside produce market. they of course have their own drawbacks, but the following commments do not apply to these two markets.

there are of course some good markets around the country, however the residents of sydney have, in my humble opinion, been duped. i have had my suspicions for some time about the authenticity of some of the "growers" present at these markets.

now that I have started my own business within the grocery sector, I can now confirm that the vast majority of what i have seen is not the real deal. having spent enough early mornings at flemington markets, i recognise the boxes, the packaging, and the products that appear at these markets. I nearly fell over laughing recently at the EQ markets when the snake beans had "grown in china" tape around the bunches!

I had to quickly walk on past one butcher selling "veal" that was redder than yearling beef before I sniggered all over his display and would become compelled to snatch his customers' handbags to prevent them from reaching for their money.

and without even scratching the surface of the pros and cons of organic farming, the organic food markets doing the rounds in Sydney are questionable; my favourite part of this is the stalls that have a teeny weeny sign in the corner that say "not certified organic" (what does that mean? that it's grown using organic principles and not certified, or that it's grown using any old method).

the organiser's website does little to quell this cynicism either.
Is it Organic?

What is organic food?

At a minimum organic food is grown on land which has had time to become clear of chemical pesticides, fertilizers and herbecides. In addition none of these are used to assist in growth. If an animal is to be reared organically it will be fed on organic produce, not given growth hormones or antibiotics and generally not have been subject to intensive rearing.
Is all the food on the market organic?

No. Some of the food is Organic and some of it is conventional. Conventional food is grown using the current prevalent agricultural methods. We have asked all stallholders who sell food which is not Certified Organic to display signage clearly indicating this.
So how do I know its organic?

Your best guarantee that produce, eggs and meat is organic is to ask if it is Certified Organic. There are several bodies in Australia that exist purely to audit organic food production and/or distribution. If in any doubt ask the stallholder or ask us at the market or by email. Stalls selling Certified Organic produce will normally make sure you are aware it is certified.
What about prepared food?

Most of the hot food on the market is NOT organic. Other prepared food like bread or cakes may be. Stallholders who use organic ingredients will normally sign that they have. It is best to ask if this is important to you.

so dear friends, readers, anybody, (bueller?) what to do? we all know that the supermarket chains don't sell fresh produce, and we had a nice warm fuzzy feeling about buying directly from the growers themselves, but now we know that's not quite the case either.

my suggestion? (apart from of course supporting my business) is to keep supporting your local, friendly and hopefully honest grocers; learn about the food you are buying, understand which cuts of meat are good for different styles of cooking, know what's in season and don't expect to eat things all year round, and experiment with seasonal produce and recipes. that should replace the warm fuzzies that have just been extinguished!


purple goddess said...


I agree wholeheartedly. The idiot "sheeple" who see the word "Organic" and get all unnecessary will be first up against the wall when I am Empress of the Universe (along with any faddie foodie)

As always, I advocate getting to know.. really know your greengrocer and your local butcher. Ask questions. Be informed.

And when you develope this realtionship with your food service providers, THEN you'll get the best service and food..

Julia said...

Great post - and so true.