I believe that consumers - especially those who take the time to shop at Farmers' Markets - have the right to know where their food is grown. There is an unfortunate practice at most of Colorado's markets of selling produce grown out of state (or out of the country) without clearly labeling it as such. Shopping at a "Farmers' Market" doesn't mean anything if the produce you're buying is identical to what you could get at Safeway or Whole Foods. We need to restore integrity to our Farmers' Markets, and this will not happen unless we ask.
The largest group of markets in the Denver area is the Colorado Fresh Markets, owned by Michele Burke. Today I sent an open letter to Ms. Burke asking for change (you can read the letter here). Please add your voice - and your vote - by sending a quick email to Ms. Burke. Feel free to cut and paste the template email below, edit it however you'd like, or write something new from scratch. You can also forward this email to everyone you know who cares about supporting local food.
Thank you for your help in getting Farmer's Market shoppers the information they need to truly eat locally!
Send your email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Ms. Burke,
I am writing to you as a consumer who cares about local food and supporting local farmers. I shop at Farmers' Markets, and do so largely because I would like to purchase food that is locally grown.
As the owner of Colorado Fresh Markets, you are responsible for operating the Cherry Creek, Stapleton, City Park, Civic Center, and Greenwood Village markets. These are undoubtably some of the largest and most successful markets in the Denver metro area. As such, you are in a unique position to influence the standards of practice at all Denver markets.
I would like to ask that you begin, immediately, to request that your vendors visually label any produce that is grown out of state. I understand that your contracts for the 2009 markets have been signed long ago. However, you could strongly request that they begin this practice for the remainder of the 2009 season, and include it as a requirement in your contracts for 2010.
I believe that requiring vendors to visually label all out of state produce is a simple step, and I would greatly appreciate it. It would make me more comfortable shopping at Farmers' Markets, and I would be likely to do so more often.