Kansas City is fortunate to have access to a number of Farmers Markets that only accept vegetable and fruit producers who agree to grow using organic methods. Organic growers avoid the use of conventional fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, and other biocides, and they strive to preserve the health of the living soil. The farmers at these markets who produce meat, eggs, and dairy products agree to avoid the use of synthetic growth promotants such as hormones and sub-therapeutic antibiotics.
However, often the most convenient market to you is what we call a "mixed" market. That is, a market with vendors and farmers that grow organically OR conventionally; using common pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, and who may or may not be raising their animals in the best possible way. These questions are designed to help you navigate these mixed markets, and to help you develop a trusting relationship with your farmers.
Questions to Ask Your Farmer
- Do you grow all of the food products you sell?
- Is your produce organically grown? How do you define organic?
- Do you use any synthetic pesticides (insecticides, herbicides & fungicides) or chemical fertilizers?
- If you don't usually use pesticides, will you use them as a last resort?
- When did you pick your produce?
- Is it ready to eat today?
- How do you wash and store your products?
- Do you have a clean water supply?
- How do you cool your produce? (Sweat leads to rot.)
- Do you welcome visitors to your farm?
- How do I arrange for a farm visit?
- Did this meat, eggs or dairy come from animals that have regular access to out-of-doors? Please describe their housing or shelter, their bedding, and their access to pasture.
- Did you raise the animals that supplied this product? If not, how do you know how it was raised?
- Were any antibiotics added to the animals' feed? Do you regularly use chemicals that kill parasites, or only in response to an infestation?
- Were the animals fed animal by-products mixed in feed, such as from a rendering plant?
- Beef and dairy: Were these animals ever given synthetic hormones?
- What do your animals eat? Did the animals' feed contain any genetically engineered grains?
- Pork: were the sows on the farm ever confined in crates or cages?