For this blog assignment I decided to visit the St. Lawrence Farmers Market North side.
For months my friends and I have tried planning a visit to a farmers market but it never works out, mainly because everyone would rather sleep in. But alas I made it and couldn’t have been happier about the experience.
Upon arrival I felt a bit a bit overwhelmed by the many vendors so I decided to grab a coffee to gather my thoughts. I decided to walk around once to see whom I’d like to speak with.
My eyes caught a stand by Marvin Creighton and his wife. What stuck out to me was the fact that he was wearing a giant Valentines Day tie and his stand was one of the busiest.
Mr. Creighton was busy talking to a customer so I decided to approach his wife. She told me that the farm is a family business. Marvin is a 3rd generation farmer. His grandparents bought the farm in the 1920’s. Mrs. Creighton wasn’t able to answer any further questions so she directed me to Marvin himself.
When I asked Marvin about his farming philosophy he was very passionate. What stuck with me is that he said “Don’t farm if you want to be wealthy”. He believes that consumers should buy locally and marketing boards (dairy and eggs) should be dissolved. Once this happens then farmers wouldn’t have a hard time making a living. When I asked what he thought about organic farming he said that there was no such thing because organic crops inevitably come into contact with pesticides or herbicide via wind, or water run off.
Last semester I wrote a research paper on organic farming and I learnt that in Canada organic farming is highly regulated. In order to be certified organic soil has to be free of pesticides for at least 3 years. Then there are yearly inspections and fees. Although I knew this I wasn’t about to debunk his arguments so I just listened. Overall I felt that he enjoyed what he did but was a bit jaded with the politics of farming.
After speaking with Mr. Creighton I felt that I needed to speak with someone else to get a different perspective on farming. Uncle Jorge’s Organic Produce was the other stand that stuck out to me because of the way his produce was presented.
When I asked Jorge why he chose to farm organically he said, “I want to eat good food”. He believes that by using conscious farming practices it will trickle down to other aspects of life mainly environmental. He believes people have lost their ability to cook because everything is fast or frozen. It’s not just produce but how livestock is raised. He also spoke about the cruelty of factory farming and mentioned Food Inc. Ultimately he believes that people need to reconnect with the land because it’s what nourishes us.
Although the two perspectives and farming practices differentiate they do share a common philosophy and that is that farming is not for the faint of hearts.
We live in a globalized economy where it’s hard for local farmers to compete with large agribusinesses; ideally by purchasing locally we can support the local economy. Like myself it can be a challenge for some consumers because of their location. It’s always easier for consumers to run to the local grocery store then to seek out a farmers market because of their location and their specific operating times. Perhaps if the farmers market were dispersed evenly throughout the city it might encourage consumers to support their local economy.
Through this experience I also thought about the environmental impact of food. Foods in grocery stores travel miles before it gets to our plate. The transportation cost requires large amounts of resources such as fossil fuel, which subsequently turn into air pollution. Then the items are packaged which contributes to more waste. As an aspiring chef it’s important for me to think about these things because people are becoming more environmentally conscious.
I also think more consumers would opt for organic produce if their budget allowed. The organic cauliflower I saw was $7/lb, which is double the price of the commercially grown ones. Perhaps if the demand increased the price would become more affordable for consumers.
Overall my visit to the farmers market was pleasant and something I plan to do more often once the weather gets warmer. The experience opened my eyes to foods I’ve never tried or knew existed. In the summer I can only imagine the selection of fruits. Sadly the only fruits I saw were apples, which are my least favourite. There was a stand that had bison and elk meat that I desperately wanted to purchase but I was leery it would be in the danger zone for too long. There was also baked goods, cheese, honey, cider, herbs, and even wine.
A few goodies I purchased:
- Carrots: The colours appealed to me.
- Brussel Sprouts: I had no idea that purple brussel sprouts existed. I roasted them the same day I bought them and I find they have a milder taste than the traditional green ones. The outside was crunchy with a sweet potato like centre.
- Beets: I first found out about golden beets in my Essentials lab last semester. I thought I’d purchase a few because I can’t find them anywhere else and beets are one of my favourite vegetables.
- Parsnip: I bought an organic parsnip to do a taste test. I want to see if the organic one taste differently from the commercially grown one. Taste is subjective but I find that organic bananas taste better.
- Asparagus: Just because they were cheap at $1.50 a bundle.