Food Crimes: Something’s amiss at the Farmers’ Market

Farmers-marketI both love and hate the Farmers’ Markets.

I like the samples or, at least, I used to. Some time ago, I witnessed a man reach his fleshy hand in a bowl, dig out some cut up apricots with his fingers, and put the chunks of fruit in his mouth along with his fingers. Then he reached his slobbery hand into another bowl for the pluots.

Disgusting! I no longer partake of the cut up sample bowls.

THERE ARE TOOTHPICKS OFFERED FOR A REASON!

I saw one woman holding her dog while she squeezed peaches. She readjusted the dog, farmermputting her hands under his belly, then turned him over like a baby in her arms, and reached down to handle more peaches.

Kids regularly reach their little hands up onto tables, into bins, fingers in the sample bowls.

But, in all honesty, I have not been turned off from farmers’ markets – until possibly this weekend.

I picked up a lovely, healthy looking bunch of kale and put it in my sack. When I got home, I started to put it away and got a whiff of it. It stunk. It smelled like a dirty sponge. I washed it and let it dry. I tried again – mildewed sponge smell stuck to it. I washed it again and laid it to dry. This time the aroma of old bleach wafted from it’s thick leaves.

farmersmktUnwilling to take a chance and eat something that might make me sick (that’s what happen last week after my farmer’s market visit, I got sick. I didn’t then chalk it up to my farmers’ market finds, but now I’m wondering), I tossed it.

I’m not bothered by the loss of my few dollars, but more feeling betrayed by the farmer who tried to pass this off as fresh. I’m not sure what happened to turn the lovely kale into a dirty dishpan scented germ haven, but I do have the feeling the person on the other side of those leafy greens knew what he was selling.

It occurred to me that the farmers’ market is much like a buffet in a restaurant, minus the sneeze-guard. Yes, we’re going to be responsible and wash the food before we eat it, but is that going to be enough?

Beyond the numerous hands touching the produce, the unclean fingers lingering on the individual items, what about those – like I witnessed this weekend – who cough and actually sneeze near the food?

There’s no one checking on these open air food markets.farmermk

I’m certain many of the farmers are proud of their produce and wouldn’t allow infested products to line their tables; however, how many can afford to lose money by tossing away bins of forgotten water-logged or other problematic food?

I’m unclear how these farmers and their sales people can keep people from coughing, sneezing, molesting their fruits and veggies – I mean we are, in some sense, avoiding the supermarket system and trying to buy local – but how do we do this safely?

I imagine I could go back and talk to the guy who sold me that wretched kale, but what would that do? I have every faith he’d offer me a refund or replacement. But that’s not what I want. I want to feel this food is of a higher and safer quality than what I buy in the grocery store. I want to support the local farmers.

But I don’t want to get a staph infection from an avocado skin or the flu from a persimmon nor do I want to pick fleas off my peaches.

farmers mkt

 

Food Crimes: Don’t be Fake(d)

artifical1I tried a new drink; the front label boasted a vitamin drink. I didn’t take the time to read the ingredients. I was thirsting, it was cool and promised refreshing goodness. But, after drinking half the bottle, my stomach began to ache. I put it aside.

Later, when my daughter dropped by, I offered her the rest. (She’s worked in nutrition based stores since she was old enough to get a job – her major is public health). She said, did you read the ingredients?

I hadn’t. The front label had me convinced I was consuming a healthy beverage, but the ingredients listed three different types of fake sweeteners. I’m usually much better about reading labels, but sometimes we all forget and fall for the advertisement.

I’m not one who usually consumes anything with fake sweetener.

I’m a believer that our bodies are made to process what was put on this earth, not that which was created in a lab to fool our taste buds.

artificalPreviously, some of these artificial sweeteners had been linked to cancerous tumors in rats.

A new study shows that artificial sweeteners are toxic to our gut bacteria. Scientists are finding in more and more studies how important our guts are to our overall physical  and mental health.

I know someone, looking for an answer to their problems with anxiety, who was diagnosed with Leaky Gut Syndrome. The doctor told her that it was the cause of many of her mental health problems as well as other physical problems she was experiencing. If a product is toxic to our stomachs, imagine what it can do if it gets into our blood and neurological systems.

Don’t be fake(d). Read the labels. Avoid lab food when natural alternatives are available.  Even then, use in moderation.

ArtificalSweetenersGraphic1