What does it all mean? The meaning of life. The life of our food, that is.

Schlafly Farmers Market
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Schlafly Bottleworks
7260 Southwest Ave, Maplewood MO

Breaking produce report for the week!! PEACHES!!! I had a taste test on Sunday and they are delicious.
We will also have a nice variety of local, seasonal, fresh, just picked produce this week, as well as artisan cheeses, breads, salsa and pickles, pastured meat and eggs, honey and more. Don’t miss.

***AND a friendly reminder- please do not walk through the market vending area while vendors are setting up. We want you to be safe. Vendors have a lot to keep their eyes on when they are pulling in and out of the lot. If you need to be in the area, please walk behind the vendor spaces. 
Vendor sales begin at 4pm sharp. The bell will ring and purchases can begin. Half of our vendors don’t arrive at market to start setting up until after 3pm. They need all the time possible, with the least amount of distractions to get ready for the 4pm opening. Thank you very, very, very much!***

I receive lots of questions in my everyday life about food labels. I overhear lots of conversations and listen to a lot of comments about food, about labels and many of those are specifically about eggs and meat. There are also a lot of questions about the meaning of  organically grown, certified organic and certified naturally grown produce.

At the farmers market, most of the food doesn’t have a label. Fresh, local, just picked, real food doesn’t need a lot of description. A customer may ask the specific name of a variety of vegetable or about production and growing methods, but probably not much else.

There is specific labelling required for prepared food items and the meats that are sold at the farmers market. Otherwise, the food you see will not have a label.

Although the legislation is ever changing and although it’s always up for debate, there are not a lot of CONSISTENT regulations regarding food labels. There is a lot of confusion and misnomers regarding terminology. I hope to clear some of this up. The terms and definitions listed below are for eggs. But many of the terms can also be used for the meat industry.

I am hoping that by reading and understanding this information and knowing the terminology, you will connect with what the market vendors are offering. Perhaps you will better understand the pricing, the nutritional value of their products and the condition in which the laying hens (or the meat animals) are fed, housed and raised.

One problem is many packaging terms aren’t regulated. Although some cartons carry designations, such as Certified Humane or Animal Welfare Approved, that come from third-party auditors that certify specific farming practices are used. Claims on food packaging have grown so complicated that even the most-discerning shoppers are sometimes befuddled. There is the broad category “organic,” but also “cage free,” “pasture-raised,” or “free-range.” Some contain “omega-3.” Hens are “vegetarian fed” or “grass fed.” Then there’s the color: Does it matter if eggs are brown or white?

ORGANIC: Eggs and meat certified as organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture come from uncaged birds and animals that have some outdoor access. Their feed is organically raised, and they can’t receive antibiotics.

CAGE-FREE: Means the chickens were uncaged and able to freely roam a barn or other facility, but they generally don’t have access to the outdoors.

FREE-RANGE: Indicates the hens and other meat animals are cage-free and have some access to the outdoors, but the type and duration of outdoor access is unclear. It may, for example, entail a screened porch.

ALL NATURAL: Can mean just about anything the egg or any food producer wants. The USDA considers all shell eggs natural and sets no standards for the hens’ living conditions and feed.

PASTURE-RAISED: Indicates the hens and other meat animals are raised outdoors on a pasture where they can roam and forage. They are often given the “grass fed” label as well. But the USDA hasn’t developed a definition for pasture-raised products.

VEGETARIAN-FED: Means the hens received only vegetarian feed, so no animal byproducts were used. It also indicates the chickens—which naturally are omnivores—were kept indoors and unable to eat grubs, worms or other bugs.

OMEGA-3: Means eggs contain extra omega-3 fatty acids, which studies have shown to improve heart health. The hens that produce them are fed a diet rich in these acids, such as flax and fish oils.

WHITE/BROWN: Egg color is based on the breed of hen laying the egg and doesn’t affect quality or nutrition.

Let’s continue with food safety and why it’s important to know where your food comes from.

There’s a lot of talk about food safety and food borne illness lately. As much as I would like to write an essay this week, I am going to pass (maybe not).  I receive USDA food recall emails. There are so many food recalls every single day. It makes me sad and frustrated. All of the food that has been wasted and thrown away, people getting sick; folks are frightened. This is ALL on my mind. 

As market managers for a number of years, my husband and I take a real interest in our food, in our communities, in our food producers and food distribution. We have attended many conferences, sat in on a number of classes, trainings and have learned a lot about farming methods, food production, harvesting, transporting and the selling of food. Most of it has been about locally produced food and local farming. But along with that, there is quite a bit of education and information shared and reported about the larger scale, agribusiness and food production. The kind of growing and producing and processing that includes thousands of acres of fruits and veggies, thousands of animals, and hundreds of employees needed for harvesting and working in processing plants.

We have sat in classes and been trained and certified in GAP (good agricultural practices). In these classes we learned a lot about safe farming practices that include soil preparation, clean sources of irrigation as well as harvesting, processing, packing and selling of farm products.

Other classes have included education in the nutrition of food grown in healthy soil and studies measuring the best flavor and nutrition in food picked at its peak of ripeness. Terms like “brix” and “phytonutrients” are used to describe tasty produce that’s full of good nutrition

The produce, eggs, meat, honey, bread and pastries at the farmers market are fresh and full of nutrients and goodness. The food will be just picked and at its peak with minimal storage or travel time. The produce is grown in healthy, well managed soil. The meat, eggs and cheese are from well managed and well taken care of animals. 

All of the raw fruits and veggies that are purchased still need to be cleaned and handled properly, stored appropriately and used within a reasonable amount of time. Handwashing, clean countertops and containers are all good practices no matter where your food comes from.

I am hoping that by reading and understanding this information and knowing the terminology, you will connect with what the market vendors are offering. Perhaps you will better understand the pricing and the nutritional value of their products.

Although I am still waiting to hear from some vendors and expect the list to change a bit by market time, here’s a start.

Rosy Buck Farm
Flower Hill Farm
Eckenfel’s Family Farm
Farrar Out Farm
The Tamale Man
Thierbach Orchard
Biver Farm
Buila Family Farm
Ivan’s Fig Farm
Three Rivers Community Farm
Green Door Farm (salad mix, greens, carrots, basil)
Two Men and a Garden
Red Guitar Artisan Breads
Seed Geeks
Cham Bakery
Weidner Farm
Alpaca’s of Troy
El Chico Bakery
Baetje Artisan Goat Cheese (featuring Lemon Bavarian and Feta)
Larder and Cupboard
Peace Love and Happy Apothecary

At the Market Tent- Free Schlafly Beer Samples, University of MO Extension Nutrition information, SNAP transactions including Schlafly’s own matching token program, e-newsletter sign up and market bag give away.
Live Music on the patio.

See you at the market.
Schlafy Farmers Market Manager




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