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Buying local, tasting quality at farmer’s market

5 March 2009 1,957 views No Comment

Few college students have been privileged to taste the creaminess of non-homogenous milk. As a matter of fact, the current generation of college students has grown up eating supermarket industrialized foods and has rarely had the pleasure of tasting homegrown produce or locally pasteurized dairy.

The majority of the food in supermarkets is full of preservatives, and the consumer does not know where the food was produced, what chemicals were used, who has handled the goods or where or how the food has been transported. When it comes to quality and freshness, the standards of supermarket foods are not up to par with the local farmer’s market.

Jonathan Ryan, a studio art major at LSU, has recently started visiting the farmer’s market. He enjoys cooking and now visits the farmer’s market to find fresher, higher quality produce, dairy and poultry. Jonathan feels students can greatly benefit from going to the farmer’s market, even those who like fast food and Raman noodles.

“The farmer’s market is an excellent transition into learning how to cook,” he explained. “Not only are you getting fresher ingredients, but the people who vend are accessible and willing to give you tips on how to cook their products.”

His advice for students going for the first time is, “Don’t be afraid. It can be intimidating at first, especially if you haven’t been in a market atmosphere, but go and do not be afraid to try out new things and talk to people.”

Tim Losavio of Plantation Pecan and Gifts and a student of LSU discussed how the current attendance at the Red Stick Farmer’s Market and Main Street Market has been increasing by word-of-mouth.

“The quality is exceptional,” Losavio said, and he is absolutely right.

The decadence of the sweets they sell at Plantation Pecans and the freshness and quality of their pecans are mouth watering. However, very few students know about the farmer’s market in Baton Rouge let alone about these Louisiana made sweets.

Warren and Sandra Smith enjoy going to the farmer’s market and building close relationships with their loyal customers. Warren Smith feels it is important for students to come to the market.

“Lots of people do not know where there food actually comes from,” he said. “It is important for people to come and see the hard-working faces behind the food.”

Warren and Sandra Smith represent the third generation of Smith Creamery. For years their creamery had been a supplier to bottling plants, but like the dairy market, Smith Creamery evolved. They began to bottle their own milk and actually sold their first milk at the farmer’s market seven years ago. They have been there ever since.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith raise a very good point: Local farmers are not just the producers, but they are the consumers too. The fact is that although America’s capitalist economy may be succumbing to cheaper foreign foods, it is also losing the quality of the fresher and healthier foods that are locally grown.

“In the 1950s and 1960s, there were about 1,500 to 2,000 dairy farms in the state, but today there may be 200,” said Warren Smith.

“People do not realize how close we are to eating only foods produced out of the country,” commented Sandra Smith. Warren Smith added that these imported goods do not have to follow the normal health standards.

The market definitely has a family atmosphere to it. Not only do people go there to shop, but they also meet friends for breakfast and enjoy live music. A lot of the shoppers believe strongly about buying local to support the local economy, and others come for the quality and the healthier foods. There is also a very strong personal relationship between the vendors and buyers, and everyone is extremely friendly and approachable.

Tim Losavio raised a good point when he said that a farmer’s market on the LSU campus on any day as a weekly event would be great and convenient for students to attend and buy fresh food.

For any students interested, the Red Stick Farmer’s Market and Main Street Market are held on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon at Fifth and Main Street in Downtown Baton Rouge. If that is not convenient, there is also a market on Tuesdays from 8 a.m. till noon at the Unitarian Church parking lot. Check RedStickFarmersMarket.org for more information.

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