Monday, September 15, 2014

Q&A With the Farmers’ Market Manager
Featured in the Summer issue of Wagner Tales; reprinted with permission from the Glenview Lantern, written by Roxanne Jungé

As the farmers’ market manager, I am approached every week by curious customers.  It’s one of my greatest joys to answer these questions.  I’m a teacher by profession, and so each question gives me an opportunity to convey a little more of the mission behind the good food on the tables.

Q. I see new blue signs at each vendor’s booth this year. Why are they there?

A. The signs identify the name of the vendor’s farm or business and where they are located. Customers will now plainly be able to see where their food is coming from. We implemented the usage of these signs at our market because we were aware that it will be required by law very soon, and in fact, it became a legal requirement for farmers (not all vendors) to do so just last month.

To quote from the Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s press release, “On June 21st Governor Pat Quinn signed into law HB5657, an important new piece of legislation that sets in motion a number of reforms that support farmers market and Illinois farmers... The legislation... includes a number of provisions aimed at supporting and sustaining farmers markets and the farmers and vendors that attend them: [One of them is the] Product Origin and Transparency Provision - Consumers at farmers markets may assume that products sold at these markets are locally grown, but there are some vendors that are actually resellers, selling the same [non-local] product as most grocery stores. HB5657 requires farmers market vendors that sell unprocessed produce to have a label that states the address where their products were physically grown. If the vendor can’t disclose that, the vendor must list where it was purchased from.”

This transparency allows customers at farmers’ markets to make the choice whether or not they want to buy locally grown produce from the farmers they know, or not.  Before this, many customers assumed that all produce found at farmers’ markets was grown by the farmer selling it.

At the Glenview market we support our farmers who grow all their own market offerings as well as farmers who collaborate with other farmers they know in their area, in order to bring an expanded variety of produce, so their signs will list their partners.  (By the way, I go visit all the collaborating farms too.)  But we went a step further in making signs for all our vendors, not just the farmers, because we wanted to show that they are all local businesses.  There are a couple of exceptions, such as coffee and spices, which may be packaged locally, but are not available locally.

Q. What is “slow food”?

A. It’s the opposite of fast food. It’s being willing to buy the ingredients and make your own, instead of buying the finished product. It’s valuing the process of making the food as well as the product. It’s recognizing that there is a connection between the freshness of our food and our health. It’s making choices to buy from farmers who protect the land and nourish the soil, even if this means that some fields need to lie fallow for a season, and cattle will grow more slowly without being fed growth-promoting hormones.

At the Glenview Farmers’ Market we offer you both the raw agricultural products and some of the finished products. Most of the “finished products” however, make use of locally-sourced raw agricultural products. I am always having conversations with them about what they are doing to increase this practice, making the effort to call the farmers, make the connections, and work within theirs and their customers’ means to offer great products at a fair cost.

My hope is that you, as consumers, will increasingly become “slow food” advocates. If our farmers’ market remains nothing more than just a fun place for you to go grab a cup of coffee and browse the free samples, we will have failed in our mission. Please support local farms, bring your grocery lists, fill your pantries and refrigerators with local food, and enjoy it... slowly.

Visit for more information on the Glenview Farmers’ Market. There are only a few weeks left in the season. Don't miss your chance to buy local!

Have a question about the market?
Contact Roxanne at:

See the full issues of the Summer issue of Wagner Tales.