Food Politics

The Fallacy of the Organic Farmers Market

Cherries at the Green City Market
Cherries at the Green City Market Photo: ehfisher/GSChi Pool

The exquisite feeling of virtue and involvement that comes from buying your produce at a farmers market is many things, but it’s most likely not organic. Whether you visit a strictly regulated local market like Green City or an open-to-all-comers parking lot deal, don’t assume that those dirt-covered radishes are certified (that’s right, “organic” is a regulated term, not just a catchall for sustainable practices and a lack of pesticides) — and if you are laboring under the misapprehension that the goods for sale at the farmer’s market have official organic certification, the good folks at the Tribune are happy to set you straight.

Tribune reporter Pat Terry approached purveyors at the Green City Market to ask about their status, and got a slew of hedged no’s: “But we are ‘sustainable,’ ” “We use integrated pest management” and “We’re working toward organic certification.” There are untold hundreds of small farms that use organic practices without being certified, and for many customers that’s good enough, but for those who want to stick to the official organic party line, the GCM will require all vendors to be officially organic by 2012 (the process of certification can take some time). in the meantime, tools like can help you find farmers who’ve already qualified. Or there’s always Whole Foods.

Chicago area green markets growing, but are not all organic [Tribune]

The Fallacy of the Organic Farmers Market