May 3, 2010

A Tale of Two Markets

There are two farmers markets in Little Rock, about a mile from each other. The River Market is on the south shore of the Arkansas River. North Little Rock hosts the Certified Arkansas Farmers Market. Both are open Tuesday and Saturday mornings.

What's the difference?

The River Market Pros
  • lots of vendors
  • large selection of food and crafts
  • ability to purchase non-local foods (like bananas)
River Market Cons
  • very crowded
  • parking can be a challenge
  • not all the produce is from Arkansas
Certified Arkansas Farmers Market Pros
  • sells only products from Arkansas farms
  • convenient parking
  • not crowded
Certified Arkansas Farmers Market Cons
  • limited selection
History Behind the Certified Arkansas Farmers Market
In 2008 a group of local farmers created the market as a way to reduce deception. They wanted to protect their businesses from unfair practices by wholesalers and resellers. The Certified Arkansas Farmers Market only sells products from Arkansas farms and is closely governed.

Questions to Ask at Any Market
Most farmers love to talk about their products. Take a few minutes to get to know your growers. A few questions you could ask are:

- Are you the grower? Tell me about your farm.
A friend of mine once bought pork thinking it was locally grown on pasture. Later she found out that the farmer had purchased the meat from a USDA inspected facility then cured the meat. I've also read where a seller at the River Market bought strawberries from California and repackaged them in small cardboard containers, labeled "Arkansas Strawberries" and sold them at rock bottom prices.

- When was this produce picked?
This may or may not be important but helps to build rapport.

- What chemicals do you use to raise these?
When I say chemicals, I mean pesticides, herbicides and or fertilizers. If they start naming things, I might say something like, "Thank you, but I don't really need any of these today."

- Will you make me a deal?
If the posted sign says 2 for $1, I might offer them $2 for 5. Or, if it is a farmer that you think you'll buy from all season ask if they will give you a loyal customer discount. Never hurts to ask. There's power when buying in bulk. Shop with a friend. Bulk buying has saved me many dollars.

Both markets are fun to visit. They each have their own personalities. I have purchased from both and will purchase again from both. Be a wise consumer and don't be afraid to ask questions.

share facebook tweet

1 comment:

  1. This is very helpful and I look forward to visiting the NLR market soon! Thanks Julie!



Related Posts with Thumbnails