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Here’s some tips on how to

             Know Your Farmers Better


· Talk to them! Ask as many questions as you can think of...how are crops raised, what are animals fed, what kind of equipment is used, are chemicals used and how...everything you can think of!

· Don’t know what questions to ask? What’s important to you? Organic or natural. Pasture or not. Start with what you value and begin to research those issues.

· Read some good farmer books to help you know what to ask. Books by Joel Salatin, Gene Logsdon, Lynn Miller, Barbara Kingsolver are a good place to start. Any kind of book that describes someone living on a farm is good.

· Talk to other farmers. Word of mouth is a powerful thing. Most farmers in an area know each other, or of each other. A good recommendation is a good place to start.

· Go on farm visits. But, don’t just walk around and get the spiel...get involved in what you see. Ask more questions, offer to help with animal chores, help harvest a crop. Getting involved in a hands-on way will help you understand better how the food is being raised.

· Join a Crop Mob crew and go to a farm for a work day. Farm work days are becoming a popular way for people to get involved more directly with their food and their farmers. Some CSA’s also offer work days.

· Look at those websites with a critical eye! Do they look like the farm you visited? We were once asked to provide pictures of our farm to a person for publicity because we had the “ideal farm”...they don’t use our products. Needless to say, we declined. We told them to use one of the farms that they get product from, what better way to advertise the farm and the products they use?

· Attend farmers markets that offer locally raised products only. What’s in season for your area? Are there oranges at your Chicago market? Did that farmer raise them do you think? Get a better feel of what is being grown in your locale so you will know if you are being scammed.

· Do the numbers. If you hear of a farm that is consistently selling 20 pigs a week to a restaurant, but when you go to that farm for a visit and you see only 2 pigs...hm…



     We find that many people aren’t concerned about how their food is raised.

     But if you are one of those who are concerned...take action. Any farmer who is not telling the truth about how they are raising their products are not only making a bad name for the rest of us...but they could also be hurting you. Know Your Farmer.

Harvesting our corn

Hands-on!  Crop Mob Crew 2010

Photo courtesy

Cristina Rutter © 2010