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Keeping Up With Maury
What to look for at Farmer's Markets
by Maury Feren

There is so much happening in the food industry I hardly know where to begin. Mid July is the beginning of the harvest season. All those home grown vegetables … all those little farm projects.

The Botanical Gardens has a number of projects and they are involving many urban groups. I was on a panel Saturday July 12th with Renata Fossen Brown who has written a how to book for the beginning gardeners entitled Gardening Lab for Kids: 52 Fun Experiments to Learn, Grow, Harvest, Make, Play, and Enjoy Your Garden (Hands-On Family) .

Lots of photos and good information simplified. Renata, the director, was quite articulate and informative. It was interesting to hear about all those projects. The question is how to reacquaint our children with this important way of eating.

I have been working with people to eat a concentration of vegetables in their meals for 40 years. It still hasn't come to fruition. The school lunches show a tremendous waste factor in the meals they serve. They find 50% of the vegetables in the waste bin.

Then we have the Food Bank that offers tremendous amounts of produce to the Housing Projects and Recreation Centers for Seniors. They are doing their job. The recipients are not as acceptable as the donors.

Alayne Reitman has put up that mammoth Greenhouse that is not only hiring a great number of local workers, but they are also a factor in the greenhouse production of lettuce, herbs, and other products in the mid city.

Wherever you look in the inner city and outlying areas, you will find patches of truck garden areas. The Culinary Institute in Milan has a magnificent program for children and young adults for education and participation. With all this activity going on, we have any number of local farm markets that have sprung up all over the city. They are at the Cleveland Clinic areas, University Hospital, some of the churches, and anywhere they can find a spot.

The North Union Shaker Market on Saturdays has been a major factor for years. They have been the bow string and left the biggest mark of all. I can't help but mention The Coit Road Market. They still have their own contingent steady supply of farmers. It is truly one of the markets that still has that feel of yesteryear.

Taking one of those glorious rides to Chagrin Falls passing through one of the most beautiful areas of Greater Cleveland, they have a Sunday Farmer's Market that has worked out well. It seems to be separate from the North Union Market, and it does have a good mix of foods you would like to use from time-to-time. It has been quite active for a number of years. These are just a few of the places that those markets have just become active.

So let me tell you what to look for. The first thing you want to concentrate on is freshness. That is what these markets are all about. Never mind that they are a little higher priced than your local supermarket. It is worth it. You'll taste the difference.

Once again the question comes up, Organic or Sustainable? I'm going to stick my neck out and advise you to find local growers especially when you find out just how passionate they are about their work. It doesn't have to be organic.

You'll get the same satisfaction with a well-tended farm at almost half the cost. I know I'll be called on that one. But if you check around to all the good restaurants that have sprung up these last five years, you can't find one that has gone completely organic. They might pick and choose, but overall its sustainable agriculture.

Just as a matter of record, this earth cannot sustain a completely organic structure. There is going to be a mix.

I would like to call to your attention some of the important questions of the day. We do have to look more closely at these problems before they get out of hand.

Climate change is going to change production in many areas, in particular food items.

Are we destroying our water system with fracking? Are we going to do anything about a plan for the Future? Tornadoes can change the face of the earth. Are we prepared for that change?

Once again Genetically Modified Foods have come back into the picture. Is there a final verdict? Where do we stand in these controversies? What kind of a diet will keep people healthy?

It's time to figure this out and take a stand. Our future as a nation depends on these subjects.

Last but not least. We no longer have diversity in the seeds we choose for productivity. If we are struck down with a disease in any one crop, it will change everything. It could happen…

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