This week has been full of conversations about eating local, and what that means on a range of levels. On Monday evening over 100 people turned out for the first Urban Farm Forum, held at the Keep Indianapolis Beautiful headquarters in Fountain Square. Frankly, I was amazed at the turn out, and energized by being a room full of people who seemed ready to learn, share and take action. Within the group I recognized folks who are small family farmers, urban growers, food distributors (through CSAs or food delivery programs), members of the food coop venture, regular farmers market attendees, value-added product producers, and those who are interested in being or supporting one of the above. I look forward to future opportunities for these individuals and represented organizations to converse and share what they are doing, resources they have and resources they need. I hope the IWFM can serve as a partner and resource in bringing relevant events, speakers, and workshops to enable collaboration, motivation and further action that will continue to increase awareness and engagement in the movement for - as Slow Food USA says it so well - "Good, Clean, Fair food for everyone."
Feel free to let us know what you'd like know more about, and we'll do what we can to help bring that information to you.
I had another great conversation about eating local this week with one of our vendors. This conversation was prompted by the Corn Syrup Awareness Challenge. As it turns out, the IWFM is not free of corn syrup as I had assumed it would be. I neglected to inform this particular vendor that I would be writing about this on the blog, and so for now they shall go unnamed. This vendor's product labeling indicated corn syrup, and several other additives and preservatives were present on one product, and some of our patrons noticed, and brought it to my attention with concern. So, I called to find out why this was the case. I will admit I had a little trepidation about bringing this matter up to a very well respected and well reputed Indiana producer. However, we had what I felt was a very respectful, open, straightforward and constructive conversation. It was explained to me that those ingredients come from adding a particular sausage product and ketchup used as ingredients. I was assured that in the three cook operation, no additional such unsavory items as corn syrup or malodextrin are added. Additionally, I had the opportunity to learn that the preparation kitchen has been through the arduous process of USDA certification, and therefore they can only buy ingredients from other producers using FDA inspected production facilities. Thus far, this has meant they have not found a local producer of the particular sausage product ingredient or ketchup. And so, corn syrup, etc. appear on the product label. We agreed to work together to look for alternative, local sources of the sausage product and ketchup that are producing free of corn syrup and other manufactured sweeteners and preservatives. All in all, I learned a lot, and understand the situation, and I believe strongly that the intent of this vendor is completely aligned with the intentions of this farmers market. I also believe that we need not fear these types of conversations. If we enter them with respect and a desire to learn and understand, not blame or assume, we only stand to gain and further our combined efforts to bring "Good, Clean, Fair food for everyone." Are you catching on to the theme?
Feel free to ask me more about this at market any Saturday, and don't be afraid to ask questions and express concerns. As we ask, we learn and we grow.
Thanks for reading,