Friday, August 11, 2017

Farmers' Market Etiquette

Just recently a few people emailed me an article they saw about the proper etiquette at a farmers market. My first reaction was, "Geez Louise, now the Internet has to tell people how to act when they buy food?" But I did go ahead and read the article. Humph. I'm not sure that I totally agree with the advice, or should I say more correctly, the instructions. 

#1- "Do: Take as many free samples as you damn want."
I disagree. While a farmer or vendor may offer free samples, they weren't free for the farmer/vendor. It costs them money. So taking one sample is fine, but making the sample bowls your lunch menu for the day is simply wrong. I've seen people do it. They just keep coming back for handfuls. For real! 

#2- "Do: Feel free to haggle" 
I partially disagree. Haggling when one wants to buy in bulk is fine (20 papayas; 10 lbs of tomatoes; an entire stalk of bananas). But I've recently watched people trying to haggle over one carrot, one bunch of beets, one bag of coffee. Perhaps they read the article too? I don't believe in haggling on small items. The farmer/vendor has a perishable product that costs them money and labor. Haggling over one carrot is not only an insult, it's discouraging to the seller. 

#3- "Do: Buy the bad-for-you pastries."
I disagree. Now mind you, I buy "bad for me" chocolate cake on a regular basis. But instructing folks to buy pastries is simply wrong. Each person needs to evaluate their own health and situation and not be urged to purchase forbidden foods. 

#4- "Do: Flirt with the staff."
Totally disagree! My first reaction was "what the hell?" I quickly checked the name of the author. Katie, I assume female. But she's interviewing Chris. Male? Female? Humph. Flirting - no. Friendly chitchat - ok as long as the seller isn't busy or there are no other customers at the booth waiting their turn. Flirting? No way! Most vendors are too busy and serious about selling to put up with the hassle of flirting. 

#5- "Do: Return stuff if you hate it."
Agree and disagree. While I wouldn't return a food item myself (I simply wouldn't buy it again), I can understand where a person wants to get their money back on a bad product. Take one bite out of a mochi bar and hate it? Ok. Eat one dried banana chip and spit it out? Ok. But returns can be abused. I've seen people bring back limp old veggies and try to claim it was the farmer's fault. Oh, really? I've also has a person bring back a half eaten piece of pie claiming it was terrible and wanted their money back. Sorry Jack, you ate 5 spoonfuls before you noticed that you didn't like it? No refund just because you are sated. One of the coffee growers said that she has had tourists bring back a half used bag of coffee and expect a refund on the "terrible coffee". Seems that their week long vacation was up and they were trying to get a full refund on their unfinished coffee. Nice try - go home. 

#6- "
Don’t: Bother asking before taking a sample of something that’s not labeled as a sample."
Disagree!!! What? Just pick up a lychee and start munching? Grab a carrot and give it a taste? Egads, where's your manners and sensibilities? I'm my book, unless you end up paying for it, it's stealing. 

#7- "
Don’t: Feel obligated to purchase just because you’ve accepted samples."
Agreed. Samples are to introduce you to a product and entice you to buy. But there is no obligation to buy. 

#8- "Don’t: Be afraid to use large bills."
Disagree. Most of our vendors start out with about $20 cash on hand. Some have a bit more. When I ran a farmers market, vendors had to run to me to break those $100 bills into smaller stuff. So I had to keep several hundreds in change to meet the demand, which came primarily from tourists driving through. I guess they used the market as a bank to get smaller bills, since our local bank won't break a bill if you don't have an account there. I've seen many a tourist buy a $1 cup of coffee with a $100 bill. Please people, don't do it! 

#9- "Don’t: Jump other customers in line."
Agreed. Some cultures don't seem to understand the idea of waiting in a line. But most people do. 

So the tally is in.......I generally don't agree with the instructions. It's scary to think that there will be a lot of people following these "rules". 

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