FAIRBANKS, Alaska When selecting vegetables at the farmers market, one might think about the safety of the food they are choosing.
When selecting vegetables at the farmers market, one might think about the safety of the food they are choosing. (Carly Sjordal/KTVF)
A 2018 study from Penn State's food safety research, finds that farmers markets, may not be as healthy as one would assume.
Through observations and self-reported vendor surveys, researchers found that vendors were not often adhering to standard food and safety regulations.
Less than 24 percent of vendors were wearing disposable gloves and e-coli was found present in 40 percent of beef samples and 28 percent of kale samples.
This comes in direct conflict with the reported health benefits from eating local produce.
Food found at the farmers market is seasonal, meaning that items are not stored unnecessarily long or handled over long periods of time like they are at bigger commercial grocery stores.
"When customers come to me I can explain to them how we produce, like I said we don't use the herbicides for weed management or anything we don't use pesticides. When you go to the store, they're buying the product, they can't guarantee that or it depends on their suppliers and location." Said Cameron Carter, a local farmer.
This combined with the fact that during 2008 to 2014 there were 68 reported cases of foodborne illnesses caused by commercial supply, while there were only 4 traced to farmers markets, according to the farmer’s market coalition.
Carter adds that, "our produce is picked the day before it comes to market and you know sometimes at the store it may take a day or a week for the produce to get to the store and I know they (Farmers Market Vegetables) are fresh."
When going to your local farmers market, make sure to ask the farmers about their processes to find out more.