Food Safety for Farmers Markets 

The summer has arrived and so have farmers markets.But before you pick up your produce, you’ll want to make sure you and the seller are keeping the food safe.Jean Leahy comes to the farmers market in Orono for most of her organic produce needs.”We love the fresh vegetables and everybody has something wonderful to offer,” said Jean Leahy. She likes to buy exclusively from Mark. If you saw them interact, you’d think they were old friends.”We aren’t real friends, except we are market friends. He is a wonderful vendor and a great help with any questions we have,” said Leahy.Scott Belanger runs Olde Oak Farm. He says Leahy’s relationship with her vendor is a good thing, because if you don’t know the farmers name, he says you shouldn’t buy the product.”Grow a trust with your local producer and grow a trust with your local product and that, I think, is the best guideline,” said Scott Belanger, owner of Olde Oak Farm in Maxfield.While many folds at the farmers markets are just thinking about good, fresh food, Beth Calder with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension says safety should always be on consumers minds.”It’s best to bring along a little refrigerator storage pack or a cooler with ice and ice packs to keep the cool foods cold,” said Beth Calder, a food science specialist.If you stop by Belanger’s tent, and you don’t have ice, he’ll let you have some of his. He prides himself in food safety, and says he has the perfect way to keep things fresh after you buy them.”Right in the fridge or right in your belly, hopefully! Hopefully our cheese is good enough that you open it up and eat it on the way home,” said Belanger.As for Leahy, she’s an old pro when it comes to food safety.”Usually they’re reasonably clean and we wash them before we eat them.”Good advice for anyone stopping by a farmers market this summer.