Farm to Fable, part 2 -- Tampa Bay's Farmer's markets

So part 2 of the Tampa Bay Times’ excellent piece on truth in advertising with our food ran last week (and hey, I’m only a week late…)

It continues the detailed look at “local” and “fresh” moniker plastered across the stuff we eat – and quite frankly, the results in Florida are just pretty damned dire.

I have to give food critic Laura Reiley full props – she did a ton of legwork chasing all these people down. I know many of the producers mentioned (and have bought things from a lot of them).

I’m a little disappointed that she doesn’t mention the fact that Florida’s weird distribution laws limit how much can be sold to the general public from a farm. Part of me also wishes that she’d made it more clear that hey – let’s be reasonable here – we all know that cool-weather crops like asparagus and apples just don’t grow in Florida (and the few that do, don’t produce enough to be commercially viable…)

A straight-up defense, too – Parkesdale Farms, the relatives of the guy who swears he’s the farmer but has no evidence (including, you know, a farm) is one I do have to make sure I point out is in the clear. The Parke family in Plant City most assuredly DOES grow strawberries – tens of thousands of acres of them. I’ve picked strawberries in their fields, bought dozens of flats of strawberries, and consumed at least my weight in strawberry milkshakes at their stand over the years. but NOT the guy that’s named in the article.

It annoys the daylights out of me that this kind of misleading advertising is allowed to basically run free throughout the system, but I quite frankly see it as not much different from a few years ago, when everything was mislabeled as “green” (what does that actually mean??) and “eco-friendly” and “earth-friendly” – it’s a label with no legal meaning that can be slapped on a product to make a fast buck.

I’m glad to see it mentioned, though, that the people are asking for fresh and local – and that the first flickerings of “hey, let’s fill that need” are starting to stir in Florida agriculture.

But hooboy, do we have a long way to go.

(by the by, I’ve also sent Laura Reiley an email, inviting her to come join us here in our little world)

1 Like

Thanks for bringing this to the HO forum.

I too have consumed my weight in strawberries (and shortcake) from Parkesdale Farms since I was a child! They have expanded over the years but they are the real deal.

Can you expand a bit about " weird distribution laws limit how much can be sold to the general public from a farm"?

There at least used to be a law that producers couldn’t sell to the public, only throuugh a distributor, and the limit on cottage industries is $15k…not enough to make anything viable!

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold