Westport Farmers’ Market Raises the Bar

By Analiese Paik

I’m dreaming of early sweet strawberries, pungent spring garlic, crisp French breakfast radishes, and thick heads of just-picked lettuce, spinach, and arugula. This Thursday my dreams will materialize before my eyes as I head to opening day at the Westport Farmers’ Market. Some big changes are in store for shoppers this year, most notably the market’s commitment to becoming GMO-Free.

Working towards becoming GMO-free will surely be a tough row to hoe, but Market Master Lori Cochran seemed undeterred. “We’re taking baby steps, but we’ll be able to do it.” Cochran and her team will literally be writing the book on how to transition prepared food vendors and farmers alike on how to remove GMOs from their products. “We are a forward thinking entity for Fairfield County that will set the standards; we want the market to be a leader. We need to do it because it makes money for our farmers, who invest their profits back into the local community” she said.

All produce vendors at the market this year are organic or Certified Organic, so we no longer have to ask farmers if their vegetables have been sprayed with synthetic pesticides or fed with synthetic fertilizers. Or if they’re selling genetically modified sweet corn (you will have to ask at other markets if the farmers are not organic). I’m making a beeline for Riverbank Farm’s stand in the hopes that they have early strawberries since they are one of the few organic ground fruit growers in the state. If you’ve ever grown your own strawberries, you’ll understand why they are as expensive as they are.  It’s back-breaking work to pick strawberries. And as my son puts it “we need to make sure to get to them before the squirrels and chipmunks smell that they’re ripe.”

Many participating farmers are members of CT NOFA, and the connection is important because even farmers who sign their Farmer’s Pledge agree to reject the use of GMOs. NOFA’s free Farm & Food Guide is available online and the legends distinguish between certified organic, non-certified organic, and Farmer’s Pledge farms.

Thanks to a new law governing the sale of CT Grown wine at farmers’ markets, Jones Winery of Shelton will be selling their wines at the market this year! Don’t even think about tastings; according to Cochran the state alcohol board doesn’t allow tastings at the market. Head to Jones Winery’s tasting room each Friday through Sunday instead where $7 buys you a tasting of their current selections and a logo wine glass. If you’d like to buy without tasting first, why not choose from their award-winning wines. Jones Winery’s Pinot Gris Vintner’s Selection 2010 and Black Currant Bouquet received first place awards in the recent CT Specialty Food Awards Competition‘s dry white and fruit categories, respectively. To learn more about Jones Winery, please read our feature story.

Organic produce vendors, lunch vendors from pizza to tamales, wines sales, and the commitment to go GMO-free each contribute to making the Westport Farmers’ Market a great destination. One stop shopping is another. “You can literally get everything you need here – seafood, meat, greens, cheese, dessert, wine, and freshly grown flowers. And that’s fun!” said Cochran.

2012 Vendors

  1. Boxcar Cantina
  2. Fort Hill Farm
  3. Sport Hill Farm
  4. Riverbank Farm
  5. Silvermine Apiary-Andrew’s Honey
  6. Skinny Pines Pizza
  7. Kaia Café
  8. Two Guys from Woodbridge
  9. Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm
  10. Woodland Farm -fruit
  11. Rose’s Berry Farm
  12. Beltane Farm
  13. Arethusa Dairy Farm
  14. Wave Hill Bread
  15. Sono Baking Co
  16. Huckleberry Bakery
  17. Raus Coffee
  18. Arogya Teas
  19. Ox Hollow Farm
  20. Local Catch
  21. Sugar & Olives
  22. Du Soleil Fine Foods

Rotating Vendors (will attend market every two to six weeks)

  1. Moorefield Herb Farm
  2. Sticky Nuts – nuts/snack bag mix, some local ingredients
  3. Savor Cookies
  4. Nothin’ But Granola
  5. Radical Roots
  6. Erin Ostreicher Floral Designs
  7. Cabbage & Kings Catering- 28-year-old catering business, “locally sourced and grounded in organic”
  8. Flour City Pasta- heritage grains, excellent dried Italian style pasta, farmer!
  9. Winding Drive Jam
  10. Fresh Pastabilities- pasta, ravioli, frozen
  11. Butternut Garden- 2 acre flower farm in Southport, fresh cut flowers
  12. Sixpence Pie Company- catering, empanadas and quiches made with ingredients sourced from local farms.
  13. Norwegian Wood Bakery (formally Eastern Cookies)
  14. R+D Chocolates- Westport-based artisan chocolate maker featuring local and seasonal ingredients; dedicated to organic and sustainable sourcing.
  15. Doc’s Maple Syrup
  16. Jones Family Farm- Wines!
  17. Olive Oils of the World- just olive oil, some vinegar, Italian and Greek boutique olive oil retailer




12 thoughts on “Westport Farmers’ Market Raises the Bar”

  1. There is absolutely no peer-reviewed scientific evidence that GMO foods are harmful to humans or the environment. This is simply a distraction. And the Non-GMO shopping guide you are distributing is full of scientific nonsense. Better to discard them.

    • James, there certainly are many scientific studies to back this up. You can find many in Jeffrey Smith’s book Genetic Roulette. They can also be found online. You can even find the letters that FDA scientists wrote to their superiors requesting long-term safety studies before releasing these foods to the public on responsibletechnology.org.

      • Much as I hate to say it, Jeffrey Smith is a quack with no scientific degree and who has carried out no such studies. Finding things on line is not the same as finding peer-review scientific studies. There are none. There are quite a few finding no such problems.

        • I think calling someone a quack is very unfair. The man is a writer and advocate and uses the work of scientists. If you haven’t read his books then please do so before commenting again.

          • Without trying to be inflammatory, I should note that many regard Smith in that light, and that every single claim he has made has been debunked by responsible scientists using peer-reviewed research. See academicsreview.org

          • I first became aware of this recent report yesterday and it is sure to contribute to a robust discussion. Unfortunately, I note that it makes reference to American Academy of Environmental Medicine, which is not a recognized medical group and has some very strange non-scientific ideas.

          • Yes, and they said they should be tested “as a preventive measure to ensure the health of the public.” That’s a pretty strong statement and one which makes a thinker wonder why they wouldn’t want them labeled.The fact that these novel foods have not been tested for safety is something Jeffrey Smith and the scientists at the American Academy of Environmental Medicine and many others have been saying, some since the introduction of GE foods. It’s encouraging to see a mainstream medical association at least take a half step towards acknowledging that there’s an issue here.

  2. From the FDA: A statement that a food was not bioengineered or does not contain bioengineered ingredients may be misleading if it implies that the labeled food is superior to foods that are not so labeled. FDA has concluded that the use or absence of use of bioengineering in the production of a food or ingredient does not, in and of itself, mean that there is a material difference in the food. Therefore, a label statement that expresses or implies that a food is superior (e.g., safer or of higher quality) because it is not bioengineered would be misleading.

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