This article was written by the Crescent City Farmers Market. When searching for fresh, local foods and produce, New Orleanians need to look no further than the Crescent City Farmers Market. CCFM is more than just an average market, and it strives for community engagement while providing authentic New Orleans cuisine. The Crescent City Farmers Market compiled a list of twenty ways it stands out in “20 Reasons Your CCFM is More Than a Market,” which you can read below.
- We handpick local farmers and fishers for shoppers and chefs.
Our staff travels throughout the region to forage for the region’s tastiest ingredients. We check out every farm, every boat and every kitchen before products are sold at our markets to ensure that all potential vendors meet our strict farm-to-table guidelines.
- CCFM produce is a better value than that found at local groceries.
Produce sold at the CCFM has usually been picked the day before, and it travels less than 400 miles to get to your table. Prices are on par or often cheaper than those at grocery stores. Plus, fresh local produce lasts longer.
- When you shop locally for food, your money supports your community.
Small food producers play a vital role in a healthy local food economy. They live in our communities, and their earnings at market are in turn spent in the communities in which they live. Shopping locally supports your neighbors.
- With no middleman, local food producers benefit more fully.
Grocery stores and online delivery services have to ask farmers for wholesale prices to keep their profits up. Spending money directly with local producers ensures that they can invest more of their profits back into their businesses.
- Kids learn about food from the people who grow, catch, raise and make it.
Children can be suspicious at the dinner table, but they are less likely to be when they have the chance to taste new food in a fun and adventurous environment. Our Marketeer programming teaches children where their food comes from by introducing them to the people who brought it to market.
- The CCFM grows burgeoning small businesses.
Many of the vendors in the 20-year history of the CCFM have grown such a following that they have expanded their businesses into more public markets, grocery stores and local restaurants. Some have even turned their farmers market tables into thriving storefronts, further improving our local economy by creating more jobs.
- We pioneered SNAP acceptance at farmers markets in the South.
Before electronic SNAP benefits, people could spend paper food stamps directly with farmers. In 2008, we bridged the digital divide and brought federal dollars to stay in Louisiana by accepting SNAP at our markets using our wooden token system. Now, more New Orleanians have access to the best local produce available in our city.
- We wrote the book on safe food-handling for farmers markets.
Food safety is a top priority at the CCFM. Our “From the Field to the Table” food handling guidelines detail production, storage and transportation standards that vendors must maintain. In addition to visiting production sites, our staff also conducts market inspections to ensure compliance with these guidelines, like proper temperature control.
- Shopping with credit and debit cards is easier thanks to market tokens.
Market Umbrella pays homage to our local food heroes and community activists with our wooden token economy. Our staff spends dozens of hours each week counting banks of tokens before and after each market to ensure that when you don’t have cash, you can use your debit/credit or SNAP card at market.
- Innovative CCFM school programs inspire active healthy lifestyles for kids.
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is half of what keeps our kids healthy. We also coach nutrition-themed games in the park next to our Tuesday market location so kids can learn about healthy eating with their whole bodies.
- We operate the only community supported fisheries program in the South.
In the wake of the BP oil spill, we launched the first community supported fisheries program in the South. By purchasing shares of local fishers’ catch, market shoppers guaranteed these families income at a time of great uncertainty. Through the program, modeled after more popular CSA programs, shoppers learned to prepare new types of local seafood, like sea bream and soft-shell crabs.
- All CCFM vendors deliver fresh food from within 400 miles of NOLA.
The shorter the distance your food travels, the smaller your footprint is on the environment. Fewer food miles means that we consume less gas and natural resources. We can use the abundance of natural resources here at home to feed our families.
- We created a tool for markets to measure their economic impact.
With over 8,200 farmers markets in the United States, a 76% increase since 2008, the field of public markets needs to show its impact. That is why we collaborated with local pollster Ed Renwick to bring public market operators SEED, the Sticky Economic Evaluation Device: a tool to measure how dollars generated in public markets “stick” within the communities they serve.
- Regional markets benefit from our extensive technical assistance services.
We share what we have learned about running public markets since 1995 with our networks of regional market operators. We have helped hundreds of markets in the last 20 years learn how to operate and promote farmers markets. The best part is that they always want to come see us in person and we learn, share and grow together.
- We work with doctors to provide fruit/veggie Rx for those at risk of diabetes.
Our Farmers Market Rx program has connected more than 650 families with doctors and farmers willing to change the conversation about using food to improve health. With this program, participants at the Ruth U. Fertel Health Clinic and the Daughters of Charity Health Clinics have listened to their doctors talk about the need for increasing their fruit and vegetable consumption. Then our farmers show them how. Participants are getting the extra nudge they need to make healthier food choices.
- CCFM supports 60 food producing families who provide fresh, seasonal, local fare.
Finding the perfect ingredients for your gumbo, étouffée, crab cakes or shrimp and grits is easy at the CCFM. With families who have been shrimping, fishing or farming since the 1800s, our vendors know our region’s culinary heritage like no one else.
- We directly support our vendors who need assistance after disasters.
Market Umbrella supports our local food producing families not only through the markets we operate, but also through financial support for vendors affected by disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.
- Farmers share NOLA culture with wonderful tips, recipes and ingredients.
Ask Jeanne Fonseca how to cook the gator meat she sells, and you are in for a treat. It will not only be a meal to remember, but a lesson in French gastronomy. Our vendors love talking about their products. They also love hearing about shoppers’ new twists on old favorites.
- Fresh food just tastes better – especially when grown by a friend.
Like anywhere in New Orleans, you will run into someone you know at the CCFM. Or you will make a new friend. That new friend may even be the person who just picked or caught your next meal.
- Rock star chefs demonstrate how to make sensational seasonal food.
Mike Doyle. Alon Shaya. Susan Spicer. Donald Link. Ian Schnoebelen. These are some of the chefs you will see shopping at the CCFM or promoting their latest cookbooks. Join them and us as you learn a new trick in your kitchen, just like the pros.