The number of farmers markets in the USDA National Farmers Market Directory has more than quadrupled since 1994. In 1994, there were 1,755 markets listed. That number increased to 8,669 in 2016.
Farmers markets can be a benefit to small and medium-sized producers, consumers, and the community. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health Food Protection Program (FPP) partners with MDAR to develop guidelines and policies that support uniformity and consistency across the Commonwealth on matters related to farmers markets.
Although there is no regulatory definition, MDAR policy defines a farmers market as "a public market for the primary purpose of connecting and mutually benefiting Massachusetts farmers, communities, and shoppers while promoting and selling products grown and raised by participating farmers."
Traditional farmers markets sold locally-grown produce and farm products, but many have expanded their product lines to include processed foods. Depending on what products are sold, LBOH may have to permit and inspect farmers markets, including ones that sell meat, jams, jellies, and other food items.
Think about your community. Do you have farmers markets?
Do you know what products are for sale?
According to State Sanitary Code: Chapter X, 105 CMR 590.000: Minimum Sanitation Standards for Food Establishments (590), produce stands that only offer whole, uncut fresh fruits and vegetables are exempt from the definition of a food establishment. Farmers markets that sell other food items are considered a food establishment and must comply with 590.