One of the great things about living in our state is the unbelievable bounty of fresh produce available in the summer and fall at local farmer’s markets. Local restauranteurs and certified food protection managers love to source ingredients locally and many feel that advertising fresh ingredients grown by members of the farming community draws customers in, but can food purchased at the farmer’s market be used in commercial kitchens?
Certified Food Protection Managers Guide for Farmers Market Ingredients
Fresh product, especially produce, is the key to making any dish great, and it doesn’t get much fresher than buying from a local producer at a farmer’s market. There are no regulations prohibiting the use of ingredients purchased at the farmer’s market, but certified food protection manager training tells us that we should take precautions and be prudent to make sure they purchase their product from safe sources. Here’s a few tips to making sure you’re purchasing quality ingredients that won’t sicken your customers:
- Inspect product for traces of quality and freshness
- Be smart about your sources
- Only purchase wild mushrooms from licensed vendors
Of course chefs and Minnesota certified food protection managers are going to take a close look at the product they purchase, but the same inspection process should happen even when only purchasing a few items at the market. Take a close look for excess dirt or other contaminants as well as signs that a pest has been nibbling on the product somewhere between the farm and market. Most pesticides will be invisible, but if you notice an overly waxy texture or odd sheen to produce, there’s a chance it has been treated with something to resist insects or make it look more attractive.
Secondly, purchase products from farms and vendors you trust. Depending on the circumstances, vendors may or may not be required to obtain a license to set up a booth, but a license does not necessarily mean that all proper food safety protocols have been followed. We suggest you buy from booths that represent farms you know and avoid unaffiliated produce vendors.
Finally, only purchase mushrooms from certified vendors. The Minnesota Food Code requires wild mushroom harvesters to be registered as a mushroom expert to prevent bad mushrooms from sickening or even possibly killing anyone who consumes them.
Do you take advantage of local Minnesota farmers markets to bring freshness to your menu?