Just because something is purchased at a farmers market, doesn't mean it's organic.Just because something is not organic, doesn't mean it was grown with pesticides.
Confused? With good reason.
It can be overwhelming diving into the many levels of pesticide-use, and lack thereof, at a farmers market. Most produce doesn't have labels, and sometimes a single vendor will have items that fit into various categories.
The only way to really know what you're getting is to ask. But first you may want to get acquainted with the meaning of the different answers you might get!
three common produce classifications you'll encounter at a farmers market:
Certified Organic produce is grown avoiding most pesticides and antibiotics, and avoiding all synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The National Organic Program within the US Department of Agriculture makes decisions on certification, and about which pesticides are permissible. The certification process can be lengthy and cost-prohibitive for some smaller farmers.
Certified Naturally Grown
Certified Naturally Grown produce is held to a standard many consider higher than the requirements for Certified Organic labeling. Farmers do not use any synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The certification is “a grassroots alternative to the USDA's National Organic Program meant primarily for small farmers distributing through local channels.” Certified farmers enforce the rules for each other by visiting other farms to grant the certification.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) involves the use of pesticides in more controlled, targeted ways than generic produce. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.” This means pesticides may be used on some plants, but not others. It could also mean pesticides are limited to certain parts of a plant only; or targeted to a certain plant’s problem.