Working To Keep Your Food Safe

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Working with farmers is the best part of my job. The job presents many challenges, but small, independent farmers are the salt of the earth, and they continually rise to the challenges of producing a fresh, tasty and safe food supply for the nation.

On June 13, Farm to Family Naturally co-hosted (with St. Louis University) a GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) workshop taught by Sue Baird. Executive Director of Missouri Organic Association. Several individuals who are involved in our HELP (Healthy Eating with Local Produce) program attended to learn how to keep food safe at both the growing level and the processing level. In addition, Marjorie Sawicki of SLU was present to learn skills she could pass on to the “Men on the Move”, a farming program she is facilitating with growers in the Bootheel.

Sue’s presentation was far above any of our expectations. I feel as though I have attended a weeks-long seminar, in terms of the amount of really excellent information we received from her. This information then enabled SLU’s Department of Nutrition and Dietetics to work with Farm to Family on a proposed processing facility. The facility will be much safer because of our GAP training.

The challenge now is to go to our farmers and introduce concepts of cleanliness, orderliness and record-keeping that will require them to rise to new levels of excellence. The end result will be a safer food system for our customers at Sappington Farmers Market and all the schools we are supplying with farm-fresh food. The Mobile Food Markets we are planning for some St. Louis food desert areas will also benefit from what we learned at the workshop.

GAP training has not been widely presented in the past. With the many food-borne illness incidents in the past few years, it becomes critical to make our food system safer. Independent family farmers will learn from GAP training and will make their farms cleaner and safer as they continue to learn safer methods of post-harvest handling, transportation and processing.

The system of farm cooperatives Farm to Family Naturally is developing throughout Missouri provides an excellent venue for training individual farmers as well as food handlers, transporters and distributors associated with our coops. As we bring food to St. Louis from the Bootheel, the Ozarks, central Missouri and nearby parts of Illinois, rest assured that our standards of quality will meet current GAP standards.

Sappington Farmers Market is located at 8400 Watson Road, between Elm and Laclede Station Rd. www.sappingtonfarmersmarket.com.

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One Response to “Working To Keep Your Food Safe”

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