Here are some questions for the food Purveyors:
Breads and sauces: All prepared foods are required to have a list of ingredients displayed on the product. There are some questions that you can ask to determine if the seller is the actuall maker of the product or simply a seller.
Where do you ingredients come from?
How long does it take to make it?
When was it made?
Where was it made?
How long will it stay fresh?
Do you use Organic and GM Free ingredients?
Food Stalls: People sell delicious ready to eat foods at farmers markets, they don't have to list the ingredients that they use but they should KNOW what they are selling.
What's in it?
Did the vegetable Condiments Come from the Market or the grocery store?
If they serve meat or sea food Where did it come from?
What type of meat is it?
Is it sustainably raised or a mass produced grocery store product?
Where is your Kitchen or is all the preparation done at the Market?
Where was it caught or Farmed and did you cach or farm it?
Shrimp and Shellfish can be farmed in coastal waters. Ask where it came from.
Ocean Fish is preferrably Wild Caught and the fisherman should be the person selling it.
For Meat and Poultry:
How was it raised?
Where was it raised? (Some Farmers and Ranchers Cooperate with each other and this is a GOOD practice. The purveyor should happily tell you who and where their affiliates are located.)
For Beef and Lamb, Grassfed and Finished or Grain Finished? (if grain finished ask what grains were fed and where they came from)(my personal view is that rumenants should not be fed grain but some people disagree and in the interest of fairness I added the option)
For Pork and Poultry, Pastured or confinement? (if the answer is confinement, even in outdoor pens, ask the size of the pen and how many animals are penned together) (10 goats in a 24'x24' pen is not free range or pastured 2 goats in the same size pen fed hay can be called free range but..... that is an argument best left for another time)
What if any are the supplemental feeds given? (this can be very important in light of the new research regarding the potential side effects of GM crops)
Who does your Processing? (If the Processor is more than 3 hours from the Farm of Origin this is not a sustainable Practice and places too much stress on the animal prior to harvest.)
Can we visit your Farm? (most farmers will happily allow visitors with an appointment)
Can we Take Pictures?(If the answer is no to this one say thank you and walk away.)
Can we watch or participate in a harvest? (USDA Harvest facilities usually will not allow visitors but most farms have Custom Harvesting done from time to time and allow customers to watch their animal harvested.)
What breeds do you raise? (ask specific questions, you may have to do a little homework to know what the answers should be ESPECIALLY if the Heritage Breed claim is used.)
What was the live weight of this animal? (more on yield later)
How old was it when it was harvested? (this can vary from weeks for poultry to months or years for cattle)
There are a host of other questions to ask, Especially if you are considering becoming a member of a Farm, Cooperative or CSA. I will be happy to send that list privately to anyone that would like a copy.