By Christiane Cordero

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — While Minnesotans love supporting their local farmers, the vendor rules vary from market to market depending on what a community needs, in some cases not requiring vendors to grow or raise their food in Minnesota.

The St. Paul Growers Association claims it only allows vendors who grow or raise what they sell, which often adds incentive for shoppers to pay a little more for local produce than what they would spend at a grocery store.

However, while buying local is one reason why people shop at farmers markets, it’s not the only reason. Certain communities in food deserts use farmers markets as a main source of fresh produce, regardless of where the produce came from.

Shoppers who care about buying local can help educate themselves by looking for the Minnesota Grown logo. It’s a membership that requires farmers to confirm at least 80 percent of their product or ingredients are from Minnesota.

There are 1,300 licensed Minnesota Grown farmers, according to the Department of Agriculture, but it’s not required. Just because someone doesn’t have a Minnesota Grown logo displayed does not necessarily mean they buy their food elsewhere.

Another option: Talk to the vendors directly.

“The guy down there, he says, ‘Oh you know, fresh grown in Lakeville.’ So I know that’s local,” said shopper Laura Spieker. “A lot of the farmers, especially at the time we’re coming out, they want to tell us about where they’re growing their food.”

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