Consumer Education
Printable pages for handing out at your market stand

By Michelle Frain

January 30, 2004: Most consumers don't know where their food comes from or how it was produced. People don't realize food often travels an excess of 1,500 miles to get from the field to the plate. And, that the cheapest food is often produced at the highest expense to the environment, to the workers and and to human and animal health.

The good news is, consumers who are educated about local versus non-local issues often choose to buy local. The better news--you can help educate consumers and, in the process, make them loyal locally-grown customers.

Consumer education can be as expensive and complex as a full-blown marketing campaign by a large corporation or as cheap and simple as a free hand-out for shoppers at a farmers' market. We like cheap and simple, and so do the marketing-savvy farmers we've talked to.

Purchase a few clear, plastic flyer/brochure holders and some colorful paper available at the local office supply store. Print off copies of the consumer education pieces below and stock your flyer/brochure holder with them. Post a sign that said "FREE--TAKE ONE". You'll be surprised how many people just walking by will grab a copy of your free consumer education.

Want to get more bang for you buck? Buy some sheets of clear, address labels while you're out and print essential information on them--farm, name, phone number and where or how to buy your products. Stick one to each sheet and now they have your business card, too.

If anything, picking up the free hand-out gives people a reason to stop, to look and to browse. Even if they don't buy immediately, chances are good they will in the future. Educate the consumer and they will not only understand why buying your tomatoes is a better choice than grabbing a few at the grocery store, they will choose to purchase your tomatoes again and again.

The Hand-outs

  1. The Eco-Foods Guide Top Ten Shopping Check List From The Eco-Foods Guide by Cynthia Barstow, published by New Society Publishers,, the list highlights questions every consumer should be asking about the food they buy.
  2. 10 Good Reasons to Go Organic Produced by The Organic Trade Association to encourage consumers to buy organic.
  3. Price Tags/Cost Tags From the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), they list the beyond-wallet costs of buying a product that has been shipped from it's most common point of production. Individual tags for apples, chicken, corn, dairy, eggs, hamburgers, potatoes, strawberries and tomatoes.