By Sophie Nielsen-Kolding
The CDC estimates that around 5,000 people die every year from food poisoning in the US, but one produce stand close to campus is working hard to keep the community from getting sick.
Elon Student Caroline Vickerson isn’t afraid of food poisoning. She’s at the Garden Valley Farmers Market today, for the first time, because she thinks the produce will be fresher.
Vickerson said she thinks the food goes “from the farm to the bin that you buy it in.”
That’s why she’s trying out all of the local produce. She said that she likes the feeling of the open air market, and the fact that there are less customers looking through the shelves.
“I feel like there are less people here touching and putting back whereas at a grocery store people are constantly coming in and out,” she said.
Paul Laparra owns the Garden Valley Farmers Market, which is about a five minute drive from Elon’s Campus down St. Marks Church Road. He said that he know’s what he’s getting is safe, because he can track it from the ground to his shelves.
“We’re able to go out to the farms, were able to see how they raise stuff, were able to kind of keep an eye on stuff,” Laparra said.
He said they try to stay with the farmers for as long as possible.
Even though Laparra sells fresh, local produce, not all of it can outlast its short shelf life. He said they end up taking about one-fourth of their produce back down from their stands.
“We go through our produce four, five, six times a day and if it has one bad spot on it, we take it off the rack,” he said.
Laparra said that they donate a lot of food to charity, as long as it’s still ok to eat that same day, but sometimes he has to cut his losses.
“We end up throwing out a lot of stuff,” he said.
Laparra said that not selling the food doesn’t hurt his business, it helps because they’ve never had a complaint about food poisoning.
“We have so many repeat customers so I guess that kind of speaks for itself,” he said.
The Garden Valley Farmers Market sells produce nine months out of the year. To learn more about their business visit: http://www.gardenvalleymarket.com/.