It's a big part of the organic food movement -- go fresh and go local. Farmers markets are popping up everywhere in Indiana.
You’ll also find a lot more variety. It’s not just your typical fruits and vegetables. How about a rib eye steak or a carton of eggs? But when you're dealing with dairy and meat outdoors, health inspectors and vendors are staying vigilant.
On another summer day downtown, vendors like Robert Engleking and his wife, Darlene, are keeping their table at the Indianapolis farmers market bare.
“We're plugged in,” he said. “We carry a generator in case for some reason we lose power. We've got ice packs... everywhere."
Temperatures are closely monitored and meat and eggs are kept in freezers and coolers. It's a reassuring sign for customers who enjoy buying local and meeting their farmers face-to-face.
“We visited their farm,” said Susan Little, who’s been shopping at farmers markets for nearly a decade. “You just get to know the people you do business with and you trust them.”
“If there's a problem, there's only one guy you can come see and it's me,” said Engleking.
With a growing number of farmers markets and salmonella contaminations continuing to make headlines, legislators are questioning if health inspectors are keeping pace. The Indiana State Egg Board said with four inspectors, they can barely make it to these outdoor markets, which only account for less than a half percent of eggs that are distributed in the state. Officials said the state relies heavily on counties to do their part.
“It's definitely something we pay more attention to. We’re spending more time looking at them and enforcing the rules and the years to come,” said Janelle Kaufman, Marion County Health Department’s Food and Consumer Safety Administrator. “Obviously, it's something that's growing and going to continue to grow."
With 22 inspectors making random rounds every three months, Kauffman said Marion County is keeping up. Vendors like the Englekings, are noticing.
“We never know when they're coming and that's the way they ought to be.”
If you have any concerns about a vendor near you, call your local health department. Information on all of the Marion County health inspections is available online.