Good, Old Fashioned New York Sugar Cane

I like the idea of shopping at the farmers market. I really do. It puts you face to face with the person producing the food that you put into your body. Unfortunately, it’s this intimacy that makes people think they can say anything to anybody and not have to explain themselves.

I was walking around the Troy Farmers Market one March afternoon, and I was standing at a booth waiting to make a purchase. Rather than name the stand, I’ll explain that it’s not a farmer, and that they produce a product that is predominantly made from sugar. It can be a handful of places, but you can use your imagination to figure out who it is if you care; it’s not necessarily important to the story.

A young girl who was hopping from booth to booth not buying anything was right in front of me at the booth. She asked the person at the booth, “so do you use local sugar in your products?”

I don’t want to get into the debate over whether someone not growing something should be allowed at a farmers market, but, let’s leave it at, if the people who put together the one in Troy allow it, it should be there.

I think that the person at the booth did a great job of maintaining composure and answering the question and gave the girl much more information than she needed.

The simple answer is “no; sugar doesn’t grow in NY state or in the northeast US.” Period.

The more complicated answer is that the girl should have gotten beaten over the head with a stick of Hawaiian sugar cane.

The person at the booth’s answer included an explanation of Hawaiian cane, and went into pros and cons of that economy, and, in the end, the girl just walked away having the sample the vendor graciously provided; the girl didn’t make a purchase. The vendor was visibly upset by the exchange, and rightfully so. I felt really bad for the vendor.

Kids say the darnedest things.


15 thoughts on “Good, Old Fashioned New York Sugar Cane

  • Keith

    Dang nabbed whipper snappers.

  • yeah.. its CANE

    did you buy anything from the vendor?

  • Valerae

    Clearly agriculture and information on regional climates are not covered in basic education anymore. Hopefully the girl walked away with a little knowledge…at the very least, she was inquisitive enough to ask the question, ignorant or not…one of my biggest pet peeves with a lot of people these days is a basic lack of curiosity.

  • KB @ Home-Baked Happiness

    Dumbass. I’m all for local ingredients, but being too dumb to know where some ingredients come from in the first place (and MUST come from, due to growing conditions), well, someone that dumb should just keep their mouth shut.

  • -R.

    “Clearly agriculture and information on regional climates are not covered in basic education anymore”.

    Is anything? Really – my mate teaches high school Art, and reports that about half of her students have no idea how to operate a ruler. That’s correct, a 14-year old who can’t distinguish between 1/2″ and 1″ on a simple wooden ruler.

    Climate? Geography? Basic science? I’d take common sense, manners and basic literacy for a start.

    • Valerae

      You have a point. Most kids don’t even learn how to balance a checkbook or make change. Ever seen a kid in a checkout line try to make change if the cash machine doesn’t tell them the exact amount? It’s scary.

  • Daniel B.

    You do know that sugar beets can be grown in New York State, and table sugar can be refined from that source as well. I don’t think it’s a ridiculous question at all, nor do I think it’s unreasonable for someone who shops at a farmers market to avoid a product that doesn’t conform with one of the major reasons people shop these places – to support locally GROWN foods.

    • derryX

      Your response brushes dangerously close to the debate over whether these types of vendors should be at the market at all, and I’ll reiterate that I’m of the feeling that, if the people who organize the market in Troy allow it, it should be there.

      And you make a valid point, but if a free sample was ok to eat, I’m sure she’s not terribly concerned about non-NY sugar in her veins.

      Also, I don’t know specifics, but the whole concept of extraction of sugar from beets sounds mighty laboratory intensive.

      • derryX

        My quick research is leading me to understand that the main output of sugar beet refinement is sucrose (glucose + fructose); the primary ingredient used at that particular stand is glucose. I’m not sure the recipe would even work with sucrose.

      • Daniel B.

        I’m on the record of supporting both The Cheese Traveler and Fin, neither of which actually makes (or catches) the products they sell. In my opinion, the Delmar Market is better for their participation.

        So I did not mean to insinuate in any way that this producer shouldn’t be selling her wares at the market.

        Still, I fail to see fault in this shopper’s behavior. Even if she ate (and even if she *enjoyed*) the free sample.

        If this vendor is going to sell at farmers markets, I think it’s wise to develop a thicker skin to protect against this kind of implicit criticism.

    • mags

      I am kinda sick of you knowing everything!

  • mags

    And kinda being a prick about it


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