The upscale food-court atmosphere that prevails at so many farmers markets has prompted Jeffco health authorities to impose stricter regulations on food vendors selling items typically offered at restaurants.
Some small-business operators are complaining, and some are choosing to take their offerings elsewhere.
Vendors selling what are called potentially hazardous food items — such as burritos, tamales, pizza slices, hamburgers and salads — for immediate consumption must submit a plan to health authorities first and obtain a $255 mobile unit license.
"Today's farmers markets are much more than they used to be," said David Hooker, retail food safety program manager with the Jeffco Department of Public Health. "It used to be more like a roadside stand that sold fruits and vegetables in a whole state. You didn't have to worry about it breaking down.
"It's not like that anymore. It's selling all kinds of potentially hazardous foods," Hooker said.
For a longer version of this story, check out the June 13 print edition of the Courier.