How “local and sustainable” is the produce you’re buying at your local farmers market?
There is a troubling article today on a site called “The Perishable Pundit.” Jim Prevor, the author, is an extremely well respected source of information for the fresh produce industry. It’s safe to say that most people in that business follow Jim’s blog because he is an independent voice and willing to take on just about any issue.
In his most recent update, Jim talks about some good journalism that has been done by the NBC affiliate in Los Angeles. They have been uncovering fraud in some of LA’s many “farmers markets.” There are vendors claiming to have grown things at local farms, but visits to those farms reveal that they grow no such thing, or hardly any. They have been filmed buying their produce… from normal commercial warehouses. There are vendors claiming that their products are “pesticide free” when lab result say otherwise.
The Pundit is careful to point out that there are fully legitimate operators as well, but this consumer trend is obviously tempting for people who want to cash in on what people would like to believe.
The issue here is not so much that there is anything wrong with the “mainstream” produce being sold, but with the price premium that is being extracted on a fraudulent basis.
It is sort of a sad reality, but the buyer must be careful. News organizations in other cities might do well to conduct similar investigations.
(Farmer’s market image from Natalie Maynor)