How “Local” is Your Local Food?

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UPDATE: We first shared this news in September. Now a new story by David Karp for the Los Angeles Times details how Southern California’s largest farmers’ market operator may have protected a vendor known to sell wholesale produce from Mexico as his own. As the whistle-blower in this case notes, farmers’ markets aren’t all “peace, love and hippies.”

I love visiting the local farmers’ market, shopping for peak-season, pesticide-free produce and supporting local growers. And, like many shoppers, I trust that the vendors are the real deal.

Not always. A new NBC-LA investigative report of Los Angeles-area farmers’ markets finds that not all vendors are legit. While most are selling genuine locally grown fare, more than a few are cutting corners. The report reveals “farmers” buying “local” produce from as far away as Mexico at the wholesale warehouse in downtown LA. Lab results also discovered that vendors touting pesticide-free fruits and veggies were, indeed, selling wares that had been sprayed. (Your best bet to ensure farmers’ market food is pesticide-free is to buy from certified-organic vendors.)

Lia has said it before, and we’ll say it again, you have to get to know your farmer. Even better, plan a little day trip to visit the farm. You might be reassured–or surprised–by what you find.

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  • rnlizzieo

    I just came from the Torrance farmer’s market. That’s where the vendor “The Berry Best” was caught falsely claiming their strawberries were pesticide free. Today they handed out flyers to all the vendors saying they could not claim that without proper documentation on file. I was so mad when I heard this story so I’m glad they are taking steps to fix this. Oh and by the way, The Berry Best was not selling today!!

  • Alison Ashton

    This story really irked me, too, Elizabeth. I’ve seen those Berry Best peeps at local farmers’ markets, too. But I’m glad NBC-LA did this story, since it will make other vendors think twice about pulling a similar stunt.