Suss Out Fakers At Farmers Markets

As an undercover hidden camera investigation recently revealed, not every bearded and overall-wearing guy behind the stand at farmers markets is selling food he grew himself. Some of them just load up a local produce warehouses and sell it to you at a feel-good-about-saving-the-earth premium. So how do you tell who’s real and who’s shoveling you fertilizer?

Ask them a lot of questions, NBC LA reports:

Ask him the exact location of his farm. Ask him if you can visit the farm. Ask what produce he’s harvesting this week. If he can’t give you specific answers, or acts too busy to talk to you, that’s a big red flag. During our NBCLA investigation, one of our “undercover shoppers” asked a farmer the exact location and address of his farm. He said he didn’t know. What? A farmer doesn’t know where his farm is located? We later discovered that farmer was selling mostly items he’d bought from large commercial farms; not stuff he’s actually grown himself.

More tips at Top 5 Ways to Find Honest Vendors at Farmers Markets [NBC Los Angeles]

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  1. FatLynn says:

    Is this a problem at very large markets or something? I have never been to a farmer’s market where every vendor didn’t have brochures and information about their own farm.

    Then again, there are some vendors who are selling a lot of stuff, and admit to be resellers, or parts of collectives. If someone is selling lots of different things, it’s probably less likely they are legitimately growing all of that at once.

    • craptastico says:

      anybody can print up a brochure. Heck i can print up a farm brochure right now but i’m not a farmer(unless you count my dozen stalks of corn and 2 zucchini plants). if they don’t know what veggies are ready to harvest or what not they may have done just that.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        Yeah, but the ones I’ve seen have a map and directions to the farm, etc. But even if we’re just talking about a generic brochure without any specifics at all (which would probably alarm more than mollify customers), why would they go to that much trouble and expense when it’s not crucial to selling the scam?

        • yasth says:

          I know at least a few farms locally franchise out the farmer’s market selling. They can’t get to all the regional cities so they send representatives with a truck load. and some brochures. This doesn’t mean that what they grow is bad, but a bad actors could make it work.

          Also I know some places got in trouble for the same stuff that was in the article, selling things they didn’t grow. So they may have a farm but not grow all of what they have in front of them.

    • Bativac says:

      My local farmer’s market consists of zero farmers, and a ton of hispanic and korean folks selling warehouse vegetables (from Canada, Chile, Mexico, China, etc). Almost none of it is from anywhere close to Florida. Maybe the oranges and the honey, but even then, they get it thru a supplier – not from the farmer.

    • Mom says:

      I know at my local market (which is huge), most of the farmers are legit, and are quite happy to give directions to the farm, and have you show up semi-unannounced for a “tour.” But then there are others…they make a good show of it, but they always seem to have things in stock that the are out of season. Either they have miraculous growing conditions, or they aren’t growing it themselves.

    • mac-phisto says:

      i’ve never had a problem at a farmer’s market, but i first encountered faux farmers along CT roads. roadside farm stands are pretty common around here (especially this time of year), but after noticing non-local produce at one of the stands, i discovered that those around me not situated on or next to a farm are most likely not purchasing local produce, or may be supplementing local harvests with goods obtained at regional produce auctions.

      • Bohemian says:

        Our local farmers market does some sort of background check on those that sell and they don’t have the problems of out of season produce or things bought at a commercial warehouse. The other vendors would have them tossed out. We did have a problem with a bunch of roadside stands set up around town. They would be selling “local” peaches in South Dakota early in the year and always had sweet corn months before it was ready anywhere up here. Enough people must have figured out their gig, they went out of business last year.

    • NatalieErin says:

      I don’t know how the size of our farmer’s market compares with other places, but the main farmer’s market in Minneapolis always has re-sellers. I think they’re easy to spot – who grows oranges in Minnesota? – but every week I see dozens of people lined up to buy grocery store food at above-grocery-store prices so they’re clearly fooling someone.

      The farmer’s market organization has a nice little system to deal with it. If you are a local (Minnesota or western Wisconsin) producer you can get a sign that says “Certified Minnesota Grown” or something like that. Of course, people who can’t figure out that someone selling tropical fruit isn’t a local farmer probably aren’t accustomed to reading.

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Do any current laws govern farmer’s markets? I know they govern the organic industry, but this is more mom and pop.

    • pinecone99 says:

      I live in a major city and our farmers’ market has strict rules. The vendors must be from within a 90 mile radius and they must produce their own products. The competition for a stall is so fierce and the rules are definitely enforced. The market in our neighboring city is larger but you find things like bananas and mangoes there. It’s up to each market to manage the vendors, I’d hate to see laws on the topic.

    • 99 1/2 Days says:

      Why do we need the government to regulate? Can’t organic farmers create a regulating board certification process?

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Did I say it had to be The government? I asked a question due to lack of knowledge. Do you have an answer?

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Also, I don’t trust any organization to govern their own regulatory body. In other words, even if organic farmers can create their own quality control, it would always have a conflict of interest that would never be resolved.

        • magus_melchior says:

          True, but most of the time a member of such a board wouldn’t want their industry to be sullied by a charlatan, because that means fewer sales for them when the charlatan is exposed.

          Of course, many vendors are now relying on the model of “make as much money as possible and pay off fines, but screw regulations otherwise”, so it always pays to keep an eye on them.

    • lilyHaze says:

      I live in Northern Virginia. The one organized by the parks place isn’t regulated, but there is a chain of ‘producers only’ farmer markets. The ‘producers only’ are the ones where the products must be produced by the seller.

  3. mandy_Reeves says:

    If they are Amish…it’s a good guess that they are legit.

    • scoosdad says:

      Yeah, they’ll be hawking their space heaters on the side.

      • Costner says:

        Oh how true that is. Those commercials are idiotic.

        In my area, we have a furniture store with the name “Amish” in the store’s name. However, the vast majority of the furniture is not made by the Amish… it is hand made by skilled craftsman, but they use power tools just like a factory – and they aren’t even remotely Amish. They just use it as a brand name which I find a little skeezy.

        • acarr260 says:

          Most Amish people use power tools nowadays. They aren’t supposed to have power from the grid, so most woodworking or metal shops have a large generator out back to power the shop and associated tools.

          • exit322 says:

            Also, a reasonably safe bet is that a true amish shop is using their name (like “Yoder” or “Troyer”) rather than “Hey, look, we’re amish!!!!”

    • NotAppealing says:

      My local farmer’s co-op had to remove an Amish family from the program for selling chicken they didn’t raise. The family’s monthly sales were higher than what could steadily be produced on a farm of their size, the co-op investigated, found the initial suspicions to be true, and booted the Amish family out.

  4. Larraque eats babies says:

    Someone who doesn’t know the address of their farm could also theoretically be hired by the farm to sell produce at the farmers market…

    • BuyerOfGoods3 says:

      Usually small farms aren’t paying Employees — They’re families trying to survive off their land.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Some farms don’t have addresses. When I was a boy, our horse farm address was PO Box XXX Rt. 537. We would describe by landmark, like next to the Summer Camp past the guy who sells honey on the road.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        Yeah, but I’d expect to hear that explanation not just “I don’t know”.

        • Tongsy says:

          or even something like “On Smith Road, about a mile off of Highway 123″

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          Well, as an aside, the guy down the road doesn’t grow all of his produce on his own land. He has a bunch of plots he leases from the owner and grows crops on those fields. So his corn comes from a field a mile away and this pumpkins come from a field 2 miles away, etc…

          I once called 911 and didn’t know the name of the road I was on, despite it being only a mile from my house and knowing a bunch of landmarks on it, and traveling on it 5 days a week for over two years. If you said, the road with the Arthur Brisbane treatment center on it, I would know what you meant, but since it closed down, and you only know it’s there if you see the sign at the end of their driveway, many wouldn’t, such as the 911 operator I was on the phone with.

    • Mom says:

      Yeah, but wouldn’t they have to drive the truck out to the farm and pick up the stuff? You’d think they’d at least have a general geographic idea where the farm is.

  5. jason in boston says:

    Can this be a problem in mostly big cities? I try to support local farmers when I can and go to markets out in the ‘burbs. They usually have their own trucks and pictures and marketing material actually inviting people to the farms.

  6. BurtReynolds says:

    The farmers I buy from actually talk about what they are harvesting (or slaughtering) and have an open invite to those who want to observe the operation.

    I also go to a market with maybe 10-12 regular vendors and something tells me if there was a fake, they wouldn’t need the consumers to call them out…the real farmers would take care of that.

  7. dreamking says:

    I guess, perhaps because I don’t subscribe to the demi-religion of organic locavoria, I don’t really see the big problem with this unless the sellers are lying about the produce being organic or about whether they own a farm (and advertise they do).

    What’s the hassle? If they’re outright lying through signage/listings, that’s one thing. If you’re just feeling duped because you made an assumption but the food, if advertised as such, is actually organic/local, I don’t see the big deal.

    Actual farmers should make signs or come up with a 3rd-party audit symbol that specifically confirm the stuff on the table was grown by the farmer standing in front of you. If someone was hired by a farmer to do the selling, there’s nothing wrong with that, either; a sign that indicates ‘This is from a real farm, this stand is a going concern of the farm directly, and this is a trusted employee standing in my stead’ would fix this.

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      Well, the point of farmer’s markets is to allow smaller farms a way to make money. If some large producer is selling there that kind of defeats that purpose. Not all the farms are certified organic, mainly because of the costs involved are too much for small places, but regardless of whether they are organic or not, the produce is fresher and you get more variety than at a grocery when you buy locally plus your money is staying within the local economy.

      • George4478 says:

        Haven’t seen a local farm yet with greater variety than my supermarket produce selection.

        Locally, I get good apples, peaches, and blueberries. Yet, I never see grapes, mangoes, bananas, cherries, or any of the other several dozen fruits found year-round in my Kroger. So, local quality is better; local variety is not.

        • Brunette Bookworm says:

          I should have specified that I meant more variety of vegetable breeds, not total variety. Of course you won’t have bananas in most/all farmer’s markets, they just don’t grow in the US. I was thinking more of multiple varieties of apples, tomatoes, etc.

        • JulesNoctambule says:

          My local farmer’s market offers no fewer than a dozen varieties of peaches throughout the season. All have their own flavour, texture and appearance. To hell with out-of-season mangoes.

    • craptastico says:

      a 3rd party audit system would likely be too costly for many small farmers. personally i like farmer’s markets for the quality and to be honest if a piece of fruit or vege looks good i’ll buy it and don’t really care where it comes from. local stuff just tends to be better

  8. Brunette Bookworm says:

    I think one important tip is just to know what’s in season around you. If you see a vendor selling stuff out of season, chances are good it’s not from their farm.

  9. dreamking says:

    Pepperidge Farm [doesn't] remember.

  10. Derigiberble says:

    The Alexandria, Virginia downtown farmer’s market is full of these people. I once picked up a pear which had a produce sticker on it, selling for triple what it would have at the grocery store. The resellers are allowed in order to fill out the stalls.

    If they don’t have a sign that says they grow all that they sell, then they probably do not. Also, straight up ask them about it. If you are lied to, go to the market organizer and tell them.

  11. pjorg says:

    Who cares?

    Also: If you’re going to a farmer’s market and paying MORE than what you would for the same thing at the grocery store, you’re doing it wrong.

    • craptastico says:

      that’s what confused me. farmer’s markets are supposed to be cheaper b/c you’re cutting out all the middle men and travel. generally its 20% or so cheaper than the sweatshop veggies you get at the supermarket

      • ChuckECheese says:

        I haven’t seen a farmers’ market in years that was cheaper than grocery store prices. They are full of $5/lb tomatoes, $3/lb potatoes and $8 jars of beets.

      • Mom says:

        No, not so much. The farmers market gives you, the consumer, access to better quality, more nutritious food, that was raised in a more sustainable way. It gives the farmer a chance to raise better, healthier food in a way that’s better for the environment, and still make a living wage.

        Grocery stores don’t price in external costs, like the damage to the environment and the workers that chemical pesticides and fertilizers cause. For the most part, those costs are all factored into farmer’s market prices. So prices are higher at the farmer’s market. But not as high as they would be if some middle man got involved, and had to take a cut.

        • George4478 says:

          So a locally grown Granny Smith apple has more nutritional value than a grocery store Granny Smith apple? A locally grown potato is healthier for me than a grocery store potato?

          I have my doubts.

          OTOH, the only locally grown produce I seek out are tomatoes. They taste better than grocery tomatoes. Don’t know about their vitamin levels, the farmer’s fertilizer, or if he waters the soil with the blood of endangered species — I just know they taste better.

          • Bunnies Attack! says:

            I think it just has more to do with ripening on the vine vs in a truck. I find thats true with a lot of fruits and vegetables. For example, there’s a blueberry picking operation a couple hours from here and going to the farm and picking and eating the blueberries taste many times better than the much larger and prettier looking blueberries we get at costco. You can even test it yourself if you have a tomato plant (we did that last year). Wait till 2 tomatoes grow to a medium size (but still green), and pick one. Both will eventually ripen but the one that ripened on the vine will taste much better.

            • magus_melchior says:

              If you want the green tomato to “ripen” fast, shove it in a sack with a banana. The same substance that signals fruits like bananas and apples to ripen– ethylene– also reddens tomatoes.

              It will not, however, change the flavor of the tomato, because that can only be done while the tomato is on the vine.

              Incidentally, this process is used for the sort-of-red monster tomatoes you often encounter at the supermarket. The grower picks the tomatoes when they are yellow, then turn them red with ethylene before/during shipping. They look great, but they taste like water. Some cut off the vines of the tomatoes to make them appear to be vine-ripened, but I’m pretty sure they were severed while green or yellow and processed thusly.

              The bottom line is, if you want great tasting tomatoes, grow your own, buy in season, or get canned tomatoes.

        • jebarringer says:

          Ok, the “raised in a more sustainable way” often times is a flat out lie. Not every crop is perfectly suited for every area of the country. So certain “locally grown” crops take a good deal more fertilizer, pesticides, or herbicides to produce than that same crop grown in a more ideal location – say, halfway across the country. So you either have the extra soil additives of local crops or the travel costs of non-local varieties. If that’s fine by you, then more power to you. Just dont’ go spouting BS about “more sustainable”.

      • 99 1/2 Days says:

        It used to be that back in the day, but they became trendy, and people are happy to pay more, because it makes them feel good.

    • BurtReynolds says:

      How is that? For example, I buy whole chickens, beef, pork, and eggs at the farmer’s market and pay a premium over what Tyson’s, Smithfield, and Eggland’s Best are offering at the local supermarket.

      For my extra money I buy a product that comes from an animal that actually ate what it wanted to eat and in my opinion produces a superior product. Studies have shown these products to be healthier than their mass produced versions.

      My money also goes to support a local business and keeping farmers on their land, rather than finding they need to sell it off to another developer.

      For produce, I buy products that are also higher quality and better for me. My lettuce from the market isn’t shipped from Southern CA to AZ to be processed and then sent to the east coast.

      So yeah, its more expensive. Am I doing it wrong? Absolutely not. I pay for quality and those extra dollars stay in my local economy.

      • ceriphim says:

        “Studies have shown these products to be healthier than their mass produced versions”

        Source please? Healthier for the animals, possibly. Is that what you meant?

      • jebarringer says:

        Studies have also shown that there’s no difference in quality, taste, or nutrition. See, I can play this game too.

        • Brunette Bookworm says:

          Um, for meats, yeah, there is a difference in taste between pastured stuff you get at a farmer’s market and grocery store meats fed corn. Just go try some and you can tell.

        • BurtReynolds says:

          There are more examples out there, but you would probably call them biased since they also advocate local, organic, and free range foods. There are from another a few objective sources regarding the eggs I buy:

          -Free-range eggs contain 70% more vitamin B12 and 50% more folic acid (British Journal of Nutrition, 1974).

          -Greek free-range eggs contain 13 times more omega-3s than U.S. commercial eggs (Simopoulos, The Omega Diet, 1988).

          -Pasteurized eggs are higher in vitamin E and omega-3s than those obtained from battery-cage hens (Animal Feed Science and Technology, 1998).

          -Free-range eggs are 10% lower in fat, 34% lower in cholesterol, contain 40% more vitamin A, and are 4 times higher in omega-3s than standard U.S. battery-cage eggs, and free-range chicken meat has 21% less fat, 30% less saturated fat, and 50% more vitamin A than that of caged chickens (Gorski, Pennsylvania State University, 1999).

          -Free-range eggs have three times more omega-3s and are 220% higher in vitamin E and 62% higher in vitamin A than eggs obtained from battery cage hens (Karsten, Pennsylvania State University, 2003).

          I’d dig up the studies that show free range, grass fed beef is healthier than the corn fed CAFO equivalent, but I don’t have the time right now. Go read the Omnivore’s Dilemma. Or simply buy some free range eggs from pastured chickens and look at the yolk compared to what you buy for 1.99 a dozen.

          Now show me a study not funded by Cargill that supports your claim.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Grocery produce doesn’t necessarily come from the region you are living in (in fact it probably doesn’t) But some medical professionals advocate eating local because that’s how you gain immunity to the allergens in your area.

      Honestly, I don’t know the validity of that science, but I know that it’s out there.

  12. TBGBoodler says:

    Where I live, the farmers’ markets are considered “producer-only markets” and are hosted and controlled by the county. My husband stops by one one weekly afternoon market on his way home from work. He was strolling around in his gray business suit last week and one of the vendors said, “you must be the inspector.” The county is very strict about who can sell what.

    Here is the explanation of “producer-only market.”

    *FCPA defines a producer-only market as a market whose vendors grow, raise or produce the products they sell at market. FCPA recognizes a number of foods at the market require on or off-farm processing. We give priority to vendors whose final processed products are made from the products they raise or where raw ingredients are purchased from local producers. In making a decision about these farmers/growers, producers and their products, county Farmers Market staff will use a balance of factors: quality of products, scarcity of products in the markets, diversity of product mix in the markets and traceability of the farmers/growers and producers.

    • Hawkins says:

      Here in Charlottesville, we boil down your fancy lawyer-talk product requirements to:

      The vendors must, themselves,

      Grow it or sew it;
      Make it or bake it.

  13. MonkeyMonk says:

    I’ve become really disillusioned with CSA and farmer’s markets this season.

    We joined a New England-based CSA for a 20-week program that was supposed to supply enough organic veggies weekly to feed a family of 3. We experienced a few good weeks, a few entirely missed weeks, and then a run of of meager, unhealthy looking vegetables.

    One weekend we went by a farmer’s market, and what do you know, there’s our CSA with a tent and loads of great looking veggies. The person running the tent didn’t have any explanation and the CSA has been unresponsive to emails.

    I’ve been doing CSA for nearly a decade and this is the worst experience ever.

    • craptastico says:

      i don’t live in NE anymore, but here in NJ it was a pretty dry, hot summer and all the produce reflected that. you have to keep in mind when dealing with local produce that you have to take the good with the bad. lousy weather means lousy crops. when they have lousy crops they still need to pay the bills so probably save the best stuff for people buying at the stalls, while the CSA “sure sale” is given the stuff of lesser quality.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        That’s moronic. You should support your annual memerships, not random people on the street.

        The long-term customers will pay out much more in the long run.

    • FerretGirl says:

      Aw man. That totally sucks! Fingers crossed for you getting your money back. I’m in a CSA down here in Va that I really like and they’ve always been totally cool

    • JiminyChristmas says:

      Sound like you just got a lousy CSA farm. My household has been doing a crop share for about 4 years now. The quantity of produce I get may vary somewhat if weather or pests affect the crop, but everything I get is always very good quality.

      If you had weeks when you were getting nothing for your crop share I would look elsewhere. A good crop share should be planting different things at different times of year so they have something to give you every week, even if something goes wrong with what they were planning to harvest.

    • outis says:

      Yeah, I run the food program for a school that set up a CSA. The farmer went on and on about how he grew heirloom this, heirloom that, tomatoes were his specialty. The tomatoes we got were the absolute worst out of a pretty disappointing share. Almost no heirlooms, all have insect damage or were green or split from improper watering. Turns out he’s supplying heirloom tomatoes to the grocery stores in the more well-heeled parts of the city. Guess where all the fancy and/or ripe ones were going.

  14. balthisar says:

    I wonder how regional this is. First off, when I go to a farmer’s market, the produce is usually cheaper than in the grocery store, other than some of the stands that claim to be organic. While I have the expectation that the produce was brought directly from a local farm (versus a commercial warehouse), I have no expectation that the actual farmer that grew the stuff is the guy on-site selling it to me. Sometimes, the wife, son-in-law, or other family member will be selling it, but I normally expect it to be an employee of the farmer. Farms are businesses, and the farmer proper has a lot of work to do besides moving relatively low volumes at a farmers market. Just like I don’t expect the local franchise owner of a BW3’s to be acting as my waitperson.

  15. Lear100 says:

    I used to go to farmers markets fairly often. Then I realized that I can get the same selection of fruits and vegetables at a local non-chain market, usually an ethnic market, for less money. And I can go there anytime during the week instead of one day a week. I’ve lost interest in these farmers markets since it seems the prices are inflated just because it’s a “hip thing to do” in your hip city center that used a be a ghetto but now is totally cool and it’s where all the cool people go to look cool and hang out with the lesbian mothers (props!) and the hippie musicians.

    • Missing in Vlissingen says:

      Oh, no — how embarrassing for me! I thought if I shopped at the farmer’s market everyone would think I’m cool. Thank you for showing me that I’m not fooling anyone. If it’s okay with you, I’d like to go to the farmer’s market one more time, just to say good bye to the lesbian mothers I was pretending to be friends with.

      P.S. I’m sorry your farmer’s market sucks so bad. Can I enjoy mine without being targeted by your contempt and stereotyping? Thanks.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Honestly, he has a point, sarcastic as it may be.

        Farmer’s Markets are a hip trend, so plenty go there to be cool rather than really caring about why they exist.

    • hoofoot says:

      While my local farmer’s market is slightly more expensive than my local Asian market, I still prefer the farmer’s market. The produce is often picked the same day that it’s sold and tastes noticeably better than the “picked weeks ago and shipped across the country” stuff sold at the Asian market. It’s worth paying a little extra for the fresh stuff.

  16. Commissioner says:

    The farmer’s markets I go to don’t sell at a premium, usually it’s cheaper than a grocery store. I would say a red flag is they are expensive.

  17. Bagumpity says:

    Rule #3 of “people who want to sell you stuff:” If somebody can sell stuff at a premium or sell more stuff because of some desireable attribute of the stuff, somebody else will claim their ordinary stuff has the same desireable attribute and use your ignorance to sell their inferior stuff at the premium price and/or more move stuff.

    Organic? All Natural? BGH Free? Pesticide Free? Locally Grown? Fair-Market? Low-Impact Farming? Just labels. As soon as consumers start showing a preference for any label, a multitude of hucksters looking for a quick profit will come along a saturate the market with fakes.

    And there’s nothing anybody can do about it because as soon as you nab one fakester, another one is going to sprout up and take his place.

    To be fair, even the local farmers get in on this scam. Lots of farms around here have a “front-porch store,” but when you look at the produce it’s blatantly obvious that it couldn’t have been grown at the farm. If you call them on it, they make some excuse like “it’s out of season, but we stock it because our customers like it” or “we get it from a farm up the road” (but which one? and why can’t you give directions to it?).

  18. Bativac says:

    My local “farmer’s market” sells vegetables and some fruit at dirt cheap prices, compared to the grocery store. It’s usually of better quality. But none of it is grown by the people selling it, nor is it grown anyplace close to Florida. Which is okay, I guess, because my primary goal is saving money.

    There are farmer’s markets in town that are actually markets where “farmers” (or large-scale gardeners) sell their stuff, but it’s much more expensive than the grocery store. I patronize those as more of an occasional indulgence.

  19. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    What if the seller is actually somewhat smart, and knows you don’t know what you are talking about, and just improvs something? It’s like a mechanic telling you that your water pump wasn’t primed to the proper number, but he’ll re-prime it for $15.

  20. djanes1 says:

    It shouldn’t be up to the average farmers market patron to suss out this basic fact — it is the Market’s manager who should be weeding them out. Although the more common problem is when actual farmers are supplementing their self-grown product with store bought stuff. People complain at farmers markets when they can’t buy exactly what they want, even if said product is out of season. Still, you are only supposed to sell what you grow yourself. If you find the same charlatans selling stuff they didn’t grow, week after week, you may want to stop shopping there.

  21. jiarby says:

    I saw this a couple weekends ago at the Phoenix Farmers Market (next to Urban Grocery). They had a vendor with loads of fresh looking produce, and a big farmer looking dude wearing overally standing under a banner proclaiming the name of his farm.

    Interestingly, the location of his farm (on the banner) is the town where we live (about 50 miles SE of the Farmers Market). I never heard of him or his farm so I asked him where in Queen Creek his farm was located… he stammered a little and finally coughed out “on the North side..”

    North side? Where the heck is that? Everyplace in Queen Creek is defined by cross streets. (ex.. “near Power & Riggs”, or “east of Ellsworth & Germann”. He then ignored us and disappeared.

    I am a home gardener (also in Queen CReek) and I can promise you that no one could grow tomatoes in August/September out here in Arizona. So, obviously this guy was not growing anything in Queen Creek. Seriously… nothing grows here in August.

    A quick peek behind the tarp showed the truth…

    A Wells Cargo trailer stuffed to the gills with crates from central California & other locations.

    I would not have cared if he was marketing himself as a wholesaler, or a distributor, or maybe even a reseller… but he claimed to be xxx Farms from Queen Creek. No such place. Sorry. Faker.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      I live 4 blocks from that market. As the summer wears on, the offerings are more meager. It’s my understanding that the produce is supposed to be local-only. But there isn’t much you can grow when it’s 110&#176 + for days on end. Most of the market’s offerings are far too trendy and expensive for my tastes.

  22. majortom1981 says:

    I live by the farms on long island and this does not just happen at farmers markets. The farms around here like cheating the non locals. They ship in stuff from other sources like NJ and sell them at their stands. NY has a law that anything local has to be stated as such . Most people don’t know that .

    PS the well known place for pies around here is not made locally either.

    IN NY atleast if you want local make sure it says our own or local on where the food is labled at the stand. If it does not state that its local it most likely is not.

  23. Portlandia says:

    I don’t find that the produce at our farmers market are a premium price especially compared to Whole Foods. On the whole they tend to be somewhere between safeway and wholefoods and often less than both. I bought red/yellow bell peppers the other day, $1 each at the farmers market and they were $2.69-$3.50 each at Safeway.

    Head lettuce was about the same price ($1.30-1.60 each).

    I keep hearing people say there’s a premium for shopping at the farmers market but I don’t usually see it.

  24. JiminyChristmas says:

    In my limited experience, farmers’ markets have ground rules about who is eligible to sell there. The rules can vary widely. There are two large farmers’ markets where I live in the Upper Midwest. One requires that everything sold there be produced in the state and brought fresh to market; the other has no such rules.

    In the ‘anything goes’ case you see the same trucks that deliver to the grocery stores at the farmers’ market. You see produce like bananas and oranges, obviously not locally grown. You see tomatoes in April, which probably came from California. Or you see apples or potatoes in late spring, which means they came from a warehouse somewhere. Most items are priced almost identically to what they are at the grocery. The only thing they have going for them is a little more variety that what you would find in the store on any given day. Otherwise, why bother going to a farmers’ market that just sells supermarket produce?

  25. tjthayer says:

    My farm? Yes, it’s in Farmville.

    You’re welcome to visit me anytime, but I’ll need a friend request first. And, when you do visit, please feed my chickens, scare the crows out of my field, and pick some weeds.

    Now, do you want to buy some of my Super Berries and Shamrocks, or not?

  26. Dre' says:

    My father was a producer for 12+ years & I spent my childhood summers loading & selling nearly every fruit & vegetable you can name. We’d sell my uncle’s onions (one of the biggest Vidalia onion producers in Georgia) as well as whatever we got a good price on from Mosovitz. My question is, so what if they do get produce from a produce warehouse? It’s still usually a quarter of the price of a supermarket.

  27. Kibit says:

    I didn’t ven know this was a problem.

    The Farmer’s Market in my area has a lengthy approval process to make sure the vendors are who they say they are.

  28. banmojo says:

    This should be illegal and finable. They should have to have some kind of farmer ID to prove they’re legit in order to rent a booth at such a market. Asshats!

  29. phonic says:

    Here in Florida I’m yet to go to a farmer’s market where the vendor’s actually speak english

  30. MrEvil says:

    As far as saying no to visitors on their farm. I wouldn’t take that as a red flag. I would take that as a sign that the farmer doesn’t want to be pestered all the time by a bunch of hipster city dwellers day and night.

    Seriously, my dad hates it when folks pull into our farm just to turn around. When I move out there I’m going to have a big fat sign on the gate that says “No Tresspassing, if you can read this you are in range.”

    • dru_zod says:

      BINGO. My dad is a farmer as well, and while he will tell people where his farm is located (the general area, at least; he doesn’t get too specific), there’s no way he’d tell people they could visit the farm. For one thing, it is not in a single location; there are several different fields, all roughly a half mile or so from each other, with different crops. But the most important reason is that once some people learn where the farm is, they will come back later and help themselves to the merchandise, so to speak. We have seen them do it, but we couldn’t do anything about it (we watched someone pull off the road in the distance at dusk, load two armfuls of corn into their truck, then drive off, but we were too far away to see their license plate or drive out and stop them).

      That said, we do allow some people to come to the fields, but these are usually people that we know and trust, some of whom have been good, honest customers for 10 years or longer.

  31. jeepguy57 says:

    My local farmers market is legit here in NJ. I go down there and buy bananas and oranges from the same guy every Thursday.

  32. Sardis says:

    Is it righte to invite yourself to visit his house?

  33. Lisele says:

    As someone who has worked at two separate Farmers’ Markets all summer, I don’t agree with many of your rules, or your premise that farmers market vendors are trying to rip off customers. Maybe this is a factor in big cities, but here in the heartland (SE Michigan), we and all the other vendors are legit. Many are not farmers in the sense of owning 40 acres, but instead are independent growers planting a few rows here, a few rows there, just struggling to get by. The CSAs here offer pickup at the Farmers’ Markets (one of several pickup options) and the boxes for subscribers are created *first* and then the excess goes on the table for sale.

    Usually produce is ALL much cheaper than what you’d pay at a grocery store. BTW, grocery store produce has been in transit or cold storage for an average of 9 days. Nutrition content begins fading from the moment vegetables are picked, with 45% gone within 5 days, so nutritionally speaking, produce from the Farmers’ Market is far superior to what you get at a grocery store.

    The one exception is a single re-seller who has been at the market for 40 years or so — they buy from the produce wholesalers and then re-sell. I don’t like their practice, but it is pretty obvious when they have pineapples and strawberries and other out-of-season items. They have been grandfathered in due to their long history here. I would suggest, if you have doubts, ask another vendor. They’ll give you the straight scoop on their fellow market vendors. BUT I think the whole topic is just flogging the “culture of fear” — “OMG, maybe someone is ripping me off!!!!” Mostly, farmers’ market vendors are not raking in big bucks and spending the winters in the Caribbean. Get real.

  34. Samy St Clair says:

    Be sure not to overlook the farmers that do have farms, that do grow a lot of their own produce, but also include items that where NOT grown on their farm. I was enlightened as to this practice by accident (which was indicated by the “oh sh*t” look on the vendors face immediately after she admitted this to me.) I was buying mushrooms from a verifiable local farmer. When I asked about another booth, under the same farm name, at a different market that was selling Shitake mushrooms, she said that the guy in question does not actually grow his own Shitakes. When I asked where he got them from, she said “I have no idea.” This was an enlightening moment for me to say the least.