Los Angeles Farmers Markets Full Of Lies, Warehouse Produce

If you’re in California and need to make a little extra cash, why not buy a bag of baby carrots from the supermarket, throw some potting soil on them, and sell them at your local farmers market as fresh-from-your-farm organic treats? Okay, maybe technically that’s not permitted, but who’s going to stop you? An NBCLA investigation found vendors at several farmers markets were lying to customers about their produce, and sourcing it from local warehouses instead of their own farms.

NBCLA’s investigation began this summer, when we bought produce at farmers markets across the LA area, and then made surprise visits to farms where we were told the produce was being grown.

We found farms full of weeds, or dry dirt, instead of rows of the vegetables that were being sold at the markets.

The station also tailed a farmers market vendor on the day of the market and watched him drive to a warehouse and load up his truck with produce from farms as far away as Mexico. When they confronted him and asked whether he was going to sell the produce at the farmers market, he said yes.

As for pesticide-free claims, three of the five strawberry samples the station bought (all from different vendors) tested positive for pesticides, despite all promises to the contrary. NBCLA told one of the vendors about the results–her berries tested positive for four different pesticides–and asked, “You don’t know how that happened?” She answered, “Nope.”

View more news videos at: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/video.

“False Claims, Lies Caught on Tape at Farmers Markets” [NBCLA via Metafilter]


Edit Your Comment

  1. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:


    I’m sorry, but this just makes me laugh. And I bet all the people who bought there were always throwing it in the face of their friends/co-workers that they buy their vegetables locally and it may cost more, but since they started shopping there, the veggies taste better, they’ve lost weight, and they don’t have the headaches they had when they ate food from the supermarket. The power of the mind is an amazing thing.

    • blag says:

      You seriously live in an alternate universe where people “throw it in the faces” of others that they shop at a farmer’s market?? That’s really a pretty bizarre and stupid thing to say. Sounds like typical lazy rhetoric of thoughtless shopper that gets everything via drive thru.

      Farmer’s market produce in California is generally much much cheaper than supermarket produce. That’s why I buy at No Cal farmer’s markets. For $20 I bring home 4 huge sackfulls of stuff that lasts the whole week. And, yeah, I do believe ’em when they say it’s locally grown. Everyone of us should TRY to support a sustainable planet with sustainable farming to the best of our abilities. If the vendors LIE then they should be punished.

      • Marshmelly says:

        “You seriously live in an alternate universe where people “throw it in the faces” of others that they shop at a farmer’s market??”

        Yes, actually…that alternate universe is the comments on consumerist.com.

        I also like how you’re doing exactly what he’s talking about (throwing it in our faces). Makes it even more funny.

        • blag says:

          I never made any false health claims. Another lazy post from a lazy thoughtless consumer.

          • Marshmelly says:

            Oh wow, I’m a “lazy thoughtless consumer” because I don’t buy locally grown produce. haha, okay then…gotta love waking up to some fresh judgement on a Monday morning.

            Also, didn’t accuse you of making “false health claims” (no idea where that one came from)…just that you’re bragging about the wonders of farmer’s markets. You make it seem like those of us who don’t shop there are total thoughtless morons who go to McDonalds everyday….which is a rather entertaining opinion.

            • FrugalFreak says:

              Oh NO, The “Better than thou Healthy Elite Vegetarian” Pride lays shattered on the floor in a thousand self mocking pieces.

        • AstroPig7 says:

          SteveDave said “all the people who bought there”. How common do you think rubbing this in someone’s face is? I’ve certainly never experienced it or heard about it much outside of Internet forums.

          • Marshmelly says:

            I don’t know, as I have no experience with it either (I don’t know anyone who doesn’t shop at a regular grocery store like the rest of us)…but judging from the opinion’s of some people on here, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if all the people he interacts with act that way…it seems like a pretty realistic story to me.

            • watch me boogie says:

              I don’t understand the judging of farmers market shoppers as somehow abnormal, considering that was how we all bought our food for, I don’t know, *thousands of years*.

              Reverse snobbery much?

          • Michaela says:

            I am jealous of you then. My grandmother is constantly complaining about my grocery store produce. She won’t stop telling me it is gonna give me cancer or something…
            I also have a few friends who do the same thing. Last time I went to their home, they wouldn’t stop telling me how horrible my diet pepsi was and how they had moved to drinking ONLY water.

            Therefore, I guess the nagging only happens when you associate with people who like to say such things. It isn’t something just limited to the internet though.

            • AstroPig7 says:

              I’ve become convinced that some people are naturally that way. While I don’t personally know anyone who acts smug about their produce, I do know people who act smug about whatever they think makes them superior. Some people are just toolbags.

        • JulesNoctambule says:

          You really thought that was throwing it in your face? Wow.

          • Marshmelly says:

            He/she called the original commenter a “lazy shopper who eats via drive-thru” just because he/she doesn’t believe in buying farmer’s market produce…then went on for a full paragraph about how he/she is SO much better for buying said farmer’s market produce. Very judgmental and sounds exactly like the type of attitude the original commenter was talking about.

            • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

              I actually DO shop for many of my vegtables when they are in season from the farmer down the road from me. I know he picks/grows his own because I see him driving his tractor past my house a lot. Yeah, it’s a little more, but it tastes good, and he will cut me breaks that he won’t cut the Benny’s, and when I was a-courtin the Ex, gave me the “good” sunflowers to put on the Ex’s car windshield.

              • subtlefrog says:

                So you’re saying you *do* sometimes shop at a farmer’s market, and that it *does* taste better?

                • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

                  Well, it’s not a farmers “Market”. It’s an old tractor trailer (A pull behind trailer for a AG tractor, not an 18 wheeler) that is parked in his front yard that has signs w/hand written prices, so there is no one else there. And yes, his veggies(the ones I eat) taste good, which is why I keep going back. He’s also on the way home on Saturdays/Sundays, so it’s ultra convenient to stop there vs. my local supermarket, which is not a large chain store, but a local 2-3 store chain, so their produce department isn’t as varied as a normal chain store, and this guy has stuff they don’t. On the flip side, I usually have to clean them because there are sometimes bugs, and as of late his onions have been sub-par.

                  So, I do shop there, and it does taste better than the veggies my local store doesn’t sell.

                  • subtlefrog says:

                    So…I understand the difference between this guy’s little trailer and a farmer’s market (which may have some bad apples, so to speak), but isn’t it just the tiniest bit hypocritical to make fun of other people who shop at farmer’s markets who say that the produce there tastes better, as you do in your comment? I’ll agree that the other health claims you cite are likely dubious, but I don’t know anyone personally who has ever made them, so I can’t join your apparent indignation about them.

                    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

                      No. Because my comment about his stand said that they taste good, not “better”, as the hypothetical people in my original comment said. I shop there because he’s convenient and I think the veggies he sells and the veggies the supermarket sell are both just as good. I don’t make claims that just because he is a small “local” farmer, his stuff will taste better than the stuff the supermarkets get. But he does get things that some supermarkets don’t, like apple hybrids and local honey, so I shop there for those things.

              • Chazz1918 says:

                Oh so now it DOES taste better. WTF?

        • knoxblox says:

          Anybody have a towel I can use? For some reason, a lot of people are throwing stuff in my face today.

      • HaveSomeCheese says:

        I’d have to agree with him. Most of my interactions with people who shop at farmers markets are that of people who think they are somehow better than those who shop at a grocery store. While there isn’t anything wrong with a farmers market, this proves that they aren’t always better than going to a grocery store.

        • dolemite says:

          I concur. Usually upper-middleclass, looking at what the “locals” have to offer. “What a quaint display you have here…I’ll take 5 of those “things” you are making. Oh no..no…put them in a bag, I won’t be touching them.

      • watch me boogie says:

        It’s a good idea to do your homework on the vendors at farmers markets. Businesses of any size can be honest or dishonest.

        The prices here tend to average out – and we shop at the cheapest grocery store in town. Red peppers, for example, at $2.99/lb at the farmers market. At the grocery store, the price fluctuates between $2.49 and $3.29/lb, usually $2.99 for the non-organic variety. (I think the organic ones are up around $4/lb which we can’t afford.)

        • AllanG54 says:

          Red Peppers this week where I shop on Long Island, 99 cents/pound. Unless it’s really off season usually no more than $1.99/pound.

          • watch me boogie says:

            I have never seen them that cheap at any store… They’re just about my favorite vegetable, too. :(

            • Alessar says:

              I have a little produce stand near me and the red peppers are usually $1 or $1.50 a pound if the harvest is bad. They get their produce from all over, a lot from Mexico. In comparison the local chain supermarket down the street a little way usually sells red peppers for $3.50 or more. It’s not a fancy chain like Whole Paycheck either. So maybe you just need to look around for ethnic grocery stores and produce stands — you may find some deals that way.

      • VeganPixels says:

        Um…no. We hit the FM in Thousand Oaks last Thurs. and found conventional cilantro for $1/bunch while Jons/Food4Less cilantro is $1/4 bunches week after week. FM conventional Roma tomatoes $1.50/lb., supermarket range anywhere from $0.99/1lb. down to $0.99/3lbs.

      • macruadhi says:

        Can you define “sustainable”

    • watch me boogie says:

      Nooooo… every crowd has douchebags but really, there are some of us who hit the farmers market and treat it just like a run to the grocery store, ie. buying food to then eat. It’s not a moral experience. However, in the Consumerist spirit, false advertising is shitty and any consumer should know what they’re buying.

      (But locally-grown and in season does taste way better, I’m not going to lie.)

    • Bernardo says:

      Or maybe it was jsut people who were shopping there because they felt like the food was good and healthy and thought they were supporting thier local farmers.

    • sleze69 says:

      Same exact reaction I had. Now if only they found the evidence that “organic” food is no better than normal food.

      • watch me boogie says:

        Organic shmorganic… Locally-grown is why I go. Less time between being picked and eaten means way better taste, and supporting local businesses is good wherever you are. Sometimes you get the benefit of cool stuff they don’t have at our grocery store, like scapes, blue potatoes and fiddleheads.

        • Arcaeris says:

          This is the same reason I go. I didn’t go to college and study science so that I could fall into this organic bullcrap.

          However, there’s no disputing that South American produce at the supermarket tastes like crap compared to stuff at the farmer’s market. I taste test everything first anyway – if it’s not delicious, I don’t buy it.

      • jesirose says:

        They don’t need to, the research has already been done. There’s tons of great evidence out there that organic food is not any better, and when it comes to pesticides is actually more dangerous (since organic is not pesticide free [it’s really more like “free of the newer synthetic and much safer pesticides”, and even pesticide free sometimes isn’t really free of all)

        • Ben says:

          That’s weird because the research I read found that people who eat organic live longer than people who don’t. It’s not much longer, mind you. The best diet to truly extend your life significantly is to be vegetarian or, even better, vegan.

          • zekebullseye says:

            Bad research at work. People who eat organic are less likely to smoke, more likely to exercise and less likely to do foolish things that would land them in an accident. Association does not equal causation, people.

          • macruadhi says:

            That works until your brain starts shrinking from eating a foreign diet.

    • crunchberries says:

      Hee. I knew some dick was going to see this report and start acting as if every vendor in every farmer’s market ever was doing this instead of seeing this as a report saying that there are isolated incidents at one particular market.

      Thanks for being that dick, SteveDave. Now I don’t need to bother reading any more comments on this.

      • jesirose says:

        I know of at least 2 farmer’s markets near me that do it. It’s not an isolated thing, and more people need to be aware (and made aware of their bias – the food tastes better b/c you think it will.)

        Anyone who eats Organic food needs to go watch Penn & Teller’s episode on Organic food.

    • Hoss says:

      People with taste buds would naturally migrate from the offending vendors. Some people drink fine wine, others Budweizer

      • Michaela says:

        Not really. Most people I know find no difference in the taste between organic and “regular” produce.

        As for the wine comment, you should seriously learn about the crap behind “fine” wine.

        • Hoss says:

          If both the organic and non-organic were ripened on the plant and sold the day they were ripened, I agree, no difference (other than a long term health concern). But the offending farmers were hocking warehoused produce.

          As to the wine, the article is about deception. Anyone can be tricked no matter what profession.

          • Hoss says:

            Err…sold on the day they were picked

          • Michaela says:

            “People with taste buds would naturally migrate from the offending vendors.”

            The wine article does show that people can be deceived…even those who think they are buying organic. There is no “natural migration.” There is the label that impacts the taste that the person perceives.

      • Me - now with more humidity says:

        And some of us drink both.

    • SunnyLea says:

      Geez, or it could be about people liking to support local businesses and sustainable farming.

      I can’t speak to whether or not people throw where they buy their veggies “in your face,” but can we at least both agree that *lying to your consumers* is wrong?

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      This is more prevalent than anybody thinks. I have even seen this in farmer’s markets in VERMONT for cryin’ out loud! Many of the “farmers” at the markets are getting produce from mega-farms and distributors in Canada and touting them as locally grown. When I buy fresh local produce in Vermont I go directly to the farmstand at the farm – no “farmer’s markets” for me, thanks.

    • mxjohnson says:

      The power of the strawman is amazinger.

    • Puddy Tat says:

      The Power of pesticide compels you……. The Power of pesticide compels you….!

    • Eli the Ice Man says:

      Yeah, but you feel good….

    • DGC says:

      I went to the farmer’s market once and they were selling bananas. Funny, I don’t recall seeing any banana farms in Michigan during the 48 years I lived there. There are a lot of scammy people selling at farmer’s markets. I usually buy from a vegetable stand nearby. It’s better stuff than at the supermarket and cheaper.

      • SunnyLea says:

        I feel like I am repeating myself (probably because I am repeating myself) but just because it is a Farmer’s Market, it doesn’t mean the produce has to be local.

        I doubt anybody in Michigan meant for you to think they were growing bananas in the great white North. Many farmer’s markets offer non-local produce in order to satisfy customer demand.

        The issue in this article is *not* that farmers are selling non-local veggies, but that they were *representing them as such,* when they were not.

    • magus_melchior says:

      It’s a funny thing about words, because those who use absolutes will be proven wrong in seconds by a counterexample. Your second sentence is a marvelous straw man, and I suppose you derived a good deal of pleasure burning it down.

  2. Consumeristing says:

    When I saw one of the vendors came from a farm from Orange County, I was immediately skeptical because I don’t think there are farms left in Orange County. Especially Irvine.

    • EyeintheLAsky says:

      @ Consumeristing –

      Actually, you’re incorrect on that assumption.
      There is a strawberry field/farm just off the I-5 @ Jeffery in Irvine.

      Also, there are many other areas in south OC that still have fields of various kinds of produce.

      Yes, it’s despicable that so much development is tossing aside such good soil for the sake of generating tax dollars, but not everything has been covered in asphalt/concrete just yet.

    • magus_melchior says:

      They are being converted to offices left and right, but that doesn’t mean they are nonexistent. I can find at least 4 farms in the OC area– a couple I drive past regularly.

  3. Bernardo says:

    This is sad. 1 because it makes it harder for the real small farmer to make it. 2 because its harder for us the general public to be able to really know, undrstand and trust where our food comes from. I bet these people had regular customers who they were on a first name basis with. Which means every week they went to see these people and sell them lies.

  4. Silverhawk says:

    This isn’t news. You can go to nearly any bustling farmers market around the country, and if you pay attention, there’s usually at least one vendor selling warehouse-sourced produce. Most don’t even bother to hide the boxes. I’ve gotten to markets early enough in the mornings to see the local distributor trucks still unloading.

    • Bernardo says:

      Post pics please. Id really like to know more about this scam.

      • Silverhawk says:

        I’m not an investigative reporter doing an exposé. I don’t have pictures. It’s been pretty common knowledge in the cities I’ve lived in. You’ll notice stands selling tomatoes that aren’t quite ripe, or if they’re red, they’re hard as a rock. They have stacks of boxes behind the stand with the local distributor’s name on them. Then you have other stands selling more imperfect produce that’s obviously very ripe and recently harvested.

        • Brunette Bookworm says:

          Or they have those produce stickers on them like at the grocery stores…sometimes with the country on them. If you want to buy locally, buy from places that tell you where their farms are and buy in-season items. Do some research into what’s in-season for your area and then if something is being sold that isn’t in-season for you, it’s likely from far away.

    • Mothman says:

      Yep, I thought most people knew about this. I live outside of Charlottesville, Virginia and worked at the City Market (a farmer’s market) trying to sell fruit from our backyard orchard and berry plants.

      Every vendor there selling vegetables and watermelons bought them the day before from a distributor that sells and delivers to grocery stores.

      Even the local weekend farmer’s market in my county, the Thursday farmer’s market in a neighboring county, and countless roadside vendors all sell items that were grown anywhere from 100 – 3000 miles away, but definitely not in Central Virginia.

      Most of the vendors will tell you (when asked) where the produce came from and sometimes you don’t have to ask because it’s still in the box it came in.

      The best giveaway? When they are selling produce that you or no-one you know is growing yet. Tomatoes are not ripe in Central Virginia before June (if then). If a vendor is selling even one item that’s not in season the chances for any of it being local to your area go way down. Keep in mind, “locally grown” can mean local to California, local to Florida, or even local to Chile. It rarely means “local to your area”

  5. pawnblue says:

    This is a constant problem at farmer’s markets. There’s no regulations or inspections. At the one in Raleigh, NC, we had a guy advertising gluten free bread. Obviously it wasn’t. After several complaints and problems, he lied to a federal investigator. That finally got charges brought up. Turns out he had a history of similar fraud in other states. And that’s selling something that was unsafe to people with a health problem.

    So selling something as organic, when it isn’t? Well that’s just the benefit of a free market!

  6. myCatCracksMeUp says:

    Sadly I’m not surprised. This is yet another example of the greed and scumminess of heartless, greedy scammers.

  7. APriusAndAGrill says:

    They do this in Charlotte NC at the bottom of BofA tower….. they are even a brazen to sometimes leave the stickers on.

  8. Segador says:

    I won’t name names, but a friend’s dad has been doing this for over 15 years at the San Francisco farmer’s market. From what I understand, it’s fairly common.

  9. Hoss says:

    The real story is the gov’t slackers who aren’t doing their own investigations. If you’re going to take in fees to give out permits, you need to do the due diligence and enforcement

    • magus_melchior says:

      Do you really believe that regulators will bother, when there’s a multi-trillion dollar deficit? When there’s conservatives on every political and journalistic spot clamoring for austerity? When it’s a friggin’ election year?

      You’ll get more enthusiasm from a morgue.

  10. PunditGuy says:

    I remember seeing a pineapple at a Minneapolis farmer’s market once. I’m guessing it wasn’t locally sourced.

    In one of my purchasing classes in culinary school, we had a guest speaker one night who used to deliver produce to restaurants around town. The people at the restaurants who checked in the merchandise were often too busy or lazy to inspect what he brought in, so he’d take a few boxes off the truck, wheel them past the restaurant’s office, and then put them right back on the truck. Later in the week, he’d set up a vegetable stand, wear a straw hat, and tell everyone that the stuff came from his farm. He said he had a group of cops who were regular customers.

    • SunnyLea says:

      RE: The Pineapple… Not all Farmer’s Market vendors are claiming to sell local or only local produce, though.

      Our large shed downtown has one end devoted solely to local producers, and you can usually tell because they’ll have gobs of in season veggies with a number of “imperfections.”

      At the other end there is a mix of vendors, many of whom sell some local produce, but also carry out-of-season items or items that simply don’t grow in our region, mostly to satisfy customer demand.

      The difference is, they are honest about it, and don’t strip the “Grown in Mexico” stickers off the avocados.

  11. tungstencoil says:

    I’ve often wondered about this.

    In Austin, we’ve had a ton of farmers’ markets either spring up or expand recently. Some of the stuff that they carry (or the time they have it) I wonder…. You grew that in Texas? Now?!?! Double my suspicion with either eggs or frozen meats. You simply have no way to know…

    Luckily, I can visit one of a few actual farms and buy their stuff there, and I can walk the grounds. Even then, I’m occasionally suspicious. We also have some delivery services that work with local farms (real mom-and-pop operations).

    Also, the farmers’ markets here are pretty outrageous in terms of prices. Most everything is easily two to five times as expensive. When I lived in Detroit area, that really wasn’t the case – you could visit local farm stands or even Eastern Market and find Michigan-grown items and they were almost always cheaper.

    • searonson says:

      Another Austinite here…. I trust Boggy Creek Farm (www.boggycreekfarm.com) because you can actually see their crops and chickens. Plus, some of the legit farmers who go to the markets still come from really far away, say, 7 hours from West Texas, which I am not sure if I would consider environmentally friendly.

      • tungstencoil says:

        I really like their farm, too. My only objection is that I find them to be very, very expensive. However, their produce is really something special, and they’re always busy on the days they’re open, so it’s hard to argue that it’s over-priced.

        No offense, but I personally try to buy local produce for quality/taste reasons, so I don’t much object to a farmer transporting their goods a number of hours to sell at a popular market. I just am a little skeptical that they can produce enough, week after week, to sell enough to justify that drive. It’s just *too* easy (IMO) to take a product from a store shelf, mark it up three or four times, and put it out there as grown on your farm.

    • bennilynn says:

      Eggs are usually a pretty solid bet around here (I’m in Austin, too). There’s at least two or three vendors that have pictures of their chicken operations, so I feel pretty confident I’m getting what I pay for. Also, eggs from chickens that run around and eat bugs and grass look very different than commerically farmed eggs once you crack them open. There was one vendor at Sunset Valley that I bought from that I realized was peddling store bought eggs. He hasn’t been back there in a while. Everyone else I’ve tried has been honest.

      As for the produce, though, yeah. I don’t buy much of it out there any more. It’s very expensive, for one thing. I don’t really believe most of these people actually farmed the stuff. These days, I stick to eggs and potted plants when I go down on Saturday.

    • Preyfar says:

      The best Farmer’s Markets I’ve been to are the Amish Farmer’s markets. Everything is hand made, and you can generally see them make their products on site (they make a lot of fresh dips, pies, nibble food). I can’t vouch for the vegetables, but everything there are pretty phenomenal.

  12. vdragonmpc says:

    There is a guy in Petersburg that does that. He sells watermelons and cantelopes out of the back of his pickup truck.

    How many gardens have stickers on their melons? His have them.

    There are some other guys in the area that do it too. They get seafood from Supermarket Dist services and resell it on the side of the road as ‘fresh local’

  13. Bativac says:

    I was at the local farmer’s market yesterday. I go for the cheap produce – I’m under no illusions as to where the food comes from. The garlic comes in packs and says “MADE IN CHINA” on the label. The red bell peppers I bought had stickers on them that said “CANADA.” Everything else was obviously packed elsewhere and trucked in.

    But I spent 10 bucks and got enough vegetables to last me and my wife at least a week. Who cares where they came from?

  14. MeOhMy says:

    There are definitely some sketchy dealers at any Farmer’s market. Around here in Southeast PA we’ve always got the Amish vendors and I always find myself wondering if those people are REALLY Amish or if they just have beards and straw hats because, as we have seen on Consumerist with the “Amish Fireplace,” the Amish reputation of being simple, hard-working and honest can be abused. I almost categorically do not buy from stands run by people dressed up as Amish people because I have no way of verifying.

    Definitely try to research the farms at the market to find out how legit they are. Most will let you come visit (if the are on the up-and-up that is). Other tipoffs as another poster pointed out are things that cannot possibly be local (pineapples on the US mainland) or are way out of season (how come the Amish stand at my local market had tomatoes on Saturday long after the other stands and my CSA stopped providing them?).

    • SunnyLea says:

      Not all farmer’s market dealers (in my experience anyway) claim to be selling only local. They usually leave the stickers on the pineapples and the avocados. The problem isn’t farmer’s markets selling non-local produce, it’s claiming they do when they don’t.

      • 99 1/2 Days says:

        I don’t see why farmer’s markets are selling non local produce anyway.

        • SunnyLea says:

          Because people complain that they have to make 2 stops (one to the grocery store after the market to pick up their lettuce or what have you). So, in order to attract customers, some markets offer a selection of out-of-season, non-local produce.

          Makes sense to me.

  15. Urgleglurk says:

    Seen this before at farmer’s markets on the East Coast. One day, my wife and I walked past the backside of the market and could see into the various pickup trucks they were unloading from. Many of them had unopened sacks and boxes of produce clearly marked as coming from local/regional grocery stores.

    Needless to say, we do that BEFORE we shop for produce at farmer’s markets now.

  16. MrEvil says:

    Interesting note about baby carrots. They don’t just magically come out of the ground like that. In fact, Baby carrots came about as a way for carrot farmers to turn odd, mishapen carrots into a product that was as valuable as the long and straight carrots. The long and straight carrots only made up a fraction of the total harvest. The “rejects” were cut and shredded for other products. The only processing in getting baby carrots is that the formerly reject carrots are sent into a cutter to cut them to uniform lengths then they’re scrubbed free of their peel and rounded. They do use a special variety of carrots for baby carrots today, bred selectively for their sweet taste.

    • Conformist138 says:

      Yeah, I like the sweetness of baby carrots, but I hate the illusion being ruined by a stray carrot that didn’t quite go through the cutter correctly, so it still clearly looks like a section of an ordinary carrot.

      Most of the time, I just buy normal carrots. A fraction of the price and I can’t imagine the sugars in the sweeter variety used for baby carrots has many positive benefits.

  17. jonquil says:

    I buy at my local farmer’s market because it is hard to be a small farmer and I want the small farmers to survive. I also like knowing my farmers by name and chatting with them every week about how the crop is going. I’m lucky because I go to a teensy conscientious yuppy market — they check. Every single farm that sells there is certified, which means somebody at the market has checked out that the farm exists and is actively being farmed, and most of them are organically certified, which is an even more rigorous process.

    All of this, though, means that the farmer’s market itself has to do a lot more than just throw up a tent and call it a day.

    Organic farming is like any other part of manufacturing — people will cheat if you let them. It takes inspection to keep people from doing the cheaper, faster thing, and to defend the honest people against the cheaters.

  18. smo0 says:

    I don’t have a choice where I live now. When I was in L.A. I did shop at farmer’s market… prior to it being a part of the grove…. this was 10 years ago. I’m hoping people weren’t as “lazy” or dishonest about where the food came from then… there’s always a chance.

    There’s more to famer’s market than just veggies. There’s a lot of boutiques and independently owned shops. I’m sure not every single vendor is a part of this – and I’m pretty sure they are going to reign down hell onto those that are guilty.

  19. slim150 says:

    i guess the moral of the story is don’t buy produce from mexicans

  20. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    This is more prevalent than anybody thinks. I have even seen this in farmer’s markets in VERMONT for cryin’ out loud! Many of the “farmers” at the markets are getting produce from mega-farms and distributors in Canada and touting them as locally grown. When I buy fresh local produce in Vermont I go directly to the farmstand at the farm – no “farmer’s markets” for me, thanks.

    • Michaela says:

      My family does something similar. We actually go out to the local “pick your own” places around the county when we want local produce (and a fun afternoon). We can’t really be scammed, because we are picking the fruit off the branches ourselves!

    • retailriter says:

      I hate when they take the original intent and charm of something and exploit and ruin it.

      We used to have a real “Country Fair” here in our town, full of locally grown produce, church bake sales, farm animals, etc. Now, it’s mostly an overpriced carnival with booths selling things like massage chairs and thermal windows, $5.00 for a hot dog, $3.00 for a can of soda…. We finally just stopped going.

      I also used to like to go to Flea Markets to find old books, cool old junk, etc. Now, most Flea Markets are full of dollar-store Made in China merchandise and knick-knacks. I even went to a craft fair where a lot of the wood “crafts” were stamped Made In China on the bottom. No fun.

  21. Trick says:

    Went to a farmers market (in San Luis Obispo, CA) a few weeks back since we were in the area… bought some giant radishes and celery… extremely cheap too. That was Thursday, by Sunday the celery was limp and soft… the radishes were OK though for almost a week.

    Oh and the line at the McLintock’s BBQ was about an hour long. That sucked. We were hungry so we settle for Firestone Grill and mini-donuts. Over all it was a good day. Has nothing to do with this story either but this is better than doing work right now.

  22. MrAgen10 says:

    Wait, wait, wait.

    Are you actually saying that something in Los Angeles is actually DECEIVING people?!? WHAT?!?!


    Sorry, had to.

  23. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    People in LA lying? G’wan!

  24. twonewfs says:

    We joined a CSA -Community Supported Agriculture- this year where the organizers told members that the Better Boy and Early Girl tomatoes were heirloom. I worked at a local farmstand, where one job was to thaw the frozen bread and soup touted as “our own, farm fresh”

    Wherever there’s a chance to cheat, someone, somewhere will run with it, and that’s just sad.

  25. Joey Strange says:

    I avoid the markets as well. Living in Santa Barbara is a blessing because of all the local farms we go to. I buy squash from the guy who has a big field of squash right behind his stand. My wife and I like making a day of buying veggies by going to a few farms to get the best of everything. Turns out to be right in line with the grocery store pricing. Those who say there isn’t a difference haven’t tasted a just picked peach from Los Olivos.

  26. john says:

    This is common across the country. I don’t fault them for selling to the gullible public. A dead giveaway is “vine-ripened tomatoes” at the corner stand in May in Missouri.

  27. Archergal says:

    Heh. There’s a guy down the street from me that sells tomatoes out of his yard every summer. Only thing is, he doesn’t grow them. He buys big boxes of them (at wholesale somewhere, I guess), repackages them, and lets people think they’re home grown. At least he doesn’t advertise that he grows them himself, just lets people think that.

    But the boxes out by the curb every week are pretty much a dead giveaway.

  28. sopmodm14 says:

    wow, farmers markets are based on a system of trust b/w those in the local communities

    if a legit local farmer doesn’t know who the other “vendors” are, they should question it

    i think the vendors at my Buffalo college are legit, or at least as legit as their id tags,but if you ask a few questions like, where there farm is, you can weed out the false

  29. evilcharity says:

    In California, there are certified farmer’s markets that help to prevent this kind of thing. The farmers are certified by state employees who visit the farms to see what they grow and how and the farmer posts that certification on their stall at the market.

    Of course, there is also another market right around the corner from the certified one that sells things like mangos and other manner of tropical fruit that aren’t grown anywhere near here.

  30. evilcharity says:

    In California, there are certified farmer’s markets that help to prevent this kind of thing. The farmers are certified by state employees who visit the farms to see what they grow and how and the farmer posts that certification on their stall at the market.

    Of course, there is also another market right around the corner from the certified one that sells things like mangos and other manner of tropical fruit that aren’t grown anywhere near here.

  31. I just blue myself says:

    They recently did an investigative report on this in Detroit. Some guy claimed he grew all his own produce but the news people went to his “farm” and saw that he was growing nothing and that it wasn’t kept up real well. Turns out he was buying in bulk from a local supermarket.

  32. jenjenjen says:

    I’m pretty sure that a lot of the stuff at some of our “certified” markets in San Diego come from a particular produce warehouse store. Lucky for us, that warehouse store is also open to walk-in retail traffic, although they make the entrance hard to find and you are required to sign in, wear gloves, and use their bags only. It’s really great – you get first pick of all the stuff before you see it at the market or grocery store.

  33. paul says:

    I think it’s assumed that most farmer’s markets are just produce resellers who probably get things from the same places the local grocery stores do. Obviously when you’re in Michigan and they are selling bananas, they weren’t locally-grown. Most of the ones around here don’t make any effort to try to pretend it’s anything otherwise. You can see the Dole stickers on the fruit (or whatever).

    There are some farmers markets which are explicitly “local-only” markets, and in those cases I would be disappointed to learn that they were breaking the rules.