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.”