You design your shopping schedule around farmer’s market schedules and pay a premium for organic fruits and vegetables at them, but how do you’re really getting good quality, locally farmed produce? According to a recent investigation by NBC Los Angeles, many farmers market stalls are making false claims about their produce, selling items that weren’t grown locally and aren’t actually pesticide-free.
Reporters from NBC looked into the source and content of produce at local Los Angeles farmers markets, and they found more than a few bad apples. State laws regarding farmers markets vary, but in California, vendors are required to grow their produce locally, and have to list the location of their growing lots on their market permits. But when NBC visited some of the farmers’ lots, they found empty fields, and the “growers” admitted that they didn’t grow all of their produce themselves. NBC also tested the pesticide levels of berries sold at a local farmer’s market, and found that 3 out of 5 stalls they tested contained four different pesticides, at levels that are too high to be residual from neighboring farms:
Does this mean you should give up on local, organic produce? Definitely not. But make sure you talk to the farmers and vendors while you shop, and ask questions about where your produce came from. If anyone’s answers seem mysterious or cagey, you might want to move to the next stall.