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Trouble at the farmers' market

(article, Culinate staff)

You knew it had to happen eventually: What with all the locavore hype of the past few years, enterprising and unscrupulous types were going to try to pass off ordinary produce from far away as fabulous produce from nearby. 

As David Karp reported in the Los Angeles Times, that's exactly what's been happening at L.A. farmers' markets, with Mexican produce fobbed off as California local, and the market authorities looking the other way:

bq. When she started working at the markets, Reid told the group, "I thought I was going to be dealing with peace, love and hippies." Only later did she realize, she said, that the farmers' market environment could be "like I'm dealing with Teamsters."

Karp also reported for the paper on the statewide scandal of farmers' markets, focusing on conventional produce being sold as organic:

bq. Knowledgeable market observers believe that cheating has increased considerably over the last decade. There's likely some peddled produce in almost every market; in many venues, half or more of the vendors appear to be cheaters — selling produce that is clearly out of season in their area, or unlikely to have been grown on their farms.

What to do? Karp has plenty of suggestions, including funding enforcement agents by raising the (currently very cheap) stall fees farmers pay to set up shop.