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Friday, September 24, 2010

L.A. Reporters Find Hefty Farmers' Market Fraud. Think It Happens Here?

Posted By on Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 5:36 PM



Vendor at S.F.'s Alemany farmers' market.
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You know those creepy MSNBC To Catch a Predator stings, where some guy wearing a tucked-in polo shirt at some food-court Sbarro has to explain ― lamely ― why he's waiting for a 14-year-old he's never met before? Well NBC Los Angeles did something similar recently with vendors at SoCal farmers' makets. Reporters Joel Grover and Matt Goldberg tracked farmers with suspiciously broad offerings to see if, in fact, they actually grew the produce they were hawking in their stalls.

The say they found dozens of violators. Grover and Goldberg:

An NBCLA undercover investigation has revealed that some farmers at these markets are making false claims and flat-out lies about the produce they're selling.

In one case, the reporters tracked a vendor who sold avocados to L.A.'s wholesale produce market, where they busted him buying stuff grown as far away as Mexico to pass off as his own. In other cases, Grover and Goldberg lab-tested strawberries claimed to be pesticide-free, and ― well, you can guess what they found.

The answer, according to Grover and Goldberg:

Operators of farmers markets we spoke to suggest shoppers get to know vendors they buy from, and ask them a lot of questions.
Well ― at the risk of sounding like a Bay Area produce snob, with vendor loyalites keener than those for any hometown sports franchise ― duh, L.A.

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