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Are You Shopping At A Fake Farmers’ Market?

Are You Shopping At A Fake Farmers’ Market?

Over the past few months, there have been several reports of markets selling faked “local” foods, demonstrating that some people will stop at nothing to make a quick buck.

The Center for Media Democracy recently reported that the market manager of a California non-profit that operates 18 farmers markets in southern California caught a vendor repackaging Mexican produce to sell at a farmers market.

Shannon Reid, who works for a company called Raw Inspiration, caught Kirby Wylie, an employee of a farm called Rancho Las Gordonises, repackaging cherry tomatoes for sale at a local farmers market in Glendale, California, and documented it with photographs.

After Reid confronted Wylie, he removed the offending items. But it isn’t the first time either Wylie or Rancho Las Gordonises has been caught deceiving consumers. In 2007, Tulare County, California sanctioned Wylie for falsifying documents and suspended him from participating at farmers markets in the state for 17 months. He was also caught re-selling tomatoes at a market in Torrance, California. San Bernardino County also suspended Rancho Las Gordonises for 18 months and fined the business $2,000 for reselling pears and cherries.

And this disturbing trend doesn’t stop with small time veggie-crooks.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “in June, several Safeway Inc. stores in the Seattle area posted signs with the term ‘Farmers Market’ above produce displays in front of their stores. When local farmers’ market groups complained—the offerings included mangos, which aren’t suited to Washington’s climate—Safeway changed the signs to say ‘Outdoor Market.’”

Thanks to the quick response from local food advocates, a Safeway spokeswoman said the chain has no plans to call its outdoor events ‘farmers’ markets’ in the future.

Safeway’s move was later emulated by 200 Albertsons stores in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, which, despite complaints from the same advocacy group, claimed they would continue their marketing scheme if it proved effective.

A strong movement supporting local food and farmers is growing up all over America, but corporations and dishonest vendors could threaten consumer confidence in what they’re buying and hurt the success of small family farmers searching for a connection with their community.

To most people, the term “farmers’ market” means something significant about the quality of the food they’re buying, and the local families and farms they’re supporting in the process. Now, along with all the other labels we have to doubt and question, assuming that “farmer’s market” and “local” are synonomous could be a big mistake.

But, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and in the interests of looking on the bright side, this only means that the farmers’ market movement is getting stronger, and definitely here to stay.

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Image Credit: Flickr - John Schanlaub

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10:22AM PDT on Apr 18, 2013

I have seen people trying to sell "locally grown" pineapple and peaches here in North Dakota! Gotta wonder about who falls for that!

1:49AM PDT on Mar 16, 2013


11:47AM PDT on Mar 15, 2013

Lucky to have a good Farmers Market in my area.

5:05PM PDT on Mar 14, 2013

It's all about greed.

11:56AM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

Thanks for this article. I wasn't aware of fake farmers markets. I am not sure that I've seen one, I am pretty sure the one in my town is a real farmers market because I've met some of the farms and visited them :) but when traveling around and visiting other farmers markets, it's good to be aware that this could happen!

6:37PM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

Here in Arkansas roadside stands are common all summer. I was distressed to discover stickers on the tomatoes I bought at one this summer.The stickers said Arkansas, but still......

7:22AM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

With the emergence of the "Green Revolution", I have seen every type of con emerge in the field of renewable energy, and somehow I am not surprised, anything for buck. After all, it is America.

Fake Farmers Markets or is it just the next fraud to be launched on the American scene.
I suppose con artist must exist in creating fake farmers markets. Imagine, someone purchases produce from a farmer, packages it as Organic produce and shows up at Farmers Market. How can you tell? After all, it is America.

Fortunately, true Farmers Markets that specialize in Organic produce demand papers of certification. Whats next, fake certification papers? After all, it is America.

What can we expect next, fake doctors, fake lawyers. fake judges, fake hybrid cars? Why not, so much of our everything is fake, fake reasons to go to war, fake promises from politicians. After all, it is America.

To those of you out there who might be contemplating such a fraud, I ask you, leave us this last bastion of sanity, of honesty, this safe and calm harbour for which we might sail into each Saturday. Stay away from our Farmers Markets.

1:18PM PST on Feb 15, 2011

When you see cases of un-ripe tomatoes or a fruit or vegetable that is out of season there, it's probably imported. (fake-not locally produced on a farm)

6:00PM PST on Jan 30, 2011

I don't think I've been bamboozled. I live in a small town with small markets and roadside stands. We also live on land and grow our own veggies. In central Texas, we even have a winter garden with spinaches, lettuces, broccoli. They love the cold, and only have to cover in severe frost. I'm extremely lucky I know.

11:41AM PST on Jan 1, 2011

I don't trust corporations.

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