Fraud at the farmer’s market

Tips for spotting scams

January 14, 2014

In late December, David Karp published a couple of pieces in the Los Angeles Times: one about local farmer’s markets getting busted for fraud, and another with tips on how to spot scams.

The problem isn’t new, of course; way back in 2000, Mother Earth News was telling readers how to spot whether a farm stand was really selling local fare or not. The main clue is usually seasonality; beefsteak tomatoes, for example, aren’t usually seen in June in the Pacific Northwest. (And something obviously heat-loving, such as bananas or avocadoes, being sold in a temperate climate is a dead giveaway.)

Organic Gardening magazine also has a list of six tips for spotting scams, including being savvy about whether your local market is restricted only to local growers, understanding labels such as “no spray” and “organic,” and reminding shoppers that all produce, no matter how fresh or local, still needs to be washed before being eaten.

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