Undercover Investigation Reveals "Localwashing" and Lies at LA Farmers' Markets


I posted earlier about the battle over the "farmers' market" brand. A recent investigative report by NBC in Los Angeles shows that the rapid growth in popularity of farmers' markets has led to other problems that are more substantial than marketing semantics.

NBCLA's investigation began this summer, when we bought produce at farmers markets across the LA area, and then made surprise visits to farms where we were told the produce was being grown.

We found farms full of weeds, or dry dirt, instead of rows of the vegetables that were being sold at the markets. In fact, farmers markets are closely regulated by state law. Farmers who sell at these markets are supposed to sell produce they've grown themselves, and they can't make false claims about their produce.

We did find plenty of vendors doing just that, like Underwood Farms, which sells produce at 14 markets, all grown on a family farm in Moorpark.

But our investigation also uncovered vendors who are selling stuff they didn't grow

They followed one vendor who made the rounds to wholesalers loading up on produce from as far away as Mexico that he then turned around and sold as locally grown at the farmers' market.

In my experience with markets in Spokane, I don't think we have nearly the problems described in the video but it does point to a problem, which is that the demand has grown so rapidly for locally grown, farmer direct food, that some people are breaking to rules to meet the demand. Hopefully the rise in demand will be met with a rise in honest local farmers marketing their goods directly to consumers.