Deception at the local “Farmer’s Market”

May 24, 2009 at 11:22 am Leave a comment

I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend at the farmers market lately. More and more vendors at the farmers market are selling imported produce, and you have to pay attention to the labelling to know if you’re actually buying from a local farm, or if you’re at a quaint supermarket stand. Yesterday’s trip to the market was particularly disheartening.

We were perusing the outdoor vendors, and came across a stand with zucchinis and tomatoes that caused me to go on my usual envious rant about Leamington having an earlier season. But there were strawberries there. I wait all year for the summer berry binge of Ontario strawberry season, so I was pretty surprised, especially since it said product of Ontario on the sign. I asked the guy where in Ontario strawberries season starts in May. Short answer: It doesn’t. They were product of California. Then why was he using a Foodland Ontario sign? He wasn’t trying to lie, he assured me. When people ask he tells them that they’re from California, as he did with me. He was just using the signs provided by the market. Obviously, if that was the case, he could easily have used the back of the sign, or cross out the “Product of Ontario” claim at the bottom (which we suggested to him). But since he was the only one around using Foodland Ontario signs, and he had taken the time to put the strawberries in cardboard pint boxes, it was pretty clear that deliberate deception was exactly the point.

We didn’t ask about the rest of the produce, but let the market office know what he said about the strawberries. They were not interested in having their customers deceived and made him change his sign. But he vends at 4 local markets, they informed us. Taking advantage of people who are trying to locally source their food.

It’s definitely worth chatting with your market vendors before you buy.

UPDATE: Foodland Ontario said, “It is illegal to sell produces [sic] as ‘Product of Ontario’.” Thought so. They also investigate abuses, like food police!

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Entry filed under: Food. Tags: , , , , , , .

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