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L.A. Farmers Markets Exposed

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The impression made by the Calabasas Old Town Farmers Market on a rainy autumn Saturday was that of an organic, or nearly organic, event. "Organic" banners were prominently displayed, and several produce sellers assured one curious customer that produce lacking the "organic" sign, while not organic, at least hadn't been sprayed like fruits and vegetables at supermarkets. After all, the market is run by nonprofit Raw Inspiration, which has strict, written policies on its books.

Yet dubious practices were obvious - if shoppers knew what to look for. A half-dozen sellers with stalls in the market, held in a parking area in Calabasas' quaint, Western-themed historic district, were blatantly breaking California law by failing to display a mandatory certificate explaining where their produce came from. When queried, they grudgingly produced the public document.

Several produce peddlers told L.A. Weekly they'd tucked the documents away because of rain - but their stalls in Calabasas were dry and covered, and the certificates were encased in plastic.

A man at one stall produced a certificate whose detailed information probably would have come as an unpleasant surprise to shoppers drawn to the market's fresh goods grown by small farmers: The stall is run by Suncoast Farms of California, a large, corporate agricultural operation in Lompoc. 


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