6 Farmers’ Market Scams

Don’t let vague claims and lax rules ruin your favorite farmer’s market.

By Emily Main


6 myths about farmers' marketsMyth: “No spray” is the same as organic.

Fact: Farmers’ markets are as subject to greenwashing as any grocery store is. Absent organic certification, there’s no way to know what terms like no-spray, chemical-free, natural, or grown using organic methods actually mean. “There are no regulatory requirements for ‘no-spray’ or ‘chemical-free’ programs. The terms are meaningless,” says Don Franczyk, executive director of Baystate Organic Certifiers, third-party inspectors that certify farms under the USDA’s National Organic Program. In fact, some farmers may completely spray a field with chemical pesticides to kill pests and then plant their crops. Since the produce itself isn’t directly sprayed with chemicals, some less-than-up-front farmers may advertise this produce as “no spray.” Ask any farmer advertising “no spray” produce what he or she means by the term.

Photo: (cc) Sarah Stierch/Flickr