When Fallbrook farmer Eli Hofshi of Eli’s Farms loaded up his truck in mid-December and headed for the Borrego Springs Certified Farmers Market, he decided to include some plump raspberries that his father grew across the street on his side of the family farm property.
The raspberries may have been sweet, but the $700 fine Hofshi got slapped with for including the fresh fruit, not-so-much. Officially, Hofshi was fined was for “selling product not of his own” making. Another time, Hofshi says he was hit for missing paperwork for avocados he was selling.
“We made an honest mistake,” he said. “People do sell stuff from Mexico and elsewhere. It happens. I guess the laws are the laws, but the inspectors are really strict. They don’t have to be that way.”
Accident or not, the incident was just one of 223 violation notices against markets and producers in San Diego County County this year between Jan. 1 and April 17, according to the Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures. (There is a lag-time between when a violation notice is issued and when the case is closed and publicly posted, in part because producers are allowed to ask for a hearing to contest the fine.)
Other violations included a $250 fine paid by Stehly Farms Organic for not posting a valid organic registration at the point of sale at the Linda Vista Farmers Market in August and September 2013.
Grower Ivan Cobarrubias of I&M Produce in Ramona was fined for selling more than 25 pounds of avocados at a roadside stand in December without proof of ownership. That mistake cost him $903.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
After reading about the raspberries, my confidence in farmers markets has been completely eroded. Now that I think about it, last year I bought an "organic" yarn purse with an image of a chicken woven into it. Annie the 70 year old selling it kept name dropping "organic and all natural" like they were interchangeable and I just sat there and pretended like I didn't notice. And who was that Sue Ellen sitting next to you? I didn't even check if her name was listed on your business license. I'm such a fool. The image of the chicken probably wasn't even an image of a free range chicken. I guarantee she was imagining the chicken in a cage when she hand wove it.
Just for perspective Proper labeling is nothing new in the nursery business For any crop. Not just food.
Whatever happened to “caveat emptor”? Are we such idiots that we need government bureaucrats to certify what’s safe to buy in a farmer’s market?
When my wife and I shop at farmer’s markets we take plenty of time because we know we’re going to pay through the nose. It’s often worth it, but we generally taste a sample of the product, which most vendors are happy to provide, before we buy. My personal favorite is curly endive. Yum!
It’s only a matter of time before the Nanny State kills this industry through regulation. I’d rather take my chances, trust my judgement and risk getting poisoned by unscrupulous providers than depend on some bureaucrat to certify the product as safe, but I’m an octogenarian so I’m not too smart. Can't believe it's illegal to include fruit from your father's spread next door in your wares. Gimme a break!
@Carrie Schneider This is bureaucratic insanity. You may feel comforted by Big Brother making your decisions for you. I prefer to make my own.
yes, we do need inspectors to certify the claims that growers make. People are willing to pay more for organic produce, and that provides an incentive for unscrupulous growers to distort the truth without having to go to the trouble of being certified. How do you know the farmer got the raspberries from his father and not from a store in Mexico? Not that he did - my point is that there is no way to know if it's not certified.
@Carrie Schneider This is what we get when humans feel quite justified in screwing each other for a buck, State supervised everything. The reason hundreds of manufacturing jobs are leaving California is because of regulation. At some point it must stop, or there will be no base for our money supply.
If you don't understand that, then you need to do some research on how our money is distorted. Labor is what gives money its value, and when physical labor is done away with, think what will happen to your money supply.
Boston civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate calls his new book "Three Felonies a Day," referring to the number of crimes he estimates the average American now unwittingly commits because of vague laws.
Always wondered what a $20 tomato would taste like
Hold on just a (unionized) cotton-pickin' minute. We DO have union jobs in the fields (remember Cesar Chavez?) and we DON'T have $20 tomatoes.