Farmers market lies exposed: hidden camera investigation (Marketplace)

[ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: We’re inside
farmers’ markets.>>The home grown ones,
are they yours then, or…?>>Charlsie: Are you
really buying direct from the farm? Or are they feeding you lies?>>What’s the farm called?>>Uh, Koornneef.>>Charlsie: So that’s Koornneef
Produce, right over there. Not a family farm after all. Tracking down the truth. Consumers are paying
a premium for your product because they
think that you grew it. Are you ripping people off? This is your Marketplace. [ ♪♪ ] [ Chickens Clucking ]>>Charlsie: This is probably
where you think food from your local farmers’ market
comes from. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: But Lauren Nurse
wants you to know the truth.>>I think people go to the
market to have relationships with farmers and they think that
the people they’re buying food from are farmers, like me.>>Charlsie: And she’s
not alone.>>My name is Sam McClain. I’ve been farming for 27 years.>>Charlsie: These farmers
are letting you in on an industry secret. The people you are buying
from at your market may not be farmers at all.>>I think it is just being
misled or deceived, and…it doesn’t
sit right with me.>>People at the market don’t
know that and they’re buying that food and they are being
lied to, so it’s a real issue. And I am actually surprised that
it is not talked about more and I’m actually surprised
that, yeah, people don’t know. People don’t know. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: I’m one of
those people. I shop at farmer’s
markets all the time. You selling a lot of berries,
though, today? And I had no idea there may be
people who didn’t actually grow the food themselves. Can I try one of your berries?>>Yes, of course.>>Charlsie: Yeah?>>They’re called resellers
and we’re told they’re not always
upfront about it.>>All good for your health.>>Charlsie: So, our plan…>>This is it coming up, here.>>Charlsie: ..visit as
many markets as we can across Ontario.>>Just gonna turn all this on.>>Charlsie: These markets
are a billion dollar industry. But largely unregulated.>>Hi, how is it going?>>Hi, how are you.>>Charlsie: So, we’re going to
ask each vendor what they grow.>>Trying to go local today. Thank you.>>Charlsie: And then see
if their claims check out.>>Charlsie: It doesn’t
take long for us to start getting suspicious. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: At a busy
market in downtown Toronto, this vendor advertises his
produce as homegrown. But for field, yes.>>Charlsie: Added bonus,
it is chemical free.>>Is it from your place?>>Yep.>>Charlsie: He says
it is there is. But we spot boxes with a
different name under the table. And when we call
the name on that box, we discover it leads back to a
wholesaler who says those tomatoes weren’t
sold as pesticide free. The owner later says he tries
to label produce that isn’t his. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: That wasn’t the
only vendor it seems is trying to mislead us.>>Charlsie: At this market,
the vendor says the name of his family farm is Koornneef… But we saw produce
with that name at at least 3 other markets!>>the other place we spot
Koornneef, is at the grocery store.>>Charlsie: So that is
Koornneef produce right over there. Not a family farm after all. In fact Koornneef is a large
scale wholesaler and you can find them right here at
Ontario’s food terminal. When we follow up with
the owner of that stall they won’t comment. And they won’t tell us
if they grow anything at all. [ ♪♪ ]>>Over time it has
become much harder work. Much-needed, a much larger
acreage and some people have found it easier to just go to
the terminal and bring the produce in. So we have some pollen
in these cells up here.>>My name is Astrid Manske,
we gather honey in the Otonabee township and east.>>People are coming
not for the grocery store, if you go to the grocery
store if they wanted that.>>Charlsie: But at
market after market, we find stickers usually
seen at the grocery store. And even then, some vendors
claim the produce is theirs.>>Charlsie: But, the sticker we
spot here and at other markets all belong to the same producer.>>Red Sun. Red Sun. Red Sun, Canada.>>Charlsie: So that’s who we
are tracking down next. Red Sun is a
multinational company based in Kingsville, Ontario. There is over 1700
green houses there.>>So this total farm as
I think around 27 acres.>>Charlsie: Oh, wow. This is not where most
people think their local farmers’ market
food is coming from.>>Yeah, you can see the
temperature change?>>Charlsie: Yeah, it is
much cooler in here.>>The Red Sun president, Jim
Dimmena, doesn’t like hearing vendors are passing off his
produce as their own.>>I’m a little
troubled with that. We spend a lot of money and
time growing our products. We’re well over a
million dollars an acre. So it’s not a just a, “I think I’ll be a greenhouse
grower today.” That’s a serious
serious number.>>Charlsie: Most of their
product is sold directly to grocery stores. Produce that doesn’t make
the cut is sold off cheaper.>>It might be misshapen,
it might be too small or maybe even too big. So that finds its way to
a wholesale market and maybe somebody
would pick that up. Buy that from a wholesaler. And then, in turn, sell it to a,
you know, to a farmers’ market or something like that. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: At some markets,
we also find wholesale produce that is not from Canada at all.>>Charlsie: This vendor says
these peppers are local but the sticker leads back to a
large grower in Mexico. The vendor later tells
us he didn’t know. Hard to believe, but we find
lots of international produce at so-called local
farmers’ markets.>>Okay. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: So far in our test,
we have found reselling at eight out of the ten markets
we have visited. Some resellers are upfront,
but at four markets we catch vendors twisting the truth. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: Our last stop
is Peterborough’s Saturday market. It’s one of the largest farmers’
markets in the province. It’s also at the centre of a
battle between farmers and resellers. Headlines in the local paper
highlight the fight that’s been brewing. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: When we head in,
we’re not sure what to expect.>>Charlsie: We visit a range
of vendors and get a range of answers.>>Charlsie: Kent Farms is
one of the largest vendors with two large stalls. One run by James Kent.>>Charlsie: The other
by Brent Kent.>>Charlsie: They tell us
everything is grown by them or neighbouring farms. But after seeing stickers
like these again…>>Charlsie: And again.>>Charlsie: We’ve got doubts.>>Charlsie: It’s time to
check things out for ourselves.>>Charlsie: So there it is. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: So this is the
property record check which says that all of this along here
and there is the Kent’s. Just corn. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: Wow. Not a whole lot here other
than tractor beds. It is hard to know if we’re
seeing everything for sure because I can’t see
beyond those trees. But the only crop
I can see is corn. We stay on the Kents’ trail.>>Charlsie: And our
investigation heads south of the border. Where reselling
could mean jail time.>>We’re trying
to prevent fraud.>>Charlsie: This is
your Marketplace. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: Fresh from
this farm or fresh lies? [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: We are tracking the
food you buy at farmers’ markets back to its source. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: For Lauren Nurse
that leads to her farm just outside Peterborough, Ontario. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: But for
other vendors, we’ve discovered,
that trail could lead to the Ontario food terminal. Canada’s largest wholesaler. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: We’re here early. The day before Peterborough’s
Saturday market.>>Charlsie: To see if
anyone familiar shows up.>>Charlsie: There’s James Kent. He’s told us, he grows
what he sells, but the day before market,
he isn’t in the fields. He’s here. [ ♪♪ ] [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: The next day we’re
at the market when the Kents arrive. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: We watch as boxes
that look just like those loaded at the terminal
get unloaded here. And it’s not just his own
stall James is stocking. He also makes deliveries to
Brent Kent and another vendor at the market. Zucchinis are transferred into
market friendly bushels. Carrots unpacked from plastic. And this time,
those stickers are peeled off. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: The market fills
with shoppers and we head in too.>>Charlsie: We found no
evidence of radishes across from the Kents’. Everything across the street
is just I don’t know, wild vegetation. But we did see over half a
dozen boxes of radishes the day before. Alongside them, a variety of
produce including zucchinis and peppers.>>There’s no difference
between food that you buy at the grocery store and
food at the farmers’ market if it all comes from the
food terminal. It’s the same food. So people are being duped.>>Charlsie: But there is a
difference when it comes to price. Zucchinis and peppers
the Kents were selling, cost 50% more than what
we found at local stores that same day. A higher price point, but still
cheap enough to make it hard for farmers to compete.>>It’s our main sales venue
and so when someone is kind of, essentially,
completely undercutting us at every step of the way, that really affects
our bottom line.>>Charlsie: For Sam
and Astrid, it’s personal. They sell at the Peterborough
Saturday farmers’ market alongside the Kents.>>It’s important to the
customers that a farmers’ market be a farmers’ market
because they trust and believe without asking and
you break that trust, you break your customer base.>>A farmers’ market
is for farmers. And that is who
it should foster.>>Charlsie: Farmers like
Lauren. She sold at the Peterborough
farmers’ market too but after one season, was told there
was no longer room for her.>>I’m mad, I’m mad,
I want to be feeding my community in Peterborough. You know, I’m a farmer and
I should be selling at the farmers’ market,
it’s kind of preposterous.>>Charlsie: Across Canada,
there isn’t much protecting farmers or shoppers from
false claims but it doesn’t have to be this way. We head to California where
reselling is against the law. Inspectors visit each market
here four times a year. Today, they’re at the Santa
Monica market in LA looking for vendors breaking the law.>>Occasionally we’ll find
exotic pests that aren’t known from California.>>Charlsie: Ed Williams heads
the investigation department for LA County.>>What he’ll do is he’ll
just take a look at what’s on the table, verify it against
what’s on the certificate.>>Charlsie: Each farmer
must be certified to sell what they grow. And people even have
their clipboards hanging?>>Right. Their certificates are required
to be posted where people can see them.>>Charlsie: For people
who break the rules, what are the penalties?>>There is both a
monetary penalty possible, and a suspension.>>Charlsie: You could even
face up to six months in jail. So what does Ed think
of our test results? We found people who are
selling produce that they didn’t grow, but they’re telling
us that they did.>>Well, that’s what we
see on occasion here. We definitely see that and to
me, that’s nothing but fraud. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: To crack
down on fraud, Ed and his team don’t
just check the markets. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: They take their
inspections all the way to the farm.>>Surprisingly one of our
inspectors actually found leaks. They pulled one up, and there
were no roots.>>Charlsie: Someone had just
taken leeks and stuck ’em in the dirt, basically?>>Just stuck them in the dirt.>>Charlsie: Oh, my god. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: Kanji Yasatomi
sells at the Santa Monica farmers market.>>Kanji do you have
any new additions?>>No new addition.>>What Greg’s doing right now
is he’s actually seeing that there are signs that people
have been working in this area. [ ♪♪ ]>>I pick about roughly
50 pounds or so…>>Okay.>>..a week.>>Charlsie: Why do you guys go
to all this trouble to have guys like Greg come out here and
check things like dandelions?>>To make sure that the
consumer is not getting ripped off. People are willing to pay a
premium price for product at a farmers’ market, sometimes two
times as much as what you would pay in a regular grocery store. We’re trying to prevent fraud.>>Charlsie: Who is
looking out for shoppers here?>>We prefer to work
with farmers’ markets.>>Charlsie: That sounds
like a slap on the wrist. Consumers are paying a
premium for your product, because they
think that you grew it. Are you ripping people off? This is your marketplace. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: The real deal
on your Marketplace. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: Our investigation
to farmers’ markets found reselling at 70% of
the markets we visited. At half of those, vendors made
claims that didn’t check out. Shoppers at this market
don’t like our results.>>That’s a straight up scam.>>It becomes almost like a
marketing ploy which feels immoral to me.>>I could go to the
supermarket if I wanted to get food from mass producers.>>Charlsie: But in
Peterborough, Brent and James Kent told us they
grew produce they picked up at the food terminal. We’ve been reaching
out to them for weeks. We’ve been given no answers,
so we’re heading back inside the market. Hi there, I’m Charlsie Agro
with CBC’s Marketplace.>>How you doing, Charls?>>Charlsie: I’m well, thanks. Listen we’ve been trying to
get hold of you and we’d just like to know why you’re
misleading people saying that you grew produce
when you didn’t grow it, didn’t even come from your farm. Why aren’t you being
transparent about reselling? Because consumers are paying a
premium for your product because they think that you grew it. Are you ripping people off?>>No, why would you
say something like that? I’m trying to work,
please leave.>>We’ve got great food.>>Carlsie: I totally understand
that, but– James Kent doesn’t wanna talk
but we may get some answers yet.>>Sorry I’m on the board of
directors here and I just want to know what’s the issue?>>Charlsie: Mark Jones
represents the market board. He says they’ve chosen to
include reselling since produce isn’t available year-round.>>The very simple
reason is economics. The customers will decide.>>Charlsie: There may
well be a case for reselling, but it’s the issue about being
honest and open and transparent about it.>>We know that transparency’s
an issue and we’ve been working on that
with our farmers, okay? That takes time.>>Charlsie: So consumers
here will have to wait. As for the Kents,
a few days after our interview, we get an e-mail from James. He says he does grow some crops,
but also sells local produce from the terminal
because he believes it benefits his customers. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: But this isn’t the
only Ontario market where vendors misrepresented
what they sell. So our next stop is
the Ontario Legislature. And you shop at
that market a lot then?>>I do, I do, yeah.>>Charlsie: Jeff Leal is the
Minister Of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. We show him what we found.>>If somebody witnesses
that kind of activity they could file a complaint
with the Ontario Ministry Of Agriculture Food
And Rule Affairs.>>Charlsie: But what do
you think of that? That this is what is
happening in Ontario right now?>>Every time we receive a
complaint we’ll certainly make sure that we investigate.>>Charlsie: If you do do an
investigation, and you determined there was
misrepresentation, what is the next step?>>We prefer to work
with farmers’ markets to get it resolved.>>Charlsie: So, that sounds
like a slap on the wrist. That’s because there’s not
much more the ministry can do, not without rules
like those in California. Do you feel like there needs to
be legislative change here, something with a
little bit more teeth?>>And you made a good
suggestion to us today to look at the California model, and I
make a commitment to do that. [ ♪♪ ]>>Charlsie: We’ll
be watching. In the meantime, at your
next trip to the market, here’s how to put vendors
claims to the test for yourself.>>The things that they’re
selling are not in season. Zucchinis in June,
strawberries in early June?>>In behind there are the
boxes with the labels on them. If it’s somebody
else’s name on that box, then that person
didn’t grow it.>>Uniformity and perfectness. I mean the peppers
are all the same size. All the same shape.>>Just starting asking the
right questions and start seeking out the real farmers.>>You know, the best question
to ask is can we visit?>>If you don’t get an invite,
you can probably bet that they’re not farming.>>Charlsie: And if you think
you see misrepresentation in Ontario, the minister
says give them a call.>>Our 1-800 complaint line
is 1-877-424-1300.>>Asha: They’re
supposed to be free to try. But these little bottles of
anti-aging cream are giving Canadians new wrinkles.>>I am outraged at this
company’s poor business ethics.>>Asha: Even the
dragons are getting dragged in.>>They’re not entrepreneurs,
they’re shysters.>>Asha: We’ll show
you how they do it.>>It was supposed
to be for free. And now I’m
enrolled in something.>>Asha: Go in search
of who’s behind it. And we ask why
can’t anyone stop it? [ ♪♪ ]

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