“Farmers” selling produce bought from the same wholesale companies the supermarkets use, then rubbing dirt on them.
NBCLA bought one container of strawberries, from five different vendors, at five farmers markets, including a vendor called “The Berry Best,” at the Torrance farmers market.
NBCLA’s undercover shopper questioned the Berry Best’s owner about the strawberries:
“These are pesticide-free?”
Owner Mary Ellen Martinez responded, “Yes, they are.”
To see if that’s true, we took our five samples to a state-certified lab, and had them tested for pesticides.
Results showed three out of five samples we tested sold berries that did contain pesticides, including the sample from the Berry Best.
NBCLA went back to Martinez.
“We found four different pesticides in your berries. You don’t how that happened?” we asked.
Responded Martinez, “Nope.”
She later said pesticides might have drifted into her field from neighboring farms. But according to our lab, that’s unlikely because the pesticide level on her berries appears too high to have drifted from another farm.
Martinez ended the interview with NBCLA, telling us to leave her stand, “You’re getting on my nerves right about now.”
NBC Los Angeles