Crop Cops

Farmers’ markets serve many purposes. They’re a gathering place for the community, they enhance local business and they offer patrons healthy produce, but how can you be sure the greens you’re buying are truly green? Tyler Thayer, director of the Agricultural Institute of Marin’s Farm Audit Program, explains why you can shop with confidence at your local farmers’ market. “In October 2010, there was a news story reporting that some farmers in Los Angeles–area farmers’ markets were not growing what they were selling,” he says. “We like to be proactive rather than reactive, so we started our own internal farm audit program to ensure that that wasn’t happening in our farmers’ markets.” So far, the institute has audited 240 prospective sellers (by making unannounced visits to a farmer’s booth and then, within a week, visiting the farm to make sure that everything offered for sale is actually being grown on the farm) and will not admit new applicants to AIM until they pass an inspection.