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Recourse for bad farmer's market produce?

On Saturday morning, I went to the Waverly farmer's market, where I picked up a lot of great produce, including 2 quarts of strawberries. Everything was handled gently and transported in my air conditioned car to my air conditioned house. So imagine my dismay a couple of hours later, when I discover that well over half of the strawberries are rotten, bad and/or fermented.

If I were to buy strawberries from Giant and discovered that the ones on top were fine but everything below was bad, I would march that container right back and request a refund/exchange in a heartbeat. But what is the "right" thing to do in this case? I would love some feedback regarding this matter. Thanks!

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  1. I would tell the vendor on Saturday, even if you can't really march the container back a week later. If they have any business sense, they will make it right.

    1. I'm an avid farmers market customer and I can tell you that any producer worth their salt will refund your money. So, explain just what you said above and I'd be shocked if you didn't get a refund or replacement.
      Good luck!

      5 Replies
      1. re: monavano

        Agreed- but if you feel as though this is a problem of ethics, not an accident, most markets have organizers that take very seriously their commitment to quality. Give the vendor a chance to explain first, but that is a second option for you.

        1. re: katecm

          I don't know what in my post you're responding to. Of course you go to the producer first before you go to the organizational PTB that runs the market.

          1. re: monavano

            umm, letting the OP know there is a resource above the initial contact if there's no satisfaction?

            but monavano I definitely agree with your point downstream that one has to distinguish between predominately 'vendor' and 'producer' markets (and even individually among the stalls in either)

            1. re: hill food

              I don't understand what you're implying by your question. Lost in translation. Please clarify.

              1. re: monavano

                it appeared Kate was explaining the individual stall answers to the organizers of the market and if said vendor isn't being responsive (agreed, it's unlikely) then the offended party can talk to the organizer (they don't want bad word of mouth about the market as a whole)

                your point appeared to say speaking to the stall vendor was enough, but Kate was saying there is another step if that doesn't work, which I was trying to clarify. the farmers don't just show up after all, it costs them stall space and licenses and there is a body that regulates all this.

      2. You would probably have been better off going to the Giant or Safeway, WFs, HT. etc., than to any one of the many scam "Farmers's Markets" in this area. What else did you see last weekend? Cherries? Peaches? Corn on the cob? etc. Gimme a break! If you look under the "stalls" you can often see the boxes that the produce came in, and they weren't off any farm from around here, or any identifiable farm for that matter. Jars of jellies and jams? Please!

        Who are these "farmers" and what so they really do? They're in the Farmer's Market business, an all cash business at that!

        Their prices? I don't mind paying the premium, but I'll stick to the baked goods usually, and buy my produce at the grocery store, thank you.

        22 Replies
        1. re: DPGood

          What markets do you speak of? The DC regions has a great network of real farmers markets that have producers, not vendors reselling goods.

          You've got to be kidding me comparing Driscoll's strawberries to locally grown!

          ps... cherries are in season.

          1. re: monavano

            Next week, ask the people at your favorite stand if you can drive out to their farm and see the cheery trees, the peach trees, the corn fields, etc., where they're picking that stuff to bring to you on the weekends.

            Sure there are some (many) legitimate farmers in this area. A lot of them sell to the supermarkets in this area, and also to many fine restaurants. I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about what I believe to be most (not all) of the the people who run stalls at places we like to think of as Farmer's Markets, that aren't.

            1. re: DPGood

              I'm still not following you. There's Local Harvest and FreshFarm markets, all of which have producers, not vendors, that are local.
              You've got to vet your markets more carefully if you find vendors reselling.
              That's just shopping outdoors!
              There's one market I can think of that has resellers, and that's in Old Town Alexandria. They've been there for a while, and have out of season produce (that people flock to get!). I walk right by them and go to the producers I know bring their own goods.
              Where are they picking that stuff? On their orchards and farms. All legit. Most have open houses and weekly hours when they welcome guests.
              Please, I'm not a sucker! I do my homework and network with other farmers market fanatics. It's a small world.

              1. re: monavano

                We do go the Old Town market, and also to the Del Ray market, regularly (when the weather is nice). Less so to other outdoor markets around here. So maybe I'm over generalizing. As you say, it's just shopping outdoors, which is much of it's appeal.

                1. re: DPGood

                  The FreshFarm markets are excellent and truly producers. At the Bloomingdale market, there's one tomato stand that is so out of this world, I can't go anywhere else. And the husband and wife who own it and operate it are so kind. They don't have children and are looking for a young family who would be interested in living on the farm and learning the ropes so they can transition to retirement, then pass the farm off to the family. So, yes, some markets are legit! As you say, it's the people with corn in May and watermelons in October that give the good ones a bad rep!

                  1. re: katecm

                    I look toward to trying them both. Thanks for the recs.

                  2. re: DPGood

                    (I'm referring to the vendor at the SW corner of King, btw)
                    Del Ray has Tom the Cheese guy selling goods from Lancaster, PA, but folks love him. Oh, and get yourself some apple cider donuts. Best ever. She's got an orchard out near Front Royal.

                    1. re: monavano

                      I will do. Thanks. There's someone in Del Ray who brings baked goods from some French bakery up near Baltimore, that are outrageously expensive, but sinfully good. Also, the saltenas from another vendor there. None better anywhere, and they're made down the street. (Marcela's.)

                      1. re: DPGood

                        Best saltenas in the region, IMO.
                        ^^Bonapart Bakery is what you're thinking of. Have not been overly impressed, but boy, are they popular at Dupont.

                        1. re: monavano

                          Nope. From Marcela's bakery, nearby. Try one.

                          1. re: DPGood

                            I was agreeing with you that Marcela's saltenas are, IMO, the best in the area, and I've eaten them in about a half dozen places. Been enjoying them for several years. Although, now they're calling them emanadas ;-(

                    2. re: DPGood

                      I am sorry that you view the Old Town market as the norm - And even so, it is easy to pick out who are the producers and who are the resellers. Since you seem to be in the neighborhood, try the Mount Vernon market on Wednesdays, Sherwood Hall lane, easy to get to via Fort Hunt, Route 1, or the Parkway. I would also make an effort to try the Dupont Circle market on Sundays - There are other good ones out there. I am an Alexandria resident, those are the two that I go to regularly.

                    3. re: monavano

                      The Saturday market in downtown Fairfax also has resellers. Mind you, they don't hide it (which I appreciate) - or at least the guy selling peaches several weeks ago was not silly enough to try to pass them off as his own. I agree with you, though - you have got to do your homework.

                      Not a reply to your post, but for people who say they're overpriced - I don't agree that everything costs more. I got a stupid amount of basil a couple weeks ago for $2. And I personally find the extra costs worth it. It's nice getting acquainted with the people who grow the food that I am about to put it in my body.

                      1. re: VaPaula

                        I've found that generally, the closer to DC the market, the higher the prices. You really can find some bargains at some markets, and at others, you're paying $28/lb for lamb.
                        Not making judgements because I do splurge on meat and cheeses from time to time.

                2. re: DPGood

                  @DPGood: I know I'm late to the discussion, but...wow. You've clearly never come out to a farmers' market in Loudoun County. We take our farmers' markets very seriously. Please visit! And spend lots of money while you're out here.

                  1. re: DPGood

                    The Waverly market is in Baltimore, and you can only by non-local produce there in the off-season.

                    1. re: jvanderh

                      Not about to drive to Baltimore in the off-season to buy non-local produce.

                      1. re: DPGood

                        The point is that you went on a tirade about how shopping at farmer's markets is stupid because everything's imported anyway, when the strawberries the OP bought would be local. Most of us who frequent farmer's markets know when things are in season and know the rules of our markets.

                        1. re: DPGood

                          but Balto in the off-season is the BEST time to go! (seriously, I picked it over Miami one February)

                            1. re: jvanderh

                              I did and liked it thoroughly, but no, it's probably not for everybody else.

                    2. The original comment has been removed
                      1. Tell the vendor next week. They'd rather know, and chances are you'll either get credit to spend, your money back outright, or a new set of strawberries.