I love it when my local reporting for The Observer here in Jefferson County, West Virginia links to larger national (or international) issues. That’s what happened when I dug deeply into animal cruelty charges against a local farmer last year. Danny Rohrer had been a cornerstone of our weekly farmers’ market for more than a decade, and our community was stunned when sensational headlines about allegedly starving animals flashed across regional media outlets. My reporting led to a feature in the August issue of The Observer – a story that I hope helped answer many of our readers’ questions. But it also got me thinking about the mystique of local food, and how locavores can be sure that claims made by farmers at local markets are true.
That led to my recent article for Civil Eats. This piece looks more broadly at the issue of fraud at farmers’ markets, the growing need for market organizers to become increasingly vigilant and sophisticated about rooting it out, and how markets large and small are tackling that challenge. As market season enters full swing this spring, I hope you enjoy reading my article “Keeping it Real.”