Placer County Officials: Buyers Beware When Shopping at Roadside Fruit Stands

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PLACER COUNTY -- Placer County officials are saying it may not be farm-to-fork if you buy from roadside produce stands.

Shopping at a farmers market or farm stand definitely has an appeal.

"It’s local grown, so you’re getting everything fresh, usually picked either that day or the night before," said shopper Russell Edgar.

That’s a natural assumption when you buy at roadside pop-up stands. One vendor told FOX40 he got his goods from a produce warehouse.

In Placer County they’ve seen thefts from produce warehouses, packing plants and even from fruit trees. One stash of produce was confiscated from a Placer County roadside vendor who couldn’t prove where he bought his goods or that he even owned them.

Many vendors work all day, away from bathroom facilities.

"For their own needs and as they’re selling you produce without the ability to wash their hands, there's concerns like that," said Placer County Agricultural Commissioner Josh Huntsinger.

Officials worry about diseased and quarantined fruit coming into the county, as well being able to track the source of food-borne illnesses.

"There would really be no recourse for us as a county to figure out where that produce came from, how the people got sick and to stop that from happening," Huntsinger told FOX40.

Laurie Millar steers clear of roadside vendors. She prefers certified farmers markets, which can be found on the PlacerGROWN website.

"I like the variety of the farmers markets," Millar said. "So if I’m going to stop and pay money, I like to have a lot of different choices."

Placer County still gives a thumbs up to roadside stands if the produce is grown on site.

"They have their little strawberry stand there, where they’re selling the stuff directly to you from their farm. That’s a perfect example of the types of places that would be wonderful for consumers," Huntsinger said.

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