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Shopper shocked by non local' farmers' market

PUBLISHED: 15:16 27 August 2008 | UPDATED: 10:22 12 August 2010

A DISABLED woman says she feels ripped off and cheated after being sold non-local produce at a council run farmers market, writes Kate Nelson. Mandy Burns, 49, from Downham used to do most of her grocery shopping, paying sometimes up to double what s

A DISABLED woman says she feels 'ripped off and cheated' after being sold non-local produce at a council run farmers' market, writes Kate Nelson.

Mandy Burns, 49, from Downham used to do most of her grocery shopping, paying sometimes up to double what she'd pay in a supermarket, at the Bromley Farmers' Market, High Street, every Friday and Saturday.

She assumed all the food was produced locally but while doing her normal shop recently, she was shocked to see an EU sticker on an apple.

She said: "I'm really angry that I've been paying extra prices because I thought the money was going to support local farmers but it's not. I was fuming. I asked the people selling it where it came from but they didn't know.

"I'm concerned now that no-one is doing health checks on the food now which is quite scary.

"I try to be an ethical shopper and reduce my carbon footprint and air miles so this is just a joke. Everyone has been conned by it including mugs like me. You think you're buying good stuff but it's just the same as you'd get in the shops.

"I feel cheated and ripped off. I could have bought it all in a supermarket and paid half the price. They are misleading people into thinking that it's local produce because they have all the green and white awnings and the prices are more expensive. "

Ms Burns was so angry after realising the goods came from abroad that she called up the body responsible for certifying farmers' markets, FARMA, to check whether that was allowed.

She said: "They told me that the Bromley one does not sell local produce. I just feel so disappointed."

Peter Turvey, Bromley council's Head of Street and Environment said: "A lot of the produce does come from the local area, but not all of it.

"We do support local farmers but also sell produce from abroad, it is no different to any other farmers market."

A spokesman from FARMA, said: "The recommended criteria is that the majority of stallholders come from the local area, 30 miles is the accepted distance but there is some leeway on mileage for difficult to source produce and large towns.

"They should be selling produce they have grown or raised themselves or if processing, they should include a percentage locally grown or raised ingredients.

"They should have in-depth knowledge about methods of production because we encourage customers to ask questions

"Unfortunately this code is voluntary but if a market doesn't work to the criteria as set out above, or similar, what grounds are there for calling it a farmers' market?"

For more information about the recommended criteria for farmers' markets or to search for FARMA Certified Farmers' Markets see www.farmersmarkets.net/certification1.htm.

katherine.nelson@archant.co.uk

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