Capitalizing on residents’ need for strawberries for tonight’s dessert, or those last-minute anniversary flowers, roadside vendors are seemingly everywhere. But, who is that guy on the corner?
“We are seeing an influx of vendors from outside of the county,” said El Dorado County Agriculture Commissioner Charlene Carveth. “In most instances, roadside dealers are not selling produce that is locally grown, or in compliance with basic local and state food safety requirements.”
In response, a coalition of public and private organizations, including the county’s Sheriff’s Office, Agriculture Department, Environmental Management Division, city of Placerville, El Dorado County Farm Bureau and the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce, is launching the “Protect Local Growers Campaign.”
“The idea of the campaign is twofold,” said Farm Bureau Executive Director Valerie Zentner. “We want to educate the public about the risks of purchasing produce from illegal roadside vendors, and in doing so protect the law-abiding local growers in our community.”
Risks from roadside produce include consuming food that is not in compliance with safe handling, pesticide, refrigeration, packaging and labeling requirements. Pest importation and spread may also occur in roadside vendor operations which have eluded compliance inspections. Illegal vendors also impair the ability of local growers to offer safe, healthy produce through legitimate means such as certified farmers markets.
Over the next several months, organizations from across the county will be coordinating resources to help bring awareness of the risks of roadside produce operations, and ultimately enforcement against violators. Residents are encouraged to call the county hotline at (530) 642-4968 to report suspected illegal roadside vendors.