If you can’t trust the friendly purveyors at your local farm stand, who can you trust? I’ve been pondering this question since I read that the friendly Jay Dines of Dines Farm—who has been my go-to meat and poultry guy for years—has been blacklisted by New York City’s Greenmarket, an organization that runs 45 farmers’ markets throughout the city. The New York Times reports:
Greenmarket’s organizers took the rare step of suspending Mr. Dines for selling meat he did not raise on his farm, a violation of their rule that vendors must raise, grow or make everything they sell at the markets. … [Mr. Dines] admitted he had on occasion sold meat he had bought from others and has placed his animals in other farms or facilities to be raised.
The funny thing is that I’ve driven past his farm in upstate New York—it’s near my family’s summer house—and it seemed so small that I wondered how on earth he kept up with the demand of my CSA. Actually, it’s not so funny. Besides working with my CSA, Dines has been selling his wares to nine NYC greenmarkets for the past five years. And the small size of his farm is what alerted Greenmarket to his alleged shenanigans.
Like many other Chowhounds who came to love Dines Farm meat and poultry—and became friendly with Jay Dines himself—I want to hold out hope that the farms he was outsourcing from were upholding the standards advertised on the Dines Farm website: that they fed the animals “natural, vegetarian, chemical free grains” and that “No hormones, growth stimulants, animal by-products, pesticides, herbicides or antibiotics” were used on them. But my once-favorite farmer gave vague answers to the Times, rather than offering a list of respectable purveyors who were helping him meet his demand.
Could it be that all of his customers—myself included—have been paying extra for the same stuff we could have picked up in the supermarket on the cheap? And what can we do to avoid this in the future?