TL;DR: Go to CERES market tomorrow and buy fantastic organic produce. If you saw something about the produce being contaminated, it's a lie.
On the front page of Sunday Age on 5 March, there was an article about CERES, specifically the organic farm and the twice weekly organic food market. The article claimed that produce sold through the market was contaminated with lead and that sales had been banned.
I was shattered. CERES is a great organisation, I'm so happy they exist and it's great to have them in our neighbourhood. While we haven't shopped at the market very much, we do all our nursery shopping there. This must be a huge blow to them.
Turns out that the mainstream media is just as bad as you think it is, The Sunday Age lied about contaminated produce being sold at CERES and about the banning of the sale of produce. I am outraged. I am disgusted.
Here's an excerpt of an email from Chris Ennis, the Manager of CERES Fair Food and Organic Farm.
If The Sunday Age had bothered to check their story, the real but far less newsworthy story would have revealed that Moreland Council and EPA testing had found five privately leased community garden plots with lead levels slightly over ANZFSC limits and that produce from CERES Organic Farm had never been contaminated or banned from sale. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story they say.
Not only did they lie, they manipulated quotes to make it seem like CERES admitted that contaminated produce had been sold.
Wrongly assuming the results referred to the CERES Organic Farm instead of the community garden plots, [the journalist Steve] Holland used the report to ask [CERES chairperson] Robert Larocca what he would say to people who could have eaten contaminated CERES produce? Larocca's reply was, "It is unfortunate it has happened and we are sorry for that. A very small number of people will have purchased that [contaminated food], including myself.'' It was an honest answer to a hypothetical question but Holland used the quote make it seem like CERES had actually been selling contaminated produce without ever checking his story was correct.
Even the follow up saying that the produce sold through the market is safe that The Age has on their website (I don't know if it made it to print) reads like scaremongering, like you can't really believe the land has been rehabilitated. This is sloppy journalism—no, this is worse, it's misrepresentation and untruths—targeted at a community organisation that's doing great things for our community. The Age should print a full retraction of the story.
This doesn't just hurt CERES, this hurts the 50 plus farmers and processors that supply the market, and causes flow on pain to drivers, packers, and others.
If you live in Melbourne, go to CERES market tomorrow and buy great organic produce. And if you're a subscriber to The Age, consider cancelling your subscription.