In America, the better-food movement likes to talk about getting to know your farmer. Farmers markets are a great venue for building those relationships. But farmers markets aren’t magically transparent and this strategy is not foolproof. Consider, for instance, that at a farmers market in China, someone allegedly made about $1.5 million selling fox, mink, and rat meat as mutton.
One suspect, named Wei, earned more than £1m over the past four years by purchasing fox, mink and rat meat, treating it with gelatin, carmine (a colour produced from ground beetles) and nitrate, then selling it as mutton at farmers’ markets in Jiangsu province and Shanghai. Authorities raided Wei’s organization in February, arresting 63 suspects and seizing 10 tonnes of meat and additives.
This isn’t the only group selling sketchy meat in China: Police say they’ve arrested 904 people for offenses like selling beef jerky made of duck meat, mutton meat that had turned black and also been soaked in chemicals, and “disease-ridden” pork. That makes horse-meat Burger King sound downright delicious.