The other day I had to run into my local supermarket … I know, I know, but tropical fruit is a weakness not to mention one of the few groups of fruit my husband can eat raw without getting “itchy.” As I walked by a produce display I saw this sign above some eggplants.
No doubt you can tell why it caught my eye. I snapped a photo of it on my iPhone and decided to contact the supermarket chain. I wanted to know what they considered “local.”
I emailed the headquarters customer service. I wasn’t sure I would get an answer but thought it couldn’t hurt to ask. Well, I’ll give them props because much to my surprise I got an actual response from a real person. She said she would ask the produce buyers and get back to me.
Here’s what the produce buyers had to say: “Locally grown does not mean product in that store was bought in that state. We source this time of year in NJ, NY, CT etc and support local growers. So product would be considered more regional.”
OK, there are a lot of ways to look at this response. I don’t want to ignore the negative, but I am a the-glass-is-half-full kind of person. I like that they are trying to support local growers. I’d rather people buy produce that’s regional as opposed to from very far away. In terms of my 100-mile foodshed: Obviously all of CT, much of NY, plus a bit of NJ fits within the boundaries.
It’s not all bad. I’d love for them to do better/more, but I suppose something is better than nothing.
However, I think using the words “locally grown” is deceptive. It’s all about marketing and jumping on the latest buzz words. There also is the issue that even if it came from a local farm, say in Connecticut, that doesn’t mean it goes directly from the farm to the Connecticut stores. For the large supermarket chains, as one local farmer told me, typically everything is trucked to a central warehouse where it’s then distributed among the various stores. So, it’s still a lot of extra food miles and it means that it’s not the freshest it can be.
Honestly I am not at all surprised by their response. But I have to admit it does feel good to know that I wanted to know something, so I asked and actually got an answer.
What do you think?