Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Locavores and Grocery Stores

USAToday has a story in their Money section today on how "locally grown" food might mean two different things to retailers and consumers.

With "locally grown" foods becoming more of a draw for consumers (because it supports local farmers and helps the environment with shorter shipping distances), grocery stores are devoting more shelf space to it. But what is local?

From the story:

"Wal-Mart, the nation's biggest retailer, considers anything local if it's grown in the same state as it's sold, even if that's a state as big as Texas and the food comes from a farm half the size of Manhattan, as in the case of the 7,000-acre Ham Produce in North Carolina."

The article also mentioned the belief that local foods are more safe but said that wasn't necessarily the case:

"While consumers may think locally grown food is safer, food safety experts say that's not clear.

Most food-borne illnesses don't get noticed because not enough people get sick to alert officials that an outbreak is underway. Undetected outbreaks are more likely with 'local' products delivered in small quantities and sold in a small area, says Robert Brackett, senior vice president of the Grocery Manufacturers Association."

On the other hand, during the great tainted tomato scandal this summer, the CDC ruled out Tennessee tomatoes as the cause of the outbreak. It was good to be able to go to the grocery store and see the Ripley tomatoes and know they were okay to eat.

I also read something recently — maybe it was this open letter by Michael Pollan — about tainted food from China and how we have don't have much control over the safety of imported food.

And I guess I just think that buying or selling local food — even when using that term as loosely as the grocery stores — is a good start.


Stacey Greenberg said...

i thought it was defined as within 100 miles.

marycash said...

Obviously not to the big grocery store chains!