Companies Seek To Define "Locally-Grown" Food Items

In an article posted yesterday, USA Today reveals that companies across the nation are striving to define ‘locally-grown’, a phrase used often these days at supermarkets and restaurants. While some consumers consider local products to be within 100 miles of the point of purchase, some retailers have other ideas about local items. From Whole Foods to Wal-mart, your ‘local’ products may not be as local as you think.

  • Whole Foods, which spends 22% of its produce budget on locally grown products, up from 15% four years ago, considers local items to be anything produced with in seven hours of one of its stores. The retailer, however, says that most of its local purveyors are within 200 miles.
  • Mega-retailer Wal-mart considers anything locally grown if it’s produced in the same state in which its sold.
  • Seattle-based PCC Natural Markets considers anything produced in Washington, Oregon, and southern British Columbia to be ‘locally-grown’.

Unfortunately, some consumers still believe that ‘local’ is synonymous with ‘organic’, and therefore healthier or safer than other produce options, which is simply not the case. ‘Local’ products are not necessarily pesticide-free, nor organically-grown, unless specifically labeled as such.

Remember, however, that purchasing locally-grown items means less of a carbon footprint for that apple or banana in your produce bag. Support local growers, and less transportation waste, by purchasing local whenever possible. Organic and local? Even better!

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