In theory, buying local is a great idea, but I believe we have hit the point where “local” has simply become another frothy and trendy marketing gimmick and it has lost its authenticity.
Here are some recent headlines that have come across my computer:
- No. 1 warehouse club chain launches ‘locally grown’ produce program- BJ’s Wholesale defines ‘local’ as grown within a state
- Local is an important enough platform on which to base a retailer’s entire marketing angle. Piggly Wiggly Carolina is debuting a new branding tag line: “Local Since Forever,” which broadcasts how the chain has been a local fixture since 1947.
- Report: 75% of retailers say ‘local’ most influential product claim- U.S. food brokers believe consumer interest in ‘all natural’ and ‘organic’ foods may fade
That last blurb about organics potentially fading is of no concern to me, btw. Those conventional brokers don’t understand our passion for organics. “Local” will not trump or compete with organic, it’ll simply be a food fad that is exploited by everyone in the food business (which is easier for them to do, considering it’s more about an emotional connection to a story/person than the strict guidelines and principles by which the organic industry operates).
I have been planning to blog on this topic for quite some time now, but then I came across this perfect blog from Stonyfield, on which I simply cannot improve. This woman took the words right out of my mouth. http://www.stonyfield.com/blog/2012/06/18/greenwash-at-the-green-market/
I snapped this picture of a farm stand on my way home. It’s a great example of the power of the local story- a roadside stand in summer, people feel like they’re buying from a nice, hard-working farmer whose produce is as fresh and local as can be.
I would wage quite a bit of money that at most only 3-4 items are locally grown. I actually think none of it is! Obviously, the bananas and mangoes aren’t local- and with my trained eye, I don’t think even things like the potatoes, onions, green peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes are local. Almost none of those items are available to us yet from local farmers. And the apples, peaches, and plums- not a chance that they’re local. Actually, I’m pretty sure this guy drove his truck up to the warehouses in Jessup and is simply buying the same exact conventional, non-local produce that Giant and Safeway are selling.
And, more importantly to me than whether or not this stuff is local, none of it is organic.
Let the masses get exploited by yet another marketing gimmick that’s sweeping the industry, while those of us who understand the value of organics keep plugging away and growing the industry by double digits each year, just as we have for the past 30 years…