Treehugger.com is a great website to get news about all different aspects of environmental policy, clean energy innovations and climate change implications. Recently I came across a post about the growing trend of organic and local food showing up on the shelves and in the bins of major grocery chains.
While this is a welcome change, it still leaves a lot of questions like how local is local? Are the organic foods raised in a sustainable and environmentally sensitive way?
It’s important to remember that the bottom line for the grocery chains is exactly that… the bottom line. Profit. Organic and local are “in” right now. The general public is picking up on it and increasing their demand for these products. Large food retailers are only too happy to jump in and provide these goods at a premium price (for what may actually be cheaper for them to purchase given savings on transportation costs).
A food co-op that carries local, organic and sustainably produced foods has a different motivation. For a food co-op devoted to carrying these products as part of its mission there really is no choice but to carry local, organic and sustainably produced foods. On top of that, the food co-op seeks to educated consumers about why these “buzz words” are actually important to the overall environment and to their own public health.
Finally, the co-op seeks to make the connection between consumers and the source of their food. Offering “local” is great. But offering tomatoes from “XYZ Farm in Bucks County, owned by John Doe who has been raising his tomatoes in such and such fashion” tells the story behind the food. And if we can’t raise our own tomatoes (and have our own stories), then knowing the story behind the tomatoes we do eat is almost as good.