Posts Tagged: locavore
The “locavore diet” originally focused on supporting small farms and protecting the environment, says the blog Triple Pundit, however, large grocery store chains and big box discount stores are now writing their own definitions of “local.”
Their definitions include:
- Grown and sold in the same state - Walmart
- Grown within an eight-hour drive of the store - Safeway
- Grown within one day’s drive - Whole Foods
- Produced either in that state or that region of the US - Krogers
- Grown in regions as broad as four or five states - Supervalu (Albertsons, Lucky)
The Triple Pundit post, written by Lesley Lammers, was prompted by an article in the Wall Street Journal published earlier this month. The WSJ withholds most of its content for subscribers only. But Triple Pundit, quoting the Journal, said such loose definitions have sparked criticism from small farmers and organic-food advocates that the chains are just capitalizing on the latest food trend, rather than making real changes in their procurement practices.
Lammers suggests usage of the term “local” may be a passing marketing phrase for the retail food industry that may soon be supplanted with “seasonal.” However, with consumers shopping for tomatoes even in the dark days of winter, even the term “seasonal” raises questions.
Director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis, Daniel Sumner, told the Wall Street Journal, “I really don’t think Wal-Mart is going to tell customers, ‘This is not in season, you have to eat cabbage and turnips for the next three months.’ ”
Retailers are writing their own definitions of local.
Responding to a strong locavore movement and do-it-yourself ethos in San Francisco, parents Megan Price and Lauren Ward co-founded the San Francisco Urban 4-H Club this year, said an article published yesterday in the San Francisco Chronicle.
"With the whole urban farming movement blossoming, there are a lot of people with backyard chickens, beekeeping, etc.," Price was quoted. "It just seems like a really good time to start exploring these things with our kids."
But that wasn't the only thing that drew the parents to 4-H.
"I like that (4-H is) focused on service, that it's nondiscriminatory," Price said. "I like that it is focused on earth and agriculture and animals and helping - it is something that kids don't necessarily have access to in the city."
The Chron article, written by Lisa Wallace, said 4-H membership, especially in urban areas, has been on a steady rise the last 4 years. According to 4-H National, about a third of participants are now from cities of at least 50,000 or their surrounding suburbs.
Even though these 4-H members generally live in areas not zoned for farm animals, 4-H helps find ways for city kids to experience the joys and challenges of animal husbandry.
For example, UC Cooperative Extension 4-H program representative Mary Meyer worked with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to set up five locations where 4-Hers can lease land - in Pacifica, Daly City, San Bruno, San Carlos and near the Crystal Springs Reservoir in San Mateo County, the article said. The rent is usually around $6 per month, and because there is no caretaker, it's up to the 4-Hers to feed and groom their animals daily.
Nine-year-old Elsa Rafter joined the San Francisco Urban 4-H Club because of her family's interest backyard chickens, but by participating in 4-H, became involved in several other aspects of growing and preparing food.
Elsa learned to milk a club member's backyard goats and make homemade ice cream from the milk. With Price, who is a pastry chef, she baked an apple and blackberry galette with fresh fruit and an egg wash from her own chickens.
"When you live in a city, you're exposed to cool stuff like museums, but you have to go out of your way to see a farm, or experience milking a goat," Price was quoted in the story.
Bay Area 4-H was also recently featured in a Mother Jones blog post. Kiera Butler wrote about 4-H children she met at the Alameda County Fair.
She said the 4-H kids and leaders she talked to spoke passionately about the importance of raising animals in humane conditions and on healthy and varied diets. Members are encouraged to spend time with their animals, and they are required to learn about the biology and health of the animals they raise.
"In 4-H we try to make kids understand the responsibility that comes with raising an animal," UCCE 4-H program representative Stephanie Fontana was quoted. "You're in charge of another being."
4-H member Sarah Hazeltine of Woodland kisses her goat. (Photo: Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Is retail grocery giant Vons Supermarket co-opting the local food movement? The retired director and farm advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in Ventura County, Larry Yee, seems to think so. In an opinion piece published in the Ventura County Star over the weekend, Yee expresses displeasure in Vons' loose definition of the term "local."
His curiosity was piqued, Yee writes, when he noticed cherries labeled "locally grown." A Ventura County ag professional for 24 years, Yee said he came up blank trying to think of a cherry orchard within 200 miles, a generally accepted and even liberal definition of "local." He asked the produce manager where the "local" produce was coming from.
"(The produce manager) quickly responded, 'California,' and then added, 'some of it is coming from Texas and other states, so I guess, it would be the USA,'" Yee wrote in his column.
Vons proudly promotes its "locally grown" produce in the store, on TV and on the front page of its Web site, alluding to the company's 50-year commitment to local farming. "In addition to the quality benefits, buying locally grown fruits and vegetables reduces greenhouse emissions by limiting transportation miles, and helps to ensure the vitality of local farms," the Web site crows.
However, Yee for one resents the company's claim on the adjective "local." He concludes his article:
"I am tired of false advertising and deceptive marketing practices by the big corporate world that values profitability above all else. Our global recession should give us all a huge pause to seriously rethink and redesign for a more 'sustainable' economy and future. The true 'local food' movement can help lead the way and that’s not loco."
Agricultural Issues Center director Dan Sumner provided comment on the NPR story about a trend at Walmart stores to stock "locally grown" food. The story pointed out that the megastore's definition of locally grown -- grown within the state's boundaries -- is different from that of many locavores -- which generally define local as within 100 miles of home.
On the radio program, Sumner said the company's strategy could spell problems for California if it catches on nationwide.
"If people decide they're going to consume locally, that means they're probably not consuming our walnuts and apricots and almonds and everything else we grow around here," Sumner said.
The MSN Web site's real estate reporter Christopher Solomon wrote a story about home building tips in wildland fire zones. He spoke to UC Cooperative Extension wood durability advisor Stephen Quarles.
Quarles' comments centered mainly on roofing materials.
"One of the things that I frequently hear is that you need a metal roof. That is not true," Quarles was quoted.
Quarles' information and comments were also used to create a bulleted list about non-combustible roofing materials.