Thursday, May 15, 2008

Check it out - Grocery stores can be a local food source

Though certainly not my first choice, the grocery store can be a great backup source of local foods. Sometimes, you just have to ask your produce manager, but over the last few months, I've noticed our local grocery ads have been marketing local foods through the Go Texan program.

Basically, as you are looking through the ad, look for the "Go Texan" logo.  For instance, in this past week's ads:
  • Albertsons advertised Texas onions and lunch meat (this is the first time I've noticed lunch meat)
  • HEB advertised Texas red potatoes
  • Kroger advertised Texas broccoli, green beans, cantaloupe, cabbage, and mushrooms
Of course, no need to stop there. Though it isn't often, each time I'm in the produce section with one of the stock guys or a manager, I always ask what they have that's local or at least from Texas. Usually, they look at me funny, but eventually, I'm hoping they will catch on and be on the lookout for local options when they are stocking the shelves. 

I don't think there's anyway I could give up my Saturday morning farmers market runs. I've built relationships with the growers and as it turns out, I've been told they look forward to my visits as much as I do.  But in a pinch, the grocery can be a great source to supplement that farmers market trip. Just look for the "Go Texan" symbol on your weekly grocery ad. Check it out!

For those of you in other states, are there programs like this out there?

6 comments:

CindyW said...

I too see California-grown stuff in our local Safeway (I live in N. CA). I think a part of the reason that many grocery stores carry local food is that it is cheaper sourcing from local farms when produce is abundant in the summer time.

I have raved about Texas watermelons. They grow so well and so much in Texas, I can't image the stores would want to source from Mexico or Costa Rica in the peak watermelon season.

Still, I totally agree with you. Look carefully in your neighborhood grocery store, you shall find local grown food :)

Beany said...

PA has a "Buy Fresh Buy Local" campaign. Its not always organic however...many a time the produce is conventional.

Heather said...

Beany - I've struggled with the whole organic vs. local issue. Which is better for the environment if you can't have both? I've seen lots of discussion. For the sake of my experiment, I've been choosing local over organic for the time being, although almost all of the food at the local farmers market is also non-certified organic food. It's just those tricky folks at the grocery you have to watch out for.

Cindyw - It seems like half the produce in our grocery store is from California. Is it pretty easy for you to find local produce or are they shipping it all to us?

I would think out West you'd have awesome farmers markets. Is it warm enough where you are to have it year-round? Ours is year-round though we only have one veggie vendor in the winter (that sweet woman kept me from starving!).

organicneedle said...

The fact that stores are even advertising that things are locally grown shows a shift in consumer mentality.

There is very little in NY stores or markets locally grown until the summer/fall season. Even then organic is often the issue. I choose organic over local because I am feeding little people and my primary concern is their health. Fortunately from June to November I can get both local and organic through my CSA for MOST of my veggie wants. I don't think our organic farmers can produce enough to do business with the big stores. It is hard for them to even provide enough CSA shares.

Heather @ SGF said...

organicneedle- it seems our dairy (Sand Creek) is having the same problem. They've grown so fast they're having trouble keeping up. What started out as 20 members has turned into 125. There has been talk of adding more cows.

The one CSA in the area (Home Sweet Farm) isn't taking any more members at this time so they are full too. And it's good to see the Farmers Market so busy on Saturdays.

Hopefully all this demand means that more good farms like this will show up.

CindyW said...

We are lucky enough to have year-round locally grown produce available to us. My guess is that a huge amount of produce grown in the central valley of California gets shipped to the rest of the U.S. and other countries.

The downside of Californian farming is that it is very much dependent on irrigation. Central Valley is dry, especially from end of April to November. Bringing water from the Sierra mountains to irrigate crops will probably get progressively expensive and environmentally costly, as our water reserver is lower and lower.

I am thinking at some point it maybe more cost-effective and fuel-efficient to get produce from Texas :)