You all know how I feel about certain terms -- "baby" vegetables come to mind. Another bugaboo is the loosey-goosey use of "local". As soon as one of these terms gets hot, everyone and their Uncle Vanya is using it to describe their merchandise or produce. According to the WSJ, Wal-Mart has jumped on the local bandwagon as well. As soon as I read that, I thought, "oh-oh, local is going the way of organic." Wal-Mart, it seems, is embracing local food for two reasons - they save on fossil fuel costs by limiting their shipping distances, and they are opening the door of a large new market with deep pockets. This can be both good and bad for local farmers across the country. Slipping under the sheets with Wal-Mart can be a double-edged sword. As far as the new "local" fanaticsm, my personal feeling is that a lot of the local food embracers fall right off the wagon as soon as they realize that "local" means they can't get blueberries in January. But, I digress.
Also discussed in the article was what "local" means to three food retailers who are also on the "local" bandwagon:
Safeway says it doesn't consider food locally grown if it takes more than an 8 hour drive from field to store.
Kroger defines locally grown very loosely. It can mean grown in the same state, or within the same "region" of the country.
Supervalu varies from store to store. Some of their stores call produce that comes from neighboring states "local".
I have a much tighter vision of "local" food. My front yard, for instance. Or my friend Marianne's greenhouse about twenty minutes away. Since I live in an area of New York state that butts up against both Vermont and Massachusetts, is produce from those states local?
A local farm (approx. 10 miles from me) markets its sweet corn as "native" corn. Some people I have talked to think they grow Indian corn. Maybe "native" vegetables will be the next hot marketing term?
What is your definition of "local" produce/food/goods? Is local food a fad? Or are people finally getting it?