Farm to Aisle 2
I went into my local grocery store today after just picking fresh green, yellow, and purple beans with my daughter at Rise and Shine Farm, our organic practicing CSA, and started wondering why the store is not carrying that same fresh local produce when it is only being grown a stones throw away. Where is the disconnect? Why are people driving 20 minutes away to Whole Foods to get organic produce often from half way around the world?
There is a growing awareness among the general population that we should be eating food grown closer to home, but our current society has a “what I need, when I want it” attitude, so we find it difficult to make it to all of the farmer’s market times/days and instead make last minute daily trips to the local grocery store in hopes of finding what we need that day. Both Hannaford in Kingston and Foodies in Duxbury have dedicated areas for locally grown food, but they are small, with little variety and often not nearly as “local” as they potentially could be. Grocery stores are under pressure to provide the public with what they have come to expect – perfect, brightly colored, oversized, unblemished produce of all varieties at all times of the year. This produce is often enhanced with sprays and gasses to achieve this attractive, albeit unnatural look and almost always travels from far away. Locally grown, truly organic produce, while healthier, more eco-friendly and for the most part substantially more delicious, struggles to compete on the shelf next their conventionally grown counterparts purely based on looks.
Restaurants all along the South Shore, being more flexible then grocery stores, are already focusing on sourcing a larger portion of their offerings from local farmers. Rise and Shine Farm has a relationship with Hola Restaurant in Marshfield, offering the restaurant selections from their available produce – i.e. tomatillos, a staple in Hola’s Spanish/Latin cuisine. Hola is in turn committed to generating menu options based upon the produce available. Both sides are flexible and it is a constantly evolving supply/demand model. This kind of symbiotic relationship is key to connecting the general public to locally grown/produced food.
How can we use this kind of example to help the consumer and the local grocery store come together and form a successful relationship beneficial to both parties? Would a grocery store consider purchasing some shares from a local CSA and have a regular influx of available produce in aisle 2? Will consumers forgo their natural tendencies, take a risk and purchase unfamiliar vegetables because they are locally grown? Can community members with a vision push the local grocery store to a new level of local food awareness? I am on a quest to make that happen in my community. Follow me over the next few months as I journey down this path.
Submitted by Devon Kohler.