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Local labelling

As I understand it, "organic" is a process-based standard, and has, really, nothing to do with "local" as such. That is, the organic vegetables in Whole Foods -- how well I remember the free cheese samples at Whole Foods in Philly when I was unemployed and living on canned beans -- could still come from 1500 miles away, and be grown, for all you know, next to a toxic waste dump or in the airshed of a toxic industry.

If you knew where your food came from, as well as how it's grown, you'd have a lot more control over what you put in your body. Eh?

Which is why Big Food would, I imagine, view any local labeling efforts with concern.

Apparently, there's no real legal framework in place; I'm envisaged something as simple as a labal approved at the town council level, that local farmers could use. Good for consumers, good for marketing as well.

There doesn't seem to be much about this on the Intertubes -- this seems like the best article, at least that I can find.

Readers, does anybody know more?

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Truth Partisan's picture
Submitted by Truth Partisan on

On organic, which you may know is a legal label, try: here
and here.

As you probably know, fair trade products say where they are from and who made them and that the people who made them were treated fairly. (No children in the making of chocolate, thank goodness.) I cannot link to the Fair Trade Federation as their link is overactive for me today (trying to paste it in here resulted in me going back there over and over.) Normally this doesn't happen--you can reach them by googling their name.

Farmer's markets are local. Here, you join by paying dues, going to a meeting or two and showing up with local food to sell at the market. Perhaps your local famer's market could provide some kind of seal?

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Some interesting thoughts here.

No system of labeling means much without vigorous oversight and law enforcement with significant penalties. Even the revered French wine industry has had a seemingly endless series of corruption scandals, and rumors of illegal blending contimue to swirl.

It was precisely the uncontroled adulteration and misrepresentation by small producers and small scale manufacturers that led to demand for improved governmental oversight, eventually leading to the Food and Drug Administration and the USDA inspection laws. The burden of compliance favored large scale operations, a detail not missed by big business; more complex, but not necessarily more effective, regulations have driven many local growers out of business just as the dangers of massive-scale industrial agricultural practices are being exposed.

Neither large nor small scale production protects the consumer absolutely from fraudulent practices. On the other hand, if Farmer Jones down the road sold you some tainted produce at least you know exactly where to lodge your complaint.

Submitted by lambert on

I guess I don't need the apparatus of the French regions.

All I want is for a farm to be able to register with the town office, and get a seal, with their address on it, that they can put on their produce (and that those who use it can display).

It's up to the consumer to make what they will of that information -- Google earth, GIS systems, etc....

[x] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by Elliott Lake on

Idaho and Montana and Washington do, I know, at least. Generally these come out of the state ag department's trade section.
If you know the rules at your local farmers market, and it only allows local producers, then labeling of origin would not be necessary. Many markets require growers to submit to inspections by the board to see growing conditions, and if you say you are organic, your certification must be on file with the state as that is a legal thing.

For things like fresh produce, most smaller growers aren't going to be shipping out of state, and nor are large behemoths going to be shipping into neighborhood markets. In our case, we have a local rule, all products at our market must be made/grown/harvested and the producer reside within 50 miles of town (the county seat). And many farmers markets are similar, some requiring producer only, like ours, others allowing re-selling; ask the market manager for details.

Your organic veggies in the example above, if truly organically grown, wouldn't be coming from right next to a toxic waste dump, but I have no idea how air pollution is factored in, there is no metropolis here for that to have come up. But the NOP probably covers that.

All that being said, if you are buying locally that does not necessarily mean your veggies mightn't be contaminated. One of our local growers just found out this year why it would be good to be washing his hands after being in the chicken house. (AIIEEE!)

So it is wise to have some discussions with your vendors, and to wash your produce, wherever it comes from.

I have also seen some discussion that in England there are suggestions re: not allowing produce from around the world to be labeled organic there, as the jetfuel to get fresh berries from Chile to Britain sort of makes the whole green aspect go away. Interesting question.

Submitted by hipparchia on

i don't think any of the chain grocery stores in my town sell local anything, at least.

i belong to a co-op, shop at a small local independent grocer, go to u-pick farms nearby, and stop by the farmers market in summer. and there's a wonderful dairy/artisan cheesemaker just across the state line, it's pricey and the gasoline to get there is prohibitive, so that one's a luxury.

the co-op, the indy grocer, and the farmers market all have their local products labelled with the name and address of the farm.

the local seafood markets, the ones where the fishing boats pull right up to the dock, all label their seafood with approximate origin [some of it is more local than others].

there are some local farms that sell beef, if you're willing to buy a whole side [or have lots of people to go in with you and split the cost].

i guess my point is that the locally-grown food here is primarily sold in alternative outlets, instead of the usual mega-stores, so formal registration and identification hasn't been necessary. i prefer it that way, to tell you the truth.

sure, the consumer has to go to a bit more trouble initially to find these outlets, but once you find a couple of them, you've pretty much tapped into the informal network and can find out where the rest of them are.

hobson's picture
Submitted by hobson on

If you read the mission statement of the Farmers' Market Federation of New York, it seems more complicated than just a label.

There's also a series of links on the Endless Feast site. I love this show even though it seems a little decadent. I found the link to localharvest one of the most useful, with a zoomable map of all things local.

I'm wondering if keeping politicians out of it is the way to go for the moment.