Shopping at our local chain grocery store recently, I noticed an interesting new tag on some of the produce. Have you seen these in your area?
These tags allow you to search online to find out where the produce you are buying has originated:
Supposedly, at this online site, when you type in the produce ID included on this tag, you can "meet" the actual farmer who has grown your produce:
Possibly in an effort to counter the growing "eat local" movement, a new campaign has been created to allow consumers to get to know their not-so-local farmer.
Now, the skeptic in me questions this immediately. It would be nice if this was a rural farmer organization's attempt to maintain a connection to their customers and address the growing concern of where our food comes from and how it is grown. Instead, I fear this is the mega-grocery corporations' attempts to soothe and placate our worried brows so that their food market and profits aren't impacted by us gaining our senses.
I decided to go to the site offered on my tag and punch in my ID number:
If I believe what is posted, while not exactly local, my onions were at least grown in my state. Grown outside the small town of Nyssa, Oregon (301 miles east of Portland), my onions travelled - after going to the local packing/shipping company and back - about 400 miles to get to my hot little hands.
Of course, I clicked on the video to meet my farmer. My farmers are Warren and Jim Farmer (kid you not). This is actually a pretty cute video of two men looking really uncomfortable for the camera:
Further investigation shows me that it is the packing plant itself, Fort Boise Packing, located in Parma, Idaho, that is responsible for the Trace Produce program.
Unfortunately, none of the info they provide addresses any of my other concerns...growing methods, sustainable growing practices, use of chemicals, transportation and fuel costs. But I do appreciate knowing that my onions weren't grown in China. :-)