Friday, January 16, 2009

Wo de si-uh

... for some local, sustainably grown produce... Once again, I butcher a language! Can I get a whaaaat?

So our latest internal "hot-button" issue/debate is over locally grown food. We, as a company, believe in sustainability and supporting local business. We also want to appeal to our market's ethical food interests. Our thinking is that if our market likes what we support, they will want to support us and become regulars... So basically, we are totally altruistic.

Anyway, when we first broached the idea of buying our produce from local farmers, we focused solely on Massachusetts farms. Of which we found a fair amount (mostly in western MA). However, a recent conversation with my partner/friend Renee left me reeling. Let me preface this by saying that Renee has what I am going to call a "sharp business-mind." Through some industry contacts, Renee discovered that Maine was a hot-spot for the kind of produce we need. When she mentioned this to me, I sort of dismissed it since Maine is not Massachusetts and we decided local was an important cause to support.

When Renee and I eventually got to talking about Maine produce, I mentioned "what about the whole local thing?" She looked askance. Maine is local, was her reply... it's in the northeast. And if it's "local" and we can get it cheaper there because it's a bigger industry there, then why not?

So... what defines local then? Does it have to be within the same state, region, country... I, lets call me naive.. or maybe idealistic, think at least within the same state. And Renee, the lets-cut-a-deal part of the company, says oh... northeast... it's fine. Thank god we have a third to tie-break, or else we'd have to resort to rock-paper-scissors or competitive drinking games. You know, how real companies solve problems.

Anyway, wa du si-uh... I am going to wrap this up and get some lunch. Hopefully, the lettuce on my sandwich is from a "local" farm. So while I eat my lunch, voice your opinion on what local means to you. And when you see a company boasting their use of local produce, where you automatically think it came from.

As an addendum to Renee's last post, let me thank in name Meghan. You are famous.


Chin said...


Gregory said...

Well, it depends. The definition of "local" or "regional" is flexible and is different depending on the person in question. Some local business with specific retail and production focuses, such as cheese, may take a larger view of what is 'local' while a local farm may see the area with in a day's driving as local (since this is where they can efficiently move their products to. Some see "local" as being a very small area (typically, the size of a city and its surroundings), others suggest the ecoregion or bioregion size, while others refer to the borders of their nation or state.

Meghan said...

I would think either is acceptable so long as you are transparent about where the food is coming from. That, in itself, is different than most restaurants, so it should still come off as socially responsible.