Fresh Local Food? Not So Much

Prairie Gleanings

My wife tried the fresh, local thing. The results were quite unexpected, and not in a good way.

Published on: August 16, 2013

Yesterday, my wife reminded me that a “farmer” would be coming by to deliver us a box of fresh, local produce.

A “What?” “Remember, I told you…” type of conversation ensued. If you’re married, you probably have these daily.

Anyhow, she reminded me that she joined some coworkers and purchased a food allotment from a local farmer’s market. It was a one-time thing – not a community supported agriculture deal.

To say the very least, I was skeptical. Well, it arrived last night.

I’m not sure if the delivery man was a farmer. My son was hollering at me from the living room, and I didn’t have time to ask any questions.

Does this look like a box of locally-grown produce to you? Yeah, me neither.
Does this look like a box of locally-grown produce to you? Yeah, me neither.

So, I pulled the lid off the box and was somewhat shocked. The first thing I saw was a vacuumed-sealed bag of spinach.

Odd, I thought this was a locally-grown thing. As I pulled more stuff out of the box, I began to suspect this was all store-bought produce.

The potatoes were extremely clean. The onion did not look like it was dug this week.

Trying my best not to be a buzzkill, I kept digging. That’s when I saw the labels with barcodes. And, then I read “Produce of Mexico” on the bell peppers.

What!!

When my wife got home, she pulled up the group online. She read off a list of crops that are grown locally – none of which were included in our box of goodies.

Not only is this a store-bought bell pepper from Mexico, its not a great one. Had I gone to the grocery store, Id like to think I could pick a better pepper than this.
Not only is this a store-bought bell pepper from Mexico, it's not a great one. Had I gone to the grocery store, I'd like to think I could pick a better pepper than this.

Yep, that’s right, we paid $20 to have a man deliver a box of store-bought produce.

It goes to show that consumers are going nuts over “locally-grown.” That’s fine and dandy, but make sure it’s actually local.

Organic is going through the same sort of growing pains. Marketing is getting convoluted in an attempt to cash in on the organic craze.

I don't blame my wife. She was being a good sport and trying something new. And, I've always held that locally-grown is typically better than store-bought produce because it is fresher.

This little debacle definitely has us eating our fruits and veggies. I do see an appeal in having a large amount of perishable foods delivered. It’s a race to eat everything before it goes to waste.

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  1. Phillip Swartz says:

    I've got $20 that says Josh just went to the store and bought a bunch of mediocre produce, put it in a wax box and made up this story about how "local" farmers are shysters. But seriously...this type of thing has been going on since the dawn of human existence - every second a fool is born and two to rook him. Fraud can become a problem any time unscrupulous individuals jump on a fad or trend or even tragedy. There have been many stories about "farmstands" selling wholesale conventional produce as local and organic. The important point that Josh is trying to make gets somewhat lost among the snark. If you're interested in buying local food please do some internet research OR try getting in your car and taking a drive out to the farm AND/OR meet your local produce farmers and cultivate a more personal relationship. Seasonal, local produce can really be a great experience and CSA shares are an easy way to experience the flavors of the Midwest while supporting smaller farms and keeping more of our hard earned $$ in our local communities.

  2. Dona says:

    I suspect that our local farmer's market sells store bought cucumbers. I checked out two stands and the cucumbers were waxy -- I could remove wax with my thumbnail. I confronted one stand owner and she assured me they were not waxed, but also admitted she did not grow them.