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Where is it from? What is is worth?

January 16, 2013

I’m working on another pricing comparison which takes a lot of time. I just spent about 3 hours cruising the aisles of WalMart and was pretty surprised no one on their team asked what I was doing. Maybe people do price comparisons often there. Or maybe they have been trained to not ask questions; maybe I was just one of those weird people of WalMart for the moment. *G*

So I still need to get to Kroger and then present the information in a way that will be useful to you.

Until then I want to share something else I noticed.

With the Wild Ramp’s emphasis on local foods I could not help but note the locations where the food was sourced. Most packages of meats and the loose produce at WalMart are not marked. Some items did have country of origin and a few even the state. In comparison, when I visited a Whole Foods store last summer, I noted they put origins on the signs.Whole Food sign

We know, for example, that watermelon is a summer fruit. So buying watermelon in the winter should immediately make you realize that that melon had to come from a warm climate. In this case, it is from Guatemala  Located in Central America, the fruit has to be picked a bit green so it can make the 2700 mile journey here and still be edible when it goes through the steps of the WalMart distribution system.  When you buy a melon that is not local, even if it is in the summer, they are picked a bit underripe just because of the transportation time. If it was picked ripe, by the time it got to the store it would be spoiled.  It is important to note that watermelons do NOT ripen over time after they are picked. So think back to when you REALLY enjoyed a watermelon and how you rated some you have purchased from the supermarket. Buy local and buy in season for the best flavor.gtna

So what source locations did I note? Cheese from Wisconsin…well known for great cheeses. There the consideration is not taste but environmental factors in the transportation. Other items were marked “USA”-the only requirement is country of origin. At this time of year we are getting fresh produce from southern Florida, Arizona and California for the most part. The Southwest uses a lot of water for irrigation so there is that consideration as well.  Agriculture uses a lot of water and that area, with millions of people, has long been water deficit. With the climate change underway, water prices are going to rise. That will be reflected in the cost of the food grown in those areas.irrigation2_big

Outside the United States we have fresh produce coming to Huntington from Mexico, Canada, Honduras  and other parts of Central and South America. On the one hand this is a beautiful example of the progress that has been made in refrigerated transportation. On the other hand, a savvy consumer considers the value of the item.Value is a factor that considers cost but also quality. If the item is low cost and has diminished flavor and unknown nutritional value, is it worth eating?

We are fortunate in the United States to have a system where food is pretty inexpensive compared to other parts of the world. We have, in reality, traded some quality away for lower cost.buyfreshbuylocal

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 16, 2013 10:56 pm

    Excellent post. I look forward to the next edition. I figured out a long time ago that eating strawberries in the middle of winter or supermarket tomatoes at any time simply wasn’t worth the money. That was one of the first nudges that leaned me toward organic and local eating.

    • January 17, 2013 1:09 am

      I think many people have never tasted the “real” flavor of a freshly picked ripe fruit or vegetable. Once they do, however, they long for more. Having a market like The Wild Ramp accessible provides for that flavor in your food every day.

      • January 17, 2013 1:21 am

        I suspect you may be right.

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