When it comes to food, what does ‘local’ mean?
Local grocery stores, farmers and agriculture leaders differ on what should define the “locally grown” label placed on foods in western Nevada County grocery stores.
Spurred on by the local food movement, shoppers are increasingly looking for products grown or sourced as near to home as possible.
Several western Nevada County grocery stores advertise their produce as locally grown.
SPD Markets, with locations in Grass Valley and Nevada City, mark produce as local if it is grown regionally, with some sources as far away as Auburn and Newcastle, Calif., said produce manager Doug Painter.
“That’s what I consider local,” Painter said.
Save Mart, with a location in Grass Valley, attempts to only stock produce from California, said company spokeswoman Alicia Rockwell.
In both Grass Valley Safeway locations, produce advertised under a “locally grown” sign, including greens and a variety of lettuce, have labels indicating the produce is from California’s Central Valley.
Some are unhappy with that.
“I think it’s blatantly deceptive,” said Andrew Meyers, from the Four Frog Farm in Penn Valley. He advocates a local definition of local produce as food grown only in Nevada County. “They are trying to take advantage of a buzz word. It’s equal to saying something’s organic when it isn’t.”
Safeway representatives would not comment for this story. Representatives from Raleys, which has a location in Grass Valley, did not return messages seeking comment.
Other farmers differ on how to define local, but agree grocery stores should label their produce with its place of origin.
“One of the terms I like is ‘local is as close as you can buy it,'” said Chris Bierwagen, owner of Donner Trail Fruit in Chicago Park. “You can’t buy an avocado from closer than Santa Barbara County. You should have a label that lets you know where it was grown, then you can decide whether or not that’s local to you.”
Nevada County Supervisors last week gave their initial approval to a county ordinance that would require all produce marked as locally grown sold in the unincorporated county to be labeled according to where it was grown.
The ordinance is meant to give consumers more information about where their produce comes from, said Rich Johansen, who sits on the county’s agriculture advisory commission.
“We’re not recommending to define what local means, but rather that anyone who makes a claim that their product is locally grown to tell us who grew it, and where they grew it,” Johansen said. “We won’t stop anyone from making the claim. We just want the customer to be fully informed.”
The item was brought forth by Nevada County Agricultural Commissioner Jeff Pylman, who was unavailable for comment on this story.
The ordinance is tentatively scheduled to go before the board at its Tuesday, Sept. 14 meeting for final approval.
A similar ordinance is expected to be proposed before the county’s cities, Johansen said.
To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail email@example.com or call (530) 477-4239.
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