How do you define 'local produce'? From the USAToday today:
Nationwide, retailers from Wal-Mart to Whole Foods are increasingly devoting more shelf space to "locally grown" products including such things as fresh produce and Thanksgiving turkeys. Whole Foods, for one, now spends almost 22% of its produce budget on locally grown products, up from 15% four years ago, it says.
The "locally grown" label is part of retailers' push to tap into consumer desires for fresh and safe products that support small, local farmers and help the environment because they're not trucked so far. At least one consumer survey has showed that whether something is locally grown is now more important than whether it is organic (which many local products are not).
But retailers may have far broader definitions of "local" than consumers do. And while freshness is more likely if food isn't trucked so far, food-safety experts say there's no evidence that locally grown products are safer, especially because small producers often lack the food-safety audits more common among big producers.
And yet another reason to hate Wal-Mart:
In July, Wal-Mart pledged to source more local fruits and vegetables and noted, in a press release, that 20% of the fresh produce in its supercenters in the summer was already local, making Wal-Mart the "nation's largest purchaser of local produce."
For a Florida store, that 20% would include any citrus grown in Florida even if it's also sold nationwide, says Wal-Mart spokeswoman Caren Epstein.
"They're not defrauding people, but counting a product that is nationally shipped as local doesn't seem to be within the meaning of locally grown," says Jim Prevor, editor of Produce Business and author of the online Perishable Pundit.