The U.S.D.A recently recalled 55,000 pounds of Jennie-O frozen turkey burger patties, citing concerns of Salmonella. (Read more here.) Although Jennie-O is a Minnesota company, based in the Willmar area, recalls like this help shine light on the definition of ‘locavore’ and what it means to support the local food movement. 12 people have been reportedly sickened by the product in 10 different states (a first indication that Jennie-O might not qualify as a locavore brand).
Here’s what I consider when buying local:
1. How closely can you trace the production of the food? My best choices are foods that I produce myself or that I can identify all of the components of the production. Yes-that means research! Can you meet the people who have handled your food start to finish? Can you buy it from a supplier who is knowledgeable of its origins?
2. How is the food actually produced vs. where is it produced? The organic vs. natural vs. conventional method is a debate far beyond the scope of this post, however when I am buying local I often make compromises. For me, I’d rather have a conventionally grown apple from a producer I can visit, pick-my-own, and participate in, than an organic apple from a producer out-of-state or out-of-the-country. Jennie-O demonstrates this; The turkey burgers were likely produced and manufactured in Minnesota, but because I can’t engage in how it is produced, I struggle to fit it into my local definition.
3. Where does my dollar go? I still continue to believe my strongest political power comes from where I spend my hard-earned dollars. Although this can be more tricky to identify it also fits in with #1 & #2. Yes, there are a number of retailers and corporations that produce products in Minnesota. However I like to know that a larger percentage of the money I spend is supporting the local economy.
Want to know why others buy local? Check out LocalHarvest.com.