Where does your produce come from?
What COUNTRY is Your Produce Coming From?
If you go to the produce section of any grocery store, whether it be a large brand name or a mom and pop’s operation, one similarity will transcend all across the US—most of our produce is NOT produced here, even the organic stuff! Just think about that for a minute. Most of the food you eat, if purchased from a grocery store is nowhere near you, most likely not even in the same country, yet the US has an abundance of farmland, what gives?
The food you buy in grocery stores typically travels about 1500 miles before reaching your plate. Just imagine how many people are touching your food before YOU are! Interestingly, this applies to processed foods too. Just think where do you suspect all of those tomatoes in your pizza sauce, veggies in your frozen dinner or fruits in your ice cream originate from? Though we may never know the exact origin for sure, it’s NOT going to be from a local farmers market that is guaranteed.
A scenario of the current food model is as such:
- Farmer’s and rancher’s selling to collection points (produce terminals or stockyards)
- The food is then processed and packaged as how it would arrive in a grocery store
- Products put on trucks, rail or stored in warehouses
- If at a warehouse, most products are frozen and can be stored over a year!
- Shipments are arranged to go to retailers across the country
- Perishable food producers usually have their own delivery fleets
- Fresh produce distribute to wholesalers, food co-ops or terminal markets
- Distributers, brokers, wholesalers deliver to restaurants, grocery stores and chain warehouses
Now here’s some fun facts, take a look where some of the most popular produce items originate from:
APPLES: New Zealand, California
BANANAS: Costa Rica, Brazil, and Bolivia
CANTALOPE: Mexico, California
GRAPES: Mexico, California
ORANGES: Mexico, California
STRAWBERRIES: Mexico, California
CARROTS: Mexico, California
TOMATOES: Mexico, California
SQUASH: Mexico, California
POTATOES: Mexico, California
Clearly California has the biodiversity to rival Mexico but why is it that the majority of the produce in grocery stores in from Mexico NOT California?
As logical as it sounds, Californians should be the first to get the produce from their own background…it’s right there! But something seemingly so trivial is far more complex than many can fathom because of the hands of corporate greed and public policies making life difficult for local farmers.
The solution? To ensure you are really buying local, go to a farmers market! Famers Markets have very strict guidelines to determine who can actually become a vendor. There are certain radius requirements to ensure vendors are indeed local and not some imposture selling products produced across the boarder. Every market will have its own guidelines so be sure to check beforehand.