Pundit’s Mailbag —
The Local Conundrum
Is What We Really Have A Failure To Communicate?
We Need Each Other To Boost Consumption
Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, May 27, 2015
Producers outside New Jersey are watching with interest what the Garden State does in defining local.
Our piece, New Jersey Prepares To Define Local, But Do We Need To Penalize Retailers? How The Initiative Will Hurt Jersey Farmers And Consumers Vic Savanello Speaks Out, along with our follow-up piece, Pundit’s Mailbag — Jersey Fresh: Local Before Local Was Local! Can Vic Savanello And Beth Feehan Find Common Ground? Do Consumers Actually Need An Official Definition For Everything? — brought a comment from a producer who has contributed to Pundit pieces such as these:
Pundit’s Mailbag — Kudos To Wegmans And An Industry Willing To Work Together
Pundit’s Mailbag — Green Acres Is The Place To Be?!?
Pundit’s Mailbag — Flavor Consistency
Pundit’s Mailbag — Temperature Monitoring
Perishable Thoughts — Politics And Cynicism
Pundit’s Mailbag — Retailers Should Pay For What They Say They Want
Pundit’s Mailbag — No Matter What Growers, Shippers Or Retailers Do About Food Safety, ‘You Will Be Sued’
Pundit’s Mailbag – Who Should Pay When Bananas Are The Focus Of A Store’s Promotional Effort?
Here is what he had to say on this issue:
The question comes down to this: What are consumers really aiming to achieve by buying local? If, as Tom suggests, they want American produce, well why can’t Hawaiian Pineapples or California and Florida avocados all be “local” — if these are the closest domestic sources of these products.
The problem with creating legal definitions is they are inherently arbitrary. Look at the organic rules. There is no basis for banning GMO product from organics. Hybridization is allowed under organic rules, so why would the tools used to achieve hybridization matter? It is marketing.
This wouldn’t be a problem if a private organization undertook it. In other words, anyone can form an organization, establish a logo, create rules for being marketed under that logo and prevent those who don’t conform to the rules from marketing their product under that logo.
But allowing the government to establish these standards gives them a special weight — this is what organic is or this is what local is — that really isn’t merited. It is just telling us who is politically powerful in this particular sphere, not who or what is right.
We thank Tom for weighing in on this important issue.