Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How Fare the Battle for Local

About 2 weeks ago, I gathered up all the weekly inserts in the Chicago Tribune for grocery stores. I meant to write a post highlighting the amount of local foodstufs advertised by the lot (including Dominicks, Jewel, Tony's, Ultra Foods and Caputo's). As a lot of my ideas of late, it remains inchoate (+ one post in draft form and another post that got killed by an Internet Explorer crash). The bad news from the delay, it seems like the forces of local have had some setbacks.

A few weeks ago, all the stores featured several local items (produce) in their fliers. Today, the pickings are fewer. To wit:

  • Food4Less - No specifically delineated local products. Worse, the navel oranges are highlighted with a big bar "IMPORTED!".
  • Jewel-Osco - See above. No produce labeled local; Australian navel oranges. They do note their peaches and nectarines are "Bursting with Pick'd Ripe First of Summer Flavor [sic]". Believe them?
  • Tony's Finer Foods - Getting better. They advertise "Sweet Michigan Blueberries".
  • Ultra Foods - Take that: home grown green beans, zucchini and yellow squash.
  • Domincik's - One one hand, they have the absurdity of an ad for hot house cucumbers right above copy that reads, "It's Peak Season!", but they do also advertise locally grown blueberries, sweet corn and green beans.
  • Angelo Caputo's - I save the best for last, the staunched of the bunch. They advertise Michigan green peppers, Michigan peaches, Michigan pickles, Michigan grown farm fresh eggplant, Michigan grown farm fresh large ripe tomatoes, locally grown green onions, locally grown Romaine lettuce, locally grown basil, and Illinois farm fresh sweet corn. Where should you shop?

Here's the real kicker. Everything Caputo's advertises, they offer for less than $1 per pound or $1/per item. For instance, their Illinois sweet corn sells 5 for $1. C'mon! Anyone who tells you that local is not affordable or accessible, well get thee over to Caputo's now. I was there yesterday and besides what is on advertisement, the local included cabbages at something ungoldy cheap like 3 lbs/$1 and an assortment of local peppers. If price is a strong concern, stock up on your local now, when it is cheapest. Green beans and corn freeze especially well. Peppers can be preserved in oil. These are not quite canning tomatoes, but Caputo's will have them soon. Eat local.

Let's monitor the battle front in the weeks to come.

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