I had quite an interesting exchange this evening. We had run out of vegetables from our farm share so I popped into the local fruit stand to pick up some salad greens and fruit. Calareso’s Fruit Stand is located in Reading, Massachusetts, and sells fresh vegetables, fruit, plants, flowers and baked goods. (During the winter, they sell Christmas trees and evergreen wreaths.) The stand is a fairly hot spot during the early evening hours, especially with folks picking up last minute additions to their dinner table.
I picked up some cherry tomatoes, noticed they were from Mexico and returned them to their spot. Just not worth the increasing my carbon footprint, let alone the unknown pesticides. I pondered a package of strawberries from California, and decided to let my hunger for strawberries overtake my desire to buy local or organic, and shoved them into my cart (of course, quietly looking around for the “local” and “organic” police, who were no where to be found).
I added several greens to my cart, including bags of arugula, basil and mixed salad greens marked solely with the Calareso’s label. I began to wonder where all these greens were born. Calareso’s didn’t have a farm per se, so they likely purchased all these items at some wholesale market. But beyond that, where the heck did these greens come from? If I wasn’t going to eat organic, I could at the very least focus on supporting farmers in New England, or at least the east coast, and do my little part to reduce my carbon footprint. I really, really wanted to know where these greens came from, so decided to broach the subject at the checkout. And, despite a young 20-something gal at the register, I decided to give my “local” speech a shot.
I told the young woman that I had a notion for her to float up the corporate chain. It went something like: “Wouldn’t it be awesome if you labeled the origin of all your produce so I could choose to support local farmers?”
She said something like: “Well, we buy from the produce market daily and the growers change daily, so that’d be impossible to maintain.”
So I was like: “Well, you could have laminated signs that you wipe clean and re-write on each morning.”
And she was all: “Well, that’s a lot of work.”
So I was like: “Well, I guess, but it’s worth it for your customers. I want to know and I’m sure lots of others would appreciate knowing they were supporting local farmers.”
As her eyes glazed over, she said: “Well, that’s an interesting an idea.”
I realized I was speeching to deaf ears and decided to move on with my non-local groceries. Once home, my husband giggled at my attempt to wise up some 20-something. I insisted that kids these days were allegedly far more eco-aware than us old folks, and that my fruit stand clerk was an anomaly. Or, at least, I hoped.
As I assembled the above salad, I worried for all those 20-somethings who didn’t care where their food was born. Sure, the salad is pretty and was quite tasty, but I grieved for my hard-earned dollars potentially going to corporate farmers. I grieved for the carbon release I had supported. I grieved for all those 20-somethings who simply don’t know better yet… but knew, one day, they would.