Paul Griepentrog/ PPJ Wisconsin Reporter
(c)copyright 2010 All Rights reserved
While visiting the Wild Berry Market in Minoqua WI today, I noticed a large amount of produce marked locally grown/sustainable. Curious about the source, I questioned Megan Rudisill, an owner, where the product came from. She responded Antigo, 70 miles away. I said that didn’t qualify as local or sustainable because the product was of no economic benefit to the community.
Then we left, having delivered the order of fingerling potatoes; the store owners leave potatoes in the light causing them to turn green. I fumed a bit on the way home and did some research. Black’s Law definition of local in various phrases did not extend beyond the county. When I raised this issue in an email this is the response I received from Megan:
” This is what I could find on the legal definition of local – If I was using the definition you give essentially I could not call your produce local……..”
The definition of “local” or “regional” has for a long time been flexible and defined differently depending on the person in question. In 2008 Congress passed H.R.2419 which amended the “Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act”. In the amendment “locally” and “regionally” are grouped together and are defined as:
(I) the locality or region in which the final product is marketed, so that the total distance that the product is transported is less than 400 miles from the origin of the product: or(II) the state in which the product is produced.
Some local business with specific retail and production focuses, such as cheese, may take a larger view of what is ‘local’ while a local farm may see the area within a day’s driving as local because it is a reasonable distance to transport goods and services; in fact, 400 miles is essentially a DGD (day-goods-distance). Some see “local” as being a very small area (typically, the size of a city and its surroundings), others suggest the ecoregion or bioregion size, while others refer to the borders of their nation or state. The concept of “locally-processed” however has recently been introduced by the produce industry including organic produce wholesalers and retailers. This is potentially a dubious concept as it appears to be an excuse to ship across country and re-package in order to retain the “local” definition. This would enable huge processors to retain a local edge theoretically anywhere on the planet.
There it is folks the regionalization as indicated in S 510, being used in conjunction with the movie Food Inc. to deceive people into believing that they are supporting the local economy. The Testor amendment to S 510 also fronts this deception of a 400 mile limit and would only allow repackaging to continue.
A search of Wisconsin Statutes revealed quite another story; with 1647 citings of the word local in statute none of which indicated anything beyond the county level. A defined conflict of law exists, between State and Federal. Federal definition seeks only to profit the corporate powers.
The USDA notice does give us insight as to the future of more deception, even more interesting was the lack of siting the documents of a state agent enabling the Federal law within Wisconsin as required in 40 U.S.C.§ 3112. Then the cat got out of the bag with Megan’s reply:
“Paul, I can appreciate where your coming from but I need to work with what the industry standard is for Natural Food Stores. Whole Foods in Wisconsin uses the Federal Regulation as do many of the other Co-ops and stores.”
Corporate contractual standards being utilized by Whole Foods and others to deceive consumers, induce regionalism, and through exclusive contracts with their producers drive the real local producers out. Yes folks Whole Foods are no different that the big beef boys Dudley Butler is fighting. But because people want to feel good about what they are buying they’ll ignore it as long as the sales gimmick sounds good.
Now to get to “sustainability”; the reality here is that methodologies employed to suppress farmers from receiving parity prices by adopting systems to economically eke out a living and sustain the general public with cheap food. To sustain their lazy ass nature of requiring convenance above all else no matter what the cost is paramount.
A competent consumer should be asking the following questions.
- Was the producer of these goods forced to register their premises or obtain a unique identification locator in violation of State and Federal Constitution?
- Was the producer forced to participate in a traceability program in violation of their substitutive rights?
- Was the producer subject to exclusive contract for less than parity price?
If the purveyor of the goods answers yes or cannot reply don’t buy it.
In effect the Wildberry Market, Sower & Seed and stores like them are only downsized versions of Walmart as the same product from the same distributors appears in all. They support exclusive contracts that oppress Fair Trade and are pushing goods under a false local/sustainable label. Under their version of local repackaged goods can be sold from anywhere. The only way to know your food is local is to look the producer in the eye that raised it. But your too lazy to do that!
“I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell.” — Harry S. Truman
“On the day when you again allow abominable men to confiscate your freedom, your money, your lives, your private property, your manhood and your sacred honor, in the name of “security” or “national emergency” you will die, and never again shall you be free. If plotters again destroy your Republic, they will do it by your greedy and ignorant assent, by your disregard of your neighbors’ rights, by your apathy and your stupidity.
We were brought to the brink of universal death and darkness because we had become that most contemptible of people–an angerless one. Keep alive and vivid all your righteous anger against traitors, against those who would abrogate your Constitution….” Taylor Caldwell, The Devils Advocate (1952