Macro-local

8 11 2007

Well, maybe not truly local, but certainly regional. Often some of the excuses for not paying any attention to where our food comes from is that it’s too expensive, it’s not available at the grocery, and it’s too much work. Sometimes you can be pleasantly surprised if you just read the label. I find quite a few regional foods at Costco. I think I’ve mentioned the chanterelles from BC.

FlavRPac Green Beans

We regularly purchase the Flav-R-Pac frozen broccoli to supplement our dog’s food. She loves it and it’s inexpensive when purchased in the 3 lb. bag at Costco. This week, I purchased green beans. Why would I do that when I already froze a bunch of local green beans? This little logo in the bottom left corner of the package is why.

Food Alliance logo

I make it a habit to buy most every organic item at Costco at least once in order to vote with my dollar. Not all the processed foods, but most everything. [For that same reason, I’ve stopped buying the Aurora organic butter from there for the time being. If Aurora cleans up its act or Costco changes supplier, I’ll happily buy the butter again. Meanwhile, they do carry Wilcox dairy and eggs.] I’m pretty sure that Costco pays attention (and I’m not the only one) as I’ve noticed that our store usually carries quite a selection of organics compared to other stores.

But I digress. The logo is for the Food Alliance which is a certification program for sustainable farming. The website has loads more information and has a handy list of certified producers making it easier to seek them and their products out. So in this case, the beans are most likely grown in Oregon and packed in Lake Oswego. That qualifies as a relatively painless regional food item not encumbered by the USDA organic label.

Princess Asparagus

Another find, one that I was really tickled about, was Washington-grown asparagus! Our patch isn’t quite producing yet (next year?) so we have to still buy our spears. This product makes me happy in more ways than one. We, of course, had bad news this spring about Washington’s asparagus farmers and cherry orchardists having problems finding labor to pick their crops. Apparently Johnson Foods, Inc. was able to find workers and have produced frozen asparagus for Costco. The second reason was that last year some time, I had seen frozen organic asparagus at Costco and grabbed a bag. I was rushed and didn’t inspect the label and found, much to my chagrin, that it came from China! I was very disappointed since Washington is such a big asparagus state and Costco is a Washington company. I’m pretty sure I sent them a comment about it. Anyway, Princess asparagus comes from Sunnyside. Yay!

Now I just need to ferret out if the fresh Washington asparagus sold at Costco actually gets shipped to and distributed from Los Angeles. This would seem a bit ridiculous, but I’ve heard of crazier things.

Why do I like Costco despite it being one of those big box stores?

The Costco Challenge: An Alternative to Wal-Martization? (July 5, 2005)

Costco’s Code of Ethics (PDF) and Vendor Code of Conduct (PDF)

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4 responses

8 11 2007
Jenni

Hi,

This is a little off the topic of this post, but I thought you might be a good resource to ask: Do you know if anyone grows sweet potatoes in our region? I’m gearing up for a local Thanksgiving, and this is one item that has me stymied.

Thanks,
Jenni
http://www.pertuset.net/openbook

9 11 2007
Saara

It’s a good question, Jenni! The answer is probably a farmer in California. Sweet potatoes need a long warm dry growing season (100+ days) and we just don’t have that here. That is not to say that you couldn’t find that type of micro climate in your own garden and have some success. Perhaps you could invite a California relative to T-Day this year and have them bring the sweet potatoes? 😉 Bummer!

9 11 2007
Nate

I wonder if the “organic” standards in China are the same as USDA organic.

No matter. A lot of petroleum went into shipping that asparagus to the US. Bleah!

9 11 2007
Pattie

Wow–we have a lot in common! I just posted earlier this week about Costco, and I’ve been all over Aurora for awhile. And thanks for the Google Earth thing. I was trying to get that to work but had no luck. I’m inspired to try again!

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