Local Organic Y’all

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local organicLocal Organic Y’all is an early stage project attempting to understand the largest players in the North Carolina food distribution system.

Here is their question, or quest: Are the supermarkets (who sell billions of dollars worth of food each year) and the wholesalers (who sell to our local restaurants, schools and institutions) using best practices to support local organic foods? Can they commit resources to be a part of the local food solution? What are they up to? We want information. We believe that the employees of the supermarket and wholesale food industry are great people, doing their best to supply us with abundant, safe food. And we believe the industry cannot sell what it can’t procure, nor sell what we don’t demand. So, let’s be fair. Lately, though, demand for local organic has skyrocketed, while supply has not. Supermarkets and wholesalers can seize the opportunity to help grow the supply. Some already have.

Here is Local Organic Yall’s  list of best practices. As information is gathered, they will publish their findings so you know how your favorite store or supplier is meeting these important benchmarks.

1. Develop a written plan with measurable goals for steadily increasing the sales of locally-grown organic foods store- and company-wide. Create internal policies and procedures to effectively handle these foods in stores and warehouses, including aggregation, shipping and receiving, and storage.

2. Select a point person for locally-grown organic sales at the corporate level and at each store or facility, and inform farmers and consumers who that is. Conduct periodic company-wide training of staff on the issues of local/organic procurement, handling and marketing. Participate in buyer-grower meet-ups and other networking with local farmers.

3. Provide sufficient and accurate labeling of locally-grown organic product in the store, in company-wide marketing and through strong supply-chain transparency.

4. Work with local suppliers of organic, cage-free and pasture-raised meats, dairy and eggs to increase their presence in stores and in wholesale offerings. Identify and address the special challenges and needs of these suppliers.

5. Each year invest at least one day’s worth of North Carolina profits in food infrastructure projects such as shared-use processing facilities, food hubs, soil and plant research, young farmer training and incubators, GAPs and organic certification, and loan and grant programs for farmers and food business entrepreneurs. At current sales and profit rates, this represents $1,000 per N.C. store for supermarket operators.

Over the next months, Local Organic Y’all will to talk with people in the industry, university experts and consultants, and farmers. And visit lots of stores and facilities. They will publish their findings on their website

JUST IN: A new report on local sourcing in the NC supermarket industry will be released to the public on November 16, just in time for Thanksgiving food shopping. It’s called :Many Miles To Go.” It will be available on our website as a PDF and also via the media/social media.