METRICS FROM THE FIELD: Designing Food to Suit Our Infrastructure?
Keywords:Food Systems, Community Development, Sustainable Agriculture
Last summer during harvest season, I descended to a hotel lobby in South Carolina eager for a good breakfast. I had just visited vast orchards down the road where peaches were being packed for shipment, and I had seen plentiful local cantaloupe at roadside stands — but the breakfast buffet featured neither of these products. Unripe melon with almost no flavor, grown in a distant place, filled a large bowl. It was what the supply truck had brought in.
When I arrived at the grocery later that day, the local peaches on sale were gorgeous — but not yet ripe. The grocery supplier delivered the same hard peaches that it ships to distant customers. As I spoke with local food leaders about this curiosity, I was told it was difficult to source local food in the state because competing suppliers shipped bountiful quantities of fresh produce from Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina from established, large farms. Due to seasonal harvest schedules, these often arrived just before, or just after, South Carolina producers could ship. Distributors said it was so easy to simply keep shipping from distant sources that the local product often never reached the shelves. Buyers were content to purchase Florida produce and call it "local," since they had purchased it from a local wholesaler....
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