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Desperately seeking local

Kevin Yarr
By Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca

I have long harboured suspicions about the claimed friendliness of national supermarket chains to stocking local foods, and those suspicions were confirmed last week.

It started two weeks ago. I was at the Atlantic Superstore when I spotted honey on the shopping list. I cursed inwardly, because I should have bought it at the Charlottetown Farmer's Market and that trip was already done. But I had found P.E.I. honey at the Superstore before, so I went looking for it again.

But no luck. There were a number of exotic honeys — elderflower, wild flower — that may have satisfied my foodie desires, but I wanted local honey and it appeared they did not stock it any more. Annoyed, I decided I would rather go without.

A week later I was in Superstore again, and passing by the foreign foods section I happened to spot it: P.E.I. honey.

The foreign foods section. Yes, it would appear that at this Charlottetown supermarket, honey produced on Prince Edward Island is so exotic that they have to stock it alongside the Ribena and mysterious Scandinavian crackers.

And I thought it was silly when they advertised produce grown in British Columbia – 6,000 kilometres away – as local.

How difficult is it for you to find local products at the supermarket?

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Comments

James

Local is a hard one...trust me i know. I operate a full service grocery only stocking items from BC. Due to the lack of any audits, controls or even standard definitions, many large grocery chains can put a few 'local ' items on the shelves - as infrequently as they desire. This gives them the opportunity to tell their customers that they support local. Support often means charging $$$ for each sku of product for the privelage of being on the shelf

Posted January 20, 2010 09:02 AM

Deanna

Victoria

Not easy at all. Local producers are often told if they can't supply that product at sufficient levels year around then they are not consistent enough as suppliers.

So small local producers or seasonal producers never make it to the local supermarket shelf - they just sell California greenhouse produce instead.

It's gotten worse since Sobey's bought out Thrifty's, who used to make much more of an effort to stock local produce.

Posted January 21, 2010 12:21 PM

Michael C

I had a similar story in November. I was visiting on Vancouver Island, and wanted to bring back some "Babe's" fireweed honey. These folks have been producing (Saanich) for a long time, and their fireweed honey is special....I had to go to four different Island based grocers to find it!!! Thrifty's, Country Grocer, Quality Foods, and Russell Farm Markets...none had it. Had to go to the downtown grocer in Victoria!!!

Posted January 24, 2010 12:22 PM

Andrishka

Lets see now , there are probably hundreds of bottles of various honeys in stock in that store and the back warehouse but the exact one your heart desires is not there.

To bad we could not bring back some government control like Brezhnev Economics where you stood in line for 6 hours hoping to get one jar from the local Russian collective bee farm once a year.

I like the fact this country has lots of food cheap in supermarkets. The local beekeeper (who's) product you could not find has to eat beef from out of province so he understands all the logistics of food distribution.

I have not gone hungry for a long time and will never question the honeybee as to his geographic location , I just thank him.

Andrishka

Posted January 26, 2010 04:53 PM

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From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.

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Amber Hildebrandt Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.

Andrea Chiu Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.

Tara Kimura Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.

Andree Lau Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).

Jessica Wong Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.

Kevin Yarr Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.

Elizabeth Bridge Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.

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