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"Local" Foods and Labels
Oct 03, 2011
Editor's Note: The following comments were received in response to the Oct. 1-2, 2011, edition of "U.S. Farm Report."
#1: I completely agree with you about the appalling lack of local farmers at the farmers market. Ever since I was a little girl, my dad would take me and my sister to the Dallas, Texas, Farmers Market downtown to get tomatoes, peanuts, corn and any other seemingly "local" fruits and veggies. On a recent trip to the market, now that I'm at the age of 25 -- and a graduate of the University of Texas with a degree focus on the environment -- I was curious where the produce actually came from. To my surprise, none of the produce was actually even grown in Texas! The peanuts were from Virginia. The tomatoes? From Mexico. Even though Jacksonville, Texas, is known as the tomato capital of Texas! The watermelon, corn, cantaloupe, strawberries -- all from out of state. Out of the many, many vendors at the Dallas Farmers Market, I found only ONE who actually grew and sold in Texas: a small, family-owned group who grew in West Texas and sold at the market. I think that food should be labeled to show the consumer the miles it traveled (and where from) to get to its final selling destination. This would help buyers, hopefully, make better choices and support their local farmers and local economy. Thank you for pointing out the importance of food-travel miles to the public!
#2: Whatever happened to the idea of country-of-origin labeling? On meat, we might see three countries on the same package. It is even more difficult on fruit juice. It's almost like it is a game of hide the country of origin instead of reveal it.
Bill - Webster County, Mo.
#3: I am from Lincoln County, Okla. Due to drought (no water, no hay, no grass), I have been in a liquidation mode. As I've been on this land all my life, I understand "proper" stocking density. As a rule, I am understocked by 20%. I also have (had) a pretty strict rotational grazing program, but none of that works when the water dries up. On the "home place," I have no cows. This marks the first time in over 100 years there are no cows on that property. Being only 50 years old, I have a lot of years in front of me, but I don't think I'll go back into the cow-calf production cycle next year. I might not replace back next year at all. In time I'll get back into the game, but I do not think I'll get back at the same level I was at, and it might be a different production cycle completely. Luckily, everything is paid for and I have a job elsewhere. As I look at the books, I think I'll lose less money if I just do nothing!