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BOULDER, Colo. - Wild Oats Markets Inc. here yesterday launched a new program aimed at educating its shoppers about the local farmers who supply its stores.
The program, called "Choose Local," will showcase fresh, organic products from local growers, farmers, and artisans in all 113 of its stores. "We believe strongly in supporting the local communities where we do business, and we're dedicated to providing high-quality, local products whenever possible," said Perry Odak, president and c.e.o. of Wild Oats.
"This local focus boosts area economies, reduces negative environmental impacts and supports sustainable agriculture. Our commitment to these efforts is long-term; it's part of our mission," said Odak. "Wild Oats prides itself on selling food that remembers its roots, and the 'Choose Local' program allows us to continue to give back to local growers and to educate our shoppers about the importance of selecting local products."
Wild Oats buys more than 7,200 locally produced food items from approximately 3,500 farmers, food artisans, and manufacturers based in all 50 states, Odak said. "Our smaller size makes us more nimble and better equipped to bring in a large mix of local foods from local suppliers," he said. "Large, conventional supermarkets simply don't have the sourcing and infrastructure capabilities to make a significant commitment to local products."
To make it easy for shoppers to identify locally supplied products, Wild Oats will mark these items throughout its stores with "Choose Local" shelf tags. Some tags will profile local vendors like Boulder, Colo.-based Third Street Chai, a tea company that brews small batches of 100 percent organic chai with Fair Trade spices and teas from all over the world. The farmer and vendor profiles will allow customers to learn more about the local businesses they are supporting and feel good about their purchases.
Wild Oats operates 113 natural foods stores in 24 states and British Columbia, Canada. The company's markets include: Wild Oats Natural Marketplace, Henry's Farmers Market, Sun Harvest, and Capers Community Markets.