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CHICAGO -- Twelve grocers during the FamilyFarmed.org EXPO's Local Organic Trade Show here yesterday confirmed their commitment to stock and sell food that is grown in the Midwest by certified organic farmers.
The retailers--Dominick's, Cub Foods, Fox and Obel, Peapod, Sunset Foods, Treasure Island, Caputo's, Stanley's, Country Fair, Market Place on Oakton, and Newleaf Natural Grocery--also agreed to carry products bearing the FamilyFarmed.org label. Whole Foods Market, a founding retailer in the FamilyFarmed.org program, already carries many products from participating local organic producers in its Chicago units.
FamilyFarmed.org is a project of Sustain, a non-profit organization working for a healthy environment. One element of Sustain's work has been to support the growth of a regional food system in the Midwest, by establishing markets for many organic and sustainable family farms in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
The organization is designed to connect local organic farmers and processors with new buyers, many of which are supermarkets. "We aim to make it easier for supermarkets to merchandise locally-grown organic foods," Jim Slama, president of Sustain and producer of the expo told Progressive Grocer. "We place the farmer’s market experience on a label."
Speaking with PG from the show floor, Robertino Presta, c.e.o. of Caputo's Fresh Markets, Addison, Ill., said of his operation's involvement, "Everyone is health-conscious now, and consumers are asking for locally grown organic foods," Presta said. "But we've been [supporting local farmers] since 1958, when my father-in-law Angelo Caputo began making trips to the Benton Harbor Market in Michigan."
What Presta especially likes about locally-grown is the unsurpassed freshness of the product. "We'll call the folks at the Benton Harbor market in the morning, they pick our orders [from the field, not a warehouse] that evening, and it is on our shelves the next afternoon. You can't beat that for fresh."
In the new program, Chicago shoppers will be able to identify these locally-grown products by the new FamilyFarmed.org label, which can be used on fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy products, and on processed foods. It includes the FamilyFarmed.org logo, the place of production (for example, Illinois or Chicago), and the name of the farmer or processor who created the product.
The labels are designed to send people to the FamilyFarmed.org Web site to encourage a deeper connection with the producer. On the site, consumers can gain access to information about producers, including a picture of the farm family or processor and a description of the products and growing methods.
Chicago organic distributor Goodness Greeness will use the FamilyFarmed.org label on all its locally grown private label products. Goodness Greeness will also distribute FamilyFarmed.org products to many of the leading retailers in the Midwest.
-- Joseph Tarnowski