Monday, October 3, 2011

Meatless Monday: Stuck at 90

It's been a week since I started my petition asking Stop & Shop supermarkets to stop using produce grown in China in their Nature's Promise line of frozen vegetables.

Enough people signed the petition in the first couple of days that I upped my target total to 500. As I write, I am stuck around 90. You can see the current total on the widget.

Signing the petition elicited an emailed response from Ahold, the parent corporation of  Stop & Shop. Here is an excerpt from the message: “… We appreciate knowing of your concerns regarding imported produce and the country of origin. Based on seasonality, we source locally and internationally in order to provide our customers with a large variety of the freshest produce. For specific information on how produce is sourced, we make an effort to include this information in our advertisements, as well as on the produce signs in our stores. Our signs and ads generally indicate if an item is ‘imported.’… Your produce manager is very knowledgeable and can always assist you with specific questions about specific products. We are dedicated to providing safe, fresh and wholesome fruits and vegetables. We have strong quality control processes and our produce inspectors and quality assurance teams are excellent. In addition, under FDA guidelines regarding the monitoring and safety of produce imports, imported produce must meet the same safety standards as that grown in the United States …”

My petition is not, however, about produce in the produce section. It is about ending the practice of outsourcing the farming of vegetables commonly grown in the US to foreign countries for processing and sale to the American consumer, and then denoting the country of origin in tiny print on the bag. 

Stop & Shop is my local supermarket. I have spent many thousands of dollars in the chain over the years. I was there on Saturday and decided to read some more frozen vegetable bags. I discovered that while organic peas do come from the US, conventional green beans come from Mexico, asparagus comes from China, and grilled zucchini comes from Italy! Why are peas American but not zucchini? This is a mystery.

An article by Bill Saporito in this week's Time Magazine gives me hope that change may come soon even without this petition. Jarden Corp. of Rye, NY is "insourcing” the production of some of its household goods, including mops, canning jars, and matches which it had been “outsourcing” to China. Rising wages and benefits for Chinese workers coupled with an increase in fuel and shipping costs is driving the return of some manufacturing jobs to America. Perhaps the same will soon be true with agricultural products — particularly if American consumers vote with their forks (and wallets).

As I said last week and in my petition, “It makes no sense to be purchasing green beans from a half a world away. For reasons of food safety and security, as well as to lower the carbon footprint for transportation costs, American farmers should be the ones growing the majority of produce Americans consume.” 

Let's help the cause along. I still need 410 votes to reach my goal. It's easy. Just click on the bag of green beans. Thanks.

I often blog on food or food issues on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal  health and the health of our planet.”

1 comment:

  1. Colleen O'ConnorNovember 30, 2011 at 5:35 PM

    Sorry I am a month behind in my e-mails. I just signed it now and I hope it still counts.