New regulation requires supermarkets to label where food comes from

It’s easy to know where your produce comes from when you buy it at the farmers’ market or through a CSA (duh, from local farms). But when the only place to purchase is the local Piggly Wiggly (or other massive supermarkets), it can be difficult to tell where those potatoes, peanuts, or even pork came from. This fact might not bother shoppers whose biggest concern is bagging a bargain, but for us greenies concerned about food miles, an item’s unknown origin is a major problem.

Luckily, a new federal law goes into effect today that should help clear things up. From now on, US supermarkets must provide labels indicating which country foods come from. Items requiring a country of origin label include: ground beef, chicken, pork, veal, steak, lamb, goat, fresh and frozen fruits and veggies, and some nuts.

From an article in today’s Mercury News:

Although there are some loopholes—for instance “processed foods” like bacon aren’t covered—consumer groups say the labels will allow shoppers to bypass foods whose countries have poor hygiene records, or to deliberately help American farmers and ranchers.

Not to mention, informed shoppers can choose goodies grown and produced closer to home, meaning fewer carbon emissions from all that shipping.

Also from the Mercury News:

“People really want to know ‘What the heck am I eating?’” said Naomi Starkman, one of the organizers of the Slow Food Nation conference in San Francisco earlier this month, which, among other things, encouraged people to eat locally produced food.


“If you know that peppers from Mexico might have salmonella, then maybe you would say ‘I want to buy peppers from California.’ Or maybe you would want to know that your food has a smaller carbon footprint. You can buy apples from Washington instead of New Zealand.”

Well, you know the old saying, “You are what you eat.” Now with food labels, you can choose to be an even better person.


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