Are you buying local food? Local-food sales has grown into a $20 billion industry. A recent USA TODAY Network investigation found that state-branding programs designed to inform consumers and support local farmers are deceptive and virtually unregulated.
In some circumstances, the products can be certified as “local” even if half the ingredients come from another state or country. Many states have no minimum ingredient requirement.
Over the past four months, USA Today reviewed 45 states that have food-branding programs. This is what they found:
- 18 states set no minimum on the percentage of locally grown ingredients a product must contain to get a state brand.
- 20 states brand food as local as long as the company making them is headquartered within the state.
- 36 states have no formal annual review process to check whether companies are following program rules. About two dozen states let companies sign up and call their food local without verifying the source of ingredients.
- 40 states have no record of enforcement actions in the past five years and no record of removing specific companies from their programs.
Program officials state that they are not attempting to fool consumers, but rather, this is more about marketing efforts to promote the local economy and create jobs.
“It’s a way for small- to medium-sized businesses to inform consumers that their products are locally made,” said Lori Panda, director of the Ohio Proud program. “It’s a good way for consumers to feel good about supporting the local economy.”
An example of a locally produced product: Milo’s Tea Company in Alabama makes iced tea. The family-owned company distributes as many as 100 semi loads of tea across the country every day. Its gallon jugs with their distinctive red labels can be found in most major stores. The company’s signature sweet tea has three key ingredients: Water, pure cane sugar, and tea. Because Milo’s makes its tea in Alabama, it qualifies to be marketed as “Local”
To read more in depth of this “Buy Local”, click this link –USA Today
Source: USA Today
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