Local Commitment

Our Co-op is dedicated to supporting social and environmental responsibility. We know where our products come from: we carry local items whenever possible, and make an effort to purchase from small, independent suppliers. Our produce is mainly organic; our products as a whole are primarily organic or natural. We read labels, and endeavor to avoid artificial additives and excessive packaging.

“Is it organic?” asked a customer about a product we were sampling.
“No, but it’s local.” a staffperson replied.
This was not a satisfactory answer for this particular customer, but here is why we value the Local Label:

  1. Roads Less Traveled. A local product did not have to be shipped as far. Not only might this decrease carbon footprint miles but likely the product required less “infrastructure” to get it here to the Upper Valley”¦less packaging, less handling. For instance, the Millers at Jericho Hill in WRJ make a quick drop of new product, likely on their way to some other errand. It’s carried here in a matter of minutes from local cheese facility to our walk-in cooler. This can literally happen within the day of ordering and is the case for a number of our local vendors. Not necessarily true for Organic Valley Cheeses made from the milk of organically fed cows in the region, having been handled by several middlemen and crossing miles multiple times before being placed in our cooler.

  2. Intimacy. It is nearly certain that we know the grower/producer of a local product and can even visit the farm. The farm may not be certified organic, but we’ve seen them at the farmers’ market or down the road or even stood next to them in line at the Co-op and have queried them about how they raise their sheep/kale/grain. We’re satisfied that their intentions and practices tread lightly on the earth. OR”¦we know these particular folks use pesticides extensively and we’re not comfortable with that in our store. The grower who is local has a reputation in the community and this level of transparency allows for an educated decision.
  3. Local around the Upper Valley usually means Small Scale. We love this. If supply can’t meet demand, it is unfortunate and makes for more creative work for us, but we are happy to bring whatever volume of quality product we can to market. Decrease in supply suggests that the product is good and the grower isn’t too big for its britches. Larger scale production that is always in stock can put a heavy burden on inputs. Compare countless cows raised “efficiently” to maximize production vs. a small herd of ruminants that require a break from milking to give birth and raise up young before answering to the masses.
  4. Local means Fresh. Fresh food has vitality. Food that has been locked up for days in the back of a truck watching the miles tick by very often has a different quality. The most fantastic thing about homegrown vegetables and fruits is the fresh-picked flavor and spirit it shares, incomparable with any produce from outside your yard.
  5. Purchasing local food Supports your Local Economy. We support our neighbors with very few, if any, middlemen. This helps support a fair price for the seller and allows the buyer a reasonable rate. You get what you pay for in the local scenario. The grower can itemize his production costs and you have less to fear of the hidden costs that come with “cheap food”.
  6. Local food Maintains Access to nutritious food even in the event that larger scale production and supply is compromised beyond our neighborhood.

This is not to say that a commitment to organic food is unimportant. We would hesitate to support any local farmer who might be using pesticides or growth hormones. Pesticides use close to our own home is especially detrimental to our health and the long-term well-being of our families, neighbors and local ecology. We’ll go on to say that pesticide use anywhere is not desirable for our ecosystem and the beings in the world. What we each can decide for ourselves is where a product fits into our harm-reduction commitment. We believe that local food is a great way to address these issues.

After all, Local means making intimate connections and diligent maintenance of those connections, and that is what this Co-op is known for”¦telling the Story of Food.

Our Co-op is dedicated to supporting social and environmental responsibility. We know where our products come from: we carry local items whenever possible, and make an effort to purchase from small, independent suppliers. Our produce is mainly organic; our products as a whole are primarily organic or natural. We read labels, and endeavor to avoid artificial additives and excessive packaging.

© 2014 Upper Valley Food Cooperative