Thursday, October 9, 2008

Grocery stores growing their own groceries

I read in the San Francisco Chronicle about a grocery store that is growing some of its own produce. The reporter and copyeditor are under the impression that this may be the first case of a supermarket in the United States trying this gimmick, but Wegmans Food Markets in the northeast beat San Franciso's Bi-Rite Market by at least a year.

Yes, when I said "gimmick," I meant it. I suppose one would expect a local foodie like me to be all in favor of this idea. But I'm not. Now, don't make the logical leap to assuming that I'm vehemently opposed to it (see previous post about my disdain for illogical leaps disguised as logic). But there are problems with this model -- primarily, that the farmers become employees, rather than business owners. Life as an employee farmer generally doesn't pay well. (On the other hand, being a business owner often doesn't pay well, either.)

I also wonder: does a store farming its own vegetables boost overall demand for local produce, thus benefiting other farmers; or does it reduce the market for existing local farmers, thus harming them? If these stores are in it to produce warm feelings about local self-reliance, they should research their farms' effects on the local economy to make sure those warm fuzzies are warranted.

Just my thoughts.

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