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Gary350
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Where do all the vegetables come from?

The majority of the country is covered in snow and ice and the temperature are below zero in many places, but the grocery stores have no shortage of produce. Where does all the produce come from?

The United States population is 316,148,990. No way all our produce is grown in California during the winter. I assume a lot comes from other countries like Mexico.

It was 70 degrees here yesterday and 39 degrees at night. My winter garden is doing excellent. Only time I had a garden equal to this was 1980 when I had a small green house built with double thermo pain glass. It was -17 for 3 weeks and it snowed many times that year, even on an extremely gray over cast day temperature in the green house was 70 degrees. Soil was good and plants grew great.

I know there is a 40 acres green house in Chicago, one of my college roommates works there. I wonder how many commercial green houses there are in this country. I bet they grow less than 1% or this countries produce.

The grocery store had 3 heads of lettuce for $1 Wed sale special. Wonder where that lettuce came from.

When I was growing up in the 50s everyone had a garden in the back yard. Now days some neighborhoods have rules against growing a garden. I think gardeners are few these days.

I don't know what I would do if I could not have a garden. Arizona is like living in a 3rd world country and gardening here is a challenge but it is easier in the winter. I have been having a large salad with dinner every day and the tiny garden is keeping up just fine.

I have 3 gallons of orange marmalade jelly on the kitchen stove so I need to get off the computer.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

And what do you do with three gallons of marmalade? I still have bunches of jars of jelly left over, after giving away probably a couple dozen through the Christmas season.

Our veggies come from Mexico, Central and South America, Spain, Israel and other parts of the Middle East, and even China, Thailand, Indonesia:

https://health.usnews.com/usnews/health/ ... .chart.htm

For a decade now, every food manufacturing and warehousing facility has been required to register with FDA, including those overseas that might want to export to the U.S.At last count, there were 449,859 registered food facilities, with 278,307 being of foreign registration and 171,552 being domestic registrations. Among the top foreign locations are: Japan (28,223); China (26,743); Mexico (23,829); Canada (16,509), and France (16,162). Even countries such as Peru, Thailand, and Columbia have more U.S.-registered food facilities than Oregon, Missouri and Virginia. https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/11/a ... tBCq0a8pYA

It's [part of] why I work on growing things, preserving things, and belonging to a CSA... think of the energy cost of shipping [for example] a cauliflower from China [In 2009 China was the world’s largest producer of cauliflower, followed by India and the United States. https://www.agmrc.org/commodities__produ ... r-profile/]
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digitS'
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

With all of this buying and selling and transporting food to and fro -- "The United States is blessed with more arable land than any other nation on earth." US EPA (link) There are more than 400 million acres in crop production in the US.

Less acres of cropland are cultivated in China and India, each with about 4 times the population of the US.

Despite (or, because of) this abundance of farm production, each dot on this map represents 100,000 tons of topsoil loss in the United State: Erosion Exceeding Soil Loss Tolerance, NRCS USDA (link) That is "loss" as in "loss of cropland value" as well as being "gone" and into our air and waterways.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

It's an income inequality thing... It's not that the people in places like China, India and even South America would not have a use for their produce. People starve their while their produce is shipped to the US, because we can afford to pay for it and they can't. And even so the market is set up so that we don't pay anything like the real value, including environmental and shipping costs.

That is a very interesting if scary map, digitS. The topsoil loss seems to be concentrated along the Mississippi (flood zone) and through tornado alley and the plains, with a separate concentration in eastern (arid plains) Washington.

David Montgomery, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, is very informative on the relationship of agriculture to topsoil loss and the consequences of top soil loss. I heard him talk when he came to town and he gave a terrific presentation.
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hendi_alex
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

The massive scale of centralization and migration into the cities is interesting to me. Wonder what will be the catalyst that reverses the process. For so many things decentralization is the most efficient, smartest way to produce and deliver goods. We over sixty crowd may not see the day, but I suspect that in the next 50-100 years there will be a massive reversal in the current trend. In fact, I think that we have been seeing many signs that we are in the early stages here in the U.S.

A few signs of decentralization:
Off the grid, alternative electrical generation
Tremendous growth in the movement toward small scale, sustainable agriculture, both commercially and at the family level
Mass movement toward more rural locations. This is facilitated by remote work opportunities.
Growth of home schooling
Growing unrest with big government
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

Everything you say makes perfect sense Alex. In fact it is getting very easy to do a lot of work remotely from home where ever that is; it is getting easier all the time for people to be off the grid with their own solar/ wind systems, etc. It seems that would facilitate movement away from cities.

Nonetheless, I just heard a report on NPR yesterday predicting that within the next 30 yrs or so 85% of the population will live in cities.

I went looking for this now and found:

The UN said that urbanisation is now "unstoppable". Anna Tibaijuka, outgoing director of UN-Habitat, said: "Just over half the world now lives in cities but by 2050, over 70% of the world will be urban dwellers. By then, only 14% of people in rich countries will live outside cities, and 33% in poor countries."
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/m ... ga-regions

I couldn't find the specific thing I heard on NPR.

I hope you are right, Alex, because your vision seems much more hopeful than 70 -85% of the population crammed in to megalopalises.
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

NYC continues to be just about the hottest place in the U.S., with a housing shortage and with rental rates becoming astronomical.

I suspect that some rapidly spreading, lethal diseases will be the catalyst. Living among huge numbers of people in very close quarters will likely become a major factor wrt to natural selection among humans. How long before that special strain of flu or air borne lethal bacteria evolves and spreads much faster than the medical community and other health related agencies can react? An infectious agent just doesn't have to work very hard to quickly spread to all of the major population centers of the world.
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Gary350
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

People are already on the move to the country. I have been looking for some land in the country for retirement for years. A place where I can have a garden, wind mill, solar, and no Home Owners Association to tell me what I can not do in my own yard. Land that I found reasonably priced 10 years ago is either all SOLD or gone out of my price range. I have driven all over the USA looking for a place to live and in some cases prices have gone up from $2000 per acre to $50,000. I still know several places where good farm land can be bought for $4000 per acre but one of my requirements is not to be too far from a modern day hospital, Lowe's, Home Depot, Wal Mart, plenty of reasonable priced restaurants and grocery stores.

Those charts about soil erosion came about in the dust bowl days of the 1930s. Now days the same charts show where all the farming is in this country. If you want to buy some low priced land go to farm country. One of these days the High and Might that live in HOA neighborhoods that are only interested in their own self importance's and pay more attention to other people business than to their own business will be starving and may wish they could plant a garden instead of complaining they don't want to hear the neighbors tiller run or see the dust or have to smell garden plants.

I made a sudden move away from mold infested Tennessee where it rains 300 days every year in a panic to get well, so I moved to a 3rd world country called Arizona. Life is several times harder hear, prices are higher, and people in the HOA neighborhoods are like living next to the Gestapo. I am well now but I am also paying the price. Weather is nice here 70 degrees all winter, soil and water are both 8.5 ph, nothing will grow if you don't add tons of organic material and fertilizer to the soil. Gardening is a challenge it took me a while to learn what works. It is 95 miles across town and it is like living on the moon. Grocery store food is cheap and no sale tax on food that is 1 of the few good things about AZ. I want to move someplace different.

Some day when there is a food shortage, water shortage, or war, people in the big city will be starving to death within a few weeks and they will all be killing each other for a drink of water or any scrap of food they can get. The people in the big city will never have a chance to move to the country they will kill each other first.

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digitS'
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

Oohh! I don't want to think about plagues! I'd rather think about adequate health care and limiting population growth!

Educate women and give them some political power. The result, everywhere, is slowed growth to population. Enough of this sensible, humane and proper thing to do and growth is slowed and numbers even begin to fall. Europe and Japan are both losing population. And, what's it take? Two children families to lower - three children to continue growing.

The US already has 80% of its population in urban areas. For one thing, people like to be where people like to be . . . Do we really feel that we are deprived of a choice in the US of where we live? I don't think that 80% or 90% of us do.

A real threat to croplands is s p r a w l. Let's get over that. We are burning resources going OUT & OUT while IN - is neglected. Rural is a little different but miles of 6 lane roads and strip malls should be an embarrassment.

Are we in the veggie garden forum . . ??

Steve :wink:
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

I like discussions like this, but it is Gary's thread - he can rein us in if he wants.

Gary, I think you take an unnecessarily negative view of what the opportunities are.

Are you familiar with landandfarm.com ? It's a searchable db of rural land for sale. You can search by state/location, by type of land, by price etc. I put in search criteria of 5 to 50 acres, $10,000 to $100,000 asking price, no location specified. It came up with 1300 PAGES of listings around the country. Many of them are in the $1000-2000 per acre range, but a fair number are under $500 per acre.

https://www.landandfarm.com/property/Acr ... A-1107260/

https://www.landandfarm.com/property/Rec ... T-1019373/

https://www.landandfarm.com/property/Sal ... NM-751104/

"but one of my requirements is not to be too far from a modern day hospital, Lowe's, Home Depot, Wal Mart, plenty of reasonable priced restaurants and grocery stores. " sounds like you want to live in the city :) The idea of country is you don't have all that big box cr-p around you!
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

Gary, here in S.C. rural land that is 15 to 20 minutes from conveniences of town can still be bought for probably $2500-$3500 per acre. A little more remote and I wouldn't be surprised to find land for under $2000 per acre. There is a ten acre parcel for sales at $3500 per acre, at the end of our road or about 2 miles away. I think the price is a little high, but smaller parcels do go for a premium. We are just under 20 minutes from the hospital and the same from Lowes, Walmart, drug stores, etc. We are also about 50 minutes from Columbia which has most anything that a person could want. This piece of land is great for a well but has access to city water. Has no access to sewer, but septic tanks work very well in this sandy land. Electricity on our 3000 square foot all electric home runs about $150 per month or less. Our tax bill on the home plus 130 acres is under $1000. Finally S.C. is tax friendly for the retired, it doesn't tax social security, the county gives a $50K property tax exemption on those over 65 (we get that in a couple of years), and the state gives each filer a $15K exemption from tax on retirement income.
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

Gary, You could also come down to TN- seems to be pretty reasonably priced land around here- especially if you look at some small town areas. I'm about an hour from Knoxville and where I am there is a decent amount of land and very few homeowner associations. :) Look in the small towns in the south and you should have alright luck!

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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

I do think Homeowners Associations are a feature of newer tract house and condo developments. I live four miles from down town in a 90 year old house and never heard of an HA until people started posting about them here.
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

I just live out in the middle of nowhere- we don't fool with those pesky things. My neighbors have cows and horses and we can plant pretty much as we like. I consider myself lucky :).

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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

This is an interesting topic, and if need be mod could move it to 'elsewhere'.

I live in an urban area, and am part of a (year 'round) farmers market, so some of my comments come from experience. I see people moving back into town, closer to work (less commute) and extra activities. The big move to the 'burbs' has fortunately slowed. A majority of adults work, which means income, and less time for a real garden. I see more of the urban folk adding a few things, say a few herbs, tomatoes, peppers etc. Then there's the urban chickens, bees and other critters! There could be more backyard veggies than we are aware. The seed racks at HDep, Lowes, garden center all IN town are near sold down by mid-summer. Also the tomato, pepper, other veggies, and herbs starts are sold down.

An irony for me to say, is the farmers market is not totally efficient, but is a great venue for local farmers and buyers. For example last Saturday we had 3 produce vendors, all live about 20 -30 miles out. There were some greens, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes (from fall harvest), each vendor bringing in less than a pick-up load. That can hardly be called efficient! Of course there were other vendors with various items including pickles, baked goodies, soap, other crafts, my knit & woven etc. Of course this venue is more efficient when there is more produce, more vendors, more customers etc.

As for living off-the-grid, I am hoping more benefits (tax incentives, working with power companies) to encourage more to have at least a couple of solar panels or 'wind machine' on the urban house. This is just a matter of time, and I'll leave it there as it can get political and business ugly.

Just some thoughts from an urban dweller
Have fun!
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

Yes, I think there is more urban gardening than we think, as we see from the many posts on here and if you look around the net there are a lot of people planting a bit. I can't confess to be using my ground (a lot of yard) out here in the country either for the same reason many move to urban areas. I work away a lot in the summer and can only manage so much. A big move I have noticed is people planting veggies in with the flowers which is a great way some people get around HOA or planting things that look good with their other landscaping.

I'm assuming that the farmer's market is a more happening place in warmer weather when more is grown. I think it awesome that you participate in it. What all do you sell?

I too would love it if more incentives were given for solar power. One day, assuming I ever get to retire, I hope to live as much off the grid as possible. I wouldn't mind it now but I don't have the money.

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digitS'
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

I wonder what Gary is thinking about this evolving into a "you should be back in Tennessee" sort of thing. Ha! Don't do it Gary . . !

Just kidding! I've never been to Tennessee but I've seen a little of the US. What I really haven't done is ever lived in a big city. I "transitioned" about 25 years ago through an apartment. Other than that I have not lived that way since I was in my 20's. I have no real idea what it would be to live permanently like that. I mean as an adult and especially with children. Or, have a townhouse -- share walls with my neighbors? Wow! I'd want some kind of HOA for that kind of life!

Anyway, I was a farm kid who has lived much of my life in town. It's fun to see that Susan says she is an urban dweller AND a person who sells at a farmer's market!

Something that is happening is that some folks out in the exurbs are realizing that they have "over-shot" their mark. They have way too much land to take care of, than they enjoy. How many people want to spend one day out of every weekend mowing two acres of lawn? Sometimes, it isn't even a lawn. If they try to ignore it, it will just go to weeds! These places become opportunities for the "urban farmer." Really, she or he can live most anywhere but the market is likely to be in the city.

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Gary350
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

digitS' wrote:I wonder what Gary is thinking about this evolving into a "you should be back in Tennessee" sort of thing. Ha! Don't do it Gary . . !

Just kidding! I've never been to Tennessee but I've seen a little of the US. What I really haven't done is ever lived in a big city. I "transitioned" about 25 years ago through an apartment. Other than that I have not lived that way since I was in my 20's. I have no real idea what it would be to live permanently like that. I mean as an adult and especially with children. Or, have a townhouse -- share walls with my neighbors? Wow! I'd want some kind of HOA for that kind of life!

Anyway, I was a farm kid who has lived much of my life in town. It's fun to see that Susan says she is an urban dweller AND a person who sells at a farmer's market!

Something that is happening is that some folks out in the exurbs are realizing that they have "over-shot" their mark. They have way too much land to take care of, than they enjoy. How many people want to spend one day out of every weekend mowing two acres of lawn? Sometimes, it isn't even a lawn. If they try to ignore it, it will just go to weeds! These places become opportunities for the "urban farmer." Really, she or he can live most anywhere but the market is likely to be in the city.

Steve
If you want to live in an HOA move to AZ. The sooty people that live in them don't want to look at your pickup truck, they don't want to see your TV antenna or your RV so you have to pay $100 a month to keep it in a storage lot where it gets vandalized. I go to HOA meeting just to see what is going on and I am shocked all these people do is complain about their neighbors and want someone else to do something about it. People spy on each other and turn each other in for silly crap like a candy bar rapper on the sidewalk in front of a certain house. One guy said he does not like birds and someone needs to keep the birds out of his yard. Several people said they do not like to hear neighborhood dogs bark. A few complained about cats. I have never seen so many unfriendly people all they care about is their own self importance. We are moving as soon as we can decide where to go. I would love to live in TN again but I just can't deal with being allergy sick 70% of my life, the older I get the sicker I get, the last 4 years were bad. I have NO allergies in AZ it is great to have my life back. TN has lots of State Parks and National parks and the best camping any place I have been.

The posts on this thread are interesting. The one about farm land I like the red dots show where all the farm land is and the lowest land prices and smaller towns. People like to be in the city that is where all the high prices are. I like small towns best population about 20k would be my choice. The way I read the information 99% of our food comes from other countries.

I grow my own food and I buy from the local grocery stores but there are no real farmers markets in AZ. There are so called farmers markets but they should not be called farmers markets. Lots of home craft items, wooden toys, hamburgers, hot dogs, green pasta, organic cleaner, candy, jewelry, paintings, but no vegetables. All the farmers markets I have been to in other States all have vegetables.


Food City specials this week. I think these are great price I have never seen prices like this in TN. Double click photos get larger.

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Last edited by Gary350 on Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:59 pm, edited 9 times in total.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

Jeez.... you make stuff up. Yes a lot of our food comes from other countries, but nothing like 99%, not even the majority.


A lot of the food we eat is imported—15 percent of the U.S. food supply, including nearly 50 percent of fresh fruit and 20 percent of fresh vegetables.
https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/Consume ... 362462.htm


Roughly 20% of our food is imported by volume. Couldn't find any info on foods not imported, but fom the data i saw we import at least some from every broad category as defined by the USDA
Source:
https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/us...


And you can influence how much of your personal food supply is imported, by growing your own and buying locally grown from farmers' markets and CSAs. By definition, if more of us did that, the percent of US food imported would start going down.
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

Check the CSA finder at localharvest.org. You can tell it your city/zip code and it will locate CSA farms near you. It looks like there are a lot:

https://www.localharvest.org/search.jsp? ... 07514&ty=6
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ReptileAddiction
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

You could live "off the grid" in California, but it is one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S. We don't mind though because it is gorgeous year round here. Most people don't realize this, but most of California is rural. If you go anywhere on the coast it is big cities but as soon as you go inland there is rural. I am just up the street from a large vineyard and if you go down a little farther there are big fields that grow vegetables, sunflowers, and all sorts of fruit. The bulk of the fruit grown by me is citrus though there are a few peach and apple orchards.

I agree that more people should support locally grown food. In my area there is a good farmers market 2x a week and a csa type thing where there are about 50 different farmers and every week you get a box of vegetable delivered. You can also get milk, cheeses, meats, and other locally and sustainably produced food but those items are fairly pricey.

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Gary350
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

I agree we should buy from the local growers but how do we know who they are. Where I live now AZ the local growers do not sell directly to the public and they are 15 to 65 miles from me. Even if I could buy directly from them I would not drive 130 round trip, 3 hours of my time, a burn $20 worth of gas to buy produce. There are no REAL farmers markets in AZ so the best I can do is buy what is available at the grocery store when it is ON SALE.

The TN farmers markets could not be trusted many of the sellers would buy produce from the local distributors then sell it like it was home grown. They were selling the same produce the grocery stores were selling for double the price.

The only place I have ever lived where the farmers markets could be trusted was IL. Even when I return there now to visit relatives the farmers markets still have real home grow produce at a reasonable price. Many of the farmers sell eggs and milk from home if prices are not competitive with the grocery stores and other markets they sell nothing.

I think your geographical location makes a big difference it what farmers markets are like. When I go on vacation it is always fun to visit the farmers markets. I wish more farmers markets had eggs, cheese, milk, cream, butter, seeds, plants, bread, baked items. I visited a farmers in Maine where a woman was selling 400 home made donuts every Saturday morning $1 each we bought 4. A guy was selling pesto, fresh herbs, and home made cheese that was a great snack at the motel. One TN family sold Jersey and Golden Guernsey milk I bought 1 gallon each week.

I think each State should have deceptive practice laws to make it illegal to buy produce from distributers then resell it as home grown at farmers markets.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

Did you check out the link I posted re CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)? It looked like there are quite a few in the Phoenix area. I have been a member of two different CSA's now and I love them. The idea is that it is a farm which members join and pay a fee and in return they get a share of everything the farm produces, each week all through the growing season. Both the CSA's I have been part of, members help pay for their produce with some work hours at the farm as well as the money fee. So you know exactly where your veggies are coming from because you have been at the farm and probably even helped plant/tend/ harvest them. Work hours tend to be like 15 - 20 through the whole season and most places have option to pay more and not do the work hours, but I really like being part of growing my own veggies and seeing how the farm runs.

In my experience, the fees are very reasonable. It is paid up front, so the farm has money to operate. But spread over the season it is way cheaper than farmer's market. The farmer(s) then don't have to spend time sitting at a market trying to sell their stuff, they have a guaranteed market. Some places have delivery or at least a delivery point in the city, some places you have to go there to pick up your produce.

Check it out.
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digitS'
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Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

Some markets have those rules, Gary.

California has "certified" farmers' markets with those rules. Other state fm associations allow both grower-only and markets with resellers.

I agree with you. Why offer the customer exactly what they can find at any store? Why make the growers compete with a guy who may not even be buying the produce? He may just be carrying it down and returning what he didn't sell to the produce company after the market, paying for what he sold.

Steve
We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

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Meatburner
Senior Member
Posts: 174
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2012 6:00 pm
Location: SW MO zone 6b

Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

We are very lucky here as the CSA's operated just as Rainbow described. Our farmers markets are required to disclose and verify their produce is local. If it is not local, they have to have a sign disclosing that. We also have some farmers that offer for the public to pick their own at their farm for a fee. Pretty cool.

sepeters
Senior Member
Posts: 266
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2013 3:24 pm
Location: AZ, zone 9

Re: Where do all the vegetables come from?

Gary, as someone who lives in the valley I totally get what you're saying about the HOAs! They have the run of the place and it's something that's probably unfathomable to people in other states, but they are very strict and make you feel like it isn't even your property. Living in a condo, I am glad to have one. When I had a house it made me regret buying it. Just too many things we were not allowed to do. Homes in the older neighborhoods in central Phx, Tempe, Deer Valley, etc. do not have HOA's and big yards.

But, I digress.
I happen to work in a grocery store and can answer you're original question. :) Most of our produce does in fact come from Mexico. Something like 60%. Some of it is imported from Central American countries and a good amount from CA. About 30% of the produce my division carries is locally grown. We save a great deal of money on shipping costs and can get riper, fresher produce by buying locally and there are more and more large scale green house operations opening in the state, so you can expect to see more and more produce from AZ at the grocery store. It depends on the store you shop at, really. I suspect that most, if not all the produce at Food City comes from Mexico. It is a low-end division of Basha's and they make money from buying things in enormous quantity at bargain basement prices and probably could not afford to sign the types of contracts more competitive companies sign with American farmers. Farmer's are union people after all. It'll be cheaper to buy local once more of the factory farm green houses open.

There are very tough agricultural laws in AZ and the only other state we import or export produce from/to is CA. So, there's probably a lot less American produce here than other places. All produce is currently required to have a country of origin label on the sticker or somewhere on the packing, though it is usually very small. So if you really wanted to you could be diligent and buy only local produce.

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