Food Retail

Your local supermarket sells more stories than your local bookstore. And just like your bookstore, these stores -- an artful mix of fact and fiction -- are placed on shelves. In the supermarket, these stores are sold with pictures featuring pastoral images of barns, grain elevators, and livestock leisurely grazing on impossibly green meadows. Turn the box over and you'll find that the story continues with the descriptions using the words natural, wholesome, and even sustainable. - Douglas Gayteon

The food in your grocery cart and on the shelves of your pantry represents your values. After all, as the saying goes, you are what you eat. For this reason, it’s important to know what’s in the food you buy.

Unfortunately, our food system is opaque. Food labels can be confusing — even purposefully misleading –while the prices of many ethically sourced, nutritious goods tend to induce anxiety and sticker shock at the cash register. Still, those choices we make as consumers are critical, because these purchases are often the only way we can truly contribute to creating a more equitable, healthy food system.

Grocery stores also play a role. Spurred by consumer demand, some plan to require the labeling of genetically modified foods .

To improve your decision making at the grocery store, GRACE has provided a comprehensive outline of the meaning behind labels.

As technology advances, a new supermarket model is taking shape, increasing access to sustainably grown and local food. Food Tech Connect explores what we can expect in 2015.

Food access is also increasing thanks to the new corner stores spreading across urban food deserts.

Food Cooperatives, though not a new creation, are another way communities continue to ensure access to locally sustainable food. Check out Perennial Plate’s visit to 6 coops across the country.

To wrap up this this edition of the Food List, in the film True Cost Accounting, we review the real value our purchasing power has on our community, environment and the livelihoods of the people who ensure there will always be food on our grocery store shelves.

This week's terms

Ag Gag Law

Thirteen states have passed food disparagement laws to criminalize any behavior which may endanger the profits of a food company (this includes defamation by written or printed words, pictures, or in any form other than by spoken words or gestures). This is also known as veggie libel laws. The thirteen states are Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas. Twelve of these states’ statutes are civil; it is criminal in Colorado.

Economies of Community

If industrial agriculture uses economies of scale to maximize efficiency — focusing on single crops and reducing input costs to a minimum — then communities can leverage their greatest assets — proximity, familiarity, and private ownership — to compete with the global food system. They can create economies of community. The more you decentralize and empower individuals, the better off everyone is. You cut warehousing and retail distribution costs by creating a direct relationship between farmer and consumer. Then you embolden these farmers to become entrepreneurs, self-sufficient companies that know it is good business to develop sustainable growing methods.

Food Access

Food access is determined by a variety of factors. The income of people experiencing hunger, the racial or cultural background of certain populations, and the distance between people and food markets. [To counter this], people have developed approaches to promote neighborhood-based food retail outlets or community gardens in disadvantaged communities, and public education campaigns to highlight such inequities as the prevalence of low-quality corner and convenience stores in under-served communities.

Corner Store

A new twist on the corner store provides healthier and more economical food choices for consumers living in urban communities instead of only selling items like processed food, tobacco, and alcohol.

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