Thursday, August 07, 2008

Publix: buy more produce locally

My local supermarket around the corner from my house, Publix, is a fine grocery chain with a fatal flaw.

Publix buys very little local produce and other perishable products and, more often than not, ships all these goods to my store in Gainesville, Florida from points in the US as far away as California. As I have mentioned before, I am amazed to regularly see California produce in my Publix that was shipped across country at enormous expense in fuel and to my modest financial resources.

Seeing California citrus in my Publix's produce section during prime Florida citrus season really sets me off. It is an astonishing waste of fuel and an insult to Floridians by a homegrown, Florida-based company. It is not enough for Publix to be a homegrown Florida company. they need to buy locally too.

The August 6, 2008 edition of the New York Times has an article entitled, Supermarket Chains Narrow Their Sights by Marian Burros ( I highly recommend Burros' article and hope that higher ups at Publix will take heed to the message that Burros delivers.

Ms.Burros writes about national and regional chains that are waking up to the benefits of buying closer to home to reduce fuel consumption, provide a fresher product, support local farmers, and meet the rising demand from consumers for locally produced agricultural goods.

Grocery chains like New York state's Wegman's (the finest grocery store in the USA in my book, have developed long-term relations with New York and regional farmers to provide produce that, in their stores, takes my breath away with freshness and variety. According to Burros, Wal-Mart (of all chains) has decided to spend $400 million dollars to provide more local produce in their many stores across the country.

Both of these food sellers have opted out of the insane cycle of shipping produce across country on a chronically regular basis. Burros points out that "in some cases, the cost of freight is more than the cost of the goods themselves."

I buy from local farmers via farmers'markets and a superb Gainesville owned grocery, Wards. Wards is committed to providing fresh goods sold to them by companies and farmers who share a similar zip code to Gainesville.

I urge Publix to go with the flow and change its wasteful habit. Publix needs to rise to the standard of New York's Wegman's or Gainesville's Ward's. Publix is too fine of a chain to allow this business flaw to continue.

I am a regular Publix shopper, but folks at Publix can do better. I hope and trust that they will. Publix: Be a better neighbor to Floridians and we will reward you for it.

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