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Keeping It Local

Pincher Creek Co-op Part of a Pilot Project to Highlight Locally Produced Products

Bryan Passifiume – Editor, Pincher Creek Echo

July 10, 2013

Shopping ‘local’ is more than just a trendy fad.

More and more people are making a concerted effort to spend their grocery money on locally grown or manufactured products -- even before Canadian bestsellers like The 100-Mile Diet made us take a closer look at where our food comes from.

The Localize Your Food project is an initiative to provide shoppers with information about where their food comes from, and rates each product with a score based on where it was produced, who owns the company and where the ingredients came from -- all based on the location of the store.

“There are different reasons why customers are interested in local,” said Meghan Dear, founder of Localize your Food. “Some of it is about freshness and quality. For a lot of people it’s about knowing where their dollars are going, and trying to keep their dollars invested close to home.”

Others, she says, are interested in knowing where their food comes from.

Pincher Creek Co-Op is one of the newest stores to take part in the program.  Visitors to the store will notice orange tags affixed on shelves and displays throughout the store. The tags contain the product’s Localize your Food score and a scannable QR code.  Shoppers can use their smartphones to scan the QR code to get information on the product and get a more in-depth explanation of the product’s score.  For Co-op’s grocery manager Clayton LeJan, getting involved with the project was a no-brainer.  “It supports the local people of Pincher Creek,” he said, stating that shoppers do make concerted efforts to buy locally-produced groceries.

LeJan said that he was surprised at how highly some packaged foods rated on the scale.  “Cheemo perogies -- they are a local product,” he said. “They’re made in Calgary. Some stuff we know is local, such as our carrots, but it’s surprising to see the ones that aren’t.”

Produce manager Shannon Donovan is especially pleased with the program, as she has always strived to ensure her produce is locally sourced.  “My main focus is always going to be local grown,” she said, stating that she gets much of her local fruit and vegetables from local growers, including the local Hutterite colonies.  These local contributions include carrots, radishes, corn, spinach, garlic, peppers, potatoes, peas, beans and tomatoes.

Donovan said that her customers have long demanded to know where their produce comes from.  “People are so big on it,” she said.

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