Tuesday 26 June 2007

Organic Local Carrots - Or are they

Todays Guardian has a story called Sainsbury's giant carrot washer, and the rejected royal roots which tells how Sainsburys have apparently rejected the organic carrots from not just Prince Charles estate, but also the head of the Soil Associations, Michael Holden

It appears that the carrots failed the cosmetic test and therefore did not look pretty enough to sit to the shelves. To be fair to Sainsburys, I guess all the major supermarkets are guilty of this and Michael Holden goes as far to say Mr Holden said: "Everyone who has supplied a supermarket own label will have a story similar to mine to tell, but most daren't tell it. This is not confined to one supermarket - Sainsbury's have in fact been more supportive of organic farming than some others."

The problem that all the supermarkets appear to face is that their distribution centres are not setup to deal with local produce being supplied to local markets. Instead they appear to be sent from warehouse to warehouse.

The article in todays paper is not available on line, so I've replicated the journey below using Google Maps to calculate the miles

  1. Carrots trucked from Michael Holden farm in Lampeter, Wales to Ross on Wye 82 Miles
  2. Trucked from Ross on Wye to Peterborough (washing / polishing) - 144 miles
  3. Trucked from Peterborough to Bristol Distribution Centre - 169 Miles
  4. Trucked from Bristol to my local Swansea Sainsburys - 80 miles
I'm not expecting any of the supermarkets to be able to ship directly from a farm to the supermarket (Lampeter to Swansea is 51 miles), but a trip of 475 miles seems a little excessive.

What I find hard to believe is that the supermarkets havn't done their market research into those people who buy organic food. Most people who get an organic box delivered to their door accept that the food isn't perfectly shaped and may come with some dirt on it - thats the price we pay for having food that has come straight from a local farm.

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