Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy

Making Sure Local Means Local

Maryland's Department of Agriculture is seeking public comment on a proposed regulation that would require stores to disclosure where their "local" meats and produce actually originate.

Mark Powell, the department's chief of marketing, said the proposal amounts to truth in advertising.

"If a grocery store has a display that says 'local apples', it will have to say where those apples came from," Powell said Friday.

Such a disclosure would allow consumers to decide if an apple from New Jersey, for example, is local enough.

"If people think they are buying local, we want to make sure they know what they are getting," Powell said. "There's a value associated with local."

Powell said the regulation also would protect local farmers.

"We want to make sure the term 'local' is not used so loosely that the benefit to the farmer is lost," he said. "Right now in the stores, (produce) could say local but come from New York. But people, when they think local, they think Cecil County."

He said the intent is to give people a choice in whether they consider food produced outside Maryland to be local.

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