Grow more garlic, America

As I read the article “Natural Growth” by Hal L. Millard [Sept. 12 Xpress], it seemed to me [that] Earth Fare director Troy DeGroff’s statement, “We’ve always been pushing the envelope on what it means to be natural, and how you can be better at giving people a high-quality product,” is a little contradictory. I ventured into Earth Fare three weeks ago for organic garlic and was shocked to find the garlic was imported from China. We have been cautioned to be aware of foods from China because of the [potential] health risks due to the unsanitary growing conditions and harvesting by slave laborers.

When I mentioned this to Earth Fare’s manager, he told me they buy from an international company and was unable to get garlic from California so had to buy it from China. Yet two days later, Greenlife’s market had garlic from California.

Is Earth Fare going in the same direction as other stores: buying cheap, questionable produce for more profit, forfeiting U.S. citizens’ health?

— Hope Herrick

Earth Fare’s Troy DeGroff replies: California organic garlic is back in stock at Earth Fare. Out-of-stocks and substitutions happen, even to us, and we would rather have organic garlic from our distributors for our customers than none. We buy our produce from U.S.-based distributors, not international companies, as well as from farmers direct—just as our local competitors do. We also offer only N.C.-raised poultry in our fresh-meat case, organic and local ingredients on our food bars, and we use only rBGH-free cheese in our deli and prepared foods.

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2 thoughts on “Grow more garlic, America

  1. Gardener

    This letter brings up some interesting points.

    Here in Western NC, we have plenty of land and farmers growing food for themselves and market. And although we may not be able to supply the entire region with local food, much, much more can be done to get true ‘local’ in more stores like Greenlife and Earthfare.
    I am often disappointed that so many vegetables sold in either of these markets come from thousands of miles away when they are the very same product that many locals are have.

    This is usually because of the distribution set-up that ensures a consistent supply of pretty (often out of season) produce that consumers demand. A potato farmer in Madison county may have plenty to supply Greenlife for a day or two, but in order to make their shelves look abundant, they need to buy from a distributor who can ensure a consistent supply. Although WNC has flirted with the idea of Local, Organic distribution in the past, nothing has yet to come together that satisfies the pockets of Growers, Distributors, Grocers, and most importantly, Consumers.

    I would suggest shopping at many of the local Farmer’s Markets (West Asheville, FBFC, UNCA, etc) to ensure that the produce you are purchasing is coming straight from your local Bio-region, without passing through China or the People’s Republic of California first. And if and when you do feel the need to purchase veggies from either of our major “Green” Grocer’s, remind them of your desire to buy fresh, local, in season produce as much as possible.

    They will be glad to comply, I’m sure.

  2. Bill Hunt

    I grow garlic and I know that there are others in WNC that can grow all the garlic (and shallots) local stores can sell. Methinks they’re not trying hard enough.

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