Very nice article on the current state of Whole Foods and their local foods sourcing efforts here http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-05-02/whole-foods-local-forager-elly-truesdell-is-a-grocery-tastemaker
We've had great input from area "foragers" at various MarketReady programs in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. We actually had Whole Foods folks at each of our Tennessee grower training sites last year and had a bonus in-store tour in Chattanooga. Very impressive. I was impressed at their efforts to personalize the merchandising - pictures of stores and farms locally - interestingly including some from nearby Southern Georgia.
Back to this article - - I've seen this concept popping up in several grocers - rooftop gardens or grow-your-own local. It's in keeping, I suppose, with the hyper-local sourcing business model being explored by a number of restuarants - (see What's Hot in 2013 NRA Chef's Survey item #7).
Are consumers really drawn to this? Does "hyper-local" work for the grocery store? I'm in Wegman's in State College, PA, one of my favorite grocery stores anywhere, and I see a big sign featuring Wegman's Farm. Really? Sure enough, Wegman's has gotten into the farming business - - see here . This is one way to manage your upstream supply chain to assure a supply of local produce - start your own dedicated grocer-owned farm in the middle of your sales region.
Are consumers ONLY interested in geographic proximity when they are choosing products being merchandised as "local"? Lots to say on this point. But interested here to get reaction from the buy local community.