Tesco, a UK-based international grocery and retail chain, has started shipping in Peruvian asparagus. This despite the proud 200-year history of Evesham, Worcestershire growing its own. In fact, Evesham is the biggest producer of the vegetable in Northern Europe and even hosted the 25th British Asparagus Festival.
Peru is 6000 miles away. So what’s the deal? Tesco spokesman, David Neiberg, had this to say:
We’re very supportive of locally sourced produce and we’re stocking the foreign asparagus to keep up with demand for the seasonal vegetable.
Whether that’s true or not, citizens are not happy. Says resident Terrance Anderson:
I won’t be shopping in Tesco again. It’s an insult to our heritage. My grandfather grew asparagus and he would be up in arms about this. I know plenty of people who feel the same way as me.
The author of a book on asparagus, Chris Sheehan, states that “you only need to taste the two different types of asparagus and the difference in quality is obvious. Peruvian asparagus is nowhere near as nice.” Chef Miles Collins agrees and wonders, “putting aside the small matter of air miles and carbon footprint, why would we want to eat asparagus flown over to England from Peru?”
According to Treehugger.com, “the average fresh food item on our dinner table travels 1,500 miles to get there.” Besides the massive resources that go into an operation to ship food around the world, there is the issue of preservatives and additives to help keep that food looking fresh when it hits the grocery store shelves.
Help your local economy. In the same article, John Ikerd, a retired agricultural economics professor, says that farmers receive a mere 20 cents of each food dollar spent. Most of the costs go into things like packaging, transportation, refrigeration, and marketing. Selling to local customers puts more of the actual retail value into the farmers’ hands.
For more reasons to eat locally and to get involved yourself, visit eatlocal.net.
[Image: Bryce Edwards / Flickr]