LOCALLY GROWN COMES TO CENTER STORE

BOULDER, Colo. - "Local" may conjure up images of fresh summer produce. But this summer, retailers are taking advantage of shoppers' interest in homegrown foods to push shelf-stable items as well.Wild Oats Markets' Choose Local campaign underscores not only fresh food, but items from Center Store and other departments, including Aspen Pure bottled water, Boulder ice cream and Pangea Organics, a line

BOULDER, Colo. - "Local" may conjure up images of fresh summer produce. But this summer, retailers are taking advantage of shoppers' interest in homegrown foods to push shelf-stable items as well.

Wild Oats Markets' Choose Local campaign underscores not only fresh food, but items from Center Store and other departments, including Aspen Pure bottled water, Boulder ice cream and Pangea Organics, a line of body care items. Choose Local kicked off in July and runs through October.

"Many people think just of produce when they think local, but we're also highlighting other local items such as local honey, breads and even holistic health items," spokeswoman Krista Coleman said.

Other food retailers are giving locally grown and produced foods more exposure. A variety of such foods was showcased at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York last month. New Jersey sponsored its first Fancy Food Show pavilion to promote specialty foods from that state.

Buying local means lower transportation costs for retailers and less environmental damage, Coleman said.

The practice also helps family farmers, preserves local farmland, keeps money in the community and helps provide access to food that's fresh and tastes great, she added.

"Our Choose Local program allows us to continue to give back to local growers and to educate our shoppers about the importance of selecting local products," she said.

Other retailers are promoting locally grown groceries. Balls Food Stores, Kansas City, Kan., is pushing honey from Hawley Honey Farms, Iola, Kan., as part of its Buy Fresh, Buy Local effort.

D&W Fresh Markets, Grand Rapids, Mich., is in the midst of its Michigan Grown campaign, which highlights a number of local growers, including Grandview Farms, J&J Farms and Sunnybrook Farms.

While much of the assortment is produce, D&W showcases plenty of Center Store items, including apple cider, honey, maple syrup, jams and jellies. Select Michigan shelf tags highlight the items.

D&W promotes to shoppers the health benefits of buying locally grown foods, noting on its website that many fruits and vegetables can lose up to 50% of their nutrients in just five days.