by: Nate Furler, Marketing Specialist
We recently began implementing some changes to our Point of Sale (POS) system that will allow us to more effectively keep track of how much local, regional, fair trade, and organic product we sell. We now have the ability to categorize each item in our system with any or all of these “green” options that apply to them: local, regional, organic, and/or fair-trade. Our departments are currently working to completely update the information in our systems.
As for the definition of local, well, ours is pretty strict. When the term “locavore” was created, it was used to illustrate individuals and groups that would strive to consume goods from within 100 miles. We seek to define our local products by the same distance – within 100 miles of the Co-op. We established this criteria more than two years ago, and subsequently added it to our Merchandising Policy, written using the following definition: “any product that is grown, produced, roasted, processed, or packaged within approximately a 100-mile radius of the Oneota Co-op.”
There is no universal definition of local that all co-ops and communities adhere to. Our definition appears to be on the strict side of the scale. Another organization’s definition of local may extend to the far borders of the states surrounding their home-state. By comparison, if we used the border of Minnesota as our definition of local, that would include items from 500 miles away. Furthermore, if we took that 500-mile measurement and used it to draw a circle around Decorah, we would be able to extend our local area up into Canada and down into Arkansas. We feel, though strict, our definition of 100 miles is reasonable and allows for greater pride in the sheer number of local products we are fortunate to carry.
We recently redefined the distance we consider regional. The previous definition that Oneota had established included the same criteria as our local definition, only it allowed for items to be from anywhere considered in the Midwest. As you may know, the borders of the Midwest are not clearly defined. Therefore, we decided to simply increase the radius of our circle to 300 miles in order to give us a cleaner limit to our regional definition.
We invite you to look through the aisles of the Co-op and notice the large number of items that we carry that are considered local or regional. We also look forward to sharing more facts and figures about our local and regional sales in the coming months and years.