Locally Safeway – Part 2

Last year I ran a post on the locally grown brochure that Safeway Canada had inserted into their weekly flyer right across the country. In their mind Local means Canadian, however, the reality is that food produced in Washington State is closer to us here in the Kootenays than food produced in Manitoba.

This week, I’ve asked a question of Safeway, to see what their delivery protocol is for food such as apples from Creston to the store in Castlegar.

Can you tell me what the process of delivery to a store in Castlegar is for say apples from Creston? Are the apples picked up at the farm by a truck and delivered straight to Castlegar, or does it get shipped to a warehouse first, say in Calgary or Vancouver?

The premise in my mind is that food labelling in store leads you to believe that it is from Creston (just 150km away), but the reality may be that it has travelled many thousand kilometres to get to the store where it is bought.

A couple of days later I received this answer…

To answer your question, goods are delivered to our warehouses in Calgary and Vancouver and then distributed to the individual stores. Please let me know if there is anything else that I can assist you with.

Although I’m disappointed, it’s about what I expected with a company of this size – the efficiencies of scale are greater than concerns for minimizing vehicle miles travelled. I don’t blame the drivers or the corporation, it’s not their fault we demand a large selection of perfect produce all year round. The cost benefit analysis has been done by their accountant, and maybe there’s a price of gas where the whole mode of delivery switches, but any solution to one problem throws up many more – so it’s likely that things won’t change in a hurry.

Simply put – the consumer lifestyle we currently enjoy is totally unsustainable when you consider how far away everyday products travel from for us to enjoy and discard the packaging in an instant. The challenge is in finding natural, local alternatives to the essentials we purchase, and weaning ourselves off the unsustainables we consume.

Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

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