Food Marketers Try "Local-washing"

"The ingenuity of the food manufacturers and marketers never ceases to amaze me," remarked author Michael Pollan. "They can turn any critique into a new way to sell food." Marketers are appropriating language from the "eat local" or "locavore" movement, which encourages support for small farms, sustainable practices and better treatment of animals. Now, "several big companies" and "large-scale farming concerns are embracing a broad," or nearly meaningless, "interpretation of what eating locally means." Frito-Lay, a junk food company owned by PepsiCo, is running ads that "highlight farmers who grow some of the two billion pounds of starchy chipping potatoes the Frito-Lay company uses each year." Frito-Lay "vice president for potato chip marketing" Dave Skena said the company is "celebrating the notion of community." ConAgra "recently began a marketing campaign to highlight its Hunt's canned tomatoes, most of which are grown within 120 miles of its Oakdale, Calif., processing plant. Of course, the tomatoes would be local only to people in the area." Foster Farms, "a $1 billion company that is the largest producer of poultry products on the West Coast, markets its fresh chicken and turkey as 'locally grown' because it contracts with hundreds of local growers in the states where it operates."


"Local-Washing" is no surprise in this age of marketing. But what is "Local"? I'm curious to know how people define it (both food and non-food categories).