Many years ago there was a connection between the consumer and the farmer and that connection created a level of trust. Before the days of large national retailers local produce was a way of life and it was likely that you knew the farmer that grew the food that was being sold at your corner grocery store. If you didn’t know him, you knew of him and where he was from.
As retailers grew, so did farms. Instead of selling produce locally the geography of markets expanded, national chains developed distribution centers and produce was shipped further and further away from where it was grown. This expansion created a disconnect between the producer and the consumer despite the fact that the produce was just as healthy and just as good for you.
The Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) is designed to do many things, but one of the most important is to help foster that connection between where the food is grown and the consumer. By being able to trace food back to its place of birth a consumer has a much higher comfort level with that produce and in the consumer’s mind creates that connection back to the land, which is something we should support and embrace as producers.
Of course there are other practical reasons to embrace PTI, the least of which is quickly becoming mandatory when doing business with larger retailers. Being able to trace produce back to the field level is no longer a luxury. It is quickly becoming a requirement to participate in the marketplace. Growers who resist implementing PTI will ultimately find themselves on the outside looking in and will ultimately have difficulty finding outlets for their product. (more…)