The first signs of eating ‘local’ getting co-opted

And so it begins.  As it did with organics, large-scale food processing companies have started to co-opt the notion of eating local.  Which, you know, means supporting small farms, knowing where and when your food comes from, knowing the farmer who grew your produce and raised your beef, etc. 

But Frito Lay potato chips, a subsidiary of Pepsi Co., has launched a new advertising campaign to position themselves as everyone’s “local” potato chip. 

Frito-Lay is one of several big companies that, along with some large-scale farming concerns, are embracing a broad interpretation of what eating locally means. This mission creep has the original locavores choking on their yerba mate. But food executives who measure marketing budgets in the millions say they are mining the concept because consumers care more than ever about where their food comes from.

“Local for us has two appeals,” said Aurora Gonzalez, director of public relations for Frito-Lay North America, which is owned by PepsiCo. “We are interested in quality and quickness because we want consumers to get the freshest product possible, but we have a fairly significant sustainability program, and local is part of that. We want to do business more efficiently, but do it in a more environmentally conscious way.”

The original “eat local” movement, an amalgam of food and environmental politics, came of age a decade or so before the term locavore was coined in 2005.

You’ll excuse me if I don’t go throw up in my mouth for a second.  Look, I’m all for for large companies to market their product in whatever manner they see fit, but as consumers don’t for one second be fooled into thinking that Frito-Lay is local.  They’re not.  And it’s laughable that they would be so audacious to even attempt a marketing campaign based on that notion. 

The locavore philosophy eschews large farming operations in favor of small farm community; it stands against bland,  mass-produced foods shipped across the country, the use of chemicals and certain agricultural practices, like raising animals in small, confined areas.

It is, in essence, what the organic movement was intended to be before that was co-opted by large corporations. 

Two quotes are telling in the NY Times article:

1. “The local foods movement is about an ethic of food that values reviving small scale, ecological, place-based, and relationship-based food systems,” Ms. [Jessica] Prentice [inventor of the term locavore] said. “Large corporations peddling junk food are the exact opposite of what this is about.”

2. “The ingenuity of the food manufacturers and marketers never ceases to amaze me,” said Michael Pollen, the author of “In Defense of Food” and a contributor to The New York Times Magazine. “They can turn any critique into a new way to sell food. You’ve got to hand it to them.”

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