Greens Grown at Your Supermarket is Food as Local as it Gets

Washington State grocery stores now feature in-store vertical farms.

Dec 29, 2019

Nothing beats the flavor of just picked vegetables. If you have your own garden or greenhouse, you have access to this type of freshness but if you usually purchase your produce from a supermarket, your produce could already be several days away from the field.

Now, QFC shoppers can now purchase bunches of kale. Cilantro, crystal lettuce, and parsley where they are grown. This produce is so crisp and tasty because it is still alive when customers buy it according to The Seattle Times. That's because the grocery chain's parent company Kroger has partnered with Infarm – a German vertical  farms startup — to hydroponically grow produce in two of their stores.

The chain plans to expand to 15 more QFC's in the Pacific Northwest by April 2020. Kroger decided to test this area because, "the market itself is fun and innovative," Kelli McGannon, Kroger’s QFC representative told The Seattle Times. “It’s also a place where  residents want access to fresh, affordable produce and they’re concerned about the environment.”

The fresh produce market is changing across the US because people are demanding organic and locally grown produce and Kroger is changing too. In November, Kroger rebranded and changed its slogan to “Fresh for everyone."

Vertical farming is not new to the market and companies have been delivering farm fresh sustainable produce in several locations in the US including Plenty in San Francisco and AreoFarms who are headquartered in Newark, New Jersey, but this is the first time that Infarm has partnered with a US company.

Infarm's slogan is 100 percent local and their methods can be replicated anywhere. Including at QFC. The company promises sustainable agriculture that is grown with less water, less energy, and pesticide free.

Infarm sells almost 30 types of herbs and greens, produce that takes up less space. “Vertical is much more interested in volume,” said Colleen Donovan, executive director of the Washington State Farmers Market Association. “The farmers we work with are generally operating on a much smaller scale.

Small farmers are very much committed to the local farmland, to enriching the natural resources, to working in sync with their own ecological areas.”

Kroger has its own brand or organic produce and since Infarm's products are not technically organic, there is room in the market for both. But McGannon expects the new produce line to be very popular with QFC's customers. . “They want a one-stop shop for their fresh produce,” she said. “It really is the closest access to fresh-grown produce as you can get.”

Offering locally grown sustainable produce is much more healthy than standard supermarket fare which loses its nutritional value on the long trip from farm to market according to ARROWQUIP.  Store grown produce will also be more environmental than trucking food across the country. Kroger is on the right track to bringing fresh greens for everyone.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.