As of today, the new COOL (Country-of-Origin Labeling) law goes into effect. Basically this means that any fresh produce sold in the US must have a label declaring what country it’s from. The government is giving growers until spring before beginning to fine them, but you should at least begin to see the new labels at stores. More details about the law and its implementation can be found here.
And that’s great. I think it will promote consumer awareness and help alleviate some of the worries of food scares and give us a little more information about where our products come from. But I want more. I was thinking that I want to know when my organic radishes are from the farmer two miles away and when they’re from Texas. I want to know where my veggies have been shipped before they came to me, and where they might have stopped in transit, and how long it took them to come. Ripeness is an issue. Health is an issue. Environmental impact is an issue. I want to track that.
I propose the Tracking and Management System. I want to know where my stuff went, where it came from – including a little blurb about the farmer – and how long it took to get there. I want to know details of its shipment, including how far it travelled and at what environmental cost. Lastly, I want to know the conditions of its transport – was it sent in a refrigerated box? Was it overheated? Unintentionally frozen? I know they’re doing this sort of tracking now with wine, and I know for more commodity items, it’s probably less fiscally feasible. But still, I want it – and I think it’s something other consumers, even at a more speciality store level which would provide this kind of information, would want it.