I really liked this piece from The Post about why Qualia Coffee, a local coffee roaster, isn’t allowed to sell at some farmers’ markets in the DC area. The reason? Because, although Qualia roasts the coffee locally, the beans themselves aren’t locally sourced (literally, they can’t be grown in this climate).
I think this is a huge issue in the small business community – what does or does not constitutes a “local” product. Now, I understand why FreshFarm Markets has strict rules about local producers – ever been to a farmers’ market selling bananas? But, to me, Qualia is different because you can’t source coffee beans locally. I don’t want to go to a farmers’ market and buy California tomatoes that are being passed off as local tomatoes. But Qualia has no choice but to source beans from tropical climates (as do all coffee roasters). The roasting process transforms a raw material into a unique product, which, in my mind, qualifies them as a local food producer. I’d feel the same way about a local chocolate maker who buys cacao beans from tropical climates (again, because they only grow in tropical climates), and then roasts and process them into a one-of-a-kind chocolate product.
What do you think? What makes something “local?” What kinds of producers do your farmers’ markets allow?