BALTIMORE (WJZ) — When you see a sign in the grocery store and it says “local produce,” does that mean it’s grown in Maryland?
Suzanne Collins reports the answer is no, but that’s about to change.
At Papa John’s farm in Anne Arundel County, there are chores even on a snowy day…like maintaining the greenhouses.
The Schillingers, who own the farm, have been frustrated in recent years when they see signs in the grocery that say “local produce” and they know it isn’t Maryland grown.
“I mean, `local’ could be Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina–it could be brought in anywhere,” said John Schillinger.
But this spring, there will be new state regulations requiring stores or produce stands who post a sign saying “local” must say in what state the produce was grown.
“Consumers do care. They want to see their dollars are spent in the local economy,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance.
This began when Hance went in a Maryland supermarket and saw a sign saying the strawberries were local. When he examined the package, however, he noticed they were from California.
“I learned that some of the major chains considered anything grown in the U.S. local,” he said.
A survey done by the University of Baltimore finds 78 percent of Marylanders are more likely to buy produce grown by a Maryland farmer.
Local farmers hope this new requirement will help them.
“Once they see that the stuff they thought was local isn’t really local, they’ll say, `Hey, I’ll go buy from the local guy,’” said Nat Pumphrey.
Public commments are being taken by the Department of Agriculture until Jan. 28.
The new regulations will also apply to seafood products.