Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Local Sourcing, Global Distribution

I was travelling recently and saw a brand of granola bar with which I was unfamiliar, conveniently placed near the register as an impulse grab, and it worked. For $2.99 (plus whatever sales tax is in Reagan Airport) I was the proud owner of an 18 Rabbits brand granola bar. I knew nothing else about it beyond the orange wrapper, though as the cashier was giving my change, I did see that the bar's name was "Nibble a Sultana".

My amusement came about 2 minutes later when I sat down to try to find the ingredients list and look over the product more.  Apparently I was hungry and suggestible, as the tagline in the black box hooked me in solidly, "Why Not Go All The Way?"

While it's true this bar is more tan 91% organic, sourcing 100% organic ingredients would entail looking outside the state or even the country.  18 Rabbits chooses to work with sustainable farmers in California who graciously provide our nuts, honey, butter and fruit.
 I was immediately amused.  No where else on the product had it indicated anything about being 91% organic that I could discern.  I did know that it was made in California and I was over 2000 miles away in Washington DC.  Before I could even care what it tasted like I was being asked to forgive them for what I, and apparently they too, thought was an incongruous, perhaps even hypocritical participation in the locavore movement in sourcing and producing a product that was then shipped over 2000 miles for helpless air travelers in search of quality nutrition at reasonable prices ($7.50 for 2 slices of ordinary white bread and whatever counts as a vegetarian filling, yowza!).  If this bar is going to be shipped so far to be sold, why not go the extra distance on sourcing ingredients and provide an 100% organic product?

The bar was pretty good, nothing particularly spectacular when I finally did get around to eating it on my return trip through Philadelphia airport (where I didn't see any 18 Rabbits on display).   I've made bars of equal quality, but it was convenient in a nice sealed package when I needed it.

And as I sat down to write this, I was struck by 2 other observations:

  1. The bar is Handmade in San Francisco -- Not sure what that means, but it actually wasn't all that appetizing a thought.
  2. The package design is truly horrible - It show cases the brand name of the product and you have to work at reading anything else about the product, except that its Dairy Free, and of course, only 91% organic.