I've been a long-time shopper at the Hannaford supermarkets here in Maine, and even though they are a chain store (and currently owned by the same company that owns the more southern Food Lion), as a long-time customer, I have been witness to many of the changes they've made over the past few years, from increasing their Nature's Place/organic foods section (they are currently the largest organic foods retailer in the state) to their support of the Local Foods movement.
In fact, in the produce section they have a poster of the State of Maine and on it they list all of the different foods they offer from the different vendors around the state: basil from Olivia's Garden in New Gloucester, apples and apple cider from Randall's Orchard in Standish Maine, sweet corn (in season) from Anderson Farm in Dayton (the same people who operate the farm stand in my town, in fact ;).
But they don't stop there. In the bulk section, they have Grandy Oats granola and in the Nature's Place section they offer Maine Root sodas. In the specialty cheese section, they offer Pineland and State of Maine cheeses. All of the organic beef is from Wolfe's Neck (formerly a Maine company out of Freeport). In the dairy section, they have Smiling Hill Farm milk and Kate's butter, and Oakhurst buys all of the milk it sells from small, local dairy farmers.
Produce, ground beef, dairy, dried beans, BBQ sauce, maple syrup, honey, Whoopie pies, and artisan bread, just to name a few of the things I can remember seeing there.
One would have to be half blind to not find some local food alternative to their favorite food at the Hannaford stores ... and more and more I'm seeing the same "local" products showing up in all of the different Hannaford stores in my area, which means I can get Smiling Hill Farm milk in Portland, Gorham, and Scarborough.
Since I started on this road toward a local diet back in 2006, my first stop was (and my favorite stop ever since) Hannaford.
So, when I read this article today about Hannaford's efforts to save our local dairy farms, I felt a little like a proud Mama.
Hannaford stores are huge, energy sucking beasts and like all grocery stores will not be sustainable in the long-term, but because they do make such an effort to source local and regional food items, I have a feeling they may be a little more resilient than retail food stores whose focus has been on other things.
If our future is going to be more local, Hannaford has a huge headstart on some of the other grocers and retailers in the area, and as a locavore, I appreciate all they do.**
**That said, whenever possible, I will buy straight from the farmer - and with Snell opening its winter store this year, I'm finding it that much more possible to maintain our local diet AND directly support our local farmers ;).