Do you want to be a COOL customer?

Country Of Origin Labeling allows consumers to support U.S.-made food

Purchasing food grown and processed in the United States is a benefit to the U.S. economy. As a consumer, you can know which foods are from the U.S. by using COOL – Country of Origin Labeling. In the U.S., COOL is required for meat, fish and shellfish, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts and ginseng. This mandatory measure was implemented in March 2009 by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service. Food retailers, such as grocery stores and suppliers that meet certain criteria are required to label the foods listed above.

There are a few exemptions to COOL. Food operations such as restaurants, cafeterias, food stand, butcher shops and fish markets do not have to label the country of origin of their foods. Grocery stores that sell less than $230,000 a year also do not need to provide the labeling.

As a consumer, does knowing the country of origin influence your purchase? If given the choice to purchase a food item that was grown or processed in the U.S. or from another country, would you choose the American product? If the U.S. product cost just slightly more would you still purchase the item? Supporting the U.S. food supply is an important economic factor. Money spent on US. products builds our economy by providing income to the grower, processor and retail business.

If you take this support one step further and purchase Michigan-grown food, there is an even more local economic benefit for food producers. Michigan State University Extension is working with communities to develop regional food hubs throughout the state.

As defined by the USDA, a regional food hub is a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand.

As food hubs continue to develop, food retailers will offer more food items that are grown in Michigan and there will be less dependency to purchase food from other counties.

Michigan State University Extension has educators working across Michigan who provide Community Food Systems educational programming and assistance. For more information, you can contact an educator by conducting a search with MSU Extension’s Find an Expert search tool and using the keywords, “Community Food Systems.”

Related Articles