In recognition of the bountiful harvest generated by Arizona’s abundant lettuce industry, Governor Jan Brewer has proclaimed Nov. 11-17 Arizona Leafy Greens Week. The week officially kicks off Arizona’s leafy greens season, which will also be promoted in a partnership with Bashas’ Family of Stores – the family-owned grocer that operates Food City, AJ’s Fine Foods, and both Bashas’ and Bashas’ Diné supermarkets.
“This is an ideal time to reflect on the fertile ground that Arizona offers, the increased focus on healthy eating, the continued demand for local leafy greens, and the safe practices that help this industry thrive in Arizona,” said Arizona Leafy Greens Food Safety Committee Chair C.R. Waters.
As the top producer of leafy greens during the winter months, Arizona’s leafy greens industry employs more than 20,000 and generates an estimated $1 billion in financial impacts to the state’s economy. Nearly 90 percent of the leafy greens lettuce consumed in the United States and Canada between the months of November through March is generated from Arizona.
“As Arizona’s hometown grocer, we have a vested interest in sourcing food, products and services locally,” said Bashas’ VP of Operations Edward (“Trey”) Basha. “We’re always looking for ways to celebrate and promote what’s available right here in our own backyard. Locally-grown leafy greens are delivered within four hours or less from the farm to our distribution center, and in most cases picked only days before arriving in our stores.”
Arizona Leafy Greens graphics will be displayed throughout the grocer’s more than 120 stores in the state, and through recipes and promotions announced on the Arizona Leafy Greens Facebook site.
“This is how you create a diverse and sustainable economy: You buy Arizona products from an Arizona grocer,” said Kimber Lanning, founder and executive director of Local First Arizona. “Your money is recirculated immeasurably in your community when you choose to do that.”
Members of the Arizona Leafy Greens Food Safety Committee, a volunteer consortium comprised of 96 percent of Arizona’s shippers and growers, work collaboratively to ensure uniform safe food handling practices are employed throughout the industry. The group represents various leafy greens products grown in Arizona, demonstrating their commitment to maintain safety of lettuces grown in Arizona from field to fork.
The members of Arizona Leafy Greens agree to a rigorous set of standards and practices. Shippers and growers are subject to regular inspections by USDA certified auditors. The Arizona Leafy Greens Food Safety Committee can impose sanctions on those who are out of compliance.
“It’s important to protect this industry not only because of what it contributes to Arizona’s economy, but because it’s what we’re feeding our own families,” Waters said.
More information is available at www.arizonaleafygreens.org.
- What’s in Season During an Arizona Summer? (fillyourplate.org)
- Most Americans Are Confident About Safety of U.s. Food Supply (fillyourplate.org)