I have gotten into shopping at Wegman's lately. It (Fairfax) is about 20 minutes away from home. So even though it is a bit of a hike, the overall appeal of the store is generally worth it. However, I have been having one big problem. the produce is generally good quality but they have no local produce. Does this change as the summer harvest wears on? The last time I was there, the only asparagus was $2.99/lb and was from Chile. This is the year round asparagus price as far as I know. I asked them a few weeks ago if they had ramps and they said they didn't have any.
I too am a Wegmans devotee (I shop at 7am on Saturdays because crowd avoidance is a big deal for me). The in-season produce is certainly local-ish. The asparagus during April was from New Jersey, the butternut squash in the fall was Virginian. I have noticed that a good deal of the produce and dairy however is from New York state. I suppose since The Wegs is from Rochester or Buffalo (so sorry, always confuse the two) this makes sense for their distribution. What I know for certain is that the bagels on Saturday morning at the Fairfax store are beyond fabulous.
I think many of our local dairy producers can't supply a place as big as Wegmans (a few can, like Blue Ridge), but for truly local cheese and milk, you're best best would be the farmers markets. I mean, Keswick cheese and Clear Springs chocolate milk is worth it, and I don't think they could supply a Weggies. But I definitely could be wrong.
Blue Ridge Restaurant
2340 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20007
I think the theme here is Wegmans certainly makes an honest effort to incorporate local business when it's feasible. I shop at Dulles and I see a lot of local produce and fruit when it is in season. Even brands like Dominion Beer, BBQ from Ashburn, and a lot of upstate Ny brands have been filtered into the store, which I really enjoy. Whole Foods can not mix the elements of price,convenience,quality,like Wegmans can. They do well with the store made items, but everything else in Whole Foods is a rip off IMHO.
Agreed further in the season it gets more local. Ramps really aren't something one farms, they are really a plant that is foraged for as they only grow in certain spots. I think it would be particularly hard for Wegman's to acquire such things. You would be better off getting ramps at farmers markets that have vendors from outlying areas in VA and WV who can send someone out with a ramp hoe to certain spots they know of that normally grow. Although it is a bit too late now in the season anyway.
the other thing I should mention is that unlike Whole Foods, Wegman's doesn't limit its business with farmers to those that can supply more than one store with produce. They can actually do business with the smaller (for the supply amount at least) farmers to supply one store.
I've actually never had a problem in the later spring/summer buying local produce. I find their produce FAR more 'local' than whole foods, which touts North Carolina produce as local. They have it usually at the very front of the produce section with a sign that has the name of the farm.
Much 'local' asparagus is very expensive so they might be weary of that. At the farmers market, it was 4.99/lb (and that same day at Whole Foods it was 3.99 but from Mexico).