Ag secretary encourages Kansans to eat more locally grown foods
Acting Secretary of Agriculture Josh Svaty is challenging Kansans to add more locally grown foods to their menus during August in support of Kansas Farmers' Market Month.
"Many Kansas communities feature farmers' markets where freshly picked fruits and vegetables are available at competitive prices," Svaty said. "If your family hasn't visited the farmers' market in your community, I encourage you to do so soon."
Svaty's challenge comes on the heels of Governor Mark Parkinson signing a proclamation declaring August Kansas Farmers' Market Month and August 2 to 8 Kansas Farmers' Market Week. In the proclamations, Parkinson noted that the markets serve as an integral link between urban, suburban and rural communities and they give farmers and consumers an opportunity to interact.
Farmers' markets also are an important venue for many of Kansas' small- and medium-sized farming operations. By selling directly to the consumer, farmers can realize a higher return for their products than if they were working through a wholesale market. Plus, local farmers spend their money with local merchants, so that money stays where it benefits everyone and helps build a stronger local economy.
Kansas farmers' markets continue to grow more popular every year. In 1987, there were only 26 markets statewide. That number grew to 81 by 2009 as a result of steadily increasing consumer interest in fresh farm products.
"The fruits and vegetables available at Kansas farmers' markets typically are harvested within 24 hours of market day, and you just can't beat that for freshness and flavor," Svaty said. "If you've always been curious to try seasonal produce but are unsure how to prepare it, ask the vendor for suggestions."
Another option, Svaty said, are the seasonal recipes available through the "Savor the Season" pilot program under way at 10 of the state's farmers' markets and online at www.ksfarmersmarkets.com. The site also includes a list of all markets operating in Kansas.