Get fresh and help the economy grow

IL Fresh 6Did you know that Illinois:

■ leads the U.S. in processed food sales.

■ is 2nd in the nation in corn and ­soybean production.

■ is 4th in the nation for agricultural exports.

■ is 5th in the nation for ­processed food exports.

■ is 4th in the nation for the ­number of farmers’ markets.

For several years now the Illinois: Where Fresh Is ­campaign has promoted Illinois farmers markets to ­consumers and helped local specialty ­growers market their ­produce. New to the program this year is a Buy Illinois Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Challenge. The challenge ­encourages consumers to dedicate $10 of their ­existing ­grocery purchases to buying Illinois-grown produce. If every household in Illinois participates, the Illinois Department of Agriculture estimates the purchases would generate $47 million dollars a month for local economies.

Television advertising, billboards and social media outlets across the state have begun promoting Illinois: Where Fresh Is, a campaign highlighting Illinois-grown produce at more than 300 par­ticipating locations, including grocery stores, farmers’ markets and farm stands.

Each location is proudly dis­playing the Illinois: Where Fresh Is ­banner near its Illinois-grown fruits and ­vegetables section to ­encourage consumers to buy local. This is the second year of the ­program. Several of last year’s participants saw up to a 50 percent increase in sales due to their participation.

You can find a farmers market near you by going to www.agr.state.il.us/wherefreshis/. If you are a grower and would like to join the growing membership of the Illinois Specialty Growers Association go to www.specialtygrowers.org.

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