From the Tractor
by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
Activity at the five state-operated farmers markets has picked up and the facilities are brimming with shoppers in search of plants, vegetables, food products, crafts and more.
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services operates markets in Asheville, Charlotte, Colfax, Lumberton and Raleigh, and each is unique to the region it serves. In addition, many communities have their own farmers markets featuring the freshest fruits and vegetables available.
Farmers markets are great destinations for people looking to reconnect to the earth, support local farms, or just take in a fun activity with the family.
Interest in locally grown commodities continues to grow. In fact, a recent article in USA Today focused on agritourism and the “eat-local movement.” In that article the writer mentioned the word “locavore,” which I learned was the New American Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year for 2007, and means basically a person who prefers to eat locally grown foods.
I’m all in favor of the eat-local movement. In fact, when I talk to groups across the state, I often mention that everybody can help support North Carolina farmers and North Carolina agriculture by buying locally grown commodities and food products.
I believe it is important to make the connection between the farm and the fork, and shopping at farmers markets is a great way to meet and talk with actual growers about their products.
We all need to have a basic understanding and appreciation of where our food comes from, so we don’t take it for granted. We are blessed in this state and this country with an abundance of food products we grow ourselves. We can thank a farmer for that.
As I mentioned before, the markets are filled with plenty of activity and special events throughout the year, such as the upcoming run of Strawberry Days at the markets. You can find a list of Strawberry Day dates on page 12 of the newspaper, or you can go to www.ncagr.com to find a link to activities at the NCDA&CS markets.
I also want to invite you to attend the Got to be NC Festival in Raleigh June 5-8. This marks the first year of the festival, and I hope its success will lead to many more years of this event. There will be lots of activities to take part in, but one of our main areas of focus will be on the Food Expo, which will showcase the wide variety of products grown or made here in North Carolina. Be sure and make plans to attend.
Hope to see you there!