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Special programs at farmers’ markets match nutritious food with people in need

Posted: Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Nearly nine out of ten American consumers surveyed say nutrition is very important to them personally while more than seven out of ten say they are very careful to select foods that achieve a healthy diet. What a great time for farmers' markets to open throughout Oregon this spring. Once again, farmers' markets will offer seasonal food that is fresh, locally-grown, and nutritious. By the time a greater array of fresh fruits and vegetables are available, special nutrition programs will once again be underway to help bring Oregonians in need together with healthy food at farmers' markets.

"If you walk into any farmers' market, it’s a cornucopia of nutrition," says Laura Barton, trade manager with the Oregon Department of Agriculture(ODA). "Farmers' markets offer fresh fruits and vegetables just packed full of nutrients. Other farm direct products that offer lots of nutritional value include such items as eggs and cheese. You can feel good about the products you buy at farmers' markets."

A survey conducted by the American Dietetic Association in 2011 showed that nearly half of the respondents had increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables over the past five years with berries accounting for the biggest increase.

Cost remains a key factor in food choice decisions, but assistance is once again available to help economically disadvantaged individuals and families access fresh, local foods at farmers’ markets and farmstands in 2013.

Over the next several weeks, most of Oregon's nearly 120 farmers' markets will be open. Many of those markets will begin offering fresh fruits and vegetables to low income, nutritionally-needy families and elderly citizens as part of the Oregon Farm Direct Nutrition Program (FDNP) administered by the state. The ODA specifically works with the vendors– the growers themselves– to ensure their participation in the program, which brings more than a million dollars into the hands of Oregon farmers each year.

"Many farmers are delighted to participate in the program because it makes them feel really good that these consumers are able to buy their product and get much needed nutrition," says Barton.

For the complete article see the 05-08-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 05-08-2013 paper.

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