Governor Martin O’Malley and First Lady Katie O’Malley today hosted the fifth annual Buy Local Cookout at Government House and officially kicked-off Maryland’s Buy Local Challenge Week, which encourages Marylanders to incorporate at least one locally grown, produced or harvested product into their meals each day. Governor O’Malley designated July 21-29 as “Buy Local Challenge Week” to raise awareness about the benefits of local farms and food.

The Maryland’s Best Program which is run by the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Office of Marketing is in it’s 11th year promoting Maryland Agricultural Products. The goal of the program is to encourage consumers to buy locally produced/grown products in the Maryland and DC areas through advertising and marketing promotions. We also work closely with grocery retailers, restaurants, and institutional buyers to help them source locally and show them the benefits of carrying locally grown and produced food. In 2012, 78% of Marylanders said they would prefer to purchase and consume fruits and vegetables identified as having been grown in Maryland (Conducted by the University of Baltimore’s Schaefer Center). Our goal is to continue to increase consumer preference towards local and help to identify local products so that they may be easily sought after. We also look to continue and increase our partnership with restaurant and retailer buyers, so that they are aware of the great local options in Maryland when sourcing ingredients and food. This was our primary purpose for helping to sponsor this years Chefs Go Fresh tour. Another event which we put on to help restaurants and grocery retail buyers connect with local producers is our Buyer-Grower Event which is held every January in Annapolis. In addition we continue to build upon our web site, where consumers are able to search for locally produced agriculture products.

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