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Select a Taste of Michigan: Local Foods Marketing Program Launches in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS – The Michigan Integrated Foods and Farming Systems (MIFFS) announces the launch of “Select A Taste of Michigan”, a consumer education program directed at creating additional demand for Michigan locally grown and organic products. The launch is in conjunction with the “Local Connections” Conference and will be held at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids on Friday, March 28th at 9:00 AM.

The Select Michigan initiative is funded by federal grants and a strong innovative partnership between MIFFS, the Michigan Department of Agriculture(MDA), CDS Fund of Cooperative Development Services, Grand Rapids retailers, Michigan commodity groups, manufactures and producers, the Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council, MSU Extension Service and local units of government.

Thomas Guthrie, MIFFS Executive Director explains, “This program builds on the existing and successful “Select Michigan” program. We are introducing two new labels “Select Michigan Fresh” and “Select Michigan Organic”. This brand identification effort is aimed at helping consumers identify products that are grown or processed in the state and increasing purchases to boost grower income.”

Focus groups that were conducted in 2002 confirmed an EPIC-MIRA survey of 2000, which reported 75% of consumers would be more likely to buy a food product if they knew it was either grown or processed in Michigan. However the majority of those surveyed indicated it was difficult to identify a Michigan product because they were not labeled at the retail level.

“The networking that this partnership is creating is going to be a really big asset to our farm, says Gary Blonde of Heritage Farms, Litchfield. MIFFS is creating a local source and awareness for Michigan products and helping consumers build trust in the growers who provide it”.

Select a Taste of Michigan is a broad based community initiative. Current retail partners participating in the Grand Rapids pilot include: Meijer, Spartan Stores, D& W Food Stores, Harvest Health and G.B. Russo. Throughout the harvest season, consumers can look for educational posters, tasting demos, and celebrity chef demonstrations focusing on Michigan fresh and processed foods.

For more information, contact:
Kristine Fedewa, Project Manager
Michigan Integrated Food & Farming Systems
Phone: 517.668.2028 or 517.432-0712
E-mail: tlc-clofedewa@acd.net

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