Eating local foods focus of August’s Colorado Proud month | CraigDailyPress.com

Eating local foods focus of August’s Colorado Proud month

Lauren Blair

— August's statewide "Colorado Proud" campaign is challenging residents to purchase and eat more foods produced within Colorado.

The campaign, started in 1999, aims to raise consumer awareness on the benefits of buying locally grown and manufactured products, which can be identified year round with Colorado Proud stickers, found on products in stores such as City Market in Craig.

This year’s Colorado Proud month also includes the "Choose Colorado Produce Challenge," a statewide contest seeking photo submissions of people enjoying Colorado produce and offering online local food trivia.

“The produce challenges and trivia will encourage consumers to think about where their produce comes from and understand the many ways they can support the local economy by buying and eating Colorado produce,” said Wendy White, marketing specialist for the Colorado Department of Agriculture, in a release.

Local produce eaters in Craig need look no farther than DeVries farm market, which takes up residence in the old Safeway parking lot every Wednesday from 7 or 8 a.m. until about 3 p.m. through October. Shoppers can also pick up select Craig-grown produce at the farmer's market every Thursday from noon to 6 p.m. through September at Alice Pleasant Park in downtown Craig.

DeVries, hailing from Grand Junction and run by owner Bill and daughter Shauna DeVries, offers a smorgasbord of fruits and vegetables, from Palisade peaches and apricots to Bill's pride and joy, chile peppers, which are roasted fresh on-site.

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"We have acres and acres of chiles," Bill said, who's been bringing his bounty to Craig for at least 46 years. "It's all harvested on Tuesday to where it can be on this truck by Wednesday."

The regional Community Agriculture Alliance, based in Steamboat Springs, is encouraging consumers to get even more local by eating food produced not only in Colorado, but here in the Yampa Valley.

"We live here in this community because it's a beautiful place with these beautiful vistas around us, and to keep that, we need to continue supporting the farmers and ranchers that use the land," said Michele Meyer, local food coordinator for the CAA.

The CAA runs an online marketplace to purchase local food products. The organization is also gearing up to kick off its own local foods marketing and promotion campaign, funded through an $11,000 Colorado Department of Agriculture Grant the CAA received August 1.

Purchasing and eating local foods is important for a number of reasons, including the economic benefits of supporting a local company, Meyer said.

"That money is staying with those local farmers that are part of the community," Meyer said. "I want to see those farmers and ranchers stay here, and the best way to do that is buy their products."

Other reasons for eating local include the environmental and nutritional benefits, Meyer said.

"The nutritional content is there and it tastes better," Meyer said. "It's food that hasn't been sitting on a truck. It was driven maybe three miles or 30 miles."

For more information on Colorado Proud and the Choose Colorado Produce Challenge, see http://www.choosecoloradoblog.com. Produce challenge photos can be uploaded on the site using #choosecolorado.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @LaurenBNews.