Gov. Martin O'Malley says he designated Buy Local Challenge Week in Maryland beginning Saturday to raise awareness about the benefits of local farms and food so the use of fresh, local food products among consumers becomes more familiar and more frequent.
The governor and first lady Katie O'Malley were joined by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for the annual Buy Local cookout on the front lawn of Government House in Annapolis, officially kicking off Maryland's Buy Local Challenge week.
The cookout featured recipes from 17 teams of local farmers and chefs from across Maryland showcasing the diversity of local products available in Maryland, O'Malley said.
"Katie and I challenge all Maryland residents, institutions and organizations to expand their purchases of locally grown products for their favorite dishes and to try some new ones," O'Malley said in a statement. "Buying locally preserves farmland, protects the environment, keeps our money in Maryland while creating and saving jobs and provides fresh, nutritious food for a healthy diet."
Buddy Hance, Maryland's secretary of agriculture, says there are currently more than 130 farmers' markets in Maryland and grocery stores are tapping into the demand for local farm and seafood products while saving transportation costs to bring nutritious, great-tasting food to the state.