It's been a crazy couple of days since the results of our latest presidential election have been revealed. No matter where you stand on the issue, it's clear our country is deeply divided. And people from all sides are struggling with feelings of fear, anxiety, and powerlessness. It's hard to know where to go from here. But one way we can all come together and reclaim our power is to become conscious consumers. It's important to know where the products you buy come from, and who makes them. That's why I'm excited to partner with New York State Grown and Certified, a new labeling program from Empire State Development that aims to educate consumers and promote local agriculture. When you buy local produce, you invest in local economy, strengthening the connection between rural farmers and the customers they serve. Plus, local food food is fresher and has less distance to travel, reducing your carbon footprint. When you see products with the New York State Grown & Certified seal, you know it comes from a local New York state farm with safe and environmentally responsible practices. I recently got to visit Minkus Family Farms in upstate New York where I learned more about how our food is grown. Keep reading for lots more pics, and a full tour of the farm. Plus, I'll show you what a warehouse full of 20 million pounds of onions looks like!
Rick Minkus has worked in the farming industry for decades, and now it's a family affair. In 1993, he bought a 60-acre farm which has now expanded to 1500 acres and is run by Rick, his wife, children, extended family and staff. They grow red and yellow onions, soybeans, corn, wheat, grass, and salad greens in an area known as the Black Dirt Region. Located in southern Orange County, New York, the soil here is extremely fertile as it originates from an ancient glacial lake bed and contains 75-80% organic matter. Early Polish settlers transformed the swampy region into arable farm land and began growing pungent, highly-prized black dirt onions.
New York State Grown & Certified is a voluntary labeling program for New York State farms to ensure they are using farm-safe practices with audits that verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packaged and handled in a manner that minimizes the risks of microbial food safety hazards. To become certified, farms must be inspected to ensure they meet the highest standards of safe food handling and environmental stewardship. This includes practicing crop rotation to maintain soil health.
At Minkus Family Farms, the onion packing facilities operate year round, packaging thousands of pounds of onions each week for sale to grocery stores and other food retailers like Chipotle. To minimize energy consumption, the facilities are lit with a combination of skylights and LED lighting while industrial-powered fans reduce the need for air-conditioning. They've also installed solar panels on their newest facilities to reduce their carbon footprint.
I had a great time touring Minkus Family Farms, and loved learning more about our food system. Get educated, find out where your food comes from, and invest in local community. Look for the New York State Grown & Certified labels in stores and farmers markets starting in the spring of 2017.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Empire State Development . The opinions and text are all mine.