CHARLESTON, W.Va. --In the age of food documentaries and organic ingredients, no trend has taken over faster than buying local.
According to the National Restaurant Association, the No. 2 menu trend for 2013 is locally-grown produce, second only to locally sourced meats and seafood.
In addition to restaurateurs, farmers and growers in West Virginia are sowing their own seeds in the nationwide demand for local, less-processed foods. Buddy Davidson with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture said there's evidence from around the state that going local is going mainstream, from the success of the weekly summertime farmer's market at the Capitol Complex to farmer's markets in Logan County.
"Consumers are turning more and more to fresh, local produce for a variety of reasons, including freshness, taste, nutrition and the ability to buy heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables that were bred for flavor and consistency, not necessarily for appearance or shelf life," Davidson said.
Eateries like the Bluegrass Kitchen, Tricky Fish and Frutcake on Charleston East End have made using local ingredients popular.
On Jan. 26, The Farm Opportunities Day was held in Glenville, a daylong event designed to help farmers maximize their business potential through several training courses taught by local and state experts. The event was hosted by West Virginia University Extension Service, Glenville State College, the WVU Extension Small Farms Center and the West Virginia Small Business Development Center.
Jean Smith, Director of Marketing and Development for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, says there is a huge farm-to-school initiative in the state. From Feb. 27 to March 2, WVU Extension Service Small Farms Center will host the West Virginia Small Farms Conference in Morgantown. Held at the Waterfront Place Hotel, the gathering of stakeholders in the future of local food and sustainable farming "offers many types of trainings, production information and updates, and the opportunity to network and gather new ideas," according to the center's website.
In addition to the training, the conference will feature the "Winter Blues Farmers Market" hosted by the West Virginia Farmers Market Association. Last year's market grossed $18,850 for the participating vendors during the three-hour showing.
Reach Shelly Davidov at shel...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-7936.