MDA puts accent on ‘fresh,’ ‘local’ (Editorial)

(May 19, 2015) It’s sometimes the smallest things that can make a big difference.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture hopes that’s the case with tweaks to its Maryland’s Best logo.
The department announced the addition of the words “Fresh” and “Local” to the logo for farmers to integrate into their packaging and promotional materials with the hope that they further capitalize on the seemingly insatiable demand for locally grown food.
The state’s branding program’s seal with a Black Eyed Susan in front of an orange-yellow sun largely remains the same.
According to MDA, preliminary results of an ongoing internal evaluation of the Maryland’s Best program show 86 percent of in-state consumers surveyed are more likely to buy food labeled with the Maryland’s Best logo.
Previous research by MDA has indicated that 78 percent of Marylanders are more likely to buy produce when it is clearly labeled as having been grown in the state.
Farmers and others throughout the food distribution chain interested in using the logo are invited to contact MDA’s Marketing office at 410-841-5779.
“We are stepping up our work with this program to emphasize to consumers that agricultural products labeled with ‘Maryland’s Best’ are local,” said MDA Secretary Joe Bartenfelder in a recent news release. “Every dollar spent on local agricultural products contributes to the economic health of the community, keeps our land in farming, and helps to support a growing future for Maryland agriculture.”
The addition seemed at first redundant: Food grown in Maryland and sold there would have to be local, right? But for a shopper rushing through the grocery store aisles or a store produce manager considering what’s going to help move inventory the quickest, it could be a difference-maker.
And the “revamped” logo reminds farmers going into their busiest part of the year, not to take it for granted that their customers will make the “‘Maryland’ equals ‘Local’” connectionunless it’s spelled out for them.
Even then, with the words big and bold across the box, some buyers may still ask, “Is this local?”
Hey, at least you tried.