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2014 PRESS RELEASES

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April 3, 2014
OPPORTUNITIES TO FIND FRESH, LOCAL FOODS GROW WITH THE ARRIVAL OF SPRING

~Look for Virginia Grown products in stores, farmers’ markets and food festivals across the state~
Contact: Sarah Pennington, 804.786.1904

The weather is warmer, the birds are chirping and the days are getting longer. For many Virginians, the start of spring signals the increasing availability of fresh, local agricultural products. Virginia’s agricultural production is one of the most diverse in the nation. Many Virginia commodities and products rank in the top 15 among all U.S. states. 

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) encourages Virginians to consider buying local for upcoming spring meals and celebrations. Whether your tradition calls for ham, lamb, turkey, beef or seafood, you’ll find it all raised, caught or cured right here in Virginia. For many, few things say traditional Easter dinner better than spiral sliced ham, sweet potato casserole and a salad of fresh greens with herb-infused dressing. For Passover, consider preparing roasted leg of lamb with carrots and honey mint sauce. Try the delicious lemon roasted asparagus recipe below from the Virginia Grown website. The diversity of Virginia’s agricultural products offers a locally sourced menu for almost every taste.

As the demand for Virginia products has increased, so has the number of farmers’ markets. Today, there are more than 240 farmers’ markets statewide—that’s a 180 percent increase in markets since 2006. Some are year-round, while others open in April or May for seasonal business. Virginians can find farmers’ markets in rural and urban communities throughout the Commonwealth. VDACS maintains a list of Virginia farmers’ markets by region on the VirginiaGrown.com.

Love a celebration? Virginians can also sample local cuisine at the state’s wide variety of food festivals. There are upcoming events in honor of the Commonwealth’s strawberries, tomatoes, pork, peanuts, watermelon, wine and more. VDACS provides a month-by-month online listing of food festivals taking place across the state. If an organization has a 2014 Virginia food festival to include, send the details to webmaster@vdacs.virginia.gov. There is no charge for the listing.

How can you be sure you’re buying Virginia Grown products? When you buy directly from the farmer or on the farm, the guarantee is implicit. At stores, look for Virginia Grown and Locally Grown signs, banners, labels or price cards. If you don’t see them, ask. And if the store doesn’t carry local products, tell the manager that it is important to you to buy local. Not many customers have to express a preference for local products before stores start carrying them.

Mark your calendars for Virginia’s food festivals, find your local farmers’ markets and get your recipes ready. The start of spring means fresh-from-the-vine local food is not far away.

LEMON ROASTED ASPARAGUS
By: Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist
Cheesecake Farms, Summerduck, Va.
Serves 2-4
High heat and a few minutes in the oven are all that's required for great asparagus taste.
Pan size doesn't matter but an 11x15 inch pan with sides no taller than 1 inch works well.

1 pound fresh asparagus spears
2 to 3 tablespoons melted butter, olive oil or a combination of both

Zest and juice from 1 lemon (no white pith)
Kosher salt (optional)

Position oven rack so asparagus will roast in center.  Preheat to 475 degrees.
Coat pan with baking spray.  Cut asparagus so spears are even and all the same length.  Toss with butter or oil.  Arrange coated spears in a single layer in prepared pan.  Roast 5 minutes.  Turn spears over (a pan cake turner works well) and roast until tender - about 5 minutes more according to thickness.  Arrange roasted asparagus on serving platter.  Sprinkle with lemon juice, zest and salt (if desired).
 
Karla's tip: Got leftovers?  
Toss cold, roasted asparagus into a salad.  
Purée leftovers spears with some cream and vegetable or chicken broth. Serve hot or cold as a yummy soup.

VDACS posts all of its news releases on Facebook and Twitter. To receive immediate updates, follow us on Twitter @VaAgriculture or like us on facebook.com/VaAgriculture.

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