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Midwest cities keep up with the trend setters

Trendsetting retailers and restaurateurs; active terminal markets and import hubs; growing millennial and ethnic populations; vibrant downtown metros. You might think this list is about East and West Coast cities — but think again.

“Traditionally, the Midwest was seen as late to the party when you’re talking about food trends,” contends Daniel Corsaro, director of sales & marketing at Indianapolis Fruit Company, in Indianapolis, “that’s changing rapidly.”

Trendsetting in seven of the Heartland’s major markets — Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Des Moines, and Minneapolis/St. Paul — begins with plenty of locally grown product and is augmented by area greenhouses and imports to meet the fresh produce demand of retailers, restaurants, top chefs, and ultimately, consumers.

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, Heartland growers have long ago learned how to try to manage their fields against the area’s variable weather, ranging from brutal winters and broiling summers to out-of-nowhere storms and tornadoes.

Traditional Midwest favorites like sweet corn, watermelon, pumpkins, and tomatoes are generally in ample supply — but all can be at the mercy of weather, especially too little or too much precipitation.

Drought certainly damages plants, just as excessive rain and humidity can turn fields into a playground for pests and disease. Any given year, yields can be reduced or an entire crop lost to the consequences of weather.


This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full article.


Matt Ernst writes about farm-related topics and is based near St. Louis, Missouri.