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Oregon Grown: Organic, local make mark

Not surprisingly, organics are on the rise in Oregon.

Caruso Produce is expanding its organic program, and has seen the most success with apples, bananas, melons, and grapes.

“We sold more organic grapes this year,” said Sam J. Caruso, president of Caruso Produce, Inc. in Portland. “Quality is better than ever, very close to conventional.”

While Paul Kern, sales manager with Botsford & Goodfellow, Inc. in Portland, has seen growth in organics, he says locally grown commodities still reign supreme.

“Oregon consumers are staunchly loyal to their local products,” he said, explaining that “buy local” is not a catchphrase, but a way of life. “I’m told our region is the envy of the nation because of our local consumer following.”

As the local movement continues to gain momentum, community farmers markets across the state are booming.

“These markets are very popular in Oregon,” said Caruso, and serve as a vital link and “primary outlet for many small farmers to survive in our state.”

With more than 160 farmers markets, the Beaver State ranks 15th in the nation and has climbed to second nationally in farm-direct sales per customer, according to the Oregon Farmers Markets Association.

Each year, farmers markets contribute an estimated $50 million to statewide farm sales.

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