Safe Tomatoes Just a Click Away, Thanks To Michigan MarketmMaker

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A new online program from Michigan MarketMaker makes Michigan tomatoes easy to find. (view larger image)

Despite the recent multistate Salmonella Saintpaul contamination of tomatoes, Michigan consumers can top summer salads and grilled hamburgers with safe, locally grown tomatoes.

Michigan tomatoes were declared safe from contamination by the Food and Drug Administration on June 13 and will come into season in the beginning of July, just in time for Fourth of July cookouts. Thanks to Michigan MarketMaker, a new online program for consumers available from the MSU Product Center, Michigan-grown tomatoes will be easy to find.

“Michigan MarketMaker allows consumers to find local tomato producers who sell at their farm or at farmers’ markets,” said Chris Peterson, MAES scientist and director of the MSU Product Center. “It also allows retailers such as grocery stores and restaurants to find producers who can supply their wholesale needs.”

Michigan MarketMaker is available online at www.mimarketmaker.msu.edu. MarketMaker is a free, online networking program that uses mapping software and an extensive database to spotlight local resources and help sellers find the right markets for their products on the basis of demographics.

Since the contamination was discovered, many retailers and consumers have been concerned, removing all tomatoes from their homes, shelves or menus. Now retailers can check Michigan MarketMaker to find locally grown tomatoes to restock their shelves, and consumers can introduce their favorite tomato dishes back into their kitchens.

George McManus III, manager of the L.H. Piggott & Girls, Inc., Farm Market in Benton Harbor, said consumers are sure to get a fresher product when buying directly from farmers’ or farm markets.

“Consumers can always be more assured of getting a safe product when it comes from close to home,” McManus said. “It is more easily traced back to the producer. It spends less time in storage and shipping. It is fresher.”

Michigan became the eighth state to implement the MarketMaker program when the MSU Product Center introduced the program in January. More than 300,000 business profiles are online, and nearly 5,000 farmer profiles are registered with MarketMaker. Michigan has nearly 37,000 registered business profiles and 210 farmer profiles.

“This situation with contaminated tomatoes is exactly why we introduced Michigan MarketMaker,” Peterson said. “We are building a database of producers, farm markets, wineries and other businesses in our Michigan food supply chain to help consumers make local choices.”

Funding for Michigan MarketMaker was provided by Project GREEEN (Generating Research and Extension to meet Economic and Environmental Needs), Michigan’s plant agriculture research initiative housed at MSU. Other funding partners are the Nowlin chair for consumer-responsive agriculture, Greenstone Farm Credit Services, the Southeast Michigan Food Systems Economic Partnership, the C.S. Mott chair for sustainable food systems, Michigan Food and Farming Systems and the Washtenaw County Agricultural Council. Information partners include MSU Extension, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Michigan Farm Bureau.

 

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