BALTIMORE (WJZ)—It’s fresher, tastes better and sometimes even costs less. But getting locally grown food to your table doesn’t always come through a farmers’ market or produce stand.

Alex DeMetrick reports there’s another route most of us never see or taste.

Maryland crab soup’s on…So are Maryland pates and cheese.

If it can be grown, raised and turned into something to eat or drink in Maryland, it finds its way to a once a year gathering in Annapolis.

“To make sure we make a good connection between our producers in Maryland and the buyers,” said Buddy Hance, Secretary, Maryland Department of Agriculture.

“We get a lot of new exposure to chefs and retailers,” said Tracy Kirkman, Chapel’s Country Creamery.

People are in the market for what their customers are looking for. That’s everything from local ice cream to specialty peanut butters made from Maryland peanuts. Who knew?

“Students on campus are always looking for local, and they push that fact, so it’s great for us to see what’s out here,” said John Gray, University of Maryland chef.

The event has grown to keep pace with the demand for locally grown food.

“Even in the downturn economy we’ve seen extended growth at the buy local movement that’s been going on in Maryland and the country,” Hance said.

And the sales pitch to buyers couldn’t be simpler:

“We’re farmers and we’re offering a pure product,” one farmer said.

And making it one stop shopping  helps spread those products to the rest of us.

When the Department of Agriculture first hosted this event four years ago, fewer than 30 people participated. This year more than 450 growers and buyers attended.


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