Ten years of Colorado Proud

In 1999, the Colorado Department of Agriculture introduced the Colorado Proud Program, an initiative focused on furthering local products. It's rare that a government program is way ahead of the curve (especially when it applies to food), but that's exactly what this program was.

Colorado Proud had three goals when it started: 1) To promote Colorado food and agricultural products, 2) to make it easier for consumers to identify and purchase Colorado products by labeling them with the Colorado Proud logo (pictured above) and 3) to raise consumer awareness of the benefits of buying locally grown, processed and manufactured products.

The growth is stunning. In 1999, there were 65 members involved; now there are over 1,100 growers, processors, restaurants, retailers and associations. The ag department reports that agribusinesses contribute nearly $16 billion annually to the state economy and provide more than 105,000 jobs.

"Since the program's inception, consumer awareness of Colorado Proud has increased. Consumer interest in buying locally has also increased rapidly, especially over the last couple of years. Consumers are looking for, and buying, Colorado food products," says Wendy Lee White, marketing specialist for the department.

Those last couple of years are when Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma and a plethora of other stories made local the new organic. And now, according to a 2008 survey, 77 percent of Coloradans purchase at least some Colorado food products. More important, nearly 92 percent of Coloradans would buy more Colorado grown and produced products if they were available and identified as being from Colorado.

For all of this, Governor Ritter has declared August Colorado Proud Month. So go do your stately duties and buy a box of peaches.

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