TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is teaming up with Pilgrim’s Pride, a North Florida poultry processor, to let Florida consumers know they can choose chicken that is fresh and local, produced right here in the Sunshine State. Shoppers at Sam’s Clubs across Florida can now look for the colorful “Fresh from Florida” logo and be assured that the chicken they are buying is the freshest they can get.
“The logo will help Floridians easily identify a safe, wholesome, fresh Florida product,” Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson said. “When shoppers see the logo, they’ll know they’ve found a product they can trust.”
“Fresh from Florida” chicken is chicken of the highest quality, Bronson said. Raised antibiotic-free on an all-vegetable diet, it is processed in a state-of-the-art facility in Live Oak that features advanced air-chilling technology to ensure quality and freshness. Poultry producers and processors in Florida must comply with strict food-safety regulations.
Poultry producers in North Florida also meet rigorous environmental standards. The Suwannee River Partnership is a coalition of state, federal, and regional agencies, local governments, and private industry representatives working together to reduce nitrate levels in the waters of the Suwannee River Basin. Since 1999, when the partnership began, 99 percent of poultry farmers in the Suwannee watershed have agreed to use “best management practices.” These farming techniques significantly reduce the amount of animal waste and other pollutants that enter water resources.
Agricultural best management practices help protect the environment, and so does buying food that is produced closer to home. Estimates indicate that the average fresh food item travels about 1,500 miles from farm to table, a costly trip in terms of air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions. Eating locally reduces those “food miles” and your carbon footprint.
Another benefit of eating food grown closer to home is that it supports the local economy, an important consideration during these difficult times. Poultry production and processing are economic mainstays for rural North Florida, where over 80 percent of the state’s chicken production takes place. In Suwannee, Lafayette, and Madison counties, the poultry industry has an overall economic impact of $347 million annually. It supports nearly 100 farms and creates 3,700 jobs.
“Choosing ‘Fresh from Florida’ chicken helps ensure those jobs will be here to stay,” Bronson said.
“Fresh from Florida” chicken is already available at Florida Sam’s Clubs, where it is being featured in in-store video promotions. Other retailers are expected to join the program in the upcoming months.
Visit www.florida-agriculture.com/recipes/poultry/index.htm for great recipes featuring “Fresh from Florida” chicken including “Cantaloupe with Chicken Salad,” “Curried Chicken, Green Bean and Almond Salad” and others.
Source: Florida Dept. Of Agriculture & Community Services