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Food for thought: Fresh foods becoming increasingly popular

According to the Organic Foods Organization website, organic or whole foods are showing up everywhere, including convenience stores. They claim that this move is in response to a huge growth in the natural foods market--nearly 20 percent in the p...

Robyn Bragstad and her grandson are packing up a few leftover items at Market Square Days in Pine River. (Brainerd Dispatch, Tamara Horton)
Robyn Bragstad and her grandson are packing up a few leftover items at Market Square Days in Pine River. (Brainerd Dispatch, Tamara Horton)

According to the Organic Foods Organization website, organic or whole foods are showing up everywhere, including convenience stores. They claim that this move is in response to a huge growth in the natural foods market-nearly 20 percent in the past 15 years.

In response to this growth farmer's market type events are on the rise also. For instance, Market Square Days in Pine River are in full swing from 2:30-5:30 p.m. every Friday from now until the end of September.

Vendors with a wide variety of products including baked goods, jams and jellies, fresh produce, handcrafted cards and jewelry, natural or unrefined foods, crafts and more can all be found at the market.

A small fee of 10 percent of their sales up to $25, will reserve you a space if you wish to become a vendor at the event. All vendors must label and price the items for sale and check in with the Community Booth organization that hosts the event. Sponsored by the local Farmer's Market Board, the event is doing quite well for local participants.

Several vendors reported that much of their inventory was gone at the end of the day. Louise Johnson of Grampa G's Farm Stand in Pillager said, "I came here with six totes full of vegetables and I am leaving with only one."

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The Community Booth offers different ways for customers to pay. Vendors do not have credit/debit card readers so to breach this gap customers can go to the Community Booth where they will swipe your card for a certain amount and then issue you tokens (each worth $1) that you can take to the vendors for a purchase. Electronic Benefits Transfer cards can be used at the market in the exact same way. Tokens are good for the entire season if you do not spend them all in one day.

Mim Brien, a volunteer for the Farmer's Market Board said, "We do quite well here. There were a few times when we got rained out but not very often."

Robyn Bragstad, a vendor on site, discussed how the Market Square has been great business for them. Bragstad, who owns Brakstad Green Acres farm in Pequot Lakes, sells natural flours, fresh vegetables, and a variety of homemade personal products such as soaps and lotions.

The local Farmer's Market Board has been working closely with the Whole Health Pine River Backus initiative trying to find ways to bring healthy foods such as fresh produce to low-income families. AmeriCorp Summer Volunteer Sara Grote mentioned that Market Square Days has been a great way for them to provide low-income families a place to either purchase produce with EBT cards or find out about other programs that may be available to them. One such program actually provides free fresh produce to 10 qualified local families for a full year. Their hope is to keep expanding that program adding more families every year.

 

TAMARA HORTON may be reached at 218-855-5882 or tamara.horton@brainerddispatch.com .

Related Topics: PINE RIVER
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