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Colorado Proud Launches Second Annual Choose Colorado Tour: A Community-to-Community Road Trip Across State's Agricultural Landscape

DENVER, Aug. 1, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Choose Colorado Tour – a 27-day, statewide road trip to celebrate food and produce that is grown in Colorado – hit the road today, as Colorado Proud members, government officials, agricultural experts and the community gathered in front of the History Colorado Center, to launch the second annual, community-to-community tour across the state's agricultural landscape.  Speakers included Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture, John Salazar; president of History Colorado, Ed Nichols; Safeway Vice President, Joe Perry; Hirakata Farms, Michael Hirakata; Petrocco Farms, Kate Petrocco; and Center Greenhouse, Brian Yantorno.

The Choose Colorado Tour, scheduled August 1-27, was created last year to integrate agricultural communities, celebrate farmers who help our state thrive, and educate consumers about the benefits of buying local produce. This year, on each community stop, farmers will gather local ingredients for recipes to be enjoyed at the "Colorado Proud Commemorative Lunch," held on the tour's final day – a delicious way to "taste" the positive impact of local buying on the economy, environment, healthy lifestyle and Colorado's western heritage. 

Colorado's agricultural industry consistently earns its ranking as one of the state's top industries, advancing the state's economy and preserving the environment.  In fact, with more than 36,000 farms encompassing 31 million acres, agriculture is a vital part of Colorado – providing more than 172,000 jobs; contributing more than $40 billion to the state's economy annually; and feeding the world with more than $2 billion in exported productsColorado also ranks in the top 10 nationally for production of a variety of agricultural products.

"Agriculture and farming are a vital part of Colorado's future. We are seeing a shift in priorities as there is a growing demand for locally-grown products," said Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar.  "More than ever, this year's Choose Colorado Tour celebrates this focus on the local-buying spirit, intellectually and financially."

While buying local has proved its positive impact on the economy, it also is better for the environment – helping keep farms and ranches profitable, thereby maintaining open space and wildlife habitat.  Buying local also supports Colorado's western heritage, preserving the farms, ranches and land that define the state.

At this morning's event, Commissioner Salazar read a proclamation from Governor John Hickenlooper declaring the month of August as "Colorado Proud Month," and praised the value of the program for "promoting the freshest, locally-grown agricultural products in the state; helping more than 2,000 Colorado companies market their food and products; encouraging the state's chefs and schools to use Colorado-grown items in their daily menus; supporting local businesses and our state's economy; and ensuring the future of our agricultural industry."

"Colorado Proud helps spread statewide awareness for local products that are 'better for you and better for Colorado.' And, this pride has indeed become contagious, locally and nationally," added Commissioner Salazar.

The Choose Colorado Tour

The Choose Colorado Tour will travel the agricultural landscape that makes up nearly half of Colorado's 66-million acres. The Colorado Proud-branded car will depart Denver today and make 11 stops in Boulder, Grand Junction, Durango, Alamosa, Frisco, Vail, Avon, Fort Collins, Burlington and Colorado Springs before returning to Denver. 

The Choose Colorado Tour concludes on August 27, in Denver, with a "Colorado Proud Commemorative Lunch" for media and government officials. The meal, prepared by award-winning chefs Jason Morse of 5280 Culinary and Kurt Boucher of History Colorado, will be made with the local ingredients that were collected along the tour. 

Choose Colorado Tour supporters include the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado Proud, Safeway and the History Colorado Center.  And, today, August 1, the state's "birthday," these supporters are offering free admission to the History Colorado Center, to launch Colorado Proud's Choose Colorado Tour.

"It's important to understand that agriculture is a huge part of our state's history, and we could not be here today if it weren't for the generations of farmer and ranch families who have dedicated their lives and made it their profession to feeding and nourishing our state," said Ed Nichols, president and CEO of History Colorado and Colorado State Historic Preservation Officer. "We are proud to share our educational exhibits, which tell the stories of agriculture, as told through our farmers and growers."

Safeway is a longtime supporter of the Colorado Proud program and the main partner on the Tour. "We are excited to help promote Colorado growers like Hirakata Farms, Petrocco Farms and Center Greenhouse, whose families have been part of local agriculture for more than 100 years, helping Safeway provide customers with fresh produce," said Joe Perry, Safeway's vice president of marketing.  "We take great pride in supporting our Colorado economy and offering customers hundreds of Colorado Proud products and produce."

Coloradans can join Colorado Proud on the Tour at any of its 11 stops. For more information and complete list of stops, visit www.ColoradoProud.org, or follow the Tour on the Colorado Proud Facebook page.

About Colorado Proud

The Colorado Proud Program was created by the Colorado Department of Agriculture in 1999 to promote Colorado food and agricultural products. One of the goals of Colorado Proud is to make it easier for consumers to identify and purchase Colorado products by labeling them with the Colorado proud logo. In 1999, the program started with 65 companies; and now, the Colorado Proud Program has more than 2,000 members that include growers, processors, restaurants, retailers and associations statewide.

SOURCE Colorado Proud

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