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Around the world, base shoppers choosing produce from N.C.

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — The customers may be from around the world, but the produce is home-grown.

Items, such as produce, milk, bread and canned goods — all of which are sold at local commissaries —often are grown or produced in North Carolina. While the goods are shipped to a distribution hub in Virginia and return to North Carolina for sale, many local customers prefer the locally grown products because of freshness and because it supports the local economy. During winter, the locally grown fruit and vegetable selection is slim at the commissary, but as the spring and summer approach, shelves will be packed with North Carolina fare.

“It’s fresher and that’s what I like,” said Brenda Aird of Emerald Isle while shopping at the Camp Lejeune commissary. “I don’t like produce shipped across the country. Also, knowing that the local farmer is staying in business means a lot to me. Ultimately, I hope it means better and cheaper produce for the consumer.”

Because the food is locally grown and shipped to commissaries within days of being harvested, freshness and quality are expected, Aird said.

“I don’t particularly like the quality (of some other stores) because they aren’t selling locally grown things,” Aird said. “It just seems older and is often less delicious.”

For Chanel Fenton, 29, of Camp Lejeune, knowing where her food is coming from and knowing that it should be fresher brings her peace of mind while shopping at the commissary.

“Things should be cheaper if it is grown locally because you’re not paying for fuel costs to ship from across the country,” Fenton said. “Supporting the local North Carolina community is important, but freshness and quality are noticeable. That’s why I buy locally grown food.”

Mike Dunn, the commissary director, said the partnership between N.C. Department of Agriculture and the commissary is vital because it brings the best-quality item to the consumer.

“Selling local goods ensures that our farmers in North Carolina stay in business and support their families,” Dunn said. “With keeping these farmers employed and going we can keep the farmland from dwindling and being sold to home developers.”

Dunn said many patrons appreciate the freshness of local items because most people look for the best quality for their dollar.

During the prime growing seasons, the abundance of produce also reduces the cost to consumers, which is an added benefit, Dunn said.

“The buying trend nowadays is fresh produce,” Dunn said. “Red meat is on the decline. People want chicken, fish and fresh produce. When they see it’s local, it resonates with them and they will gravitate towards that item.

“It’s a win-win situation when things are grown and sold local.”

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