The Jersey Fresh campaign has become well known throughout the state and region for promoting the best that New Jersey’s farmlands have to offer. But how about companies that use those wonderful farm products to make their food items? Started in 2010, the Made with Jersey Fresh program allows those very same companies to take that next step, from farm to table, showing Jersey pride through their choice of ingredients.
Think just anyone can get a fancy Made with Jersey Fresh logo slapped on their product? Think again. First the company must apply to be part of the Jersey Fresh Quality Grading Program and the produce it uses in its product must be grown by a New Jersey farm in the Jersey Fresh Quality Grading Program. The product label then must be approved by the Department of Agriculture. The company gets the green light, then and only then, can it call its product Made with Jersey Fresh. For a number of companies, the road to Made with Jersey Fresh passes through the Rutgers Food Innovation Center in Bridgeton. The Innovation Center assists companies in everything from product and label development to business planning and marketing strategy.
Since opening in 2011, Cape May Brewing Company has been a tremendous success story. Over the past year, the company got licensed to include the Made with Jersey Fresh logo on its Honey Porter, and in so doing, becoming the first brewery with such a distinction. Why did they bother to go through such a process? “We want to be mindful of our carbon footprint, and that means sourcing locally whenever we can,” says Ryan Krill, president of Cape May Brewing. “We also want to make the tastiest beer possible, and that also means sourcing locally. So pursuing the Jersey Fresh label was sort of a given for us.”
Square Pie in Philadelphia describes itself as being “Brooklyn born, Philly perfected,” but for the pizzeria’s choice in tomatoes, it’s Jersey all the way. Since opening for business last year, Square Pie has used only Jersey Fresh crushed tomatoes for its pies. “We wanted a local product that would offer an extremely fresh tomato flavor,” says owner Amy Giuffi. “The Jersey Fresh product ended up fitting the bill because the flavors are clean, bright, and taste wonderful with fresh basil.”
Of course, Jersey tomatoes are good for more than just pizza. Ketchup, anyone? You can’t have summer cookouts without having ketchup on hand. So it only seems natural that there should be a brand of ketchup out there that features Jersey-grown tomatoes. Enter First Field ketchup. This Princeton-based company, which started out growing Jersey tomatoes in Field Number 1 of its three fields (hence the name), produces an upscale ketchup product with a distinctive flavor. You can find First Field sold in specialty markets as well as Whole Foods and Fairway. Even some Jersey diners such as Vincentown Diner have First Field available.
And what goes better with ketchup than regular fries? Maybe eggplant and zucchini fries? Flaim Farms in Vineland believes so. Under its Panther Brand label, Flaim Farms produces eggplant and zucchini fries as well as eggplant cutlets. Not only can these items be found in markets including Wegman’s, but the fries have been served to the toughest critics on the planet: students. A handful of school districts in New Jersey have Panther Brand eggplant and zucchini fries as part of their lunch programs, bringing a healthier choice to lunchtime.
For more information on Made with Jersey Fresh Products, go to the Jersey Fresh website at www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov.