Whether it’s spring, summer, fall or winter, Kentuckians can “Plate It Up” with delicious recipes containing local products.

That’s the message the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and Kentucky Department of Agriculture hope to spread to consumers with “Plate It Up, Kentucky Proud” through ever evolving, tasty recipes.

“The goal is to get consumers to buy, prepare and preserve more locally grown Kentucky Proud products,” said Janet Johnson, Allen County Cooperative Extension agent for family and consumer sciences and a driving force behind the program. “By developing delicious new recipes each season that focus on the freshest commodities, consumers can sample the benefits provided by plating up the best of Kentucky foods.”

 “Plate It Up, Kentucky Proud” will kick off statewide beginning at the Kentucky State Fair. Two recipes from the program – a watermelon tomato salad and a cucumber, corn and bean salsa – will be featured at the Aug. 18 commodity breakfast, the fair’s opening day.

“Kentucky Proud means fruits and vegetables picked fresh for your family,” Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer said. “When you buy Kentucky Proud, you buy fresh, nutritious foods that you can serve to your family with confidence while helping Kentucky farm families make a living.”

Work on the collaborative program has been under way for more than a year and not just any recipe makes it. Family and consumer sciences extension agents submit recipes for modification. Nutrition and food science students in the UK College of Agriculture’s School of Human Environmental Sciences modify each selected recipe to make it healthier while retaining its flavor. Finally, each recipe is run through a series of taste tests. Recipes that make it through the process become part of the “Plate It Up” recipe catalog at http://www.kyproud.com/recipes.

For each featured recipe, extension agents receive demonstration guides containing nutritional, selection, storage and preparation information that they can use to educate consumers in their local communities about how to use a specific Kentucky Proud product.

Recipes have been featured in cooking demonstrations at groceries and farmers’ markets last fall and this summer, and sales of those ingredients have soared after visitors sampled the recipes, Johnson said. One farmers’ market sold out of sweet potatoes after visitors sampled a sweet potato-apple recipe.

Funding for the program came through a federal grant to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. KDA is assisting in developing the educational resources, marketing, and has developed and maintains the Kentucky Proud recipe database.

“This is just another example of the long history of collaboration between the UK College of Agriculture and Kentucky Department of Agriculture,” said Scott Smith, dean of the UK College of Agriculture. “Working together is an efficient, cost-effective way to improve the nutrition of Kentuckians and improve the farm economy of Kentucky.”

In addition to recipes featured during the state fair’s opening day breakfast, recipes will also be featured at the Gourmet Garden demonstrations held noon daily at the Kentucky Beef Council’s stage in the south wing of the Kentucky Exposition Center. Additional information and recipe cards will be available at the UK College of Agriculture’s exhibit in the west hall lobby and in KDA’s exhibit in the south wing.

Kentucky Proud is Kentucky's official farm marketing program, administered by the state Department of Agriculture. Membership is free and open to any Kentucky farm or business which grows, raises or manufactures food and agricultural products in Kentucky.

For more information on the “Plate It Up, Kentucky Proud” program contact a county extension office or visit the KDA website for recipes.