Fresh food education: The Detroit Eastern Market kiosk

MSU Extension educators at Detroit Eastern Market help people get the tastiest and most nutritious fresh food.

Michigan State University Extension piloted a new outreach effort this past summer by staffing an information booth – also known as "The Kiosk" – at Detroit Eastern Market as part of theMichigan Fresh Initiative to encourage people to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. MSU Extension Nutrition and Community Food Systems staff and Master Gardener volunteers provided information to Eastern Market visitors from the kiosk about when produce is in peak season so it can be purchased when it is most flavorful and nutritious. Information on growing, season extension, use, storage and preservation of produce was also provided to promote year-round good eating.

Consumers who stopped by the kiosk were encouraged to take bookmarks and visit the Michigan Fresh website for more information; from the site, they could take a survey for an opportunity to win a gift certificate for the MSU bookstore. The Michigan Fresh website is populated with factsheets on varied food subjects, such as different kinds of produce, growing tree fruit at home, starting seeds and tomato diseases. Kiosk visitors were also able to sign up to receive more information about Master Gardener and canning classes.

This winter, MSU Extension staff are making preparations so that kiosk visitors can sign up for MSU Extension classes and programs right on an electronic tablet. We are also making preparations to evaluate electronically if the kiosk and the information we distribute is helping people make behavior changes that result in better nutrition and increased health.

TheDetroit Eastern Market is an excellent location for the purposes of food system outreach education with hundreds of vendors selling every kind of food and plants imaginable. People from all over the Detroit Metro area make their way to Eastern Market on any given Saturday during the growing season. It was estimated that the kiosk received close to 4,500 visitors from July 10 through October 31. Additionally, the Eastern Market Corporation has been a very strong supporter of our outreach education efforts by providing free canning and preserving information and samples for distribution at the kiosk.

The Detroit Eastern Market is open year-round on Saturdays and on Tuesdays from July through the end of October; the kiosk will open for the 2013 season in June. Come and visit us at the kiosk and find out all the wonderful and tasty ways you can improve your health!

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