Jersey Fresh menu measure advances
A bill helping restaurants across the state showcase their Jersey Fresh menus is one step closer to becoming law following Assembly approval Monday. Sponsored by Assemblymen Ronald Dancer and Parker Space, the legislation requires the state’s tourism division to publish information about farm-to-table restaurants on its website.
“Visitors to the Garden State are making farming a hot commodity,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “They enjoy Jersey Fresh foods, because they are tasty and top quality, but it’s often difficult for them to know where the food came from.”
The popularity of farm to table menu options are a hot trend in New Jersey, according to a 2017 Cape May Tourism Conference report. The popularity spike is bringing in more visitors resulting in increased sales and tax revenue.
“Family farm foods and tourism are a winning combination and great for our economy,” continued Dancer. “The increased sales and tax revenue gives our state a new competitive edge.”
“Jersey Fresh is more than a slogan,” said Space (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris). “People are more health conscious today and are looking for fresh, healthy foods to eat, especially when dining out. This bill meets that demand while helping local farmers sell their products.”
Assemblyman Hal Wirths (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris) is also a cosponsor of A1039. The measure passed the Assembly by a 74-0 vote, and now heads to the Senate.
A January 2018 state Agriculture Department survey found that 72 percent of consumers indicated a stronger preference for local food labeled Jersey Fresh – an all-time high.
Food and agriculture are New Jersey’s third largest industry. In 2017, the state's 9,000 farms generated sales totaling more than $1 billion, according to the state Department of Agriculture.