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SARATONG SPRINGS, N.Y. — Stewart's Shops Corp. has earned the New York State certification seal of approval.
A new standard for New York State agriculture, the certification guarantees that Stewart's milk and eggs come from local farms that meet specific food safety standards and demonstrate environmental stewardship.
A little over a year ago, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball and Commissioner of Health Howard A. Zucker to work on a brand and a program that would connect New York State with the marketplace.
After a "very intentional period," Ball and Zucker came up with the New York State Grown and Certified program, according to Ball.
"We knew people had a tremendous interest in local produce, which is great. Local agricultural product, which is awesome," he said. "But what so important to people is not just local, but the aspect of food safety and transparency. [People want to know] who's growing our food? How are they growing it? Where are they? So after a very intentional period, we came up with New York State Grown and Certified, and it'll tell people three things: the food is safe, the food is grown in an environmentally correct way, and the food is from New York."
In conjunction with local farms, Stewarts will label containers of milk and eggs so shoppers know the items have been certified fresh and local.
"People go into Stewart's Shops and they see the brand that says 'certified,' they can know it's from a family farm that's local. They can feel good about local, they can feel good about doing business with a family farm," Ball said. "They can also feel good knowing it's a safe product. They can also feel good knowing it’s environmental stewardship, because all three are embedded in that product when they see that symbol."
Saratoga Springs-based Stewart's Shops operates more than 335 convenience stores in upstate New York and southern Vermont.