Browsing the aisles of grocery stores, consumers tend to want two things from their food: It should taste good and it should be convenient. However, more and more consumers are beginning to seek out food that is both healthy and environmentally conscious.

This trend in nutritious, sustainable food has led farmers to look into value-added food processing.

Value-added food processing is the process during which farmers change a product’s characteristics to be more suited for consumer needs and thereby increasing those products’ value. For example, a farmer who grows berries can increase the value of their crop by turning it into jams or preserves, which consumers want.

To assist farmers in this process Washington State University Thurston County Extension and the South Sound Food System Network will co-host a workshop on May 15 at the Thurston County Fairgrounds from 6-8:30 p.m. The workshop is designed for farmers to expand their knowledge of value-added processing fruits and vegetables.

It also will focus on food processing licensing, facilities, and other market opportunities. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from the Washington State Department of Agriculture and Thurston County staff for a more in-depth look on these topics. One specific idea the workshop will focus on is the possibility of bringing together multiple producers to increase institutional markets.

The workshop will aim to assist farmers in expanding the value of their products for the benefit of both themselves and consumers.

Individuals interested in attending should RSVP to Jennifer Post at (360) 470-2609 or jenni.post@wsu.edu.