Long gone are the days of buying food without giving a single thought to where it came from. Today, farmers are connected with consumers more than ever through agritourism spots, farmers markets and the local food movement. For Mississippians, finding local products has become effortless, thanks to the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce’s (MDAC) Make Mine Mississippi program. Launched in the spring of 1999, the voluntary logo identification program was created to heighten the public’s awareness of products that are manufactured, processed or produced in Mississippi along with the farmers who create them. Companies that produce at least 51 percent of the value of a product in the state is eligible to participate in the program, which currently boasts over 1000 companies in 30 different product categories. “Mississippi has outstanding natural resources and so many talented and creative entrepreneurs,” says Donna West, Division Director of Market Development at MDAC. As a member, companies have free use of the program’s logo, letting consumers know the product is high-quality and local. They also have the benefit of a matching funds program called “Cooperative Promotions Program.” This reimbursement is available to members for advertising, tradeshow expenses and label printing when they meet specific criteria. As for the participants of Make Mine Mississippi, the program consists of everything from cosmetic and healthcare products to electronics to fruits and vegetables. Small businesses like Mickle’s Pickles in Picayune sport the program’s logo, and even the Mississippi State University Cheese Store, famous for their “cannon ball” Edam cheese, is a certified member. The logo helps to unify all Mississippi products and create interest for consumers. “We are proud of the fact that we have such a wide variety of companies and products as members,” says West. “From the smallest ‘Mom and Pop’ company to the very large companies, all are looked at evenly and appreciatively and we feel Mississippi is represented well in that respect.” Here are some of the products that are members of the Make Mississippi Mine program: Old South Winery – The winery is known for its sweet muscadine wines from the winery in Natchez, founded in 1979. Delta Grind Grits – This company, located in Water Valley, sells stone-ground products including grits, polenta, masa and cornmeal. Mickle’s Pickles – Based in Picayune, this company claims to have the “second best pickle on the planet.” Indianola Pecan House –This company sells a variety of pecan products, but they are best known for their praline pecans.