There’s a saying that everything is bigger in Texas. This is especially true in regard to the immense amount of Lone Star pride that is prevalent in the agriculture industry.
“Ask a Texan and they’ll tell you if it comes from the Lone Star State, it’s going to be good,” says Lindsay Baerwald, marketing coordinator for the Texas Department of Agriculture’s GO TEXAN program. Celebrating its 15th year, GO TEXAN encourages Texans to choose Texas-made products. The program has created an ever-growing network of companies within the state to help further the many diverse agribusinesses that call Texas home.
“It was designed to promote agriculture products from Texas under one umbrella,” Baerwald says. “Since then, it’s become even more encompassing, and currently touches every segment of agricultural production, processing and manufacturing in Texas, including food, shrimp, wine, fiber, horticulture, forestry, wildlife and livestock.”
GO TEXAN Members Include National Names
The GO TEXAN program has thousands of members, including well-known companies like Blue Bell Creameries who has been a GO TEXAN member since the program’s inception in 1999. Members also include local and regional companies like Kitchen Pride Mushrooms and Castro Cheese, as well as Lammes Candies, makers of the famous “Texas Chewie Pecan Praline” featuring Texas-grown pecans.
Joe Robertson, a marketing executive at Blue Bell, says it’s nice to be recognized as a Texas product.
“We’ve been part of GO TEXAN for 15 years now,” Robertson says. “Since we opened our doors in Brenham in 1907, we’ve experienced tremendous growth in the state of Texas. Having a variety of local suppliers, including dairy farmers, was very important to that success as well.”
Blue Bell products are available today in all or part of 20 states across the nation.
Membership Has Its Perks
Baerwald says the program is proudest of the growth that many Texas companies experience thanks to GO TEXAN.
“Many of the small and large companies we represent now have distribution deals with major retail stores as a direct result of the GO TEXAN program,” she says.
Kitchen Pride, a family-owned and operated farm based out of Gonzales, has been a GO TEXAN member for 15 years.
“The GO TEXAN program does an extraordinary job of promoting Texas agriculture,” says Greg McClain, one of the owners of Kitchen Pride Mushrooms. “GO TEXAN has facilitated many events and opportunities for us to publicize our business and connect with end markets.”
Kitchen Pride began in the early 1980s when Darrell McClain and his sons, Greg and Phil, were looking for a location to establish their business. Texas had a growing population and a market for mushrooms, as many fresh mushrooms were coming into Texas from outside the state. The company has since established itself as a premier supplier of fresh mushrooms within Texas, producing close to 250,000 pounds per week.
“Texans are very aware of the GO TEXAN certification mark, and they’re loyal to Texas-based businesses and agriculture,” McClain says. “The locally grown preference for Texas produce has been a contributor to our success, and there’s no better way to say locally grown than to display the GO TEXAN mark. People respect that image.”
Among unique specialty mushrooms, Kitchen Pride also produces white button, portobello, baby bella, oyster and shiitake mushrooms, all harvested by hand. Not only is it the only full-service, family-owned mushroom farm in Texas, it is one of the most modern mushroom-growing facilities in the U.S.
GO TEXAN Is More Than A Registry
More than just a database of Texas products, GO TEXAN is a multi-faceted program, including special offshoots for restaurants and retirement destinations. The restaurant program focuses on the number of Texas products served in Texas restaurants. Additionally, the GO TEXAN Certified Retirement Community program certifies certain communities as suitable retirement destinations. Both avenues help Texas’ economy, as well as the tourism and agritourism sectors.
GO TEXAN has evolved over the last 15 years, latching onto the fast-paced world of technology through developing a mobile app and creating a visible social media presence.
“Between the mobile app and comprehensive database on our website, gotexan.org, consumers are never far from the latest information,” Baerwald says. “We’ve developed an impressive following on Facebook and Twitter. All of this means that information on Texas-grown and raised products is more accessible than ever.”
The program recognized its most recent milestone with a 15-year anniversary celebration this past July, honoring members who have been with the program since the beginning. As for the future, Baerwald says GO TEXAN hopes to continue promoting Texas products across the globe.
“Fifteen years is a significant milestone, but we see it as just a stop along the road as we move forward toward many more years of success,” she says. “The GO TEXAN mark and idea behind it are powerful enough to stand the test of time.”