It was a crisp mid-September day in Great Falls, Montana. The smell of fresh mash and hot pizza drifted down Central Ave. from the Mighty Mo Brewing Co. Inside, people were moving around, eating pizza bites made with locally sourced ingredients, and the sound of clinking glasses and laughter cut threw the ambient classic rock.
On September 17, 2018, the Department of Commerce and Department of Agriculture launched a new category of the popular Made in Montana program designated to support small businesses and ag producers. The program is called Taste our Place and aims to promote and increase the use of locally sourced ingredients at Montana restaurants, bars and other establishments serving ready-to-eat food and drink. The Mighty Mo was one of the first members.
“Residents and visitors traveling around Montana want authentic experiences, and local food and drink is no exception,” said Commerce Director Pam Haxby-Cote. “Taste our Place responds to that demand while also seeking to put more Montana-grown products on the tables of restaurants and bars across the state.”
According to research by the University of Montana, 12.5 million people from out of state visited Montana last year and spent $667 million at restaurants and bars, an amount second only to what they spent on gasoline.
While Commerce and Made in Montana will administer and promote the program and its members, Agriculture will help to connect members with local food producers.
“We’ve seen an increased appetite for local foods throughout the state, both from tourists and residents,” said Agriculture Director Ben Thomas. “Increasing access to local foods gives our producers another market opportunity while giving consumers a chance to connect with our state in new and different ways.
The program is free to join. In addition to promotional and ingredient sourcing opportunities, members receive a listing on the Made in Montana website and materials to identify them as being committed to serving food and drink made with locally sourced ingredients.
Business are encouraged to review eligibility and register online at MADEINMONTANAUSA.com.