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EAST LANSING, MI -- Michigan State University Extension developed the "Michigan Fresh" initiative to help consumers learn how to tend to home gardens, use fresh produce and reduce spoilage.

Many people who want to grow or purchase fresh, local produce are overwhelmed when they first arrive at their local farmers market. Knowing what to buy, when to buy it and how to cook or preserve can seem like an impossible task. But learning some basics can help people enjoy the bounty of Michigan's gardens, orchards and fields.

Michigan State University Extension developed the Michigan Fresh initiative to help consumers learn how to tend to home gardens, use fresh produce and reduce spoilage.

"Anybody who grows or eats produce in Michigan will benefit from the information provided by Michigan Fresh," said Kendra Wills, an MSU Extension educator on community food systems. "We want to inform consumers so they can pick or purchase produce at their peak for flavor and nutrition."

During the last two weeks of June, strawberries are plentiful in home gardens and farmers markets. Asparagus is still available in most farmers markets, but won't be plentiful for much longer. Michigan Fresh's asparagus fact sheet gives instructions on how to freeze asparagus so it can be enjoyed all summer.

Growers expect early varieties of blueberries to be available around July 4. Later varieties and blueberries in northern Michigan probably won't be harvested until the second week of July. Michigan leads the nation in blueberry production. Visit the Food and Health page of the MSU Extension web site for blueberry recipes and lesson plans.

Lake Whitefish is a newly published Michigan Fresh fact sheet. Many consumers can find lake whitefish in their local farmers market.

This is a native fish that can be prepared in a variety of ways. The Michigan Fresh fact sheet includes three recipes for lake whitefish adapted from Amber Mae Peterson, from Muskegon, Michigan, is more famously known as The Fish Monger's Wife and she knows her whitefish.

All 57 of the Michigan Fresh fact sheets are available for free downloading from the MSU Extension website at www.msue.anr.msu.edu. You can also find Michigan Fresh on Facebook and Pinterest.

To contact a MSU Extension expert in your area, call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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