The State of Montana was recently ranked the 7th best state, in the country, for the availability of locally produced foods.

A Family Farm Advocacy group ranked the states based on the number of farmers markets, community supported agriculture programs, farm-to-school program participation, cooperatively owned food hubs and the per capita value of direct sales from the farmer to the consumer.

“The fat that we’re seventh and our population is so thinly dispersed says a lot it really does. We have a great appreciation for real food here, and people work hard here," said local grower Judy Owsowitz.

Owsowitz is a certified organic farmer. NBC Montana found her selling at the first farmers market of the season in Kalispell.

"I call this the hugs and shrugs market. It’s the meet and greet; it’s like seeing everybody after winter and the customers are your friends and that's really important," said Owsowitz.

Owsowitz contributes the state’s high ranking to that—the relationship people build with their farmers.

"You get to know what people buy and you can say ‘hey were going to have that basil you like next week’ and they like knowing that and they like coming back again and having that personal touch," Owsowitz said.

Owsowitz says having farmers markets are important. They allow the person eating to know where their food is grown.

"It’s very important to them to know the quality of the food that its grown on local soils because local soils are going to be producing the nutrients that you need for living here," she said.

With over 50 farmers markets in the state, Owsowitz says it just proves the pride people take in the state and their local growers.

"People really appreciate good food here in Montana," she said.

"If you’re shipping you’re not meeting the person who’s eating and it’s so great to meet the one that eats," Owsowitz added.

This is the fourth consecutive year Montana has ranked in the top ten for best locally produced foods. Last year, the state ranked ninth.

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