Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Locally grown popcorn featured at Kroger

J-E News Editor
Sometimes deciding which product to purchase at the grocery store can be a difficult task, especially when you approach the shelf and find a half dozen brands of the same item. In most cases you have no idea where the product came from, who packaged it or where it was grown. 
But one brand you will now find on the shelves at Kroger will change that. When you see the display for ‘Kentucky Proud Popcorn’ you’ll also see the faces of two Webster County farm families. That isn’t just a marketing ploy. That is because that popcorn was grown by one of those two familes.

If you look closely you might recognize some of the people on the boxes. Ben and Hannah Hornback are recent graduates of WCHS. Debbie Winstead works at Independence Bank in Sebree. Stacy Hornback works in the Webster County Extendion Office. Kerry Winstead and Brian Hornback have been farming Kentucky soil for years.
“It’s kind of different,” said Hornback. “I’m not used to the idea of seeing myself on a box of popcorn yet. My kids have gone in to see the display, but I’ve been busy farming and haven’t had time to see it.”
“We’re not showmen,” said Kerry Winstead. “But when you talk about farm familes, it’s important to have a face. When they had their meeting about this in Lousiville, the manager of the Madisonville Kroger stood up and said ‘I know those people, they’re in our store all the time’.”
Kentucky Proud has been supporting Kentucky farm families for years. When you purchase one of the products with their logo, you know you’re purchasing a product that was grown or raised right here in the commonwealth. In this case, you’re purchasing a product grown right here in Webster County.
It is then sent to Preffered Popcorn, a Nebraska-based company. They process and package the product before sending it back to Kentucky.
Last week, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer announced that Kentucky Proud and  the Kroger Grocery store chain had reached and agreement. Kroger will now sell 125 products from 34 Kentucky Proud purchasers in 88 stories throughout the Commonwealth.
“A purchase of this scope will make a big difference to these people,” said Comer. “Kroger has always carried a wide selection of local proudcts, and we appreciate Kroger’s continuing commitment to Kentucky Proud producers.”
“We’re glad to work with them,” said Kerry Winstead. “This is good for us. It’s good for Prefered Popcorn. It’s good for Kroger.”
Most farmers in this area grow yellow corn, which is a little different than popcorn. 
“We use the same equipment that we do for yellow corn, but you have to set the combine up differently,” said Hornback. “And you have to keep everything pretty clean.”
That means that popcorn growers have to take extra precautions to make sure that no foreign objects get into the harvested popcorn. That includes yellow corn or soybeans which might be growing in adjacent fields.
“Prefered is a very quality concious company,” said Winstead. “They are a food product, so there are a lot of rules and regulations. They do everything by the book. I’ve been to their facility and seen what they do.”
Winstead added that his family, including his grandchildren, eat that popcorn.
“We want people to know that their children are eating the same thing that ours are,” he said.
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