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Regional farmers may soon have a juicy market opportunity in the Big Apple: a wholesale farmers’ market in New York City. The option would particularly benefit medium-size farmers who can’t grow enough food to compete at the city’s primary produce market in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, but grow more than they can sell at the neighborhood farmers’ markets around the city. If it comes to fruition, New Yorkers would see more local produce on the menu in city restaurants and in their neighborhood groceries. But would another wholesale market be able to compete with Hunts Point? Recent research says yes. Demand for locally grown and processed foods is estimated at over $866 million annually, according to a study released last week by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Wholesale buyers, such as chefs and retailers, already make use of the city’s farmers' markets to buy local berries, tomatoes and organic vegetables; those markets, however, often can’t meet the scale of purchasing that is standard in wholesaling. For New Yorkers seeking local produce on their restaurant plates, there’s one more reason to root for the proposal: The city’s last wholesale produce market outside of Hunts Point is slated for demolition next year. [02/14/05]

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