Why should we be aware?
- Agriculture is Ohio’s number one industry contributing jobs for one in seven Ohioans, and more than $107 billion to the state’s economy. (ohioproud.org)
- Ohio offers a unique proximity of metropolitan and micropolitan areas, linking rural and urban consumers, growers and communities to food produced on small, medium and large-scale family-owned farms.
- Ohio ranks in the top ten states for direct sales to consumers represented by a wide variety of food products including but not limited to eggs, milk, cheese, honey, maple syrup, beverages, bread and other artisan products, fresh, frozen canned and dried vegetables, fruits and meats. (USDA Ag Census, 2012.)
- One in six Ohioans is food insecure and lacks access to fresh, local, healthy food.
- All Ohioans are part of the food system just by making daily decisions about what food to eat.
There is not one definition for “local” food. When making food decisions, many people consider where their food was grown or raised and make an effort to develop personal connections with growers and producers to enjoy flavorful, safe, local food. Ohio Local Foods week is not only about enjoying the tastes of local foods but is also about becoming more aware and better informed about the nutritional, economic, and social benefits of local foods in Ohio.
Even during wintertime, Ohio local food is available, whether it is fresh produce grown with season extenders or crops that can be held for long periods of time in cold/cool storage as well as baked, canned, frozen and dried foods. August is a great time to celebrate Ohio Local Foods Week because of the availability of direct-to-consumer marketing of all products including a wide variety of fresh produce.
The Ohio State University Extension Local Food Signature Program invites everyone to celebrate Ohio Local Foods Week from August 9th – 15th, 2015. We encourage individuals, families, businesses and communities to grow, purchase, highlight and promote local food all the time but especially during this week. I personally have a CSA (community supported agriculture) share at a local farm that I pick up every Monday. I also try to shop at my local farmer’s markets or fruit and vegetable stands. I also enjoy freezing a lot of my local produce so I can enjoy it all year long. There is nothing better than homemade strawberry jam or a side of sweet corn in the middle of our long Ohio winters!
Just as there is no one definition for “local,” there is no one way to celebrate Ohio Local Foods Week. Even though I prepaid for my CSA, I still plan to spend more than $10 buying extra sweet corn and some blueberries at my Farmer’s Market this week. You are invited to participate in the $10 Ohio Local Foods Challenge by committing to spend at least ten dollars (or more) on your favorite local foods during Ohio Local Foods Week. Look for regional community events, follow the event on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up at http://go.osu.edu/olfw10dollars for the $10 Ohio Local Foods Challenge. Even though I prepaid for my CSA, I still plan to spend more than $10 buying extra sweet corn and some blueberries at my Farmer’s Market this week.
Not sure where to find local foods or interested in finding new places? Here are some ideas to get started. You can also find an online summary of food directories. You can also check out events throughout the state. Let us know how you are celebrating Ohio Local Foods Week. Share your pictures and stories with us on Facebook or Twitter. #olfw15.
Written by: Melissa Welker M.Ed., B.S., Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, Maumee Valley EERA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewed by: Patrice Powers-Barker, CFLE, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Lucas County, Maumee Valley EERA, powers-barker,email@example.com