August 9 – 15, 2015 is Local Foods Week in Ohio where we celebrate Local Foods. OSU Extension’s Signature Program, Local Foods encourages consumers to explore and buy local foods. 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.
Maybe you already have a favorite farm stand or maybe you’d like to find a new one. Often, the best ways to find local food is by word of mouth or by regional local food directories. If you haven’t yet come across those resources, this summary of online food directories might offer some tasty opportunities in your part of the state.
Start a family discussion where you share stories about “local foods” – perhaps your parent or grandparent had a garden, raised chickens or grew vegetables in a container garden. Maybe you grow herbs in a container garden like I do. I remember my mom sharing stories about wringing the chicken’s neck and getting them ready to be fried for the Sunday meal. Do you have fond memories of shucking corn on the back porch like I do? Do your siblings or children have different memories than you about their favorite foods or family stories about food?
At my Farmers’ Market, I often select local honey, fresh berries, corn on the cob, cucumbers, green beans, apples, and homemade bread (made with freshly milled flour). What tastes better than a meal of hamburgers cooked on the grill, corn on the cob, green beans, and cucumbers and onions steeped in a sweetened vinegar solution?
What can you do to celebrate Ohio Local Foods Week?
• Join me and Pledge to purchase at least $10 in local foods for the week. This could be from farm stands, farmers’ markets, CSA memberships, local grocery stores or restaurants. Encourage your friends to join this challenge.
• Share your local foods story with your family and friends. Online, follow Ohio Local Foods Week on Facebook and/or Twitter. Share your photos and stories #olfw15
• At the grocery store, visit the “Local Foods” section and make a purchase. There is no single definition for “local” food, so read the signs or ask employees at your favorite grocery store how they define local.
• Make visiting a Farmer’s Market or farm stand a priority. If you think of all the foods that can be grown and produced in Ohio, it’s not hard to find something new, whether it’s an unusual vegetable or a different variety or color of a common plant. Try something new and enjoy the freshness of a locally grown vegetables, herbs, sauces, honey, or fruits.
• Grow herbs – if you feel that you missed the opportunity to grow herbs this year, make a plan to grow some next year or grow them indoors on your windowsill.
• If you grew herbs this year or buy some extra from the farmers’ market or stand, dry or freeze them. I recently froze basil and rosemary and can’t wait to use them this winter. It was an easy process and they can be frozen in an herb or ice cube tray. Remember to harvest your herbs early in the morning, rinse with cool water before chopping and freezing. Store in a freezer container. I am storing the different herbs in different containers so the flavors don’t blend together.
• Have you ever wondered how to make fresh salsa? If so, check out this quick YouTube video from OSU Extension’s Garden to Plate series. You will find additional videos on making fresh pesto, cooking spaghetti squash, making green beans and cucumber dill dip.
• As wonderful as fresh, homemade salsa and other dishes taste at the peak of the vegetable harvest season, if you are not inclined to make your own meals, there are many restaurants that offer local, seasonal menus based on the food of the region.
Celebrate Local Foods Week with us this week and throughout the year. How will you “Go Local?”