In Ohio, we are celebrating Local Foods Week this week. August is a perfect time to enjoy fresh local foods. There is no single definition of “local” foods. Individual, family and community food decisions are made for a variety of reasons: nutrition and health, accessibility and convenience, food safety, the environment, economics, and enjoyment and taste. One of my co-workers has a large garden and she shares her summer squash and zucchini with us. We’ve been enjoying zucchini & squash stir fry and zucchini bread. I grow herbs and onions in my container gardens and enjoy cooking with them. Fresh herbs provide a rich flavor that is hard to match. Take time to visit a farmers’ market, “pick your own” farm or a farm stand so you can select your local foods.
Did you know that agriculture is Ohio’s number one industry? It contributes more than $107 billion to the state’s economy. That’s impressive and makes me proud to be a Buckeye. Ohio farmers grow many food items including fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, popcorn, eggs, dairy products, milk, grape juice, wine and honey. Click here if you want to see if a food item is grown in Ohio.
Kids love to learn new things and perhaps you can share experiences with them about growing food. Did your family grow food when you were a child? Do you have a garden? Does a neighbor, school, or church have a garden you could visit and pick a vegetable or two? Kids love the magic of plants producing food. Take time to share your “food story” with your children or grandchildren. I know that I enjoyed hearing from my mom about how they raised their own chickens and had a large garden.
If you don’t have a garden available, visit your grocery store and look for the local foods section. Most stores identify local foods. Have you wondered what food is typically ready in Ohio in August? Look for corn, tomatoes and cantaloupe. In September we can enjoy locally grown watermelon, cabbage and grapes. Did you know that locally grown food is available year-round? For a complete list, visit this information sheet about Ohio Local Foods at the Table .
Not sure where to find a Farmers’ Market? Check out this online tool from USDA to help you identify a market near you.
What can you do to celebrate Local Foods Week? Post your ideas on twitter and facebook #localfoodsOh. Add a comment to the blog post and share your ideas.