COLUMBUS, Ohio — Would you spend $10 a week on local foods?
Ohio State University Extension is encouraging Ohioans to pledge to do just that Aug. 9-15 during the first-ever statewide Ohio Local Foods Week.
Before the week even started, nearly 100 people had already made the pledge online at localfoods.osu.edu, but organizers are hoping for many more.
“There are a lot of different ways ‘local foods’ can be defined,” said Patrice Powers-Barker, OSU Extension educator who helped organize the week. “It could be a certain geographic area, a radius of a certain number of miles or even a supply chain in which consumers buy directly from producers.
“There’s no one single definition of ‘local foods,’ but we encourage consumers to think about it and decide what local foods are to them, based on their own values.”
The website is the online presence of OSU Extension’s Local Foods Signature Program, which addresses local food system issues from production through consumption. It includes resources such as “Farm to Health” materials, which provides nutrient and phytonutrient information as well as recipes for fruits and vegetables grown in Ohio. The Local Foods Week information on the website contains listings of events throughout the state celebrating Ohio Local Foods Week, including a “Celebrate Local, Eat Sustainable” event in Massillon on Aug. 13 and community garden tours in Columbus and a farm and property tour at Gorman Heritage Farm in Evendale on Aug. 15.
“Research has shown that people are willing to spend more money at restaurants when local foods are part of the menu,” Powers-Barker said. “But local foods are for everyone, no matter what your income level.”
She encourages consumers who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps) to see if their local farmers market accepts the Ohio Direction Card or even provide matching funds. Senior centers also often have agreements with farmers markets to supplement purchases for income-eligible elderly, she said.
According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, Ohio ranks in the top 10 states in agricultural direct-to-consumer marketing, said Heather Neikirk, OSU Extension educator who is also helping organize the week. Agriculture remains Ohio’s No. 1 industry, totaling more than $105 billion in annual revenue.
“We’ve seen continued growth and expansion in the local foods movement,” Neikirk said. “Ohio is unique in that we have many metropolitan and micropolitan areas, so we have lots of opportunities for an urban-rural interface. That allows us to create those direct connections between producers and consumers.”
To make the $10 pledge or for more information on local foods in Ohio and Ohio Local Foods Week, see localfoods.osu.edu.