“Local Foods”… What does this really mean to residents of Ohio? As Ohioans, it seems we use words like these on a daily basis. But, do we really understand the need? Local Foods can aid in feeding a growing global population, projected to be 9 billion by 2050. We must produce more food in the next 50 years than has been produced in the past 10,000 years combined, all while tillable land is becoming less available.
In our ever-changing world, we want the freshest product available with the most economic value. Often, the solution is to meet local producers and buy directly from them. This helps the consumer to not only enjoy local food, but also learn of the economic, nutritional, and social benefits of buying local. Freshness is one of the benefits of Local Foods adding to the experience of the personal connection between growers and producers. According to the 2012 USDA Agricultural Census, Ohio ranks among the top ten states for direct sales to consumers represented by a wide variety of food products. Two resources available in Ohio to aid in the challenge of linking the producer and consumer are: Market Maker and Ohio Proud.
Many people are searching for ways to improve their quality of life by eating local food. Consumers now wish to become the producer, not only in the produce sector, but in animal agriculture. This enables the consumer to gain an intimate knowledge of the food source in a hands-on environment. From this there has been an up-turn in economic development strategies to market locally produced foods. Interest groups in many communities aim to increase the accessibility to items for both wholesale and retail customers. These groups are sometimes lacking one essential component… research-based information. OSU Extension is in a position to educate these individuals in raising and growing their own food, as well as in harvesting and storing their food products. This is an excellent opportunity for cross-program collaboration within our system.
In Clermont County, we are especially interested in combining efforts to produce a cohesive change. There are many tools available to aid in this effort. So, contact your local Extension office and get involved in the local foods mission. Be a part of feeding the world today.
(Submitted by Trevor Corboy, Program Coordinator, Clermont County & Miami Valley EERA)