Local Foods Connections

One of the things I love about my job is learning new things, working with a variety of colleagues from different fields of study and making connections between topics, ideas and projects that reach such a wide variety of people across our state!

This post is a July 2015 collection of different resources directed to different audiences about the same topic: Ohio Local Foods.

Local Foods does not have one definition. Depending on the individual, the food, the time of year, values and goals, “local” food can be defined in countless ways. A few ways to define include geographic region (such as county or state lines), miles between the producer and consumer (as in 100 mile diet), growing or harvesting your own food or purchasing directly from the producer such as farmers markets, farm stands or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). As I work hard to promote Ohio Local Foods Week and Ohio growers and producers, my other “local” growers include Michigan because I live in Northwest Ohio.

  • What’s Your Local Food Story? This recent Live Smart Ohio blog post encourages individuals and families to participate in Ohio Local Foods Week, August 9-15, 2015.
  • The easiest local food recipes I will make this summer: Water Infused with Ohio Produce – try some!
  • Vary Your Veggies – Ohio farmers and gardeners can grow a great variety of vegetables that fall into all 5 subgroups of vegetables in the MyPlate vegetable group.
  • Explore Ohio Foods, youth activity “energizer” to use at summer lessons and/or Explore Ohio Foods Flashcards
  • Local Foods: Part of Your Plan for Health? Your Plan Health archived webinar, May 20, 2015, 11:301m -12:00pm and recipes mentioned in the presentation
  • Ohio Local Foods Week: Feeding the Heart of It All, The Ohio Direct Food & Ag Marketing Team archived webinar, July 16, 2015, 12:00-1:00pm
  • Local Foods Activity placemats

On Monday July 20, Family and Consumer Sciences colleagues will be invited to participate in Ohio Local Foods Week 2015. Local Foods is an important and timely topic but it is not a new topic. The Cooperative Extension Service celebrated 100 years in 2014, so we have over a 100 year history of working with “local” foods from the field to the table. In recent years my colleagues have worked hard to share new information with Ohio consumers about local foods. This short presentation will highlight the new Ohio Local Foods Week toolkit and just as importantly, it will also remind us to continue to use the great Family and Consumer Sciences resources for nutrition, food safety, community and family. FCS_LocalFoodsWeek2015

The best resource for learning more about Ohio Local Foods Week 2015 is a the Local Foods Signature Program website. A few of the current resources:


Ohio Local Foods Infused Water Experiment

OH Local Foods infused water samples

A recent story I mentioned in a Live Smart Ohio blog was about one of my first jobs at a restaurant located on Lake Erie where each table got a carafe of ice water with sliced lemons. I was charmed one day by a very young diner who announced that I made the best water ever! This past weekend my household helped “make” the best water ever with produce from Ohio.

 Full disclosure: not all of the following ingredients came from Ohio during this 4th of July weekend.  It’s still too early in our growing season to harvest watermelon, peaches and pears.  In order to compare the infused water flavors at the same time, all of those items were purchased from the grocery store. The strawberries and blackberries were from Northwest Ohio but they had been frozen. All of the herb, basil, sage and rosemary were fresh from the backyard garden.  All of these foods do grow in Ohio and I will be repeating these recipes when those other fruits are in season later this summer!

There is no one way to make infused water. There are infuser pitchers but you can make the infused water in a plain pitcher or a single serving in a glass. For this comparison (and space in our refrigerator) I used glasses. You can strain out the foods before serving or leave some of the whole fruits, vegetables and herbs in the class.  The fresh produce in the glass looks very pretty, compared to the frozen and then thawed berries.  For drinking purposes, it’s easier to have the produce strained out first.

This was a good “recipe” for my toddler since he could help wash the produce in cold, running water and “chop” it with his plastic knife and cutting board. The type and variety of fruit will make a difference in the color and amount of sediment in the infused water. For example, a soft pear was very strong in flavor and had more sediment than a firm peach. The berries were frozen from last year so they were not as beautiful as fresh berries but they added flavor as well as a nice color to the water.

Included are two different pictures of our five samples.  One photo shows the ingredients in the glasses and the other shows our numbered samples for a taste test.5 glasses of water infused with Ohio produce

  1. Strawberry Basil
  2. Peach Sage
  3. Blackberry Pear
  4. Watermelon Rosemary
  5. Pear Rosemary



Although we all had different choices in ranking our favorite, they were all good. All of the samples received a thumbs-up. The watermelon waters were very sweet, and the very-ripe pear had a dominate flavor.  I really liked the herbs in the infused water but like other produce, some herbs are going to taste much stronger than others so go lightly when experimenting.  Knowing that sage leaves could have strong flavor, I only used a couple in the Peach Sage infused water.  That one was my favorite!