May 26, 2015 - 9:41am -- young.1414

The growing impact of local foods is something we hear about every week.  The local food revolution, locavore, farm to table, and know your farmer know your food, are just some of the phrases used to describe a conscious desire on the part of people to get fresh locally grown foods.  To help support the local foods movement, Ohio State University Extension has gathered data to create The Butler County Local Foods Guide.  This is a list of local growers and producers of meat, produce, fruits, berries, and cheeses.  Currently, there are about 60 local growers and producers listed.  Most growers have contact information listed in the directory.  A few only sell at Farmer’s Markets and not from the farm.  All these growers are very proud and excited about getting the word out about their products.  Ohio State University Extension’s goal is to give local residents information to connect consumers with local growers.   

The United States Department of Agriculture reports that 87% of consumers regard availability of locally grown foods and other locally packaged foods as major influences on grocery shopping decisions.  Local groceries highlight local produce offerings to entice the discerning shopper:  “Grown Locally” or “Grown in Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana.”  Chefs are always talking about the importance of the chef-grower relationship to assure the highest quality fresh products for their restaurants and businesses.  The National Restaurant Association Industry forecast says that this continuing trend of interest in what is being eaten and where it comes from is reflected in menus.  The food revolution is happening around the country because consumers are more aware of where and how their food is grown more than ever before.  The Butler County Local Foods Directory will make buying and eating locally easier.  

As a consumer we want to have trust and confidence about the food we purchase.  We want to know that the meat and poultry we are eating was treated and raised humanely before harvest, as well as, where and how the produce our family eats was grown and many times, who grew it.  Buying locally will let you personally know who produces your food and how it’s raised.  For example, if you go to one of the popular restaurant chains for a burger and fries, they have the family farm listed that supplied the potatoes being used that day.  This was unheard of 10 years ago.  I recently purchased 100 lbs. of cabbage to make sauerkraut.  As it was being loaded the grower spoke to me and told me that these were his cabbages and he did not use any chemicals on them.  This exchange told me that the farmer was proud of what he produced and wanted others to know about the product he was selling.  Today’s shopper wants to purchase high quality local foods.  

Social, health, and economic concerns all drive consumer decision making.  Local Farmers Markets are rated as the most trusted format to deliver food when comparing all available food delivery systems according to the United States Department of Agriculture.  Health benefits from eating fresh produce are becoming more widely understood and accepted, as research and marketing campaigns are more widespread.  We know that the combination of nutrients and phytonutrients likely play a role to reduce the risk of age-related chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease.  Butler County residents are in just the right location to take advantage of a great variety of locally produced foods.  Agricultural areas are very close to our centers of population and skilled growers want to share their products.  In Butler County, as well as across the United States, the economic impact of local foods is rapidly growing stronger.  In 1994, the National Farmers Market Directory listed 1,755 Farmers Markets compared to 8,144 listed in 2013.  These numbers reflect an economic impact because your money goes directly to the local farmer.

The increase in people doing home food preservation is another way to use The Butler County Local Foods Directory.  If you need larger quantities of produce for home food preservation projects you can contact any of the producers listed.  For example, one year I didn’t have any pickling cucumbers and I wanted to make a new pickle recipe.  I called family farm stand and made arrangements to pick up a basket of pickling cucumbers on my way home from work.  The cukes were picked fresh for me that morning so I could make pickles in the evening.  It doesn’t get any better than that.   We know that nutrition is highest in fresh properly stored produce.  Local growers will pick fresh for you each morning so you can enjoy produce at peak flavor and nutrition.

In Butler County, residents can take advantage of a strong local foods movement by using Ohio State University Extension’s new Butler County Local Foods Guide.  Let your local producers get to know you as a buyer because they value your opinion, and will try to provide what you are interested in purchasing.  Butler County is a great place to be if you’re interested in buying and eating locally.  Once again, see the Butler County Local Foods Guide* at our website and take advantage of the opportunity it offers.  Remember to check out our website: www.butler.osu.edu, or, u.osu.edu/butlerlocalfood, and find us on Facebook:  OSU Extension, Butler County.   

*The Butler County Local Foods Directory includes everyone who has contacted Ohio State University Extension.  We will do regular updates.  If you would like to be listed, please contact Ohio State University Extension, Butler County at (513) 887-3722.  Terri Chatfield, Program Assistant, Family and Consumer Sciences, chatfield.25@osu.edu or (513) 785-6657.

For up-to-date program information, check us out on the web at:  butler.osu.edu.

News Release provided by Cindy Meyer.