Guide Connects Ohioans to Fresh, Local Foods

August 18, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Farmers’ markets are in full swing in the Buckeye State, but locally-sourced foods are available year-round in Ohio. Anyone in the state can find growers in their area in the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s “Good Earth Guide,” a directory of organic and sustainable farms that sell directly to the public.

OEFFA spokesperson Lauren Ketcham says shoppers can find almost anything produced locally, from vegetables to honey.

“Dairy products, maple syrup, grass-fed meats, free-range chicken and eggs, flour and grains, as well as value-added products and preserved foods, are available year-round.”

Ketcham cites other benefits to “eating local,” including keeping food dollars in the local economy and preserving Ohio’s farmland and agricultural traditions. In addition, buying organic products from small farms can have health and food safety benefits, particularly given the environmental concerns in the state. Of recent note are toxic algae problems in Lake Erie and Grand Lake Saint Marys, she says.

“According to the Ohio EPA, fertilizers and manure that wash off farm fields and into our waterways are the most significant sources of these toxic algae blooms. But organic and sustainable growers use practices that really protect the soil, our air and our water.”

Organic farmers avoid pesticides and use processes like crop rotation and cover crops, which reduce soil erosion and runoff, explains Ketcham.

Since the guide was first published in 1990, the list of producers has grown from about a dozen to more than 300. Ketcham calls it a reflection of the tremendous growth in demand for locally-grown, sustainably-produced foods. The database can be searched by product, county, farm owner or farm name. It is available at www.oeffa.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service – OH

This article appeared in the Public News Service:  http://www.publicnewsservice.org/index.php?/content/article/15509-1