Good Earth Guide lists sources for local food

By  Jacob Kanclerz
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

June 8, 2012

Shoppers looking to buy “local foods” now can refer to an updated guide to find those who sell Ohio-grown or -produced organic and natural products.

The Good Earth Guide lists more than 350 farms and businesses in Ohio that sell locally grown food, many directly to consumers. Compiled by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, it’s available in a print edition or at www.oeffa.org.

Farms and businesses in the guide sell vegetables, fruits, dairy products, meats, flowers and other products. Shoppers can find farms by county or products offered, with contact information for each listing. Information also is provided on which farms and businesses have been certified organic by the association.

The guide doesn’t include all Ohio growers because farmers provide their information voluntarily, said Renee Hunt, the education-program director for the association. But the guide has grown since it was first published in 1990 as more people have embraced the local-foods trend.

Buying local results in fresher and more-healthful products, and it helps the local economy.

“People are looking for local farms,” Hunt said. “Local chefs are looking for fresh ingredients.”

Growers said the list is great for discovering locally grown food sources and has helped bring in business.

“It’s a good resource for us as a business and for our customers,” said Kevin Murphy, assistant general manager of the Bexley Natural Market, 508 N. Cassady Ave. in Bexley. The store is a cooperative grocer that carries organic and natural products.

In addition to the Good Earth Guide, there are other guides to farmers markets and local growers provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, said Christie Welch, a farmers-market specialist with Ohio State University.

Hunt said the Good Earth Guide serves as a starting point for people wanting to delve into local food.

The printed edition of the Good Earth Guide is free to members of the association or $10 for nonmembers. The online database is free to the public.

Information on local farmers markets also can be found at Dispatch.com.