Thursday, December 08, 2005

Headin' Out to the Foodshed

Local agriculture is getting some good press and more supporters these days!

I missed picking up last week's local paper (the weekly, not the daily) but grabbed the last copy yesterday when I saw the front page article "Chefs, Local Growers Find Niche in Ohio Agriculture." Not only is the local Bistro supporting local growers, but other area restaurants (especially in the big cities) are finding it worthwhile to buy locally. And consumers are expressing support, too:

The 2004 Ohio Survey, conducted by Jeff Sharp and Molly Bean Smith from Ohio State's Department of Human and Community Resource Development, found that 59 percent of the nearly 2,000 respondents said they would be willing to pay at least 10 percent more for foods grown locally.

Wondering who in the area serves some of that farm-fresh goodness? The Central Ohio Chef-Grower Network offers that information (though the site is still under construction). I doubt this is a completely comprehensive list, or else my area isn't considered "central," but it's a start!

I've also ventured into the links on other blogs and come across the food blogs of a couple of other local foods advocates: Cookin' in the 'Cuse (Syracuse, NY) and Life Begins at 30 (the San Francisco Bay area, CA). Wouldn't you love to read more about the raptures of local foods? (And if any of you Dear Readers find similar local-food blogs, will you share?)

Those sites then led me to a wonderful project called Locavores, a "group of concerned culinary adventurers who are making an effort to eat only foods grown or harvested within a 100 mile radius of San Francisco for an entire month." An ambitious project, but one that can be done well in an area of abundant small farms and farmers' markets. They have opened the door to encourage others to make the same attempt in their own foodsheds, offering additional information as to why it's better to eat locally.

Given what I've learned this year about what is available just through the local farmers' market, I'm leaning toward giving this one-month-of-local-foods a try in the coming year. (It's probably foolish to try it in the depth of winter as my stores run out!) After all, a 100-mile radius for me encompasses most of Ohio, including some rich farmlands and abundant farmers' markets. So in coming weeks, I'll be looking through my cupboards to figure out what's there, what gets used, and what I need to try and find locally. (Inspiration continues to come from the Tyee's series on the Hundred-Mile Diet, with "With the Grain" being the latest.) Perhaps I'll even contact some of my far-flung friends to work out swaps of locally-produced foods where either of us have a local lack.

This is likely to lead to further changes in my eating habits... all for the better, I would hope! But I'll keep you posted as my adventure progresses. And by all means, if you're willing to give it a try, too, let me know and share your experiences with us all!

And I'll meet you out behind the foodshed.


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