Local foods events challenge you to buy local

There continues to be a great deal of interest in local foods, as well as purchasing local products with the focus on keeping our dollars circulating in our local economy.

Purchasing local food products supports our local growers, keeps people employed and lets us consume the freshest food possible.

The Miami Valley is doing its part to support local foods through programs, marketing, and by working with local growers.

One of the challenges is getting the word out about the local foods effort and getting our residents to connect with our local growers.

Several counties are working on this effort through educational programs called Food Summits. These are meetings where all interested parties come together and learn about what’s out there in terms of local foods.

The Ohio State University Extension in Clark County is hosting the 2nd Annual Food Summit on Nov. 14 from 8 a.m to 4 p.m at Springfield High School.

The keynote speaker is Jessica Eikelberry from Local Roots Market and Café in Wooster, Ohio. She is going to share about their success story in Wooster.

Downtown Wooster is vibrant and healthy and a lot of this is due to the local restaurants and local effort. I love to visit the Wooster area and enjoy the great local flavor (as well as Secrest Arboretum!).

They started the local food initiative in 2009 when people who were interested in helping to make local food more accessible started talking and connecting. This is exactly the purpose of these food summits.

Through hard work and many meetings, this group realized their full vision of building a Commercial Processing Kitchen in 2014, which allows producers to process and preserve products for sale in the local market and around the country.

In addition to Eikelberry, OSU Extension specialist Matt Kleinhenz will share ideas for extending the growing season with high tunnel greenhouse structures.

Next, Dietitian Leslie Edmunds will discuss nutrition for optimal health and an OSU Extension Family and Consumer Science educator in Clark County will talk about food preservation and food safety.

We will then have an opportunity to talk to local chefs about the benefits and challenges of creating a menu with local foods.

At the end of the day there will be a panel to talk about what’s happening locally and how you can become involved.

You will leave the event challenged to have a local Thanksgiving meal.

In addition, all of the food served during the event will be from local growers and vendors.

There will be exhibitors at the event sharing local products as well as helping you to connect to healthy local foods.

To learn more about the event and to register, go to http://go.osu.edu/clarklocalfoods.

The cost is $15, which includes snacks and a locally sourced lunch.

Montgomery County is hosting a similar program Thursday Nov. 5. For more details, contact Emily Bradford at bradforde@mcohio.org or call 937-225-6470.

Pamela Corle-Bennett is the state master gardener volunteer coordinator and horticulture educator for Ohio State University Extension. Contact her by email at bennett.27@osu.edu.

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