COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohioans are fortunate to be able to enjoy many different types of locally produced foods, and Ohio State University Extension is providing the opportunity for people to celebrate that fact during the second annual Ohio Local Foods Week, Aug. 7-13.
“We are blessed here in Ohio with an abundance of locally grown and produced items,” said Heather Neikirk, OSU Extension educator and co-leader of Extension’s Local Foods Signature Program. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.
“We have peaches and apples and sweet corn, and of course milk and yogurt and ice cream, and even craft beers and Ohio wines. There’s so much available now and throughout the season. We really want to take the week to showcase all of the different products available and celebrate local foods.”
Organized events are planned in communities throughout the state and are listed at localfoods.osu.edu/find-event, Neikirk said.
But whether or not there’s a planned event nearby, anyone can participate in a number of ways, she said, including:
- Take the $10 Ohio Local Foods Challenge. Organizers are encouraging Ohioans to pledge to spend at least $10 on local foods during the week. Sign up at localfoods.osu.edu/ohio-local-foods-week/take-challenge. Last year, 225 people pledged to spend $3,820 on local foods during the challenge, Neikirk said. It was the first year for the event, and organizers hope to surpass that amount this year.
- Post pictures on social media. Use the hashtag #localfoodsOH to show how you are enjoying local foods, whether from a traditional store, a farmers market or your own backyard garden.
- “Host a Toast” to Ohio Local Foods, or participate in such an event locally. “We have been encouraging local organizers to ‘Host a Toast’ during Ohio Local Foods Week,” during which local foods or beverages are served and a toast given in honor of Ohio Local Foods Week, Neikirk said. “But if there’s not an event nearby, anyone can Host a Toast, even with just friends and family in their own kitchen.” Ideas for Host a Toast and other events are online at localfoods.osu.edu/ohio-local-foods-week/ideas-celebrating.
Young people are also being encouraged to get involved, Neikirk said. Since last year, OSU Extension has trained 36 teenagers involved in 4-H as peer educators on local foods, and they have already organized awareness programs reaching more than 240 young people, she said. Ohio 4-H is the youth development arm of OSU Extension.
More information on Ohio Local Foods Week, including ways for local businesses and families to get involved, is online at localfoods.osu.edu/ohio-local-foods-week.