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With April upon us, I can't help but think of planting flowers and veggies, dusting off my bike and hitting some great local farmer's markets. (Hello, sunshine. I missed you!) We Ohioans are extremely lucky to have been blessed with an abundance of local farms, but many of us don't take advantage of our local farming community nearly as often as we should.
Something I've been thinking about for awhile now is committing our household to a locally-centered diet, where the majority of what we consume comes from our home state (though I don't think I could commit to 100%. I would miss grapefruit too much!) Have you ever considered doing something like that yourself? Well, if you're in Ohio, the resources to support buying locally made and grown products are phenomenal. Just take a look at one of my favorite resources -- Ohio Proud. Based in nearby Reynoldsburg, Ohio, Ohio Proud's website is a treasure trove of information and a great resource for finding local farmers markets, recipes, partners, and affiliate members selling and supporting all things Ohio-made, like the Fresh Fork Market in the Cleveland area and Buelers Fresh Foods and Heinen's grocers located all over Ohio.
• Local food is more nutritious. The shorter the time between farm and your table the less likely it is that nutrients will be lost.
• Local food preserves genetic diversity. Smaller farms can grow a variety of products without worrying about shipping time and shelf life.
• Local food is safe. Local farmers take pride in the product and hope that the customer will return each week. We are not anonymous and Farmers take their responsibility seriously.
• Local food sales supports local families. Often wholesale prices are near the price of production. By cutting the cost of the middleman and producer receives a better return which helps keep families on the farm.
• Local food builds community. Local vendors often share stories, recipes and information which helps you, your children and your grandchildren learn about nature and agriculture.
• Buying locally cuts down on pollution by reducing the miles reliance on imported foods, which are often shipped or flown from foreign countries.