Central Ohio's Local Food Challenge
The first week of October is going to be exciting for both locavores and the uninitiated in Central Ohio. The Eat Local Challenge, presented by Local Matters, kicks off its series of year-long challenges for Central Ohioans to learn about (and consume from) their region's sustainable agriculture, local farms, and other food resources.
How to Participate:
The first challenge begins Friday, October 2nd, in conjunction with Local Foods Week, a festival celebrating local foods and introducing them to first timers. People wishing to participate in the year-long challenge can fill out a pledge card at Eatlocalohio.org , where they must choose three different ways to eat local. This may seem daunting, but the options are simple (and inexpensive). A few examples: buy an Ohio-grown fruit or vegetable, visit a farmers market, or dine at a “locally-minded” restaurant.
Each challenge features a prize, which includes 26 weeks of local foods from Greener Grocers, local foods cooking class with Tricia Wheeler, or a copy of Edible Book and a subscription to “Edible Columbus”. Check back at the site for updated challenges.
Why Eat Local?:
Local Matters believes food plays a large role in sustaining the local economy. From creating a sense of community to cutting down on fossil fuel consumption (it takes a lot to ship those strawberries over out of season!), Local Matters is dedicated to creating opportunities for local farmers, improving distribution channels, and educating people on the economic benefits of supporting the local food system.
Locally-grown food tastes great, and is more likely to have a higher nutritional value than produce transported from other states and countries. Local, hand-picked produce is generally sold 24 hours after harvest. It seems that the longer the trip is for produce, the more potential for damage and nutrient loss.
Local farmers also grow a wider variety of plants for the sake of taste and nutrition, and don't need to consider shipability as much as agribusiness does. Read this quick article from Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment for more information, go enjoy those heirloom varieties, and strike up a conversation with your friendly neighborhood farmer.
Good luck with the challenges!