Eating Local

kaleDeborah Jordan, founding member of the Central Ohio River Valley (CORV) local food initiative, will be joining us at the Milford-Miami Twp. Branch on June 23 to share the philosophy of “eat local”. Register for her workshop.

Ms. Jordan was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions.

Could you explain your philosophy about eating local? What’s considered local?
There are a dozen reasons to eat local: from taste to community connections to our health and the health of the planet.  We all eat and can influence our food system by voting with our forks.   I want to support a just and sustainable food system which is based in a local economy, not food from factory farms or from half way around the world.

We all know about the epidemic of childhood obesity and diabetes, partly from the lack of access to fresh, healthy food and the resulting poor food choices.  I was fortunate to spend time on a farm as a child and see where food comes from; so many children haven’t had that experience.  Potato chips or French fries are as close to a potato as they get.   They think milk comes from the grocery store.  We have to reconnect a whole generation to their food sources and to how to cook.

What’s local is up for discussion; most people agree on 50 to 100 miles or what’s within a day’s harvest and drive.  We are certainly not growing enough in our “foodshed” to  feed our local population, but we have the capacity to grow a lot more of what we need.  Everything I eat is not local, but I do try to go local as much as I can.

What’s your favorite resource for eating local? 

Besides our own garden where we grow small amounts of fruits (strawberries, raspberries, and apples) and vegetables (greens, tomatoes, herbs, squash, beans, etc.) we belong to our neighborhood Community Supported Agriculture or CSA .  We paid upfront plus work an agreed upon number of hours over the growing season in return for a weekly share of produce from May to November.   Our first pickup was lettuce, bok choy, radishes, and onions.  Last year, I tried kohlrabi for the first time since it was in our share and enjoyed it!   I like the idea of a direct connection to the farmer, and I like the idea of a direct connection to the soil and seasons when I help grow food.  I also appreciate how hard farmers work to feed people.

Could you tell us about CORV? What is it and how did it begin?

Central Ohio River Valley initiative is a “grassroots effort to connect community members with local growers and with fresh, healthy local food.  It aims to promote self-sufficiency, sustainability, and the wise use of resources.”   That’s straight from our mission.  We’ve just completed our fifth annual food guide plus give educational presentations and table at events.  I’m actually the producer of the guide, but there is a wonderful “kitchen cabinet” that helps make it happen each year.    I got the idea of the food guide while visiting my friend in Seattle and going to a sustainability fair where I picked up a local food guide.  Back in Cincinnati, I connected with Susan Miller Stigler who wanted to do something around local food.  The time was ripe, and the connections kept happening, including funding to print 10,000 copies.  We printed 45,000 this year plus have a website.

What’s your favorite local food?

Right now, we just finished a few weeks of delicious, prolific , and early strawberries from our own patch, so I would say strawberries.  I will answer differently in a few weeks, which is what I like about eating seasonally: enjoying the changes each month brings.

Do you have a recipe that showcases local food?

My disclaimer: I am not a chef.  That’s why I like including some restaurants in the guide because they know how to showcase local food.    Since there are lots of greens right now, I like steaming chard and/or kale with garlic and onions, even radishes, and putting a vinegar/oil dressing on them.   To really showcase local food, I suggest looking at these cookbooks:  Simply in Season and From Asparagus to Zucchini.

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