Making Local Foods Easier to Spot - FamilyEducation

Making Local Foods Easier to Spot

March 20,2009
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

We’re huge advocates of “eating local” in the Sweet Pea family. Our milk (which I promise you, tastes way better than mass-produced regular milk) comes from Snowville Creamery, a local dairy farm that produces some of the best tasting milk I have ever had. We love our local farmers’ markets and visit them weekly during the growing season. One of the first places we take out-of-town visitors is the local North Market, which features butchers, farmers and food producers from central Ohio. And our latest move has been joining New Century CSA, a local agricultural fruit and vegetable co-op. But despite our best efforts, we certainly eat a fair amount of non-local and internationally grown foods. Perhaps if we lived in a more temperate climate, with agriculture and foods being grown year round, we could exist solely off of local foods, but we live in Ohio…cold, snowy, and winter-ful Ohio. Even as spring arrives today, I am reminded that it will be weeks if not months before our local produce flourishes to the point of allowing local farmers to share their bounty. Yes, this is the time of the year when fresh produce usually isn’t going to be coming from anywhere close to home. With the Department of Agriculture’s new requirement to better label foods, we’ll all have a better idea of where our food is being grown, raised or produced. Produce, meats, seafood and nuts will have country-of-origin information on their packaging, and seafood will have additional information on whether it is wild or farm raised. These labels are important, especially in the case of certain foods. For instance, certain produce items, such as Chilean grapes, have consistently higher levels of pesticides than their American-produced counterparts. In addition, seafood that has been certified as wild and sustainable is less likely to contain contaminants than farm raised fish, which may be farmed in an environmentally irresponsible manner. So be on the lookout for the additional labeling during your next grocery trip. And as we celebrate this first day of spring, get ready for your local foods coming to market by visiting localharvest.org. SPC