By Mahoning SWCD Staff
It is that time of year when we are reaping the rewards of the hard work our local produce farms perform all year-round.
Agriculture is Ohio’s number one industry. According to the Economic Contribution of Agricultural and Food Production to the Ohio Economy report, agricultural and food production in Ohio continues to grow despite decreasing employment and decreasing commodity prices.
In 2015, Ohio’s gross state product (GSP) was $617.4 billion. Ohio’s agricultural and food production cluster with restaurants and bars directly account for $105 billion of the gross state product and 900,000 jobs. Ohio is home to more than 1000 food processing companies and more than 200 commercial crops.
Food and beverage production accounts for nearly 22,000 jobs around northeast Ohio — in fact, it’s a $3.45 billion industry for the region.
So with that said, support local farmers and food processors, your community, and Ohio’s livelihood by purchasing local or Ohio products.
From fresh meats, fruits and vegetables, to dairy products and snack foods, you can find Ohio products, many from Mahoning County and the surrounding counties, in your favorite grocery store, farm market or at a roadside farm stand.
Keep your money where your heart is. By buying local, a greater portion of your food dollar supports farms and businesses that make up the communities and regional economy of Mahoning County and/or the county you live in or nearby.
Farmers continue to farm and operate viable businesses that enhance our communities and strengthen our local food supply. Local family farmers and farm businesses also spend their money with local merchants. The money stays in town where it benefits everyone and builds a stronger local economy.
Independent, family-owned farms supply local jobs. Local businesses mean a stronger tax base and better use of public services.
You will get better customer service when you purchase from the individual or family growing and selling the product because it is their life’s work.
Eating locally grown, healthy food also strengthens your family as well as your community. Fresh, locally grown foods don’t just taste delicious — they usually arrive in markets within 24 hours, so, it’s unusually fresh. Fresher foods keep longer, reducing food waste and providing better value for your food dollar.
Try for a month
Pledge to spend at least 10 percent of your weekly food budget on locally grown and locally made foods for the next month. Buy food directly from a local farm or farmers’ market if possible.
Find a local farmer, farmers’ market, farm stand, or food outlet near you and visit to find out what they have to offer. Encourage your local grocery stores and area restaurants to purchase more of their products from local farmers and farm businesses.
Where to find
Check out www.ohioproud.com. The Ohio Proud program and label is a quick and reliable way for you to identify Ohio-made goods. When you see the OHIO PROUD logo, you know you are getting Ohio-made products that are at least 50 percent grown, raised or processed in Ohio.
Eligible products include meats and condiments, processed foods and frozen entrees, and non-food items such as wood, wool, and animal feeds.
You can also email the Mahoning County Farm Bureau at email@example.com (800-654.-5158) and ask for a list of local producers or you can find information on their website or Facebook.
The site contains a link to what is in season and if you need help determining what to do with your delicious finds at the farm markets. They even have a page filled with recipes.
Consider becoming a member and enjoy numerous benefits such as discounts on insurance, hotels and farm vehicles.
Other counties also have similar information from their local farm bureaus.
The Our Ohio website, www.ourohio.org, produced by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, has a “Grow & Know” link. Tour Ohio farms, taste Ohio’s best local food, learn new cooking and gardening skills and experience Ohio through the series.
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