Many of you will have read about our attempts to compile a food organizations database as a preliminary step toward holding a food summit later this year. It was therefore with interest that we attended WCBE‘s coffee klatch on locavorism. The topic of this klatch was timely with the showing of Food Inc. and Polycultures this week, so it was disappointing that there were fewer than 20 people in the audience.
Slow Food Columbus was not represented on the panel, but made up a significant proportion of the audience and whilst Slow Food’s focus is on ‘Good, Clean and Fair’ food, I believe that there is a lot of common ground between these ideals and eating locally.
I thought that some of you who were unable to attend might be interested in who spoke and where you can find out more information about their organizations. Some of the same speakers will also be speaking at the Drexel theatre with Wednesday, in conjunction with a showing of Food Inc., so if you missed the preview last week, it is a good opportunity to see it.
The speakers at the Coffee Klatch (from left to right in the photo above) were:
Michael Jones – Local Matters.
Chuck Lynd – Clintonville Community Market
Nick Dekker – Wild Goose Creative and ‘Breakfast with Nick’
Maureen Metcalf – Earth Touch
Warren Taylor – Snowville Creamery
Lisa Dillman – Restaurant Widow
Jaime Moore – Wayward Seed
Each speaker was given time to talk about their organization, plans, goals and initiatives.
Michael Jones described Local Matters as the local food folks and talked about their education work in schools as well as trying to increase access to healthy foods both in schools and in the community. He also talked about the role of the Greener Grocer in creating a market opportunity for local farmers. Local Matters has a new restaurant membership initiative. To join, restaurants have to commit to using at least 2 local items on their menu from May-October. Michael admitted that this was a low bar, but described it as a starting point.
Chuck Lynd introduced the Clintonville Community Market with some history of the market. He highlighted the advantages of being a small local grocery store. The market has over 80 local vendors and is open 364 days a year from 8am-10pm.
Nick Dekker described the work of Wild Goose Creative, a community arts organization which hosts a wide variety of events including a monthly series called ‘Too Many Cooks’ which promotes the culinary arts. Nick also writes a food blog about different breakfast places in Columbus and wherever his travels take him.
Maureen Metcalf was representing Earth Touch, an organization whose theme is people being in harmony with nature. As well as trying to get people to connect with nature through wildlife preserves and life skills in wild areas, they are also trying to make ‘nature’ available in the city. Earth Touch is also concerned with healthy food for the community and is involved with Cafe Bella‘s Giving Garden. This sounds like a fantastic project. Vince Withers at Cafe Bella (in Clintonville) has a garden next to his restaurant and grows plants to give out to families at the food pantry so that they can grow their own garden.
Warren Taylor is the indefatigable owner of Snowville Creamery and an enthusiastic dairy proponent. Warren explained that he started Snowville Creamery because he was disgusted in the milk choices available in local grocery stores. Snowville milk is ‘milk as good as it was 50 years ago and an unchanged from the cow as possible’. He also spoke passionately about his wider food philosophy. Warren said that he agrees with the movie Food Inc. that we vote with our food dollars every day, but the choices need to be there. We won’t change the world until we can change what is on the shelves at Kroger’s.
You can read about Slow Food Columbus’s tour of Snowville Creamery on our recent tour to Athens.
Lisa Dillman has a well established food blog with a wide and loyal readership. Her blog gives a lot of information about local events, farmers markets and opportunities to eat locally. Lisa feels that she plays an important role in educating consumers about where to shop, what to buy and how to cook local produce.
Jaime Moore told us the story of Wayward Seed Farm. She and her ‘partner in life’ Adam Welly started Wayward Seed Farm four years ago as a 1 acre plot. They wanted to supply restaurants but soon realized that they would also need to sell directly to consumers and started going to the North Market farmers market. Wayward seed grow over 100 different products and focus on more unusual or heirloom varieties. They now farm over 30 acres in 3 counties and sell at a number of different markets. They also have a very successful CSA program.
One interesting information that came out of the Q&A session was that $35bn are spent on food in Ohio annually, but only 1% of that is spent on food that is actually grown in Ohio. Warren Taylor spoke at length about the definition of local food, proposing that it differs depending on the product and that there is a toss up between quality, freshness and distance.
Other groups and organizations that were mentioned were:
Ohio Department of Agriculture, Food Policy Council (founded 2007)
Four Seasons City Farm
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA)
LocalFoodColumbus (another blog)