A new publication that connects food producers with consumers not only can help increase food producers’ bottom lines but can increase consumers’ access to safe, nutritious, locally produced foods, says a local foods expert in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.
The Columbus Local Foods Guide is designed to benefit food producers by exposing them to an engaged consumer market for their products as well as benefit consumers by informing them of the availability and locations of local food producers, said Mike Hogan, an Ohio State University Extension educator who is also the coordinator of the university’s Sustainable Agriculture Team.
OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the college.
The free guide, which Hogan created, is available online as a PDF at go.osu.edu/columbusfood. The guide is also available in a hard-copy format at the Franklin County office of OSU Extension, 2105 South Hamilton Road, Suite 100, Columbus.
“This guide can help facilitate farmers selling directly to consumers, cutting out the middleman and allowing producers to retain more of the value of the sale,” he said. “If that same farmer sells the same product directly to a commodity market, he or she will lose some 50 percent of the profit to the middle man.
“Another benefit of the guide is that it helps more people understand where food comes from, creating a more informed consumer. And a more informed consumer is more likely to be a repeat consumer. ”
The guide feature information on 28 community farmers markets, eight farm markets and farm stands, and 11 Community Supported Agriculture operations in Franklin and surrounding counties, Hogan said.
It also includes numerous other markets where consumers can purchase fruits, vegetables, meats, honey, eggs, cottage foods, baked goods and other food items directly from farmers and food producers.
It lists the businesses’ addresses, hours, locations, dates, websites and phone numbers.
The guide also features a section designed to address food access issues by providing information on the Veggie SNAPS program, which is central Ohio’s Farmers Market Incentive Program. The program allows people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, also known as food stamps, to increase their purchasing power at some area farmers markets, Hogan said.
“The guide is a win for producers because it expands their customer base, and it’s a win for consumers because it puts them in a position to be able to buy items that have fewer food miles on them because they were produced locally,” he said. “And it’s a win for the community when we expand the local economy.”