Do friends help friends eat local?

Do friends help friends eat local?

Civic Cynthia
on Apr 28, 2011

"Eat local." It's a great slogan, but what would make you eat more locally grown food? And if you did, would it matter to northeast Ohio's economy?

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What do you think?

on 2017-07-25T02:47:06+00:00
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Nancy Reeves
on Jun 23, 2011
"Another searchable database for local foods - with a focus on pasture fed animals."
Hannah Kerman
on May 17, 2011 - 11:15 pm

I'm sort of new on the "local eating," scene, but I've found it to be an accessible and rewarding experience. I'm currently interning at Snake Hill Farm, an organic farm in Bainbridge. We mainly produce beef, but there is also a steady crop of veggies, and many many gallons of fresh maple syrup that we sell at the Shaker Square and Chagrin Falls Markets.Food means so much more when you know where it has come from, when you are supporting someone real, who is standing in front of you handing you the vegetables. Cooking and eating the cilantro I picked with my own hands was a pretty cool experience. Local eating is fresher, tastier, and more fuel efficient (so often times, subsequently cheaper). Especially in Ohio, where our rich soil allows the production of almost everything but tropical fruits (although we are growing Ginger at Snake Hill), there is no reason we shouldn't bolster our local agriculture community by buying and eating local. Plus, when you talk to the farmer you can know for sure that you're not ingesting harmful GMO's and strange meat mutations. Why not eat local?



Nancy Reeves
on May 18, 2011

Having grown up on a farm, your post raises so many mixed feelings for me.

Although it isn't a thrill for me, since eating very local was more about what we could afford than anything else, there is something very satisfying about growing the food you are eating. And it has so much more flavor than anything you can buy in the store. There is nothing quite like walking out in the field to grab a few ears of sweet corn, stripping the husks off on the walk back to the house, and tossing them into a pot of boiling water...

But, about what we could afford - my first full time teaching job in 1978 paid $10,500. I didn't realize it at the time, but a couple years later (so my wages had gone up a little, but not a lot) I was comparing wages with my father (also a college graduate). Finally, after around a quarter century of farming, he made as much as I was making just a couple of years out of college (in another notoriously low paid profession). We raised cattle, among things, but I never tasted steak until at least late high school because the only beef we could afford came from the cows that wouldn't fetch enough at market to be worth shipping them - and whatever made them not good enough for anyone else to buy also meant they were hamburger or roast, rather than steak, material.

Still, it was a good life - I wouldn't trade it for a different one, and there was never anything I needed that we didn't have. And I'm contributing to the urban sprawl partly because I couldn't imagine raising a child on a postage stamp sized lot. But it isn't the romantic idea a lot of folks have about living off the earth. And the economics of being a family farmer are still hard.

Which brings me to the economics of eating local/organic food, using Snake Hill as an example. Snake Hill is remarkably transparent about its practices. I'm not picking on Snake Hill - I expect it is not alone in its practices. And, I'm also a bit reluctant to use them to raise this question because the only reason I have a clue about them is because of their transparency, a choice a lot of farms wouldn't make. Like I said, your post raised a lot of mixed emotions for me, but the economic question is one worth raising, and their transparency gives me some numbers to work with.

Snake Hill mentions on its website that it pays $6.00 an hour - less than minimum wage, and the pay for first year interns is $4.00 an hour (discounting the value of food and lodging, and assuming 40 hours a week, and on the farms I am familiar with, a 40 hour a week would be a luxury). I am not suggesting Snake Hill would run afoul of wage laws - there are exemptions from minimum wage laws which they likely fall into - just pointing it out for reference. I also think the internship idea is a wonderful way to connect people who have never had that experience with what it takes to get food from the earth to the table (or as a training ground for thinking about starting more Snake Hills for those farther along in their commitment to farming).

There is a tension, though, between making local/organic food (the latter of which is more labor intensive) affordable enough that people will buy it - and charging enough to make sure that those producing the local/organic food are paid enough so that they can sustain themselves.

Do I ask, when I'm talking to the farmer,not only how sustainable her farming practices are in environmental terms, but also whether they are sustainable in people terms? On a small scale, particularly when so many people are out of work, can we afford the real cost of local/organic foods? On a larger long term scale, can we afford not to move in that direction?

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Michelle May-Curry
on May 17, 2011 - 1:00 pm

here's a awesome website that gives info about how people in Cleveland can eat local. The basic how tos, the wheres, and the whys



Nancy Reeves
on May 17, 2011

Here's another resource - searchable by zip code.

It isn't comprehensive (the local seasonal market we shop at isn't listed), but it looks like a nice place to start.

Nancy Reeves
on Jun 23, 2011

Another searchable database for local foods - with a focus on pasture fed animals.

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The Civic Commons
on Apr 28, 2011 - 10:22 am

In response to a special City Club Forum featuring Michael Shuman -- author, attorney and economist who helped develop the "Northeast Ohio Local Food Assessment and Plan" ( -- a group of Gilmour Academy students went on camera to share their thoughts.

Here's what Michael Zavagno, Ryan Tobbe, Jenna Radcliffe, Colleen Kelly and Caitlin Brett had to say about northeast Ohio's food economy, why it matters, and creative ways to share local foods with friends.

What do you think of their ideas, and what else could be done to encourage people -- of all ages -- to get involved in NEO's local foods movement?



Lia Lockert
on Apr 28, 2011

For those that would like to learn more, here's a video of Michael Shuman's City Club discussion:

Robert Stockham
on May 03, 2011

Eating local is more than a movement, it is a lifestyle. When you are dedicated to eating a local foods diet, you find that the food is fresher and tastes better. Simply by sharing meals with your friends and family, you are promoting the local foods movement in a quiet way. I cannot tell you how many of my friends have been impressed with the great produce I use at potlucks, dinners, etc for its flavor. I am always proud to tell them that it came from Fresh Fork Market, a local farms CSA. This year at least two families have signed up to join the CSA after having tasted how great the produce was from last year.

Sometimes, movements and revolutions can happen in a quiet way.

Michele Kilroy
on May 05, 2011

Local food advocates are always recruiting new local food advocates. But I also encourage local companies and organizations to engage local food caterers and hold your events at locally owned establishments.

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