Farmers, Chefs Connect for Local Food Offerings

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Several food organizations have collaborated to help connect local farmers with local restaurant owners.

The effort is a growing trend and is already popular in Cleveland and Pittsburgh.  Organizers want to get it started here in the Valley.

On Monday, a meet-and-greet was held to announce a partnership between Goodness Grows, 30 Mile Meal and the Lake-To-River Food Co-Op, which is aimed at connecting area farmers with area chefs so more local food can be served at local restaurants.

Fruits, vegetables and meat, all locally grown, were on display for local restaurant owners.

“So local chefs will know what kind of products are available to them if they want to source locally or regionally,” said Christina Perry, coordinator of 30 Mile Meal.

BJ Sulka, general manager of the Springfield Grille in Poland, started buying locally a few years ago, but wants to do it more often.

“There’s many different farms we haven’t even known that were here. And with the retail, different cuts of beef, pork, a variety of fruits and vegetables we had no idea was so local,” Sulka said.

John Huffman of Huffman Fruit Farm said they grow 30 acres of apples and 11 acres of peaches. He took advantage of Monday’s meet and greet.

“I don’t have time to be out trying to solicit sales myself. With the help of the food co-op, it sounds like a great idea,” Huffman said.

A local cheese producer from Middlefield also showed up, looking to expand his distribution.

“We think we have a unique story that it is a small family farm. No artificial growth hormones, they still hand-milk the cows, use old-style milk cans,” said Edward Gordos of the Middlefield Original Cheese Co-Op.

Organizers use the term triple bottom-line to describe the benefits of buying locally grown foods.  Number one is that it’s healthier, number two is it helps the local economy and the third is that less chemicals are used, which helps the environment.

The 30 Mile Meal Program has started a website listing partners throughout the region offering local foods.

Click here for more information.

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