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Many of us are only two generations removed from a primarily locavore way of life. My grandmother ate seasonally, grew and gathered her own food, put food by (canning, pickling, drying) or purchased it locally. Putting a face to the sources for her food was an everyday experience since the farmer, butcher, orchardist, miller, brewer, baker and fisherman were her neighbors.

The dominance of big ag and other corporate interests in our food lives, concerns about the environmental impacts of shipping foods thousands of miles, and the desire for more transparency about the sources of what we eat has led many people to reclaim a ‘nearer to home’ approach to food. This can be challenging for the many in the U.S., living in what are essentially food deserts. Yet where there’s the will, ways appear. In Youngstown, a Rust Belt city in northeast Ohio, where virtually every inner city grocery store has closed, food champions are combining community gardens, Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), and corner store upgrades to provide healthy, fresh foods.

Here in southeast Ohio, we are fortunate that our food culture has been profoundly influenced and strengthened over the last 20 years by the passions and hard work of our region’s farmers, specialty food producers, independently-owned (and in one case, worker-owned) restaurants. Another important layer is the critical mass of local food economy non profits and resources such as ACEnet’s Food Ventures facility and Community Food Initiatives‘ investment in community gardens, the Edible Schoolyards project, and its Donation Station program that delivers fresh, locally sourced food to people in need at over 40 locations in and around Athens County.

Selling eggs at the Athens Farmers Market

So how does the 30 Mile Meal Project impact those within a 30 mile radius of Athens? For consumers, 30MM responds to the growing desire to know where their food comes from, who is producing it and how (think eggs and the recent salmonella outbreak). The Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACCVB) has created a 30 Mile Meal Map, making it possible for locals and visitors to find nearby food and farmers markets, eateries that primarily use local foods in their menus, CSAs, farm tours, food festivals and events, and more. You can even search for specific local foods such as dairy products, grains or beans. Through our partnerships, we offer learning opportunities such as food-making and cooking workshops and farm tours.

For our 30 MM partners, a major aim of the project is to support local foods earning opportunities for farmers, food producers, food markets, food events and local food enterprises. We’ve created an umbrella brand (logos, a tag line, signage, and products) that can be used to promote their particular piece of the 30 Mile Meal pie (farm, food product, restaurant, festival, etc). ACCVB recently launched a 30MM e-newsletter (anyone can subscribe) that shares farmer profiles, news of upcoming events, a ‘Dining Out with the 30 Mile Meal’ column, and recipes.

Other activities in development include a seasonal calendar of 30MM events and workshops, farm tours, market to chef cooking experiences, additional food-themed events, and local foods recipe contests. The project supports the ACCVB in responding to the growing interest in agri- and culinary tourism and through 30MM partnerships can create and promote touchpoint locavore experiences for both visitors and locals.

As the 30 Mile Meal Project takes root and branches out, our expectation is that it will nourish a more robust, sustainable and locally-driven economy. The seeds are planted…

By Myra Morrison, ACEnet Program Assistant & Microenterprise Trainer

compost manAttendees at  this year’s Real Food Real Local Conference will have the opportunity to participate in an Energy & Food track that includes a session on energy reduction practices in local food businesses. The Athens (OH) area is experiencing exciting interest and progress in reducing energy usage and examples of local partnerships and programs assisting businesses in being more environmentally friendly, while reducing their business expenditures, will be featured. Track participants will learn about ways of reducing energy consumption as well as incentive programs, regional partnerships and upcoming opportunities for businesses owners to assess energy usage and determine what energy alterations could best serve their business needs.

Athens area local food businesses entrepreneurs and farmers have formed a close-knit and interdependent community, with local restaurants and food producers depending on regional farmers to source many of their ingredients and farmers seeking a strong local market to sell their crops. At the foundation of the local food economy is a reliance on a healthy environment with arable land on which to grow nutritious food. Threats to the health of the environment and to the ability of farmers to produce food present a risk to the livelihood of local business owners whose occupation relies on the availability of local produce. As environmental concern about hydraulic fracturing and waste wells escalates throughout the county, many local food businesses owners have added their voices to the discussion, raising concerns about how environmental factors impact food security as well as the region’s local food economy.

Awareness of the environmental impact of energy consumption has led many local food and farm business owners to make efforts to reduce their energy usage. While the practice of reducing energy consumption has a profound impact on business’s environmental footprint, this practice also provides positive returns on the business’s bottom line. Reducing energy consumption ultimately means reducing energy expenditures, cutting down on overhead costs and allowing for increased profit margins for businesses.

christine for blogThe Village Bakery has been in the forefront of energy reduction efforts. Over the years, owners Christine Hughes and Bob O’Neil have tracked the effect their low-impact practices have had on their bottom line. From 2008 through 2013, they decreased their use of electricity by 40% and reduced gas usage by 80%, while meeting increased demand and seeing their sales increase by 20% over the five year period. This achievement was reached by switching to high efficiency appliances, utilizing wood as a fuel source for the bakery ovens, and installing solar panels on the bakery’s roof.

As interest in reducing energy within the food sector has grown, partnerships and programs have formed to assist business owners in assessing their energy consumption and determining “next steps” that would best benefit each in creating a cost-effective energy plan. Last November ACEnet hosted the Green Your Business Grow Your Bottom Line Forum which brought together small business owners, along with representatives from AEP, local banks, and zero waste practitioners to discuss strategies, funding options, and incentive programs available to assist business owners in transitioning to energy efficient practices. In June, Carol Davey will be coming to Athens through the Appalachian Transition Fellowship Program to spend a year providing support and coordination to Southeast Ohio small business owners in the area of energy reduction and alternative energy practices.

You can learn more  about the 3rd Annual Real Food Real Local Institute and the Food & Energy track offerings here.

 

O’Chocolate located in Athens, Ohio uses only Certified Fair Trade Organic Chocolate to produce their gourmet chocolate bars. Not only is their chocolate certified fair trade organic, but they also source many of the other ingredients used in their chocolates locally. They source Lavender Extracts and Vanilla Sea Salt from Ancient Roots, Popped Amaranth from Shagbark Seed and Mill, Sticky Pete’s Maple Syrup, and Scotty McHotty Hot Pepper Blend from a local farmer outside of Columbus that grows and dries organic chili peppers especially for O’Chocolate that they use in a few of their gourmet chocolate bars including their delicious Cayenne Truffle. O’Chocolate also sources Ridge Runner Coffee, Silver Ridge Coffee, and wines from Shade Winery to produce their Peace O Luv, Fur Peace Ranch Bar, Espresso gourmet chocolate bars, and red wine for their red wine truffles. Not only are the ingredients sourced locally, but they also source the art used for their new logo and packaging from local web designers and local graphic designers. O’Chocolate does not only produce local gourmet chocolate bars, but Stacy Peters, owner and creator, strives as hard as possible to source most of their ingredients locally in order to keep with the common theme of the Athens Locavore Movement!

Casa Nueva and Cantina Bloody Mary Bar

Casa Nueva Restaurant & Cantina is known around town for their delicious Bloody Mary Bar held occasionally on certain Sundays of the month. It is their mission to strengthen the environmental, economic and social well being of the community by promoting wholesome products, democratic participation and responsible business practices. Stay tuned for the next Bloody Mary Bar date and join Casa Nueva for a delicious Sunday brunch meal made of locally sourced ingredients and a beautiful community atmosphere! Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery mini buns were happily part of the recent Bloody Mary Bar at the Casa Nueva Restaurant & Cantina. Ultra-mini slider buns. Apparently they went very fast! Make sure to check out what Jackie O’s has to offer at their Bake shop each week and enjoy fresh made local bread on the daily!!

A look inside of a 30 Mile Meal Intern

‘Tis the season for internship applications, resume updates, cover letter critiques, phone interviews and a little bit of stress for college students as they await to hear back from their dream company for an internship opportunity. Meet one Ohio University student who has spent much of her time interning with the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau and becoming involved with the 30 Mile Meal program. Here is a little interview about my experience with interning for the 30 Mile Meal, and what it has taught me about our mission. It is our ‘super-local’ effort to assist visitors and residents in finding (within a 30 mile radius of Athens) local foods and places where you can savor the flavors and food experiences of our region. Click on the picture above in order to learn more!

30 Mile Meal Night Every Tuesday

Attention 30 Mile Meal Partners and Fans!!!
30 Mile Meal restaurant week is in July, but supporting the Ohio rural farming community, locavore movement, and eating local food should be celebrated more often than just for one week in July. Join us in celebrating 30 Mile Meal night held every Tuesday. Restaurants may offer certain specials on Tuesday becoming a weekly gathering where people can celebrate the culture of the Real Food Real Local Real Good food movement. Spring is in the air and fresh produce is coming back into season so why not try one of the amazing local 30 Mile Meal Restaurants Athens has to offer on 30 Mile Meal Night every Tuesday.

Let us celebrate the delicious qualities Athens has to offer on a weekly basis!

Click below for a list of our wonderful local restaurants and partners of the 30 Mile Meal campaign and feel free to check them out one Tuesday at a time.Click below for a list of our wonderful local restaurants and partners of the 30 Mile Meal campaign and feel free to check them out one Tuesday at a time!

http://www.athensohio.com/30mile/458

Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery is the only Brewpub in Athens! With live entertainment and 38 different beers on tap, including a wide variety of neo-traditionally crafted artisan brews, you won’t want to miss out on the good brew & Live Entertainment!! Jackie O’s prides itself on working with our surrounding community to foster and promote sustainability and local initiatives. Their in house menu consists of their most popular items including local Burgers, Sandwiches, and Appetizers. They have also begun offering daily specials to enlighten their consumer’s taste buds, support local organizations and pursue different culinary favorites in their kitchen. Jackie O’s also serves fantastic pizza with gluten free crust and locally sourced veggie and meat pizza toppings. Their pizzas are prepared with spent grains from their brewing process, giving the pizza a truly authentic flavor. Nearly all of the ingredients utilized in their food preparation adhere to the 100 mile rule, meaning your food is prepared with only the freshest ingredients found within 100 miles of Athens. This is a bit beyond the 30 Mile Meal, but the entire concept behind Jackie O’s is to tie the community together as a whole and have as much local support as possible. Jackie O’s has far more than reached this goal and will only continue to grow and prosper as one of our most successful Athens 30 Mile Meal Partners!

The Donation Station

The CFI Donation Station addresses Athens County’s most immediate food security issue-access to healthy fresh foods for all. We receive both food and monetary donations each week at the Athens Farmers Market from market customers and vendors and local community gardeners. The monetary donations are used to purchase fresh foods from the market vendors. Additional funds allow us to purchase food from the Chesterhill Produce Auction.

All of the food collected is distributed weekly to local food pantries and social service agencies. In 2012, over 44,300 pounds of produce and local food products were distributed!

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