In recent years, the push to eat local and support local businesses has grown. The importance of eating local is glaringly evident as ethical and efficiency issues with industrial farming come to light. Local food systems are becoming more respected and more prominent, and creating a movement as they grow.
When it comes to understanding the importance of local food production, Athens, Ohio and its neighboring towns (like Nelsonville) have always been ahead of the curve.
The Locavore Movement in Athens, OH
"Locavore" is a freshly coined word to describe people that try to eat local foods as often as possible. Eating Local In Athens Ohio isn't hard because the community has really rallied around the idea of being locavores. The Athens Ohio Locavore stems from a community that cares about sustainability and supporting local businesses, especially through eating locally and caring about where their food came from. These values have driven Athens to be a leader in local food production efforts in Ohio and a forefront of the locavore movement.
The Athens community has created several efforts to contribute to a more efficient, environmentally conscious food system.
30 Mile Meal
The 30 Mile Meal is an initiative that connects local farms, markets, restaurants, and food events that are within 30 miles of Athens. This project is headed by the Athens County Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks. Together, they work to partner with hundreds of local food producers and eateries in order to create an easy-to-navigate network.
Not only does The 30 Mile Meal help connect restaurants with potential local suppliers (and vice versa), it also has a comprehensive map that shows citizens and visitors of Athens where they can go to get the complete locavore experience. For those wondering whether a particular establishment is part of this local network, look for the rooster logo, which indicates a partnership with The 30 Mile Meal.
For someone who values eating locally, The 30 Mile Meal resource is unparalleled.
The Athens Farmers Market
For locavores, or anyone for that matter, a farmers market is the perfect place to buy quality local produce and other goods.
Athens is home to one of the highest-rated farmers markets in the country.
Established in 1972, the Athens County Farmer's Market quickly became a staple of the community. Not only do vendors have everything from fresh produce and baked goods to floral arrangements, but the market is also a fantastic social event for the citizens of Athens. Friends and neighbors, producers and consumers, all gather in the parking lot of the Athens Mall every Wednesday and Saturday.
Another advantage of the market is the ability to interact with producers. The goal of most locavores is to know where their food comes from. There is no better place to get this sense than the farmers market. Customers get to interact with the farmers who grow or raise their food.
Whether you're doing your weekly grocery shopping, or just wanting to trying some of the prepared foods offered at the market, you can do it all surround by friendly faces.
The Ohio Pawpaw Festival
Not only does Athens pull out all the stops when it comes to giving its citizens the resources to eat locally, it also hosts events to raise awareness about local foods. The Ohio Pawpaw Festival, held at Lake Snowden, is an annual event that takes place each fall and celebrates the Pawpaw fruit.
This tree fruit is native to the U.S. and typically grows in the Northeast and Midwest regions of the country. The festival shows the versatility of the fruit with all sorts of pawpaw goods—pawpaw bread, pawpaw salsa, and even pawpaw beer! Art vendors, contests, and live music also draw in festival-goers.
The festival certainly achieves its goal of drawing attention to the pawpaw, but it also shows how practical -and delicious- local foods can be!
Of course these are only a few of the major locavore attractions in and around Athens. Hocking College, located in Nelsonville, Ohio (about 15 minutes outside of Athens), is a great place to consider for those locavores looking for a college degree!
Not only is there easy access to events in Athens itself, Nelsonville is also home to many local restaurants and its own farmers market! Plus, Hocking’s new Agroecology program takes being a locavore to the next level. Agroecology is an academic discipline that studies the way ecology and agriculture interact, with a focus on sustainable, local farming.
For anyone interested in local food production and consumption, there is no better place to be than Southeastern Ohio.