Ohio is home to more than 77,000 local farms, ranging from small-owned farms to large, family-run operations. These farms feature a diverse selection of 200+ different types of produce and livestock. You may be wondering, what exactly is the process for these fresh products to arrive from the farm to your dinner table?
According to Green City Growers, the average fruit or vegetable on an American’s plate travels roughly 1,500 miles to get there.²
What’s unique about having access to local farmers’ markets is that the journey from production to consumption is a lot shorter, since the production process is occurring nearby, making an overall smaller journey.
The process from farm to plate consists of five different stages: production, processing, distribution, retailer, and consumer.¹
These processes are crucial to the journey of our food, and farmers’ markets make the journey faster, more efficient, and ecologically friendly.
The production process consists of farmers cultivating fresh produce, livestock, and other products. Many other states rely on Ohio for certain crops that they are unable to produce, like soybeans and corn. Ohioans must rely on other states for products that cannot be produced here as well, like Florida for year-round tropical fruits.
Luckily, Ohio’s vast biodiversity allows for a large variety of products that are featured in our local stores and farmers’ markets.
Photo by Ryan Grzybowski
Food processing is defined as any of a variety of operations by which raw foodstuffs are made suitable for consumption, cooking, or storage.³
Our local farms go through several different processing steps to prepare the food that they bring to the markets. These processes include the cleaning, sorting, packaging, and preservation of products.
For example, certain products that are available at the market, like fruit jams and compotes, go through the preservation process, as the fruit is prepared and jarred to create a long-lasting product.
Processing is a crucial part of the food journey in ensuring that produce is well-prepared and ready to be purchased.
Photo by Ryan Grzybowski
The distribution of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other products connects the farms to retailers for these fresh products to be sold to the public. The types of transportation that are involved in the distribution process are limitless, including ground, air, and water transports.
Lucky for Ohioans, fresh produce from local farms are abundant in not only grocery stores, but farmers’ markets as well. Having access to fresh produce within miles of the farm it was grown at can also be considered ecologically responsible.
By buying locally grown produce, you’re actively reducing your carbon footprint by receiving products that require only a small amount of ground transportation.
Retailers are how fresh produce and products can be connected to the general public for consumption. Unique to the Midwest is the abundance of local farmers’ markets, and the real connections they form between the farms and consumers.
Farmers’ markets provide the general public with the opportunity to support local farmers and their businesses, including many family-owned and operated farms.
To learn more about how you can get involved, click here.
The final process of the food journey is one that you can take part in: being the consumer.
Buying fresh produce from farmers’ markets directly supports local agricultural businesses, and it reduces one’s carbon footprint by reducing the number of fossil fuel emissions that large forms of transportation can emit during distribution. It’s time to take advantage of the fresh resources Ohio has to offer.