Do you enjoy using locally sourced ingredients? If so, the Farm to Table competition is the perfect contest for you. Using only food from your county, you’ll be challenged to create an unrivaled cold salad recipe to help support the local sustainable food community. All main ingredients in your recipe must be purchased from a local Ohio farm, farmer’s market, or a gourmet supermarket.

If you’re new to the Farm to Table concept here are some tips to help:

1. Before you craft your recipe, think of produce that is in season and will be available locally at the time of the fair.

Research the fruits and vegetables available in your area. Summer is a peak time for most produce, but not every fruit and vegetable will be available in your region.

2. Once you’ve decided on your produce, research the products you’re going to buy so you can easily distinguish ripe produce from unripe produce to ensure you buy only the highest quality.

When picking out your produce, handle with care. The less you touch and squeeze them, the better! Squeezing your produce will lead to bruising and eventually spoiling.

3. Take time to get to know the farmer or seller and ask questions. Let them know what you’re making and allow them to help you pick the right ingredient or variation.

Questions to ask before buying produce:

  1. Who grew the food? Where was it grown?
  2. How should I handle and store this produce?
  3. When was this produce harvested? The less time between harvesting and serving, the better!

Produce can be tricky to pick, but hopefully these tips will inspire you to connect and collaborate with local growers. However, you should know that Farm to Table is much more than just fruits and vegetables. Participants in the Farm to Table competition are encouraged to think outside the garden and include locally raised beef, pork, lamb and chicken. Artisan cheese, bread, mushrooms and eggs are also encouraged in these recipes. After all, the benefits of buying local are endless. From the taste and nutrients to the lasting connection created between consumers and farmers. Your body and community will thank you for choosing farm to table.

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