Locavores and Ohio Wines Go Hand in Hand

By Donniella Winchell
Executive Director, Ohio Wine Producers Association

GENEVA, Ohio – A locavore is relatively new word that means a person who eats only locally grown or produced food.

The word was coined two decades ago by four women in San Francisco who wrote newspaper articles explaining why people should try to eat only locally grown items. They contended the goal was to create a healthier lifestyle.

The rationale behind the movement is that food within a hundred mile radius offers better nutrition, better taste, and a boost to the local economy.

It has also come to mean fewer preservatives, less cardboard and plastic in the packaging, and the use of less energy for transport.

It also means more experimental opportunities, since visiting a vineyard or picking strawberries creates memories.

And people who are willing to pay a premium for high quality, appealing foods adds to farm income, provides an interesting story to share on a restaurant menu, and builds pride in an area.

The initiative has also being enhanced by technology. 

The locavore movement has been fed by the agri-tourism and culinary-tourism trends.

The concept is one that fits Ohio.

We have a large population base, lots of wineries, an emerging number of cheese producers, an innovative agricultural community, a supportive Department of Agriculture and all the other necessary elements to take this trend and make it our own.

While those of us in the wine business sometimes think we are the center of the culinary world – and it is very true in this case.  Regional wine has the ability to tie the entire locavore’movement together.

A chunk of artisan cheddar would be spectacular with a glass of Cabernet Franc.  Fresh strawberry shortcake with a tiny glass of the newly released ice wines?  Yummy. An August menu featuring Ohio poultry, local sweet corn and summer salad of fresh mozzarella and beefsteak tomatoes would pair perfectly with Pinot Gris or Riesling. 

Could your restaurant become part of the trend? 

A recent consumer publication asked this question:  Are you a locavore and don’t even know it? 

It implied that you might be – if you visit a farmers market before you shop in a supermarket, or if you visit u-pick farms for the freshest fruits and produce, or if you eat at restaurants that feature primarily local foods that are in season, or if you drink local wines. 

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.