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Locally grown food fills plates at Miami U
Jessica Barga posted about an article that was she wrote for the Cincinnati Enquirer: Thank you! Larry Slocum, manager
The local food story I wrote with quotes and photos from the farmer's market was published in the Cincinnati Enquirer recently - check it out here. A big thanks to all who helped me out!
Here is the article:
Locally grown food fills plates at Miami U
By Jessica Barga, Enquirer contributor5:41 p.m. EST January 2, 2015
Students at Miami U have easy access to variety of local products, from fresh honey and fruits to walking sticks and soaps.
Miami students Ashley Mills and Andrea Gevas chat about their purchases at the weekly Oxford Farmers Market.(Photo: Jessica Barga for The Enquirer)Buy Photo
• More than one-quarter of products sold in Miami U dining halls are locally bought, officials say.
• Oxford Farmers Market hopes to draw every Miami student 'at least once,' manager says.
From made-in-Butler-County honey in every Miami University dining hall to a farmers market in Uptown Oxford each weekend, Miami University students have a growing taste for local food – and the university is catching on.
According to statistics from Miami's Dining Services, about 26 percent of the products served in campus dining halls are locally purchased.
And the food Miami serves isn't just local fruits and vegetables – although most of those do come from Butterfield Farms, located just down the road from the campus on Route 73. It also includes ice cream, chocolate and meat, as well as soaps and personal care products.
Part of Miami's look toward a more sustainable dining program includes the growing availability of local, fresh foods, said Jon Brubacher, director of procurement and food purchasing at Miami.
"Miami likes to support its neighbors and the community," Brubacher said. "There's the freshness factor as well – you can have an apple from Washington that was picked weeks ago versus an apple that was growing on a tree nearby just a few days ago."
But just what does "local food" mean?
Sustainable Table, an organization that teaches about sustainable food and energy practices, described local food as that which is harvested or grown close to where it's sold, rather than being shipped over long distances. It places a focus on freshness, quality, and giving small, hometown businesses a boost, which can benefit both the grower and the community.
And at Miami, Brubacher said the student response to more local foods has been "overwhelmingly positive."
Miami is not alone in its commitment to local quality: The surrounding community is a proponent as well, and nowhere is this more evident than at the Oxford Farmers Market.
Located in a Uptown parking lot near La Pinata each Saturday morning, the market hosts local vendors selling fresh honey, alpaca-wool socks, hand-carved walking sticks, and much more.
Bob Rauen shows off some of his honey, the last of this year’s supply, at the Oxford Farmers Market. Rauen has been making honey for 35 years.(Photo: Jessica Barga for The Enquirer)
Larry Slocum, the market's manager, said that he has two goals in mind when running the market.
"Number one is that every Miami student comes to visit the market at least once while they're at school. Because what are they going to do? They're going to come back and bring their friends," he said.
"And number two," he said, "is that every student who leaves Miami and moves away will either support a farmers market there or start their own."
Slocum, who has been managing the market since 2006, said the benefits of local food are twofold.
"Fresh and local is good for your body, but it's also great for the community," he said. "At the market, we're balancing the community, farmers, and shoppers. It's like a dance."
The Oxford Farmers Market showcases an abundance of fruits and vegetables from local farms and growers.(Photo: Jessica Barga for The Enquirer)
Sarah Pyles, a senior at Miami, is a frequent visitor of the farmers market each week.
"I wake up and I want my breakfast sandwich," she said, laughing, referring to the homemade focaccia panini she held in her hands.
But the sandwiches aren't the only draw – Pyles, who lives off-campus, said she looks for goat cheese, veggies, and homemade jams as well.
"I usually shop at Kroger for most of my groceries, but if I'm buying something and see a local option, I'll go for that one," she said.
Ashley Mills, another Miami student shopper at the market, said she enjoys visiting because of the unique variety of items.
Wool socks from fiber raised at Little Patch Alpacas are just one of the many offerings at the Oxford Farmers Market.(Photo: Jessica Barga for The Enquirer)
"Everything's more fresh than you'd find at some of the regular grocery stores, and there's a different selection than they have," said Mills, a senior.
Lara Thurston, who works at the Oxford Coffee Co., said that local business helps keep money in the community and is more sustainable.
The Oxford Coffee Co. is located on Lynn Avenue and has a table at the farmers market each week, Thurston said.
"I think the farmers market is one of the main times people get out each week and see each other," she said.