Expanding the local food industry starts with us!

I learned lots of new information today at ISES’ meeting, “Keeping it Local: Incorporating local foods and vendors into menus” held at the North Market kitchen “NoMa” located on the second level of the market (did you know you can This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.?). Rick Harrison Wolfe, Executive Director of the North Market, taught me that the North Market has been around since 1876…that’s 138 years! The North Market sees 1 to 1.5 million visitors every year.

From Two Caterers chef Isaac Nehring, I learned the challenges of incorporating local foods into your menus: weather (a frost before an event that ruins crops), supply and demand difficulties and cost efficiency. But I also learned the benefits outweigh the challenges! Have you ever eaten an heirloom vegetable? They are delicious, but you won’t be able to have your heirlooms shipped across the country, as they are delicate and fragile. You can only get heirlooms from your local growers! Isaac also shared a cool story about how earlier in the year a lot of his competition was having trouble getting fresh greens because of the California draught. Isaac didn’t have that problem because he was using beautiful greens grown out of a greenhouse in Cleveland…in February!


We also heard from Greener Grocer owner and Good Food Hub founder Michael Jones. Michael taught me that only 8,000 of the 75,000 farms in Ohio are food producers. He also informed me that we, as event planners, can really help change the perception that local food is an expensive alternative. By pricing food out by portion instead of looking at the bottom line cost, we can teach clients that the difference between a $2.50/pound bag of lettuce from the store and a $4.50/pound from the local grower to feed six people is really a difference of $0.33/person.

Thank you to the North Market for hosting and to our speakers who schooled me on local foods!

~Contributed by ISES Member Amy Zoellner, CTA, Event Manager, Experience Columbus