edible COLUMBUS | SUMMER 2016 | Issue No. 26

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Our Food, Our Land, Our Culture, Season by Season

Summer 2016 • Issue No. 26

Fermentation • Food Waste • Farm to Institution COMPLIMENTARY Member of Edible Communities















Contents 2016


CHARCUTERIE 101 Behind the scenes with James Forbes of North Country Charcuterie By Teresa Woodard, Photography by Stephen Takacs


THE HEART OF THE HOME At home with food stylist Bridget Henry and authentic Peruvian flavors By Claire Hoppens, Photography by Gina Weathersby


FARM TO INSTITUTION How innovative cafeterias in Ohio are transforming economic systems by feeding thousands of people with local ingredients By Nicole Rasul, Photography by Maria Khoroshilova


FARMING FOR FOOD SAFETY The Food Safety Modernization Act brings new federal standards for farming industries to extend food safety measures By Tara Pettit, Illustrations by Sharon Teuscher










9 Yogurt Berry Popsicles • 10 Basil BLT • 21 Natural Fizzy Soda • 50 Edga’s Empanadas


EDIBLE CULTURE COVER Our cover features the painting, “Pink Painting, Red Zinnias” by the artist Carol Stewart. See page 43 for our story about Carol and her paintings. If interested in learning more about her work, visit cmstewart.com, or contact Hammond Harkins Gallery in Columbus at hammondharkins.com. Photo courtesy of Carol Stewart, “Pink Painting, Red Zinnias,” 2007, oil on paper, 38-inches by 31-inches






letter from the PUBLISHER

It reminds us of a beautiful happy summer day spent arranging a lovely table, picking flowers from the garden and enjoying a memorable meal with loved ones.



Colleen Leonardi RECIPE EDITOR

Sarah Lagrotteria COPY EDITORS

Doug Adrianson • Susanna Cantor DESIGN


One of the most special things we do at The Seasoned Farmhouse is our 30-week French cooking course where eight students a session cook with us for 30 weeks. One of my students, Laura Zimmerman, recently shared a really special idea with us after a day spent baking cakes. She introduced us to the idea of a House Journal. Laura lives in a 1931 Clintonville house, whose previous owner, Gladys Bolon Cooper, kept a house journal to which there is online access. Gladys was a prolific baker, and she and Laura have some common interest. Laura reads the journal all the time to know what happened in her house many years before.

cookies. In the evening Bill took Jean Moore to football game. Very rainy, he came in with Charles’ coat soaked through.” “Saturday, September 30th, 1939 “I forgot one big thing on yesterday’s notes. Much to my surprise Charles brought me home a new Sunbeam mixer. Today I baked a cake (using new mixer), and two pies and cleaned the house. Bridge club coming, prizes, two blue vases. Refreshments, apple pie a la mode. Bill Walter won first prize and Lucille won second.” Our summer cover still life also features a very special artist—Carol Stewart. She graciously let us feature one of her paintings, “Pink Painting, Red Zinnias.” It reminds us of a beautiful happy summer day spent arranging a lovely table, picking flowers from the garden and enjoying a memorable meal with loved ones. You can learn more about Carol’s story and her paintings on page 43 I hope Gladys’ home journal and Carol’s glimpse of beauty inspire you to create and record some special moments of your own this summer.

From Gladys’ Journal “Friday, September 29th, 1939

Best, “Spent the morning baking fancy cookies to take to Capital University. I was on committee with Mrs. Buch and Mrs. Bez. Both were unable to come so Mrs. Schaff and Mrs. Wildemuth served with me. Three kinds of cookies, rainbow ice, coffee and nuts. We served thirty-two. Enjoyed the afternoon. Cost each of us $1.61 besides the




Tricia Wheeler

Brett Anslinger • Andrew Bashaw Cheyenne Buckingham • Janine Harris Degitz Jake Fernberg • Julie France Samuel Fromartz • Bridget Henry Claire Hoppens • Emily Kaelin Maria Khoroshilova • Colleen Leonardi Sarah Lagrotteria • nancy McKibben Tara Pettit • nicole Rasul Anne Reese • Carol Stewart Stephen Takacs • Tariq Tarey Sharon Teuscher • Barbara Utendorf Sarah Warda • Gina Weathersby Joshua Wickham • Teresa Woodard CONTACT US

P.O. Box 21-8376, Columbus, Ohio 43221 info@ediblecolumbus.com ediblecolumbus.com Edible Columbus



tricia@ediblecolumbus.com Edible Columbus is published quarterly and distributed throughout Central Ohio. Subscription rate is $25 annually. All rights reserved. no part of this publication may be used without written permission from the publisher. Every effort is made to avoid errors, misspellings and omissions. If, however, an error comes to your attention, please accept our sincere apologies and notify us. Thank you.



s many of you know I wear two hats, soon to be three! I publish Edible Columbus and I run The Seasoned Farmhouse cooking school in Clintonville. Soon we will be opening Flowers and Bread, an idea my friend Sarah Lagrotteria and I dreamt up to continue celebrating life’s simple pleasures, bread, flowers and good coffee.

fermentation expert Janine Harris Degitz as she shares her recipe for naturally fermented sodas (page 19). Speaking of all things brewed, there’s a new brewery in Athens—Little Fish Brewing Company—crafting up homegrown beers with rustic flavors (page 40). We also introduce you to Bon Appétit Appalachia (page 38) and the Ohio Buckeye Trail (page 36)—two beautiful resources and regions for you to design your own local getaway this season.


et me be frank. People often assume I eat out at the best restaurants all the time—that as a food editor and writer I’m living the high life of good food 24/7. And while that occurs a handful of times over the course of a year (and I am grateful when it does) most days you’ll find me in my kitchen preparing a simple dish for one, or cooking with my family for many, or at the farmers market talking with the farmers. It’s not romantic. It’s real. As an artist, I live like the farmers do. I make a modest living. I work for what I need. And I treat plants, food and the people and places that grow them with that same humility, care and love for the life force they all share with me. Small batches. Simple plates. Experience over excess. Adventures defined by terroir—the taste of a place. This is what matters at my table and in my heart. And this is what our summer issue highlights—rugged individuals and missions that thrive off of their labors of love, hard-earned sense of individualism and pride of place.

When it’s blazingly hot outside, the quiet chill of home calls. So recipe editor Sarah Lagrotteria shares her recipes for Yogurt Popsicles and a mouth-watering Basil BLT (page 8). And our feature story about food stylist Bridget Henry and her food-loving family offers an opportunity to make the Peruvian version of empanadas (page 46). Yes, you bake them for 30 minutes, but it’s worth it. For wellness tips beyond the home, our “Edible Wellness” columns offer insights into what restorative summer foods to eat (page 14) and a non-profit organization called Hopewell Therapeutic Farm in Mesopotamia, Ohio, that invites people with mental illnesses to stop, restore and

get their lives back on track by reconnecting with the Earth (page 12). While our food stories nourish the body, our food-for-thought features nurture the mind. We are in a particular moment in history where food waste is becoming renewable energy (pages 30 and 33), hospitals are working with farmers (page 52) and the first food safety regulations in 75 years are arriving this year, impacting the farmers you buy from at the farmers market every Saturday (page 58). Sit down with these stories and take your time. Consider where you are in the food chain and how you play your part. I’ve come to accept that these food issues don’t have to be a crisis. They can be opportunities. We can act on them through love, not hate. As the poet Mary Oliver advises: “You do not have to be good./ You do not have to walk on your knees/ for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting./ You only have to let the soft animal of your body/ love what it loves.” To a summer of love,

Colleen Leonardi

Readers Write We here at Edible Columbus love hearing what you think of our magazine and what appeals to you season-by-season. We’re including a new section in the magazine moving forward featuring your words about our stories for all to read and be inspired by. Our first letter comes from the Ohio author and farmer, Gene Logsdon. He writes: “Colleen, I want to

north County Charcuterie has done the hard work to bring hand-cured meats using local pork and ingredients to Central Ohio (page 24). Read their story and find them at the Worthington Farmers Market this summer. We shine the light on the Ohio Cheese Guild and hope it inspires you to find your favorite artisan Ohio cheese because you can—our Ohio cheese makers have much to offer these days (page 33). To complement a summer picnic of local charcuterie and cheese, enjoy a healthy take on soda from 6



thank you profusely for reprinting something from my Gene Everlasting book. I felt particularly complimented because I think very highly of the edible family of magazines and give them praise in print every chance I get. You guys are the best voice for the new artisanal farming movement out there. Keep up your good work.” Send us a letter at P.O. Box 21-8376, Columbus, Ohio 43221, or email us at info@ediblecolumbus.com. You can always find us online on Twitter @ediblecbus, Facebook at “Edible Columbus” and Instagram @ediblecolumbus. We look forward to reading and sharing your words in our next issue!


letter from the EDITOR

local & IN SEASON


What’s In Season*

Early Harvest: June

Late Harvest: August to Early September

Fruits: Black, Purple and Red Raspberries; Strawberries; Gooseberries

Edible Flowers

Vegetables: Broccoli; Green Peas; Asparagus; Lettuces and Greens; Rhubarb Peak Harvest: July to August Edible Flowers Fruits: Blueberries; Black, Purple and Red Raspberries; Everbearing Strawberries; Blackberries; Gooseberries; Peaches; Currants; Tomatoes; Cantaloupe Vegetables: Green Peas; Sweet Corn; Bell, Hot and Sweet Peppers; Cucumbers; Eggplant; Carrots; Garlic; Leeks; Okra; Lettuces and Greens; Potatoes




Fruits: Apples; Everbearing Strawberries; Blueberries; Fall Raspberries; Blackberries; Peaches; Grapes; Tomatoes; Cantaloupe; Watermelon Vegetables: Sweet Corn; Bell, Hot and Sweet Peppers; Eggplant; Carrots; Garlic; Leeks; Okra; Lettuces and Greens; Potatoes * Editor’s Note: Make some time at the farmers market to talk to the farmers and find out what’s growing this summer, and what’s not. Be flexible and learn what’s in abundance this summer from the farmer who grows your food.

Visit ediblecolumbus.com for our full story on Super Berries in Ohio

What to Cook

By Sarah Lagrotteria • Photography by Emily Kaelin

Yogurt Berry Popsicles Makes 10 What you have here is a template: one list of ingredients, three interchangeable techniques and two rules. Rule number one, always use full fat Greek yogurt mounted with buttermilk. Full fat is your only defense against the dreaded icy popsicle crunch and the buttermilk adds tang. Rule number two, don’t worry about anything else. These will taste clean and refreshing regardless of what berries you use (frozen works too), and freeze to a creamy, marbled masterpiece. 2 pints fresh berries, roughly chopped if using strawberries

as needed. Spoon into your popsicle molds, leaving ¼ inch at the top to allow

2 teaspoons sugar

for expansion and freeze 4–6 hours or overnight before enjoying.

Pinch sea salt Juice of ½ lime or little less than ½ of a lemon 3 cups full fat Greek yogurt (I like Fage brand) 2 tablespoons buttermilk ¼ cup good honey, plus more to taste

Technique 2— Purée Once your fruit has macerated, purée in a blender. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve if you prefer a seedless pop. Add the yogurt and purée again until the mixture is one consistent color. Taste for flavor, adding citrus or honey as needed. Pour into your molds, leaving ¼ inch at the top to allow for expansion and freeze 4–6 hours or overnight before enjoying.

Special equipment: 10 popsicle molds In a medium bowl, gently toss fruit with sugar, sea salt and citrus. Unless you’re roasting the fruit (see below), let rest, covered, at room temperature for at least 20 minutes and up to 45 minutes so that the berries release their juices.

Technique 3—Roasted Swirl This is my preferred technique and is especially effective with firm blackberries, which will soften and sweeten under the heat. Roasting extracts all the deep berry goodness from your fruit and makes a slightly more sophisticated pop.

In a large bowl, combine the Greek yogurt and buttermilk. Sweeten to taste

Preheat your oven to 375°. Once you’ve tossed the berries with sugar, salt and

with honey; the yogurt should be sweet enough to eat alone.

citrus, spread them on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and roast in

Technique 1— Simple Swirl Use the back of a fork to lightly crush half the fruit.

and while still warm, use the back of a fork to gently smash some of the larger

Alternately, you can use a blender or food processor to purée half. Mix the

berries. Let cool completely. Fold the cooled fruit and juices into the yogurt

puréed fruit back in the macerated whole. Fold the fruit and juices into the

until you create a marbled effect. Taste for flavor, adding citrus or honey as

the oven until your kitchen smells like berry pie, about 15 minutes. Remove

yogurt until you create a marbled effect. Taste for flavor, adding citrus or honey

needed. Spoon into your popsicle molds, leaving ¼ inch at the top to allow for expansion and freeze 4–6 hours or overnight before enjoying.

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Basil BLT Serves 2 Another template. Isn’t summer all about freedom? This BLT can be made by adding a handful of fresh basil to our homemade mayo recipe from spring 2014 or, for the anti-mayo-ites among us, the French bright herb salad from spring 2015 (visit ediblecolumbus.com for the recipes).

6 slices good quality bacon

Prepare bacon your preferred way: either fry in a skillet on the stove or bake on

Homemade mayo with an added handful of chopped fresh basil OR French

a rack placed over a parchment-lined baking sheet in a 400° oven until crispy,

herb salad, including tarragon and with an emphasis on basil

about 15 minutes.

1 ripe heirloom tomato, thickly sliced 4 pieces good quality bread (I like bakery challah or crusty olive bread) Fruity olive oil

While bacon cooks, make homemade mayo. Mix in a finely chopped handful of fresh basil. Alternatively, toss herbs together to make salad, being sure to include tarragon and with a heavy emphasis on basil. Dress salad to taste.

If using basil mayo, 2 rib-in pieces of butter or romaine lettuce Toast bread slices and lightly brush two (these will be the bottoms of your two sandwiches) with olive oil or spread with basil mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper. When bacon is crispy, remove from the heat and pat with paper towels to remove excess grease. Lay down two bread slices, olive oil or mayo side up. Top with 3 slices bacon each, then divide tomato slices among the two. Lightly season tomato with salt and pepper. Top with basil-based herb salad or fresh lettuce and second slice of bread. Cut in half and enjoy immediately.





Hopewell Therapeutic Farm

Lauren, a resident of Hopewell Therapeutic Farm in Mesopotamia, Ohio. Hopewell Therapeutic Farm is the only one of its kind in Ohio, and one of few in the nation. Established in 1993 by Clara T. Rankin, the non-profit organization helps individuals with serious mental illness get back on track with their lives. Located in the middle of 306 acres of farmland and surrounded by forestry, the farm allows nature to serve as an integral asset in the resident’s healing process. The most effective aspect of Hopewell, however, is the sense of community the staff fosters. “Community. It is the essence of our entire therapeutic approach,” says Clinical Director Daniel B. Horne. Daniel began working at Hopewell in 2011 after the Admissions Director contacted him about an opening. He says he knew from the moment he pulled onto the farm that he would have to stay. Shortly after visiting, he quit his job—which was just a three-minute commute from his home—and five years later, he continues to make the hour-long drive to Hopewell nearly every day. “My involvement here has shown me the amazing potential of people that much of society is afraid of…[they can] positively contribute to our society,” says Daniel. not only does the staff at Hopewell help adults who have been diagnosed with a mental illness, they also work hard to promote a healthy attitude about mental illness. A variety of mental health providers and advocacy organizations work alongside Hopewell in order to reduce the stigma associated with mental ailments, by engaging in speaking events and periodically publishing works of research. In addition to branding a positive outlook on mental illness, Hopewell considers nutrition a large facet of the services they provide. Staff and residents share three meals a day and the menu is constructed so that optimal health needs are met for each individual. Before admission into Hopewell, residents are required to meet with a certified nutritionist, who assesses their eating patterns and works with them to develop healthier habits. Since Hopewell is located on a farm, a lot of the food that appears on the plate comes directly from the garden, greenhouses and livestock on the property. “We avoid highly processed foods, and we grow and raise natural food items here on the farm,” says Daniel. “We have a herd of Belted Galloway beef cattle, we raise chickens for eggs and [their] meat, as well as pigs, lambs and turkeys.”




What they cannot produce, they purchase from farms as close to the vicinity as possible. Part of the organization’s philosophy entails that food be sourced from as short of a distance as possible. The food is one of Cynthia’s favorite things about Hopewell. She raves about how healthful her selections are from breakfast to dinner. “Everything is fresh. We even grow the asparagus and tomatoes right here on the property,” Cynthia says. “We have a lot of chicken and fish. Everything is grilled and baked. We eat healthfully, and it’s good food.” Cynthia admitted herself into Hopewell on October 5, 2015, when she realized her battle with bipolar disorder had been going on for too long. Similar to all residents, she is welcome to stay at Hopewell for up to three years. The average stay, however, ranges anywhere between four to nine months, so her visit will end in mid-May. Currently, Hopewell houses 34 residents among four buildings on campus, but they have the capacity to house 38. Additionally, there is an extended-stay program that allows a maximum of 10 residents live at Hopewell for the remainder of their lives. The fundamental piece of Hopewell’s mission goes back to its communitybased therapeutic approach. Cynthia enjoys the 20-minute meeting she gets to engage in with other residents between their work shifts. She refers to these gatherings as time to interact within her process group, which is a handful of people that come together to reflect on their day, read and/or talk about spirituality. Residents involved in work shifts are a part of what’s called the “work crew” and these positions are essential because they enable residents to be involved in their community. Just recently the Farm & Craft Market reopened, where a certified art therapist works with the residents who are in the garden/art crew to create art projects that can be sold at the market. They are also required to work at the market to boost their self-confidence about engaging with those outside of Hopewell. Ultimately, Hopewell serves as a sanctuary for those who are seeking to regain balance and structure in their lives. “It’s really an incredible place,” says Cynthia. Hopewell Therapeutic Farm; 9637 St. Rt. 534; Middlefield, Ohio 44062; 440-426-2009; hopewellcommunity.org

# —Cheyenne Buckingham


“I am just lucky to be here,” says Cynthia


Restorative Summer Foods


s a long-time professor of multiple college courses including nutrition and holistic health, I am keenly aware of the foundational role that healthy food plays in maintaining optimal wellness. In addition to the basic nutrients found in foods to form a platform for good health, specific nutrients have been found to offer definite benefits in supporting vitality. From this knowledge as a professor and my upbringing and background in horticulture, I value summer as a magnificent time for enjoying fresh, restorative foods. Here are a few of my favorites:

Fruits According to research, fruits can contribute substantially to good health given that they provide an array of essential vitamins, minerals and fiber, as well as an abundance of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Antioxidants combat free radicals associated with toxins and everyday “wear and tear” that can contribute to dysfunction in the body. Fortunately, researchers continue to find additional antioxidants in fruit year after year. While all fruits are beneficial, berries “top the list” as being some of the healthiest fruits available. Blueberries, blackberries, loganberries, raspberries, mulberries, elderberries, strawberries and goji berries all provide nutrients that have been credited with improved cardiovascular, immune and nervous system health, offering particular value in benefitting eyesight, combatting viruses and in preventing oxidation of cholesterol and heavy metals. Currants and cherries are also nutrient-dense options, high in the antioxidant vitamins C and A, plus an easily absorbable form of the mineral, iron. Like many of the berries, currants and cherries also contain antioxidants from the anthocyanin family, recognized for reducing inflammation in the body and boosting immunity. Moreover, currant seeds contain gamma linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid also used to treat inflammatory conditions, and their leaves can be used to make a pleasant tea. Avocados are another fruit with noteworthy nutrients, including essential amino acids, the “building-blocks” of proteins, plus yielding one of the highest fruit-based sources of the trace mineral zinc, central to hundreds of functions in the body including cellular communication.

Vegetables Vegetables also offer substantial health benefits, particularly leafy greens. Prized for their high vitamin and mineral content, leafy greens also provide important amino acids, plus fiber, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. Minerals are a critical component of human health, and while minerals are readily found in solid matter, in this unrefined form, the body struggles to assimilate them. Plants, however, transform minerals into a more easily usable form, with leafy greens providing key sources. Like fruits, leafy greens likewise help alkalize the body, benefitting overall somatic functioning through regulation of pH. Leafy greens such as spinach—along with its even-healthier cousin lambs quarters—provide valuable sources of vitamins B6 and B9, which play an integral part in the body’s methylation chain, crucial to supporting cardiovascular, metabolic and neurologic health as well as cellular regeneration.

Leafy greens also provide potassium and magnesium for cardiovascular health, vitamins A and C to support immunity, plus key nutrients important in bone health, including a readily useable form of calcium along with vitamin K; prime examples include collards, nettle leaves and dandelion greens. Kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, arugula and watercress are all rich in vitamins and minerals including iron, and are specifically prized for their health-protective nutrients such as immune-boosting isothiocyanates and sulforaphanes, plus anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial alkaloids. Spinach, along with beets, also provides betaine, a methyl-donating nutrient credited with protecting cells from environmental stress. Leafy greens such as romaine and butter lettuce also contain vitamin E and essential fatty acids (EFAs), with purslane offering one of the highest landbased sources of Omega-3 EFAs. Research shows that dietary intake of antioxidants—especially the carotenoid-nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin—improves visual function and reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Lutein is found in most dark leafy greens while zeaxanthin is particularly high in orange peppers, goji berries, corn and egg yolks, and the combination of lutein and zeaxanthin can be found in spinach, collards, turnip greens, kale and romaine lettuce, as well as in zucchini and kiwi.

Herbs & Flowers Herbs represent another treasure from the summer garden, reliably including concentrated sources of nutrients. The leaves of basil, cilantro, mint, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme are just a few examples, and the flowers of these herbs can also be consumed for additional flavor and nutritional benefit. The flowers of leafy greens such as arugula and chives are also nutritious options, lending a robust taste to summer fare. The peppery flowers of nasturtium contain vision-boosting lutein, and calendula flowers contain high sources of both lutein and zeaxanthin; the petals can be eaten raw, or dried and used in a tea or as an economical alternative to saffron. Daylilies are also edible, and sunflowers yield both edible petals as well as “chokes” that are somewhat similar to artichokes. Many additional summer foods also offer tremendous health benefits. Carrots are a great source of cardiovascular and vision-benefitting carotenoids while containing a highly absorbable form of calcium. Onions contain powerful anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting compounds plus quercetin, a natural anti-histamine that helps relieve symptoms of allergy. Celery is another donator of vital, easily absorbed minerals. The list of healthy summer foods is truly extensive. To find farmers markets near you that offer these foods, enter your town or zip code on the website localharvest.org. If you are interested in learning more about the information presented in this article, please contact me at blu@fuse.net. Enjoy your summer knowing the fall season will likewise bring its own unique harvest of restorative foods.

# — Barbara Utendorf





Objets D’art T

By Sarah Lagrotteria Photography by Emily Kaelin

o be clear, I love the pitcher. The glass shines in the sun. It has tall lines, a wide mouth and a curved lip that calls for a bouquet of heavy-headed roses. Or fresh-squeezed orange juice on a Sunday morning.

I’ll confess now that I am allergic to roses and I don’t like pulp. But I still love the pitcher, with its thick, intricately stamped glass, given to me by an aunt who inherited it from my grandmother. I’ll never know why this particular pitcher appealed to my grandmother, but I’m curious about why, with its busy surface, it appeals so much to me. I was googling cake plates recently and came across the Ohio-based Mosser Glass Co. The family-owned-and-operated glass factory has been pressing plates, bowls, platters, pitchers and more for more than 40 years. And their pitchers looked familiar. There, I thought, I might find the origin of my grandmother’s pitcher. Maybe even the story behind the mold. So on the first warm day of spring, my pitcher and I took a road trip to Guernsey County. Snug between two hills of the Appalachian plateau sits both the Mosser Glass Co. and Factory. The store resembles a home: Vintage tables and breakfronts hold stacks of clear, colored glass or milk glass in robin’s egg blue, buttercream, black raspberry, marble and milk. Jade, with its midcentury modern appeal, has long been Mosser’s bestseller. Some shapes are modern and smooth, like the cake stand you see here. Others are more ornate, like the textured cake plate that I watched being pressed later that day. All are glossy, gleaming with the saturated color that is particular to milk glass or the clarity of flawless, fresh-pressed glass. Adding to the store’s inviting feel is the fact that the first three people I meet are family. Mosser is second-generation family-owned, shared between Tim, Sally and Mindy Mosser. On the day I visited, Sally, Mindy and Sally’s adult daughter, Jennifer, were running the store. Mindy’s teenage son spends summers in the factory. As Mindy tells me, “We are proud to be familyowned and producing quality American-made products.” Their father, Tom Mosser, worked as a teenager for Cambridge Glass, where his father, Orie, was plant manager. The plant closed, but young Tom was hooked. He spent the next few years saving to buy molds—a glass maker’s intellectual property—and materials to create his own press. Working first from a chicken coop, Tom pressed pharmaceutical wares like mortars, pestles and beakers. In 1971, Tom moved to Mosser’s current location and expanded his product line to include new designs as well as classic molds from Viking, L.G. Wright and his former employer, Cambridge Glass. Mosser Glass was born. Glassware from the Mosser Glass Co. in Guernsey County, Ohio




Today, Tom’s early pharmaceutical pieces are displayed in a china cabinet at the factory entrance. Above the cabinet are the glass maker’s raw materials: Jars of pigment and the soda and silica ash that turn to molten glass when heated to 2,500°. To deal with such heat, the factory is open-air. Large, unscreened windows reveal sky and a forest of budding trees. Inside, three to 12 workers run each of the three furnaces, depending on the product. Each employee knows his place and stays out of the others’ way. What I observe is akin to a dance rehearsal, all muscle and motion, codependence, focus and frustration: the silence occasionally punctured by laughter or a clear directive. Every piece produced here is a challenge, vulnerable to both human and material error. A checker examines the glass as it emerges hot from the mold, looking for any major stones, cracks or pattern or shape flaws. A perfect piece is then glazed for color or slowly cooled over three and a half hours to prevent cracking. If it’s flawed, it’s dumped into a wheelbarrow to be ground down and recast. On a good day, 5% are rejected. On a bad, that number can hit 50. During my visit, a “gatherer” worked by sight and feel to repeatedly pull just the right amount of red-hot glass from the fire to make a candy dish. Later, I lay my palm against a cake plate as it came off the cooling belt. The heat was almost human. As for my pitcher? not Mosser, but close. Tim Mosser identified it via email as Cambridge Glass. In a sense, I did visit its place of origin. Years ago, my college roommate and I exchanged almost identical Christmas gifts: squat, curvy vases. We laughed, loving proof that we were simpatico and then she said, soberly, “I guess our aesthetic has changed.” We laughed again, less freely this time, because what we were really saying was that we had changed. Six months of eating our way through Paris—no crêperie left untried—had changed our bodies and that had changed the look of our chosen objets. We liked things chubby during that season of our lives. My roommate’s theory was that we pick things that remind us of ourselves. Look around and see if that doesn’t hold true for you. What you surround yourself with speaks to who you are, or perhaps more tellingly, who you want to be. My grandmother’s pitcher always seemed too busy, too solid, and just not elegant. Which says more, of course, about how I want to see myself. Today the pitcher is being used as a vase. It sits on the kitchen table filled with flowers that I never would have picked, but my daughter did. It’s smudged thanks to my baby’s new ability to grab. It’s not smooth, streamlined or new. But the pitcher wears its age well. It looks happy. Remembering the heat of the glass at Mosser, I think of it as having life. Life that, when I stop resisting, looks a lot like mine.

# Sarah Lagrotteria is a FCI-trained chef who has worked for Mario Batali, taught writing classes on food culture at Stanford and contributed to numerous cookbooks. In 2003, Sarah co-founded Apples & Onions, a private chef company in Malibu, CA. She now lives in Worthington with her husband, daughter Marlowe, and son Ronan.

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behind the BOTTLE

Soda S for the

Soul A fermented, seasonal take on soda that is good for you By Colleen Leonardi Photography by Maria Khoroshilova

oda used to be healthy. Mineral springs were sources of healing for people, yet the bubbles in the water just a curiosity until a doctor discovered what made the water sparkle—carbon dioxide. Soda fountains were a fixture in pharmacies and people treated the refreshing drink like a tonic. One of the earliest sodas—root beer—was made with sarsaparilla and sassafras, two plants known to carry medicinal properties. nature’s pure version of carbonated waters became the inspiration for what has more recently (and regrettably) become a fast-food staple. In Clintonville, local educator, cook and writer Janine Harris Degitz makes a naturally fermented soda that harkens back to what people in the 1800s had the pleasure of savoring. It’s a simple drink, imbued with summer flavors like blueberry and lavender, stinging nettles and basil, ginger and lemon. And it’s made with water kefir, a culture that is used to ferment sugar-water. Her probiotic sodas glimmer with the sunny colors of the fruits and herbs she procures from local farmer friends like Kate Hodges of Foraged & Sown and Joseph Swain of Swainway Urban Farm. “Fermentation was historically built on relationship,” Janine says. “Relationship to the Earth and soil, the growing seasons, relationship to the natural beneficial bacteria and yeasts that surround us and give life. It connected us to the people that grow our food and care for the land.” You can taste that tender connection Janine has to her community and how she preserves the moment in her sodas. She makes them for her family,

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Fermentation expert Janine Harris Degitz combining her water kefir with a homemade lavender blueberry juice for her natural fizzy sodas

along with miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt and other fermented staples. It was when her daughter—now a teenager—became seriously ill with a blood disease that Janine realized the importance of knowing where your food comes from and cultivating fermented foods that are alive with healthy bacteria for your family. After studying with the food writer, fermentation expert and DIY food activist, Sandor Katz, and researching different cultures on her own, Janine’s fermentation process has now mushroomed to become the core of her kitchen. Fermentation has been around for a long time, longer than those healthy sodas. And fermented drinks, namely beer and wine, are some of the earliest examples. These staples date back as far as the neolithic Age (7000 to 6600 BCE). Today, it’s a certain American culinary fetishism that has revived fermentation and transformed the old friend into a trend. For a lot of chefs, home cooks and zealous health food experts, fermented foods are simply a part of the natural life cycle of our food and our gut.

has combined with it for flavor. A fountain of youth, perhaps? Or simply something of old that my cells recognize as good for the marrow in my bones. You be the judge. Janine shares her recipe with us, encouraging us to take a moment to smell the bubbles and make a drink for ourselves and our family this summer that tastes like home and heals you all at the same time. She also teaches fermentation classes at The Seasoned Farmhouse and is offering a class on her natural sodas this summer (see below). Editor’s note: If you suffer from Leaky Gut Syndrome or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or have a history of candida, check with your doctor before making your own fermented foods to make sure they’ll be suitable for your health. Learn more about Janine Harris Degitz and her work at restorativeliving.org.

“It diversifies the nutrients in our food through increasing the beneficial vitamins, enzymes and minerals available and enhancing the overall nutrient value of the food,” says Janine. “Fermentation integrates our relationship to our food in a unique and creative way through actively engaging us in the process of creating delicious, alive, health-giving foods.” And these sodas are health-giving. They’re like kombucha without the caffeine or high sugar content of the fermented kombucha tea. They’re pure. One sip and I feel aglow with a vitality I can only attribute to the strength of the culture Janine has used and the nutrient-dense plants and fruits she




And check out her classes this summer at The Seasoned Farmhouse, theseasonedfarmhouse.com. Summer Farmers Market Sauerkraut: June 26, 1pm–3pm Water Kefir & Natural Sodas: August 21, 1pm–3pm

# Colleen Leonardi is a writer and editor of Edible Columbus. She can also be found online at colleenleonardi.com.

What is Water Kefir, You Ask? By Janine Harris Degitz Water kefir is an amazing culture that is much like its more commonly recognized cousin, milk kefir, only it digests sucrose rather than lactose. This means that water kefir is perfect for fermenting sugar-water, transforming it into an effervescent, probiotic soda. Yes, a natural soda that is good for you. Both kefir cousins are made using a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) commonly referred to as “grains” because of their granular structure. They are little, gelatinous clumps of microorganisms that can be strained out of your ferment and passed from batch to batch, perpetuating the line. Naturally fermented water kefir is a traditional fermented drink that is easy to make. Fermentation time is short—just a couple of days. Kefir grains (like sourdough or kombucha) are a bit like a pet: they need to be fed on a regular basis to keep them active and alive. So while maintaining kefir grains may not be for everyone, these low-sugar, caffeine-free, cost-effective, probiotic-filled beverages are a refreshing and easy way to begin to add fermented foods into your diet. Water kefir grains can be found from a local source through a friend, City Folks Farm Shop or through Cultures for Health, culturesforhealth.com.

The First Ferment: Water Kefir Makes 1 quart—every 1–3 days

The Second Ferment: Natural Fizzy Soda The second fermentation process allows you to flavor the first-ferment water kefir from the first step. The second fermentation process occurs in a tightly


capped bottle, which allows carbon dioxide to develop, producing a fizzy re-

2–4 tablespoon active water kefir grains (For dehydrated grains, read manufac-

freshing probiotic drink.

turer’s instructions for reactivating.) ¼ cup organic cane or other natural sugar (Honey is not recommended in the


first ferment.)

1 quart mature water kefir

1 dried date, raisin or fig

¼ to 1 cup fruit juice or chopped fruit

½ lemon (optional) Spring water (filtered of chlorine but with minerals)



bottles), funnel.

1 large bowl, air-tight narrow-necked bottles (clear Grolsh-style wire bail

1 quart Mason jar, lid, coffee filter or cloth with rubber band, small strainer. Process Process 1.

Dissolve ¼ cup of sugar in 1 quart of warm filtered water.


Allow sugar water to cool until it is lukewarm. Excessive heat can kill your


In large pan combine fruit juice or fresh fruit to 1 quart water kefir (to taste) and stir to combine.


With a funnel, fill bottles with mixture, leaving about ¾ inch of headspace.


Cap, seal and set aside in a warm spot (but out of direct sunlight) for 2–3

grains. After the water is cool, add the kefir grains, lemon, date, fig or raisin to the 1 quart Mason jar above.

days. 3.

Cover with a loose fitting lid or cloth and rubber band. This allows the culture to breathe while keeping out fruit flies and dust.


Release the bottles every day to allow the buildup of carbon dioxide to escape. This is very important as the pressure in the bottles has been known


to cause a very big mess.

Place in a warm spot (but not in direct sunlight) for 24 to 48 hours. Longer than 48 hours may be taxing on the health of your kefir grains. 5.


Drain your fermented sugar-water through a non-reactive fine mesh strainer to capture the grains. Set liquid aside. You may enjoy your water kefir at this first ferment stage, or continue on to the second ferment, cre-

When your natural soda is sufficiently bubbly strain out any fresh fruit, refrigerate, cool and enjoy. Open carefully, as the liquid in the bottle is under pressure and may fizz and foam. The fermentation process is slowed in the refrigerator but not completely stopped.

ating a naturally fermented fizzy-flavored soda (see second step). 6.

Putting the process on hold: When you need a break from brewing water kefir, the grains can be stored in fresh sugar-water and placed in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. This will slow the fermentation process.

When Is the Water Kefir Ready? Your water kefir should take between 1 to 3 days to fully ferment, depending on the temperature, the amount and health of the grains you use, the ingredients and the water quality. New starter grains will

Janine Harris Degitz lives in Clintonville with her family. She teaches fermented foods at The Seasoned Farmhouse year round. For the past 25 years Janine has deepened her passion for living in harmony with the earth and community through supporting local farmers, growing food in her front yard, wildly and abundantly fermenting food, teaching and sharing natural and sustainable beekeeping, Urban Zen Integrative Therapy and compassionate communication. All things that bring her back into connection with her own being, the earth, the food that nurtures us and the love, compassion and interconnectednes of life itself.

take longer, and may need a few generations to regain their full vigor.

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from the good EARTH

The Ohio Cheese Guild Ohio cheese producers, vendors and enthusiasts band together to promote Ohio cheeses

“The cheese stands alone/The cheese stands alone/Heigh ho the derry-o/The cheese stands alone.”

“slipping happily into retirement,” while her son, Rob DeMuch, heads the business.

A few short years ago, the artisan cheesemakers of Ohio might have identified with that sad and solitary cheese from The Farmer in the Dell. But no longer. Today they have the 83-member Ohio Cheese Guild.

She began making cheese in 2007 at age 61, and was one of the first to note the boom in Ohio cheesemakers. In an article for Edible Cleveland’s Spring 2013 issue, Jeanne counted six Ohio artisan cheesemakers in 2008—and 18 by 2013.

According to outgoing Guild president, Gilbert DiSanto, specialty cheese research and development director of his family’s Miceli Dairy Products in Cleveland, “The group is not just cheesemakers. We have retail, distributors, restaurants and small farmers. I see our biggest area of growth as educating people about how good cheese is in Ohio.”

The Cheese Gets Tired of Standing Alone

“It was an explosion of artisan creameries—goat, cow and sheep,” she recalls. “We really felt a need for networking with other cheesemakers, doing problem-solving, bringing in speakers and promoting Ohio cheeses.” Like Jeanne, Brian Schlatter (see “The Education of a Cheesemaker,” Edible Columbus Winter 2015) was already a member of the American Cheese Society (ACS), the national cheese promotion organization.

Jeanne Mackenzie of Mackenzie Creamery in Hiram, Ohio, is perhaps the grande dame of Ohio artisan cheesemaking. At 70, she describes herself as Above: Cheese wheels from Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese in Defiance, Ohio





By Nancy McKibben

“It seemed like a lot of us here were doing the same things, but independently. We wanted to do things as a collaborative group.”

Grandview. Tim came to “make connections and talk to producers.” Some weeks later, he began advertising for a cheesemonger for his new shop.

In May of 2013, Jean and Rob met with Brian at Mohican State Lodge in Bellville to discuss launching a cheese guild in Ohio. With ACS Certified Cheese Professional Shannon Walsh of Heinen’s Grocery Store in Cleveland, Ben Baldwin of Kokoborrego Cheese and Kent Rand, fromagier for Weiland’s Market in Columbus, the seven became the Guild’s founding members.

Bryn Bird, a self-described “farm girl” and director of the new Canal Market District in newark, attended with her 3-week-old infant in tow. She was scouting for cheesemakers who might sell their wares at the city’s farmers market.

“I’m proud to have helped start the Guild,” says Kent. He embraces the idea that “the Guild should have not just cheese making, but everything that goes with cheese—beer, wine, jam, charcuterie.”

Blazing the Ohio Cheese Trail The Guild’s current president is John Reese of Black Radish Creamery in new Albany. His years-long dream is being realized at last this summer, when he and his wife Anne finish the creamery and begin making and selling their first fresh cheeses. In the meantime, John has studied cheesemaking, worked as a Guild member and marketed his homemade jam at his website and local farmers markets, winning national Good Food Awards in the jam category for three consecutive years. not coincidentally, cheese and jam make a natural pairing. “The Guild has good momentum and an enthusiastic base,” John says. “now we want to hold events and reach out to people.” In the works is an Ohio Cheese Trail, similar to the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky, a “partnership between cheese-centric businesses” that would host cheese-focused tours and demos.

“A Crazy Bunch” Who might you meet at a Guild meeting? I attended the third annual meeting in Granville on March 21 to find out. Of course, there are cheesemakers, “a crazy bunch,” according to John. “The farmstead cheesemakers even raise their own animals. It takes a lot of dedication and sacrifice—it’s definitely a lifestyle and commitment.” not that the cheesemakers at the meeting were anything but cheerful about their choice of vocation. Said Angel King of Blue Jacket Dairy, “We’re all in it together. Cheesemaking is having a real revival. Ohio has been historically strong in cheesemaking, but we’ve had no PR. I like the opportunity to network and meet people from other parts of the state.” The morning’s program featured a presentation by neville Mcnaughton, a cheese consultant to the burgeoning artisan industry. neville spoke in a charming new Zealand accent about food safety, detailing the great lengths to which cheesemakers must be willing to go to ensure the wholesomeness of their products.

I met Dairy Connection sales rep Patrick Coughlin from Madison, Wisconsin, who sells bacteria and cultures to cheesemakers. “It’s amazing to see people who started their business on the kitchen stove and now have big operations,” he says. Jake Evans, 24, of Kettering, introduced himself as the Cheese Steward at the Miamisburg Kroger deli. Jake has a 10-year plan to become a cheesemaker himself. “Cheesemaking is wholesome,” he says. “Everyone helps each other. The enthusiasm is contagious.” Restaurateurs also have a stake here. Guild member noah Chamberlain, sous chef at The Crest Gastropub in Clintonville, was a fromagier “in the Philly tri-state area” before moving to Columbus. “I like meeting the people involved. They have a commitment to excellent products, and this gives me an opportunity in Columbus to get networked with those products.”

Calling All Turophiles If you’re a turophile (cheese lover), then the Guild can put you in touch with others who are crazy in love with cheese. Learn about Ohio’s cheeses. Volunteer on committees and/or boards that help promote Ohio’s cheeses through events and classes. Receive discounts for seminars and workshops. Raise cheese awareness. Ohio cheeses are on the rise, and the Ohio Cheese Guild is leading the charge. Jeanne Mackenzie sums it up: “We have very good energy, and people willing to give the time to make things happen. The Guild is definitely going in the right direction.” Contact the Ohio Cheese Guild for membership and other information at ohiocheeseguild.org.

And take advantage of events and classes around town sponsored by Guild members. Weiland’s Market offers cheesemaking, cheese 101, and a cheese club with fromagier Kent Rand (krand@weilandsmarket.com; 614-267-9878). Contact The Seasoned Farmhouse in September for a list of cheese-focused classes celebrating National Cheese Week in October (theseasonedfarmhouse.com).

# Nancy McKibben is happy to combine her loves of eating and writing with the opportunity to advocate for sustainable agriculture in the pages of Edible Columbus. Her latest project is Kitschy Cat Alphabet, a rhyming alphabet book in postcards. She is also a novelist, poet and lyricist, the mother of six and the wife of one. View her work at nancymckibben.com; contact her at nmck-

Besides cheesemakers like Blue Jacket, Black Radish, Mackenzie Creamery, Osage Lane, Miceli Dairy Products, Turkey Foot Creek, Canal Junction and Kokoborrego, I met Tim Struble, of The Butcher & Grocer, soon to open in


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Charcuterie101 Behind the Scenes with James Forbes of North Country Charcuterie By Teresa Woodard • Photography by Stephen Takacs


hen James Forbes of north Country Charcuterie offers slices of his beautifully marbled salami at the Worthington Farmers Market, it’s hard to say “no.” This “Salami Swami,” as his friends call him, generously shares these tasty samples as he talks about charcuterie’s deep culinary roots and the craftsmanship behind this ages-old curing process. “The French style takes kitchen scraps and turns them into some beautiful things,” James tells newbies about these preservation techniques that date to Roman times and flourished in 15th century France. Back then, the French government prohibited the sale of uncooked pork, so charcutiers came up with ingenious ways to cook (salted and dried) various dishes to be sold. This chef-turned-charcuterie-artisan is building a loyal following of fans, including Kent Rand, cheesemonger at Weiland’s Market in Clintonville. “In our cheese case, we have the best salamis from around the world,” says Kent, “and nothing matches north Country Charcuterie’s salamis for their complex flavors.” In addition to its two salamis—Tripel Pigs and no.1, north Country also offers El Diablo chorizo and coffee bacon.

Opposite: North Country Charcuterie product hangs in the curing chamber at The Commissary. At right: A selection of meat by North Country Charcuterie. Foreground: No. 1 Salami; Readers/Right: El Diablo Chorizo; Readers/Left: Tripel Pigs Salami; Back/Right: Finocchiona.

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In foodie towns across the country, charcuterie is experiencing a revival, thanks to rising artisans like the Fatted Calf in San Francisco, Olympic Provisions in Portland, Publican Quality Meats in Chicago or Smoking Goose in Indianapolis. Here, in Central Ohio, north Country Charcuterie was founded in 2014 by James and his mother Jane. Later, his brother Duncan joined the team. The trio is eager to enlighten curious customers. They find many are familiar with charcuteries from European travels or restaurant charcuterie plates. Still, they are ready to learn more about the curing process and ways to best enjoy them. James is teaming with Kent to teach “Salami and Cheese Tasting 101” on June 16 at Weiland’s Market. As Kent explains, these Old World-style salamis are best enjoyed like fine cheeses, beginning with a look at the thin red-and-white slices followed by a smell of their fermented scents, a feel of the aged links and finally a “full 30-second taste in the mouth.” James explains the keys to his flavorful products are locally-sourced ingredients, his curing techniques and plenty of patience. Two of his popular salamis feature Saddleberk Berkshire pork from Urbana, classic herbal seasonings and a few unexpected native ingredients like Rockmill Brewery’s Tripel, Blue Jacket Dairy’s Ludlow cheese and Debonne Vineyards’ chardonnay.

James invited us inside north Country Charcuterie’s work space at The Commissary’s commercial kitchen in Marble Cliff to see firsthand the artistry behind this family business. Here, James, Duncan and Jane all lend a hand. They typically churn out 70-pound batches over two days, but for this demonstration they prepare a three-pound batch. Dry cured salamis begin similarly to fresh sausages. Meat, salt and seasonings are ground together and stuffed into casings. But instead of being heated, they are dehydrated in a curing chamber. James begins by trimming the fat and tendons from pork shoulders. He explains he prefers heritage pork breeds like Berkshires over modern industrial ones for their rich flavor, marbling and fat content. After trimming the meat, they weigh it and grind it in a meat grinder. As James works, he shares how he got his start. He first experimented with curing meats while in culinary school. He started with fresh pâtés and terrines then moved on to cured meats. He even won the state and regional competitions with a dish including lots of fresh sausage. After culinary school and an apprenticeship under Chef John Wickham at Rocky Fork Hunt Club (and now chef at The Seasoned Farmhouse), James started at the Hilton’s Gallerie Bar & Bistro

James Forbes of North Country Charcuterie making salami in the kitchen at The Commissary




where he further practiced his craft as he served up various charcuterie plates. After visiting charcuteries on a family trip to France in 2013, he and Jane returned home ready to start their own charcuterie. James bought a refrigerator on Craigslist and converted it to a curing chamber. He experimented with different salamis leaning on Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie for direction. As the book acknowledges, dry-cured meats are “the quintessence of the charcutier’s art and the most difficult to achieve” and can “drive even professional charcutiers crazy.” James agrees as he shares that his first batch ended up too dry and salty. At the same time, he says a successful batch is very satisfying. James continues the demonstration as he adds a portion of frozen pork fat. He explains it’s crucial the pork fat is very cold, so the chunks don’t melt and cause ugly smears. Jane sprinkles in the curing salts and spices that she has carefully measured. James says these salts are key components in preserving the meat. For this batch of Tripel Pigs, James mixes in a reduction of Rockmill Brewery’s cask-aged Tripel beer to add flavor and help with fermentation. He explains fermentation causes beneficial bacteria to feed off the sugar, generating lactic acid, which protects the meat from spoilage as well as introducing the pleasingly tangy flavor.

As he begins hand-mixing, he doesn’t complain of the ice-cold ingredients or the grueling task of binding these ingredients. Instead, he smiles as he explains that hand mixing is part of the artistry and an important step in binding the ingredients without generating heat from a commercial mixer. next, he transfers the meat mixture into a sausage stuffer. nearby, Duncan has completed the tedious job of prepping the casings for stuffing. As he flushes and hydrates the casings, he explains the task is much like filling balloons. He threads the prepped casing on the tube of the sausage press. James then begins filling the casings, pinching them every eight inches then twisting them into links. Duncan ties off a rope of four links with butcher’s twine and pricks the links with a needle to remove air pockets. The team labels and weighs each rope then carries them to the curing chamber set at a constant 80-degree temperature and 85% humidity. Over the first few days, James tests the salamis’ pH levels to see if fermentation has begun. He’ll also monitor drying signs and the white bloom on the outside casings. James explains this outer bloom protects the meat against pathogens. He says it’s

harmless, like the rind of cheese, and can be eaten or removed depending on personal preference. Once the salamis have cured for five weeks, James will check their weight. If they’ve dropped the required 45%, then they’re ready to package for sale. James encourages customers to enjoy them sliced thin at room temperature for optimum flavor. He says they’re best served on a tasting board with cheeses and paired with a malty beer or wine. In a recent chef ’s challenge, James says competitors used El Diablo chorizo in other clever ways such as a chorizo hash, a carbonara and chorizo tacos.

“You have to be very determined to do this,” says James as he explains he must fill out four forms for each batch. The hassle will be worth it one day as they dream of owning their own space. For now, they continue to learn, practice and experiment with new ingredients, techniques and recipes. After months of patiently waiting on the latest batch of cured whole pork muscles from local Anderson Farms and Six Buckets, they’ll soon be offering samples of coppa, prosciutto and lonza. North Country Charcuterie; 1400 Dublin Rd., Columbus, Ohio 43215;

This summer, north Country Charcuterie will be available for sale through groceries and served in restaurants and tap rooms as sample boards. The business recently gained the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s permission to sell its salamis throughout the state. The regulatory process has been a big hurdle as the team has learned the curing rules and how to prepare the scientific documentation.


# Teresa Woodard writes and produces home and garden stories for regional and national magazines. She blogs about Midwest gardening with two other writers at heartland-gardening.com. She also volunteers as a master gardener and gardens on 2½ acres along the Little Darby Creek in Madison County. She and her husband, Brian, have three teenage kids, a cat named Shadow, a dog named Tucker and three chickens.





A Stomach for Slurry and Sludge Quasar Energy Group turns food waste into renewable energy By Julie France Photography by Maria Khoroshilova

biogas/methane production. But this model is more efficient than its muse. “Our bodies aren’t as efficient. We’re not eating foods that can be readily broken down while it passes through, so what’s left is still 70% volatile,” says Mel Kurtz, president of Quasar, where volatile means that organics in the waste stream can still be converted to methane through a biological process. If our bodies aren’t efficient, our ways are also not resourceful. According to Mel, 35% of the world’s food is wasted.

Quasar Energy Group in Wooster, Ohio


hen it comes to digestion, the human body is fairly good at it. And that’s why when it comes to reusing waste to produce energy, a giant stomach seems to be the way to go. These huge stomachs are called anaerobic digesters and Ohio happens to have the highest concentration of complete mix anaerobic digesters operating in the country. Quasar Energy Group, headquartered in Cleveland, has 18 anaerobic digesters in Ohio, with its facility in Columbus adding more than 300 tons of biomass daily to its digesters. The result? Approximately one megawatt of electricity is produced per hour per digester and not a single chemical is used in this purely biological process. Biomass is a wide descriptor for fats, oils, grease, sludge, food, waste and other organic residuals. And their reuse plays a crucial part in mitigating




the effects of global warming. When organic residuals are trapped in landfills, they produce methane. According to the Sierra Club, American landfills contribute approximately 17% of global warming methane to the atmosphere and transportation of food waste to landfills alone requires at least 140 million gallons of fuel each year. From start to finish, biomass can take anywhere between 22 and 28 days to transform into biogas within an anaerobic digester. But before that is possible, the biomass spends about three days in a feedstock receiving tank where it is mixed and becomes a homogenous slurry. Then the slurry enters the digester—but the digester doesn’t just model a stomach. It models the complete digestion process in humans from enzymes breaking down starches, as saliva does in the mouth, all the way to gas production, as the anaerobic digestion process ends in

Acknowledging the waste first-hand, the Blackwell Inn and Pfahl Conference Center has a Grind2Energy machine produced by InSinkErator that grinds its waste, which is then kept in a holding tank where Quasar trucks will visit, vacuum the ground waste out of the tank and then bring it to the aerobic digester. The energy created from this waste will go onto the Columbus power grid and then the process repeats, as the Blackwell provides Quasar with approximately four to six tons of waste per week. The Blackwell has been contributing its waste to Quasar since 2011 with no monetary benefit, and in fact pays to hand off the waste. For Lori Pratt, food and beverage director at the inn and conference center, it’s a matter of doing the right thing. “[It’s about] reducing our carbon footprint and striving for sustainability goals we have set to make a difference,” says Lori. But the Blackwell isn’t the only place in town, or in the state, that feeds its waste to these massive munchers. Cleveland’s Indians and Browns stadiums as well as its Horseshoe Casino are just a few other loca-

tions with an InSinkErator Grind2Energy machine that processes waste to then feed it to Quasar’s anaerobic digesters. And that’s just the surface. More than 100 Ohio restaurants and destinations contribute to Quasar’s renewable energy with the gift of waste. Quasar has state legislation to thank for a role in increasing its customers. Ohio’s mandate on required grease traps makes Quasar a natural beneficiary of the could-have-been-slippery situation. Bob Evans is one of Quasar’s grease contributors.

organic residuals in organic waste was repurposed in Ohio, we could produce the equivalent of 20% of the total motor vehicle fuel consumed,” says Mel. “Ohio consumes about five billion gallons; we could produce one billion gallons of clean, renewable fuel from the anaerobic digesters. It will just take time; we’re getting there.” Taking advantage of a portion of waste’s potential nationwide, Quasar has 24 anaerobic digesters operating at 14 facilities across Ohio, new York, Massachusetts and Maine.

Giving back also comes in the form of education. Quasar has helped The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute located in Wooster in directing the curriculum of its twoyear program. “It’s for the purpose of creating young interested adults so that they can participate in this sustainable venture,” says Mel, hinting that a sustainable world can only happen with a sustained interest of its people. Quasar Energy Group can be reached at

With more waste contributors come more options for energy use. At Quasar’s Zanesville and Columbus production facilities, methane is upgraded to motor vehicle fuel. Other locations use the resulting methane as fuel for generators that produce electricity for local power companies or PJM, an electricity provider for the entire Eastern Seaboard. However, for Mel, there is so much more potential. “There are over 7,000 digesters in Germany alone, while there are only several hundred in the entire U.S. So, there’s a huge opportunity to do good biologically in the U.S. and if all of the

Quasar surely knows about leftovers when it comes to biomass—but also when it comes to their own operations’ efficiency. Each facility needs 9% of the energy it produces to operate, leaving a large plate left for energy uses of all kinds. “Any one of our facilities is about 9% parasitic load,” says Mel. “So that means we have over 90% of surplus energy, which is why anaerobic digesters are considered very efficient—because we don’t waste the energy, then we’re giving it back to the grid; we’re making fuel, making heat.”

216-986-9999, at its headquarters, 5755 Granger Rd., Suite 320, Cleveland, Ohio 44131, or online at quasarenergygroup.com.

# Julie France is a freelance writer and recent graduate of Kenyon College. She enjoys writing stories that illuminate people living their passions, especially when it concerns a healthier lifestyle. To see more of her work, visit journalismjuliefrance.wordpress.com.

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from the KITCHEN

DIY Compost 101

By Joshua Wickham • Photography by Maria Khoroshilova

Chef Joshua Wickham’s backyard compost and compost bins

We know. You want to compost. But where to begin? The Seasoned Farmhouse Chef Joshua Wickham builds his own homemade cedar compost bin to stack in the backyard, making his composting efforts easy and economical. The cedar compost bin can outlive a compost barrel and be repurposed for raised beds, making an excellent bed for growing potatoes because of the height and depth it offers. Josh lays out the blueprint for how to build the compost bin and how to prepare the right amount of nitrogen to carbon and water to oxygen so your compost really cooks! It’s a science but not one meant to mystify you. Josh includes resources for building up healthy compost over time. So save your scraps and backyard debris get to it. —Colleen Leonardi




1 Water




4 34



What You’ll Need for A 4 Tier 3- by 3-foot Stackable Compost Bin

Resources for Cooking Good Compost

16 each 6- by 1-inch cedar planks cut to three-foot sections

Great Books

16 each 4- by 4-inch cedar posts cut to 8 inches 64 each 2-inch deck screws (note: use star head or torx screws instead of Phillips head to allow for ease when screwing into the cedar plank and post)

Build It Up

Let it Rot!: The Gardener’s Guide to Composting (Third Edition), by Stu Campbell

Construction Time: approximately 1 hour

It is important to use only cedar for this construction as it does not easily rot and it will not be consumed by insects. Red cedar can be obtained from just about any hardware store with a lumber yard. My personal preference is Menard’s; they have a wonderful lumber selection. Step 1: Form a square by screwing 4 planks to

the 4 corners posts leaving 1 inch of the plank open at the top. This will leave 3⅜ inches of the post exposed below the plank. Use two deck screws for each plank at each corner. This will allow the next frame to sit firmly atop the lower. Step 2: Repeat with the next three frames. Step 3: Filling the Compost Bin When filling the

compost bin there are four major ingredients to concern yourself with: Carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and water. These four factors are essential for healthy fast moving compost.

The Complete Compost Gardening Guide: Banner batches, grow heaps, comforter compost, and other amazing techniques for saving time and money, and ... most flavorful, nutritious vegetables ever, by Deborah L. Martin

Carbon Contributors Straw, dried leaves, sawdust


in small amounts, wood chips in small amounts, shredded newspaper, cardboard, dryer lint, corn stalks and corn cob, shredded brown paper grocery bags, pine needles and pine cones and egg shells.

Great website for building different kinds of composters:


Oxygen: Another factor to consider is aeration. This can be achieved by layering your bin with small twigs and sticks every 10 or so inches as you add the other ingredients. The twigs will create space between the layers allowing air to circulate. Water: Water activity in the pile is also an important factor. The compost material should feel like a wet sponge. Water the pile with the garden hose when initially constructed. If the weather is dry for extended periods, interment manual watering may be necessary. Step 4: Turning the Compost Turning the compost

Carbon and Nitrogen: The ideal ratio of carbon to

nitrogen is one part nitrogen to three parts carbon. A great way to ensure the proper ratio is by using a five gallon bucket when filling the compost bin. You will need one bucket of nitrogen contributors to every three buckets of carbon contributors. By keeping a small pile of carbon contributors next to the bin you can add as necessary to balance any added nitrogen contributors. (note: If your compost is mostly leaves and in need of nitrogen but you don’t have the food scraps, you can buy nitrogen at the garden store to add to your compost pile.) Nitrogen Contributors Fish meal, fish scraps, blood

meal, alfalfa and pea clover, green garden waste, algae and seaweed, coffee grounds and filters, lake moss, hair, kitchen fruit and vegetable scraps and spring grass clippings.

regularly is import to introduce air into the pile and redistribute the ingredients allowing for an even decomposition. Allow the compost pile to sit for 2 to 3 weeks to cook before turning it. You can turn it by removing the top most frame to the side and shoveling the compost pile into the frame. Repeat with the other three frames and compost. It takes about a ½ hour to turn the compost. Compost will cook for approximately 2 months (8 weeks), requiring 3 good turns. When it’s cooked and ready to leave the compost bin it can be spread for mulch in the garden, worked down to be used as potting soil and repurposed for raised beds.

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M A Big Idea Story and photography by Brent Anslinger

ost of us have heard of the Appalachian Trail (AT), and many of us are inspired by the thought of hiking for six months from Georgia to Maine along the spine of the Appalachians on the AT. Brent Anslinger of Miamisburg, Ohio, thru-hiked the AT, and with his wife, Amy, the Pacific Crest Trail before settling down in the Buckeye State to hike Ohio’s own long-distance trail.—Andrew Bashaw

Above: Brent Anslinger and his wife, Amy, hiking the Buckeye Trail

Amy and I consider ourselves part of the longdistance hiker community, so when we moved back to Ohio we wanted to connect with our own state and its long trail to help build awareness and recreate that community here at home. Inspired by trails like the AT we were curious what the Buckeye Trail (BT) was all about, if it was “backpackable” and the similarities or differences to other long trails. We weren’t 100%

Living, breathing and hiking Ohio’s Buckeye Trail




sure of what we were getting into, but we knew it would be an adventure, and every adventure has an element of the unknown. We did a little research and came to find out about another small group of Ohioans that were equally inspired by the AT more than 50 years ago. In 1958, Merrill Gilfillan published an article in the Columbus Dispatch titled “A Buckeye Trail: So far it is just an idea.” He laid out a vision of a 500-mile route from the shore of Lake Erie to the banks of the Ohio River so Ohio might have its own AT-like experience. And that idea went viral, by 1950’s standards, of course. Today the Buckeye Trail (BT) proudly hosts major portions of the 4,600-mile north Country national Scenic Trail and the 66,800-mile American Discovery Trail. Since the BT has become a key piece of our national trail system we got to hike three great trails at once! Like most outdoor-loving Buckeyes, it turned out, we had followed the BT’s blue blazes before without even knowing it. Growing up here, I didn’t realize that one trail connects so many of our state’s natural and historic treasures into one long journey until I saw a map of it in my Scout book. One of my favorite natural settings along the BT was the quiet serenity of hiking by waterfalls underneath a hemlock canopy through Hocking Hills State Forest. We had the BT all to ourselves right next to the popular destination of Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills State Park. We were surprised by how scenic and enjoyable some of the back-country road portions of the BT route were as well. On our adventure through southern Ohio, where only a car or two would pass by in a day, we met a woman gathering walnuts in her driveway. We learned from her that driving over them was the simplest way to get the hulls off. Who knew we’d get common sense lessons in rural living like this?

better way to get to know local people, small towns, shared history and our natural landscapes than completing Ohio’s long trail. And you can never hike the same trail twice; the BT changes with the lighting of the day, the direction you travel, the seasons of the year and the people you’re with. While a majority of BT hikers are day hikers to these great destinations, a few hundred “section” hikers have completed the whole thing over time. I hear that several serious hikers are interested in attempting the twoto-four month continuous journey around Ohio on a BT thru-hike this summer. That 1950’s idea is definitely catching on. Amy and I feel that more Ohioans are becoming inspired by the idea of the BT and are choosing to walk to get away from it all. Whether we’re out for a stroll under the blue blazes in historic trail towns like Milford along the Little Miami, challenging ourselves over the steep ridges of Shawnee’s “little Smokies” or walking with history among the remnants of Lockington Locks on the old canal towpath, there is something for everyone to be proud of in our everevolving BT right here at home. The nonprofit Buckeye Trail Association has been the leader in building, maintaining, protecting and promoting Ohio’s 1,400-plus-mile state trail since 1959. To support this great idea visit buckeyetrail.org to become a member, volunteer or take a hike!

# Since Brent and Amy’s hike of the BT, Brent Anslinger has become the Outdoor Recreation Program Manager at Five Rivers MetroParks, part of Dayton’s revival as the “Outdoor Adventure Capital of the Midwest,” where he GETS to help build, maintain, protect and promote his portion of Ohio’s Buckeye Trail.

The variety of experiences that our state trail provides are overwhelming. We can’t imagine a

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worth the TRIP

Bon AppĂŠtit Appalachia By Claire Hoppens




The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development agency founded under President Lyndon Johnson. Besides advancing tourism in the region, the ARC helps improve infrastructure, jobs, leadership and growth in numerous sectors impacting economic stimulation. The ARC works closely with tourism experts across the 13 states to highlight businesses and events within each community. Together, the



he Appalachian region stretches from upstate new York, charts south along the Appalachian Mountain chain and dips into northern Mississippi. It encompasses a swath of southeastern Ohio, where the economic landscape has long been impacted by the geography and heritage of the area. The Appalachian region includes 420 counties in 13 states, end to end.

groups catalogue information, pinpoint destinations and create helpful tools for the food-obsessed traveler, charting unique places to visit and experience Appalachian music, food and events. In 2014, the ARC and its Tourism Council launched Bon Appétit Appalachia, a campaign to promote and cultivate the region’s unique food assets and entrepreneurial spirit. “Entrepreneurship is one of our strategic investment goals to continue growing the region’s economy,” says Earl Gohl, federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission. “Bon Appétit Appalachia illustrates how a wide network of food entrepreneurs are cooking up creative and delicious business ideas for the region.” For its second year, the campaign has partnered with 13 edible publications throughout the region, highlighting in a fold-out map the wealth of small businesses, farms, events and restaurants throughout Appalachia. The 200 spots on the printed map represent a range of potential destinations for visitors. Some have long been part of the fabric of the region— family farms or summer festivals, farmers markets and restaurants. Others are more recent entrepreneurial ventures, including a wave of breweries and distilleries that make good use of local ingredients and traditions. Online, at visitappalachia.com, an interactive map expands on the printed version and shows more than 900 spots—each one offering another chance for visitors to see, and taste, the region. Search by state, driving route or type of destination: from vineyards and wineries to “farm-tofork” restaurants. From the Central new York Maple Festival to the Palmetto Moonshine Distillery in Anderson, South Carolina, the maps are connectors between travelers and a bevy of delicious adventures—experiences that showcase the true personality and flavor of a place. Wendy Wasserman, director of communications and media relations for the ARC, points out that the list is representative—and growing—but not exhaustive. “It’s just the beginning of the conversation,” she says.

For example, the Bon Appétit Appalachia map showcases how Appalachia’s food entrepreneurs are capitalizing on the emerging craft brewing and small batch distillery industry. There are more than 35 small-batch brewers and distilleries on the print version of the Bon Appétit Appalachia map, and nearly 100 such businesses on the online version—each one bottling a bit of Appalachia’s terroir. Bon Appétit Appalachia connects entrepreneurs within the region, and informs an increasingly curious audience about opportunities to explore. To supplement the maps, visitappalachia.com contains suggested itineraries for road trips throughout Appalachia that bring together treasured farmers markets, wineries, restaurants and farms. There’s a calendar of events full of unique festivals and celebrations. Edible Columbus has also worked closely with the ARC to develop a podcast series called “Backroad Journeys,” which explores the local food heritage of the Appalachian region, and off-the-beatenpath tourism. The series extends through 2016, and is available through edible Radio on iTunes. Each episode explores a particular artisan or experience, like a quaint Kentucky bed and breakfast called Snug Hollow Farm, where an on-site organic farm, sprawling forests and abundant wildlife provide a unique backdrop for guests to recharge and relax. Bon Appétit Appalachia gives you the tools for adventure in a region with immense character, varied geography and important agricultural assets. Why not shape the summer by chasing flavors and making memories?

# Raised in a nomadic and adventurous family, Claire Hoppens called five states home and attended three colleges before earning her degree in magazine journalism from the Scripps School at Ohio University in 2011. Claire is currently a Managing Partner for Northstar Café, one of the many Columbus mainstays to solidify her love of people, food, and our vibrant city.

The wealth of information is densely packed, but it’s a good problem to have. For an area rich in natural resources and deeply rooted traditions, taking advantage of what’s abundant can benefit business owners, visitors and the local economy.

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worth the TRIP

Locality, Beer, Community Little Fish Brewing Company in Athens is brewing local flavors and making Athens a national beer-lovers destination By Jake Fernberg • Photography by Sarah Warda


ertain anthropologists believe that the time required for beer to properly ferment helped spur humanity’s shift from life as mobile hunter-gatherers to a more stationary lifestyle. Following this logic, beer’s more than just the best drink for a ballgame or a key ingredient for a rich frying batter, but a crucial aspect of organized civilization. It’s that same commitment to locality and community that award-winning Athens-based Little Fish Brewing Company taps into with their locally made Ohio beers. Jimmy Stockwell and Sean White opened Little Fish, an auto garage turned taproom, last summer after wholesale renovations. The two are native Athenians and their brewery is right outside downtown Athens. It feels like a farmhouse: an open design, an acre and a half of land and an outdoor enclosure ideal for picnics. “Families are always here,” Jimmy notes, and that’s by design: Jimmy and Sean both have young children and they’ve created a laid-back and welcoming space that’s more idyllic than hectic. From the very beginning, Jimmy and Sean strived to foster community and brewing simple, rustic, locally inflected beers seemed a natural fit. Jimmy says they “specifically engineered these beers to use local ingredients” from the beginning. Whenever possible, Little Fish beers features Ohio ingredients, beginning with corn and spelt,

and now Ohio malts are being used in production of their IPAs. They feature a diverse and ever-changing draught list, from stouts to sours and everywhere in between; my favorite was the Master of Reality, a black IPA that was full but still crisp. It’s a great beer for drinkers with a gluten intolerance as it’s gluten-reduced. Their commitment to Ohio ingredients offers more than just a feel-good story. It has definite impacts on the flavors of the beer. To understand this it’s helpful to consider terroirs; the idea that where a crop is grown affects its taste and gives it unique qualities. This concept is prevalent in wine culture—it’s common knowledge that a California cabernet sauvignon is markedly different than one made in Bordeaux—but with beer the same nuance isn’t always accounted for. So many brewing corporations buy their ingredients from the same handful of conglomerates, and while recipes and styles are different, drawing from the same ingredient base homogenizes the beer. Little Fish Brewing exists to counter this trend. “Our idea isn’t necessarily to brew the best beer in the world—I don’t even think that exists— but [the ingredients] are all a little bit different, and that makes it even more unique and also makes great beer,” says Jimmy. For them, it’s all about brewing beer that represents Athens. Little Fish has to use some decidedly “oldschool” brewing techniques to make beer for

Opposite: top left: Little Fish Brewing Company owners Jimmy Stockwell (left) and Sean White (right). Bottom left: “Community and local values are present in every aspect of Little Fish. The aforementioned picnic area often fills with families on afternoons and weekends, the tap room has a growing collection of board games for patrons who seek some friendly competition with their stouts and the parking lot hosts a rotating lineup of Athens-area food trucks.”

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their still-new brewery. Sean talks out the complicated process they use for brewing their original Shagbark Pilsner, which involves three people forming a bucket-passing chain to maximize efficiency. Sean and Jimmy embody a casual and matter-of-fact tone when talking about this daunting task. “It’s a tough grain to work with,” says Sean. Community and local values are present in every aspect of Little Fish. The aforementioned picnic area often fills with families on afternoons and weekends, the tap room has a growing collection of board games for patrons who seek some friendly competition with their stouts and the parking lot hosts a rotating lineup of Athens-area food trucks. When the weather turns, Little Fish holds kids’ days once a month. While the taps are reserved for the parents, the space itself is great for kids to run around. Danne Corrigan, a regular, loves Little Fish for the great flavor of her favorite brews and the constantly changing selection. She says the atmosphere is “great” and filled with “friendly and welcoming” folks. Little Fish has a lot of room to grow, literally and figuratively. Jimmy and Sean hope to




expand the grounds to include a bike path connecting the picnic area to a city-installed bike trail so that more Athenians can get to their taproom. They also intend to grow hop plants on the property, reinforcing their commitment to local ingredients. They’ll eventually be able to walk out the front door to grab what’s necessary for one of their fantastic IPAs. When they were renovating the space, Jimmy and Sean planted fruit tress—plums, raspberries and sour cherries. They will soon bear fruit that will be used in their barrel-aging program. This, along with expanding their tap selection and continuing to experiment with traditional sour beers, is all part of an effort to, according to Jimmy, “really bring the local element into the beer.”

to support local businesses when what they make wins awards. Their drive to continue to be local is also a goal for the future: Jimmy referenced Athens’ 30 Mile Meal program’s mission for locally sourced dining in which all ingredients come from within 30 miles. He hopes to parallel that and start brewing 30 mile beers. It seems a lofty goal but I wouldn’t write them off: Between their dedication to their craft, the booming craft beer scene, and their local expertise, a completely Athens ale seems attainable. I’ll certainly be keeping my eye out. Little Fish Brewery; 8675 Armitage Rd.; Athens,

“Bringing people to Athens and being an economic engine for the area is very important,” say Jimmy and Sean. Between Little Fish and other Athens breweries like Jackie O’s and Devil’s Kettle, they’re attracting tourism. Ratebeer.com dubbed Little Fish the best new Ohio brewery this past spring, and also tabbed Jackie O’s as the best brewery in Ohio. And Little Fish’s Barrel Aged Woodthrush, their distinct farmhouse ale, just won a gold medal at the prestigious World Beer Cup. It’s clear that Athens has the foundations for a phenomenal beer scene, and it’s easy

Ohio 45701; littlefishbrewing.com.

# Jake Fernberg just graduated from The Ohio State University where he studied English and History. Since moving to Columbus, he’s told stories— many about food and drink—to friends, coworkers and professors. Wherever he may go, Jake will continue telling stories until folks stop listening.

edible CULTURE


A Living Art

Painter Carol Stewart finds inspiration from the local light and seasonal harvests of Central Ohio By Colleen Leonardi

The late paintings of the French post-impressionist painter Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947) are some of his most masterful works. And yet Pablo Picasso, steeped in his Modernist perspective of art, decried Bonnard as out of touch with painting, claiming there were too many colors, too much indecision in the works, stating: “Painting isn’t a question of sensibility; it’s a matter of seizing the power, taking over from nature, not expecting her to supply you with information and good advice.”1 Stepping into local painter Carol Stewart’s art studio at Milo Arts Center feels like stepping into the threads of a late Bonnard painting. nature and a rainbow sensibility are front and center in her still lifes. Carol paints what is alive; it’s clear. And Picasso would probably have none of it, for Carol is looking to the flowers, herbs,

fruits and sunlight for information and beautiful advice. And she finds it. Originally from Ontario, Canada, Carol moved from St. Louis, Missouri, to Columbus in 2012, and she made sure she had a studio space rented with ample natural light for her work before she even knew where she and her husband, Paul Goodfellow, were going to live. She chose Milo Arts Center, partially because her studio gets a good southern glow through the tall glass windows. “I love observing the light falling on objects,” she says. Above: “Peaches and Tulips,” by Carol Stewart, oil on paper on panel, 18 inches by 41 inches” 1

Amory, Dita. Pierre Bonnard: The Late Still Lifes and Interiors. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.

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When I visited her studio, two different compositions were set up for still lifes in process. Carol has multiple paintings on the stove at a time, working between compositions to find the right alignment for each. Yellow tulips splayed their petals broadly towards a puddle of cool blue light while maturing lemons rested in a shallow glass bowl and one sunny pansy drooped over the red lip of a small glass of water. A plethora of flowers and fabric graced the whole room from corner to corner while paintings lined the one free white wall. Carol pointed to a rendition of a melon the color of a forest from the Milo community garden that she painted last year, telling me a whole story about the melon. For Carol, objects embody some essence worth noting. “I need to feel a connection to the still life elements and their relationships,” she tells me when I ask why she paints from life and not from pho-




tographs. “When I feel an intensity and spark of inspiration looking at the still life, then I know it is time to proceed with the painting. I can rearrange or add things as I go. Every painting has to include some living elements—fruit or flowers. They seem to give the painting life.”

in St. Louis with Chinese painter Victor Wang. She was drawn to the rigor required in the craft of realistic painting, and found energy for a long while painting more landscape-oriented works of her garden. She longed for a certain clarity, though, that she couldn’t find in her gardenscapes, and so began experimenting with still lifes for the chemistry of order and lushness found in a smaller subject matter. When she moved to Columbus she found the longstanding Hammond Harkins Galleries to represent her work along with the other galleries that represent her work around the world.

Representational artists are not boldly recognized by the mainstream contemporary art world. Carol’s affinity for what is seasonal and alive from gardens and local and faraway farms—lilies, kumquats her friend sent her one season, oranges, tomatoes (whole and sliced, red and yellow), eggplants, patty pan squash, nasturtiums, zinnias, cosmos, morning glory, dahlias— are not the subjects of most of the paintings at the Museum of Modern Art in new York City.

And while she gathers inspiration where most artists do among museums, books, from other painters like Richard Diebenkorn of the Bay

Carol studied painting techniques and earned her Master of Fine Arts at Fontbonne University

Above: Painter Carol Stewart in her studio at Milo Arts Center in Columbus, Ohio

“I grow things for my painting, for eating and just for fun and pleasure and to share.”

Area Figurative Movement and the Italian Baroque painter Giovanna Garzoni, and even Facebook where she connects with other likeminded artists from around the world, it’s what she grows in her garden and what other people grow and give to her that lies at the heart of her expert eye.

“Food is a big part of our life,” she says. “We like to cook together and make fresh healthy food— simple and straightforward. We love to break bread with family and friends. People love to come to our house for a fun meal and to talk about art among other things—we love to eat outside in the garden.”

“My art is intertwined with my life,” she says. “I paint the things around me and I choose the things I surround myself with. I see a bowl of lemons on the counter in our kitchen and off it goes to the studio. I see interesting vegetables, fruit or flowers when grocery shopping and my art gives me an excuse to buy them. We grow a tomato and then I eat it, or I paint it or both!”

This summer Carol is growing several types of herbs, including thyme, marjoram, fennel, lovage, oregano, basil, tarragon, mint, sorrel and sage, fresh greens and tomatoes, peas and eggplants, along with several different varieties of flowers. When she’s not in her studio, keeping a rigorous schedule of painting every day, she’s most likely in her garden, or outside somewhere planting flowers in a garden pot.

We here in Central Ohio are the lucky recipients of her hunger for life, for Carol and her husband, Paul, frequent the north Market and Bexley farmers markets, the Bexley natural Market and local florists. What the farmers and growers bring to the market might be what lands in Carol’s compositions.

Carol’s paintings suggest a peaceful place where the more quotidienne and lovable aspects of the natural world are tended and presented for whomever stops to look. Her work evokes a settled play. As she writes, “My still life paintings are not still.” It’s art work reminiscent of those most ephemeral moments when we’re out in the world and know we are alive because we see, taste, smell, feel for one moment something from the garden, farm or forest floor that is alive, too. And together we meet in our aliveness. And together we dance. Learn more about Carol Stewart and her paintings at cmstewart.com, or visit Hammond Harkins Gallery in Columbus at hammondharkins.com.

“I grow things for my painting, for eating and just for fun and pleasure and to share,” she says. “nurturing and growing things is infinitely satisfying. It is my way to feel connected to the Earth.”

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The Heart of the Home At home with prop stylist Bridget Henry and authentic Peruvian flavors By Claire Hoppens • Photography by Gina Weathersby he light that streams from the deep bay windows into Bridget Henry’s kitchen is the kind stylist’s dream about. It spills over the marble countertops, the stacks of carefully chosen dishes, the cascade of small, white orchids at the center of the island. It pours in from the adjacent sliding glass door, which makes a towering fiddle leaf fig tree very happy, branches extending nearly to the ceiling.


was in new York I just started seeing all the beauty in a plate of food. Looking at food and going to restaurants, how they would plate things, was really intriguing to me.”

It’s no surprise that Bridget, a makeup artist-turned-food-and-prop stylist, is most enamored by her kitchen.

“I would go to the Union Square Farmers Market and I would start taking pictures with my phone and posting them on Instagram. Then I would go home and make meals and I would find myself making a beautiful shot and taking it with my phone,” says Bridget. “So it kind of evolved really naturally.”

“Once I saw it,” she says, “I knew I was sold.” Prior to her current adventure with her family, husband, Helder, and young daughter, Bianca, Bridget spent most of her career as a makeup artist. “That was my thing,” she says, “for 21 years.” From editorial shoots to runway, celebrities and advertising campaigns, Bridget immersed herself in the world of makeup. Bridget’s work has appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Allure and Billboard magazines, among others. She has worked for designers Tom Ford, Donna Karen, Zach Posen and Rachel Zoe in new York’s Fashion Week, and made-up a long list of celebrities, including Kristen Stewart, Taylor Swift and Ben Stiller. “I’ve been blessed and had great opportunities of traveling all over the world, doing Paris and Milan fashion weeks and QVC in London,” says Bridget. “I think having my fashion background also helped me, opened some doors with my food and prop styling.” Bridget’s style is “modern and fresh with a precision for detail.” She highlights natural beauty and amplifies essential flavors. In makeup, Bridget aims to create radiant skin. When it comes to food, she showcases freshness, color and simplicity. For her own meals Bridget cares deeply about sourcing and eating locally. It was when living new York City that Bridget’s passion for food began to transform into a more tangible reality. “I love everything about food,” says Bridget. “I like getting together with people and eating. I love to eat out and cook at home,” she says. “When I

Bridget shopped for and styled food that she loved, and that she ate, and eventually it paid off.

The dishes she crafted and shot at home were true to the source of the ingredients and season, whether it was sugar-dusted French toast with summer berries, or roasted fall veggies. Apple pie, Bridget says, is an all-time favorite dish to prepare. The photos, shot in natural light in Bridget’s kitchen, caught the eye of an existing client, who gave the Bridget the chance to style the set instead of do makeup. “That was the jumping-off point for me,” she says.


ridget returned to her home state of Ohio after five years in new York City, a transition towards more stable surroundings, and closer to family.

Helder moved to the United States in 1989 with father, Oscar, who led his family out of a politically unstable Peru by taking a research position at The Ohio State University’s microbiology department. Two years later, Helder’s brother and mother, Edga, followed suit. The transition was a smooth one. “I found Columbus to be very welcoming,” says Helder. He would go on to study Environmental Science at OSU and meet Bridget on a hot summer night through a mutual friend. In time, and as they got to know each other, Peruvian flavors would resurface in their shared home. “We’re just enjoying life a little bit more,” she says. “Settling back down to our roots and starting the next chapter as parents.”

Page 48, bottom, left: Prop stylist Bridget Henry. Page 49, bottom, right: Bridget’s husband, Helder, and their daughter, Bianca.

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Bridget’s kitchen, bright and beckoning, is central. And no wonder. Her enthusiasm for her job is inseparable from her love of food and for family. “I love to cook,” says Bridget. “When I was pregnant my husband started dabbling in cooking, and he loves to cook now.” 8-month-old Bianca will help someday soon. For now, she soaks up the smells and sounds of her parents as they chop and sauté. “We always go to the markets,” says Bridget. “We love getting local ingredients, going with what looks good and fresh and incorporating it, winging it and making up our own recipes.” Helder’s Peruvian heritage added another layer of flavor to their culinary repertoire. “Meeting Helder has opened me up to new ingredients that, being in America and in Ohio, I would have never met,” says Bridget. Like rocoto, a South American pepper prevalent in Peruvian cooking. Or empanadas. “I just really fell in love with their food,” she says.

Edga’s Empanadas By Bridget Henry A traditional Peruvian recipe, Edga’s Empanadas are one of my favorites. They are simple to make, delicious and enjoyed by everyone. Makes 24 Empanadas

3 packs of small Goya pre-made

½ cup green olives, chopped

pastry rounds or homemade

½ cup raisins

empanada dough (see recipe at

1 handful cilantro, chopped


1 medium tomato, diced

1 pound ground sirloin

3 eggs, boiled and chopped

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon Rocoto*

1 tablespoon cumin

1 egg yolk, to brush on top of pastry before oven

Olive oil 1 whole red onion

Lime wedges for serving

5 garlic cloves

The empanada, especially, came to be a family staple. Making the Empanada Filling

In a recipe passed down from Helder’s mother, the palm-sized, golden empanadas are filled with a sweet and savory mixture of hard boiled egg, raisins, green olives, ground beef, veggies and spices. They are baked and served with fresh lime wedges (see recipe).

Add salt, pepper and cumin to sirloin. Add to a hot dry pan. (Do not add olive oil to pan.) Cook until brown. Remove from pan and set aside. Leave sirloin juices in pan.

“They’re recipes Helder grew up with that have been passed down,” says Bridget. “They’ve been in his family forever, but I think with his family being here, it’s allowed me to explore the different flavors and aromas and ingredients.” Lots of family time is spent preparing and sharing meals. “Every Sunday,” Helder says, “it’s a tradition to see mom and eat Peruvian food.”

Chop garlic, tomato, onion, eggs, cilantro and olives while sirloin is cooking. Add garlic to pan. Add a little olive oil, onions and tomato and mix. Add Rocoto* and return sirloin to pan, mix again. Add olives, eggs, raisins, cilantro, salt and pepper. Mix. Turn heat to low and

“We do the traditional empanada recipe, which is his mother’s recipe, which was her mom’s mother’s recipe,” says Bridget. “With Edga, everything is in her head. The way she cooks is completely different than from how I would approach it. Because its all in her memory and its all in her taste. So I’ve kind of learned from her to add a little bit of this and that.” In their home, like in so many others, cooking time is inevitably, intrinsically, family time. “We love making empanadas because it takes a long time,” says Bridget. “It’s very easy but it’s very time-consuming. So we have a little assembly line and my husband and I always cook them together. That’s also one of the reasons it’s a favorite, you know—we do it together, put on some salsa music and have some wine,” says Bridget.


ridget has found peace and new beginnings in her work. She’s found joy in her family. And in her kitchen, she’s found harmony.

Assembling and Baking the Empanadas To assemble the empanadas place a spoonful of the filling on the middle of each empanada disc. The amount of filling will vary based on the size of the empanada, but in general, it’s easier to seal an empanada that isn’t overstuffed. To seal the empanadas, fold the disc and seal the edges by pressing the edges with a fork. If you’re having a hard time sealing the edges, you can brush the inside edges with egg white or water, it will act as a glue for the empanadas. Brush tops of empanadas with an egg wash (one egg yolk plus a few drops of milk, whisked). Bake at 375° for 20–25 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool and serve with fresh lime wedges.

“I love how the kitchen is always the heart of our home,” says Bridget. Learn more about Bridget Henry and her work at bridgethenry.com, or find her on Instagram @bridget_henry.

# 50

simmer 5 minutes. (Add more cumin, salt or pepper to taste.) Turn off heat.



Enjoy! *Rocoto is a Peruvian Hot Pepper paste that comes in a jar. It has a very unique spicy taste that I’ve grown to love (see page 49, top right). Very Peruvian. Used in a lot of other Peruvian dishes. Can be found at the local Mexican grocery stores.

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Farm to Institution How innovative cafeterias in Ohio are transforming economic systems by feeding thousands of people with local ingredients By Nicole Rasul • Photography by Maria Khoroshilova


plastic tray filled with gelatinous gravy slathered over previously frozen unidentifiable vegetables and rubbery meat. This was cafeteria eating in my youth. Tray after tray looked the same: Grayish, questionable contents reheated by wellmeaning, yet disconnected, cooks. On a recent visit to Denison University in Granville, my 1980s Orwellian view of cafeteria food was shattered. At Denison, a leader in the institutional locavore revolution, the university’s food service program is challenging the status quo by offering local and seasonal from-scratch cooking. In the age of large-scale everything—agriculture, processing, packaging, portion sizes and waistlines—Denison and similar institutions are proving that sourcing smartly from small, regional producers can pack a big economic punch, contribute to healthy menus and support significant stabilization and growth in the local food landscape.

Getting Local Foods into Schools According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent Farm to School Census, 190 school districts in Ohio, representing 800 schools and more than 400,000 students, reported that they participated in farm to school activities during the 2013–2014 academic year. This amount represented more than $16 million dollars invested in local food systems in Ohio. Farm to school purchasing supports regional economic systems. It also provides fresh, nutritious food and is often accompanied by a curriculum to help children understand where their food comes from and how nutrition choices impact health, economies and the environment. In southeastern Ohio, Rural Action, a membership-based community development organization, is partnering with Hocking College’s culinary program to prepare food purchased from the Chesterfield Produce Auction for sale to school districts in the region. Hocking College students in the

Above: Derek Staugh (right), Senior Groundskeeper, at Licking Memorial Hospital Systems, and Erin Harvey (left), Owner of the Kale Yard and Licking Memorial Hospital Systems Garden Consultant. Opposite: At the Licking Memorial Hospital Systems.

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At Licking Memorial Hospital Systems in the cafeteria

Local sodas at Denison in Granville, Ohio

culinary arts program perfect their knife, blanching and packaging skills in a practical way to benefit the region’s children.

operated and there is an income cap to participate, which ensures that they are supporting small family businesses that contribute to a just food system.

“In southeastern Ohio most farms are small. Through the produce auction and our partnership with Hocking College we have worked to develop a model that helps farmers scale to an institutional level,” Tom Redfern, director of sustainable agriculture and forestry at Rural Action, explains.

According to Jeremy King, the coordinator of overall sustainability initiatives for the university, Denison is working towards 75% locally and responsibly sourced food in its dining halls. “Our latest calculations show that 39% of our food spend fits this requirement,” Jeremy says. “In 2010, we were at 15%. We have been able to get to 39% without increasing costs to students. Shifting to responsible sourcing isn’t breaking the bank.”

Today, school kitchens aren’t always equipped to process fresh foods. Hocking College was purchasing produce to teach processing but without an end use. Through the partnership established by Rural Action, schools that might not be equipped to process produce are now able to access local food that is ready for heating and serving. The initiative has received funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture enabling Hocking College’s processing program to scale.

The university contributes this success to several factors: Chef-driven fromscratch kitchens, adaptable menus based on seasonal availability and onesided contracts with some of Denison’s nearly 40 local producers.

Reaching approximately 15,000 children since its inception in 2005, the program provides food to Federal Hocking Local Schools, Athens City Schools, Tri-County Career Center and nelsonville-York City Schools, among others. Additionally, several university and hospital systems have purchased from the program at different points in its history.

“The contracts say that we will buy a certain product, at an agreed upon price, for as long as the producer has that product available,” Piper explains. With a concrete financial commitment from the university, the contracts have enabled some producers to grow in scale to meet Denison’s need without taking unnecessary risk.

At the university level, through its 31,000 meals served weekly, Denison University gives local food a spotlight. The university contracts to Bon Appétit Management Company for its dining services. Bon Appétit is known as a pioneer in the food industry for its humane, socially and environmentally responsible sourcing practices. The company is committed to sourcing at least 20% of its food from local farmers and artisans working within 150 miles of each café.

Bill VanScoy of VanScoy Farms provides produce to Denison year-round from his 138-acre farm located in Hardin County. “The contract has been great as it’s been a tool that we’ve used to lock in some of the variable costs that come with farming,” he says.

S.K. Piper, a Bon Appétit employee, is based at Denison University where she serves as the food service program’s sustainability manager, a position at Denison that was the first of its kind. “Bon Appétit’s local food initiative—Farm to Fork—started in 1999. We pride ourselves on the fact that we have been committed to local, sustainable sourcing since before it was hip,” says Piper. The company’s local food definition is more than just geographic, she explains. Vendors must be owner54



Local sourcing also has the potential to provide a pathway to increased food safety for participating institutions. “We harvest, grow and deliver our food,” Bill says. Food safety recalls often stem from issues that did not originate on farms but in packing and storage facilities or during transportation. “When food travels 3,000 miles there’s a lot of things that can go wrong,” Bill remarks (see article on page 58).

Healing Health and Economies “Improve the health of those we serve” is the governing mission of the OhioHealth system. OhioHealth Marion General Hospital views local food pur-

Pleasant Valley Poultry at Dennison University for their “Spinner Spinner Chicken Dinner”

chasing as advancing the health of the hospital’s patients and visitors and improving the region’s economy. “There has been a slow but growing interest in local food sourcing in healthcare,” says niles Gebele, director of nutrition and environmental systems at the hospital. “There is apprehension because of logistics and consistency. To do ‘local,’ it takes time to develop the program and work with farmers.” The hospital has contracted with a Central Ohio food distributor to purchase directly from Ohio farms. They have committed to sourcing cucumbers, blueberries, strawberries, cilantro and tomatoes, among other things, from local farms when in season with the goal of expanding their locally sourced portfolio. “As an industry, there is nothing but the opportunity for local sourcing to grow especially as the logistics of buying locally become easier,” niles says. Licking Memorial Health Systems has also embraced local for both the health of the community and for the region’s economic prosperity. Brian Merritt, who studied at Johnson and Wales Culinary School and previously worked at The Granville Inn, oversees the food program at the hos-

At Licking Memorial Hospital Systems

pital, which serves approximately 750 meals a day at its two café locations, coffee shop, and to patients in the hospital system. The hospital also has a significant catering presence. Brian’s operation is unique in the fact that it is self-operated. Though the system supplements local purchasing with orders from a national distributor, it does not have a contract and is not committed to one supplier. The hospital purchases dairy products for its coffee shop from Snowville Creamery. Its meat supplier is based out of Cleveland and sources from Ohio farms. Seventy-five percent of its disposable products are compostable and come from Going Green Services, another Ohio company. When possible, the program likes to buy products with an OhioProud label. “One of the more challenging things that businesses run into are vendor certifications and going through the procurement hoops,” Brian says. “We don’t run into those issues because the administration here is so supportive and wants us to have a self-operated culinary focus. As long as a producer can provide basic vendor information we can source from them.” Brian also has the benefit of working with a purchasing coordinator for the hospital’s food service program. “It will always require more work to source locally,” he says. “In our case, we have been able to do it due the fact that we

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have a person who works solely on sourcing.” As an official partner of the Licking County Local Foods Council, Brian and his team recognize the power that they have to effect real change due to the extensive volume that the hospital can commit to purchasing from regional producers.

seem to be just that, barriers, and do not seem to have any practical reason,” Piper reflects.

The hospital also has a one-acre production garden. now, three years in, the garden has seen significant growth and provides salad bar toppings for the hospital’s cafés and catering program.

When a commitment to local sourcing is made, Denison University has found relationships easier to manage if standing orders with producers are established. “My yogurt provider knows that they will drop buckets at our dining halls every week and I will only call them if the order needs to be changed,” Piper says.

Be Part of the Movement

Finally, a commitment to from-scratch cooking has enabled several of the institutions profiled here to source more frequently from local providers.

With myriad layers of procurement hoops to jump through, establishing relationship with institutions can seem overwhelming for the already busy farmer or artisan. Approaching the task with clear, regular communication is key, says Laura Kington from OSU Extension’s Farm to School program. “Schools prefer consistent quantity, quality, price and delivery from producers. They also need to plan their menus in advance. If you are approaching a school district to sell, be ready to provide a seasonality chart and a listing of your products and prices,” Laura explains. OSU Extension will offer a series of workshops in October focused on bringing farmers and schools together. To learn more, visit farmtoschool.osu.edu. Piper recommends that producers “be persistent, call or show up in person around 2 or 3pm, and bring a sample.” She also says to do your homework and find out who the decision maker is at an organization. Speaking to institutions who wish to source more locally, both Piper and Bill reflect on the need to rid the process of administrative hurdles. Bill has seen increased interest from institutions in sourcing from his farm, however, several of the food service programs that he has spoken with remain uncommitted due to procurement obstacles. “The activist in me questions why producers have to jump through so many hoops at some of our neighboring institutions. A number of the barriers




“We have to be willing and able to eat the food we grow locally,” notes Erin Harvey, who operates a market garden and plant nursery in Lancaster called The Kale Yard. Erin served as a consultant to Licking Memorial Health Systems on their garden project and will provide the hospital with many of the plant starts for this year’s production. “This means washing, processing and cooking whole foods. Our kitchens, menus and schedules are not necessarily set up for this process anymore, making it an impressive commitment for an institution to source locally,” Erin reflects.

# Nicole Rasul loves all things food. Food history, food culture and profiles of our region’s brave producers especially strike her fancy. She lives in Clintonville with her husband and daughter where they enjoy the farmers market and their backyard garden.

Farming for Food Safety The Food Safety Modernization Act brings new federal standards for large and small farming industries to extend food safety measures By Tara Pettit • Illustrations by Sharon Teuscher


ith food production operating under global proportions for several decades now, we Americans readily recognize that tonight’s dinner has most likely taken a “tour de world” before reaching our plates, though we may not always consciously reflect on it. We are, however, very aware of other consequences resulting from the nowuniversal span of our supply chain, such as recent and more frequent cases of food poisoning and disease. The increase in foodborne illnesses within the past decade (one in six Americans gets sick from contaminated food annually) has triggered sweeping concern about what safety measures are in place to protect consumers from bacteria-consumed foods. Consequently, the issue has launched a national investigation into the ways our food is produced and packaged in which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has spearheaded an all-encompassing comprehensive food safety plan to be integrated over a multi-year period.

New Regulations The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), passed in 2011, will shift the focus of federal regulation of food production to a more prevention-based approach and give the FDA new authority to regulate the way foods are grown, harvested and processed. FSMA has been carried out through a series of policy amendments over the past five years, the most recent of which was finalized in 2014 with two new




key rules addressing aspects of food safety throughout the various process and handling points in the growing and distribution chain. What are now published as the Produce Safety and Preventive Controls Rules are the first federal science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables. With those minimum standards come somewhat stringent requirements for farms both big and small that require complete compliance under a common standard advocating one best federal practice for food safety. What remains to be seen is just how one best practice extended across entities of all shapes and sizes will unfold into the daily operations of some of our smaller and more vulnerable farms, and what impacts may arise.

Growing Pains of Standardization While FSMA deals mainly with the safety practices of manufacturing and food processing facilities—excluding operations defined as “farms” from the rule—key requirements established under the Produce Safety Rule are soon expected to become operational norms for almost all farms across the country with compliance dates as early as January 2017 for some farms grossing more than $500,000 annually. That is, the requirements will become operational norms to the extent to which all farms, down to the smallest, are properly informed and receive adequate education around what seems daunting in terms of extra paperwork, more frequent onsite inspection and increased risk of not meeting a strict regulatory checklist.

The requirements of the produce rule address potentially high access points for bacterial contamination within a farming operation, citing specific actions to be taken by each covered farm in order to mitigate risk and stay compliant within such categories as agricultural water, biological soil, sprouts, domesticated and wild animals, worker hygiene and equipment. Some compliance categories involve rigorous testing and most involve keeping detailed records. With most criteria, immediate corrective action is required if unacceptable levels of contamination are detected.

On the Ground Some of our local farmers are still trying to understand the full impact of this rule on their current operations and any compliance procedures required in addition to the food safety measures they already have in place. Bill VanScoy is one of those local farmers attempting to navigate his way through the specifics of the finalized rules, which have yet to include specific implementation guidelines for Ohio. Bill is the owner and operator of VanScoy Farms, a CSA-supported family farm just outside of Ridgeway, Ohio, and his operation will fall under the “medium-sized” FDA definition of a farm—a categorical measure by gross sales that determines a farm’s requirement for compliance, to what extent and in terms of time allotted to come into compliance. A “medium-sized” farm (operations grossing more than $250,000 in sales and less than $500,000 over a three-year period) will have three years to come into compliance with most of the rule’s requirements. Many of Ohio’s local farmers will fall into this category.

keeping sales records to determine where they fall on the compliance spectrum and to be diligent about all recordkeeping.” Terri Gerhardt, chief of the Division of Food Safety at the Ohio Department of Agriculture, reiterates that educational resources will be made available to help farmers through the transition. Although no guidelines are available at this time, “FDA is in the process of overseeing the creation of these documents,” she confirms. “In the meantime, producers should always be taking appropriate action to protect their food by following the Good Agricultural Practices of growing and handling produce,” Terri says. “Farmers can also contact Ohio State University Extension or ODA’s Division of Food Safety for more information.”

Success is Education In some regions of Ohio, specifically the local Amish farming communities, food safety education has been a top priority within the past several years in expectation of the publishing of the final rules. Holmes County-based farmer Fred Finney has maintained an active role in ODA-sponsored educational outreach to help local Amish farmers begin implementing initial food safety plans that incorporate foreseen aspects of the finalized regulations. “We knew these policies were going to arrive, so we started addressing compliance areas in small ways each year,” Fred says. “For instance, we recognized we shouldn’t use manure for mulch. Then, we focused on worker cleanliness and training, then water testing.”

While key requirements of the rules have been published and a compliance timeline has been established, Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has not yet come out with implementation guidelines specific to Ohio, nor the required training programs that are part of the compliance process. Bill makes it clear that he will not be taking measurable action on the requirements set by the final rules until implementation guidance is written and educational training is offered. He believes he would be “doing a disservice to his consumers” by making changes without clarification. “A lot of farmers are concerned about these rulings because there’s just not a lot of information out there yet,” Bill says. “Some farmers look at it as just another day and they’re going to go about their business until they hear more, like us. Other groups of farmers are saying they don’t like it and will pick and choose how they will comply and still others think it is ridiculous and will consider walking away on the spot.” A substantial portion of these policies’ implementation budget will be dedicated to educational outreach, confirms Amalie Lipstreu, who is the policy program coordinator at Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), a grassroots organization dedicated to promoting sustainable food systems. “However, there [is] still a lot that remains to be seen with implementation and what the impacts will be,” Amalie says. “It is wise to wait until further guidance before looking to comply with some aspects of the rule, but farmers can start taking a critical look at their operations to assess potential food safety hazards and risks. I would strongly encourage farmers to start

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“When teaching classes, my main goal was to communicate what some of the simple best practices are that farmers could incorporate to be successful in food safety efforts,” Fred says.

Another Day on the Farm Even amidst the ambiguity surrounding specific compliance guidelines and access to training, there remains a large part of the Ohio farming community that views these policies as just the legislative interpretation of what they have already been doing in their independent efforts towards food safety. Like Mockingbird Meadows Farms in Marysville, Ohio, which has been operating with federal best practices in place for several years now and has taken all the paperwork in stride, according to Dawn Combs, owner.

Fred, owner of Moreland Fruit Farms, decided to take educational matters into his own hands—both with his own operations and other partnering operations—when he realized that the federally required training programs, supposedly a part of the finalized compliance guidelines, would be slow to incorporate the food safety measures as “FDA horsed around with insignificant changes.” For Fred who similarly holds Bill’s mindset around advocating for a more holistic approach to food safety, true education would have to circle back to the responsibility of individual farmers to ensure that food safety is a priority and is diligently played out in even the smallest of practices.




“For us, perhaps the impact is different than some other operations,” Dawn says. “Because we have a product line outside our growing operation and are inspected by ODA and FDA. To a farm that has been used to getting water for irrigation out of their ponds that now need to have multiple water tests, it may look different. To us, we’re used to this process and it’s just more of the same.” This point is reiterated by Fred: “If farmers haven’t done anything at all in the last three or four years since we heard this was coming, it’s going to be a cultural shock. But if farmers have done a little bit each year on food safety and have been improving, then this should be a non-event.”

Although most local food growers have developed and followed some type of unofficial food safety plan in the past years since the original FSMA ruling was established, many, like Bill still feel in the dark about how all the new technical requirements of the Produce Safety Rule, like that with water quality sampling, will impact their business and possibly increase input costs. Fred offers consolation for troubled farmers: “The final rules are actually all about risk management. They don’t mandate what you can do or what you can’t do, but instead show you where risks are great and how to meet the required levels. My suggestion for farmers at this point is to go to as many training classes you can and do what you think is right.” Although “Food Safety” as public policy may be delivered through a series of laws, ensuring Americans have safe food will ultimately come from the instilled everyday practices of the farmers and producers who grow, distribute and handle the food, and making sure they have the education and empowerment tools they need to be a success. “For the smaller entity, the very fact that high-quality produce keeps our doors open means we have a vested interest beyond the need for extra paperwork to do things right,” Dawn says. “For our business, this won’t change the dynamics between us and other farmers or our customers. That is, unless we are forced to raise the price of our products because input costs have risen. That remains to be seen.”

# Tara Pettit is a Dayton-based journalist and public relations specialist with a focus on community-centered cultural, social and environmental issues. She writes for several local and regional magazines and is passionate about local food, arts and activism. You can reach her at taramariepettit@gmail.com.

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How you can engage to keep your food safer and cleaner Realistically, the success of food safety goes way beyond the formality of record on legislative books according to local farmer and owner of VanScoy Farms, Bill VanScoy’s general philosophy, a “working man’s” practicality shared by many of our farmers who are faced with aspects of food safety in their everyday lives. “Food safety shouldn’t have to be about a bunch of rules and words on paper,” Bill says. “It should be a preventive, proactive approach instead of a reactionary approach. That’s how we look at it.” Bill’s attitude towards food safety is played out in the daily operations of his farm’s CSA-supported culture where each business interaction is also an opportunity for agricultural education for both the farmers and consumers they work with. He advocates for a more integrated and collaborative educational approach to food safety that incorporates a level of responsibility from all parties involved in the growing, packaging and handling of the food— including the consumer—who he thinks is often left out of the entire scope of the matter when legislation such as the FSMA is implemented. “Everyone from the farmer to the consumer needs to be proactive and educate themselves on how to keep food safe,” Bill says. “Everybody is part of the process.” One simple strategy VanScoy Farms practices, while also offering as a tip to consumers at the weekly farmers market, is to keep produce of different types separated when carrying them home to avoid any risk of contamination based on certain crops’ source of growth. For example, Bill recommends not mixing your “dirt crops” like potatoes with your “clean crops” like lettuce, which is grown hydroponically and in a mostly contamination-free environment. “We try to educate the consumer as we go along,” Bill says. “There are many potential access points in a food’s journey and every handler of the product has potential for custody as far as the risk for contamination.”

—Tara Pettit




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