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28 June 2010

Cleveland: Local Food LEADER

Check out the AMAZINGLY clear graphic above! What do all of those blue balloons represent?! Dive bars? Could be. My favorite restaurants? Possibly. How about FARMER'S MARKETS!!?! Yep...there are at least 24 farmer's markets on that map...All in Northeast Ohio and all looking to gain a little bit of market share (hint hint, from YOU).

Now I'm not sure where all of the veggies at your local grocer come from, and I certainly don't expect you to stop shopping locally. But what about this: If you shop from your local farmer's market, you are certainly supporting local agriculture. If you shop at a national chain, chances are you're supporting farmers in California or Argentina instead. Not to mention paying for the fuel costs to transport that Romaine Lettuce 4,200 miles from the hills of Buenos Aires to your Cleveland crisper. Check out the website to learn nearly all there is to know about local food in Northeast Ohio. Here are some facts:

There are currently 23 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs in Northeast Ohio (located on the Local Food Cleveland website). Community Supported Agriculture consists of a group of individuals who support local farms, usually by purchasing shares in exchange for fresh produce and meat products throughout the year. The farmers are assured sales of goods and the purchasers are assured a quality local product.
Check out the local restaurants/caterers and retailer pages as well on the website, as they purchase local food and products to create their value added products. Many restaurants purchase only locally grown food to prepare for their patrons.
Local Food Cleveland has a plethora of great information. There are communities who support chicken and bees (in 2009 Cleveland legalized chicken and bee-keeping), community gardeners, market gardeners and permaculture supporters to say the least.
Currently in the works in the City are two new pieces of legistlation which will continually support Urban Agriculture. One piece would be a change to the permitted uses in residential districts. Urban Agriculture would be a permitted use, along with appropriate restrictions dictating issues such as structure setbacks. Secondly an Urban Agriculture Overlay ordinance may go into place, including information about larger parcels used for urban farming parcels. Keep your eyes open in August for formal proposals made to the Cleveland City Council. If you are a supporter of local food and urban agriculture, please contact your City Council member and let them know how important it is to grow and process food locally. Though we can already eat eggs from Edgewater, we could potentially be eating an entire meal grown within the City limits.

27 June 2010

Updates has been far too long since I've blogged and I must apologize full-heartedly! I moved to Cleveland from Cincinnati back in January and have enjoyed many many many days soaking up the culture here in the CLE. Let me tell is amazing. There is so much to do here and the people have welcomed me with open arms.

Cleveland is truly beautiful in the summer with breathtaking sunsets on the lake, hundreds of parks to enjoy and daily outdoor events throughout the region. The opportunities here are limitless. Since there are too many exciting things going on here to name all at once, let me name a few of my favorite hangout spots to get started. In the future I'll keep you all up to date on what is going on here.

Just to get things straight, I live on the east side. Now, I know the west-siders are gawking at the thought, but Cleveland's east side has a plethora of good eats and great atmospheres to enjoy. Lee Road, Coventry, Little Italy, University Circle and Shaker Square are all great places to find a patio and sip on something cold with friends.

Now to narrow it a bit further I'm only focusing on Shaker Square, my chosen place of residence and one of the best hangout spots in town. Personally I cannot get enough of Sasa on Monday nights. Sasa is a Japenese restaurant with a high class atmosphere. Monday nights are great for the thrify becaues they have $5 small plates and $5 half pitchers all night long. I suggest the Sasa fries (above)which come with a mustard sauce and a tangy bbq sauce. Sasa is perfect after catching a $5 movie at Shaker Square Cinema next door.

Also great is Sarava, a Brazilian restaurant with an amazing atmosphere. They have a wonderful happy hour on Friday nights and a large patio which plays Brazilian-themed music. Don't forget Grotto Wine Bar, which has a great atmosphere on a Winter night or a Summer evening. Coffee lovers will enjoy hanging out at Dewey's, a fair trade coffee shop with amazing muffins (calm down Betty White fans). Yours Truly is a local favorite; a wonderful diner with amazing sweet potato fries. Saturdays are great at the Square in the summer, because the farmer's market is buzzing in the morning and there are bands playing in the evening.

So, check out my neighborhood: Shaker Square; it's a wonderful atmosphere any day of the week.