Never mind the locale. When the urchins in the musical “Oliver” waxed rhapsodic about “food, glorious food,” they must have been singing about Ohio — just as surely as Ohioans know that with a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good.
Food, glorious food!
Hot sausage and mustard!
While we’re in the mood —
Cold jelly and custard!
Yes, indeed. Hot sausage from Bob Evans (Rio Grande). Mustard from Ben’s Mustard (Kingston). Cold jelly from — where else? — Smucker’s (Orrville). And custard from East Coast Custard (Solon).
Yes, yes, we know. “East Coast.” But it’s just a name. Inspired by the legendary frozen confections at Cleveland’s equally legendary Euclid Beach Park, the delicious treat is made right here in the heart of it all.
We Ohioans are defined by our food. In this month’s “Ohio Digest,” Assistant Editor Jennifer Rogers puts it this way: “Ohio is sweet corn, plums, ripe blueberries and crisp, scarlet apples. It’s fiery, tomato-filled salsa and deliciously rich syrup. From breads to cheeses to wines and produce fresh from the ground, Ohio is a land both cultivated for and defined by food. And, with more than 77,000 farms in the state, and 200 commercial crops produced annually, it’s no surprise that we’re mighty proud of our agricultural culture.”
Proud is precisely the right word. And if you have noticed that our coverage of all the food products that make us proud has increased in recent months, you can thank the organization that has inspired it — Ohio Proud, the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s marketing program that identifies and promotes Ohio food and agricultural products.
Did you know that agriculture is Ohio’s number-one industry? Agriculture contributes more than $98 billion to the state’s economy. Ohio Proud exists to celebrate the importance and quality of the food industry in Ohio and to encourage our appreciation of Ohio foods.
We do appreciate them. For our cover story this month, “Wine and Dine,” Contributing Editor Jenny Pavlasek sought out some Ohio winemakers to create perfect pairings for menus featuring Ohio foods. (And the shrimp? Yes, there are even some 20 freshwater shrimp growers in the state. And what’s a seafood dish without Ohio’s spinach and tomatoes?)
When in doubt, look for the Ohio Proud label and you will know you are getting Ohio-made and -grown products. And if you are hungry for more, look for additional Ohio food-focused features on our pages in the coming months.
For more information, visit ohioproud.org