Thanksgiving should be ‘Ohio Proud’

Published 9:37 am Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thanksgiving is the time when Janet and I, like millions of families all over Ohio, stop and reflect on our Heavenly Father’s grace. This year in particular, I know Ohioans are struggling and are worried about the short- and long-term ramifications of the current economic crisis.

But times of scarcity and hardship tend to make us all the more grateful for what we do have. That is why it so important for us to use this holiday season as an opportunity to slow down, open our hearts and reflect on the many blessings in our lives.

One of Ohio’s great blessings is a cornucopia of small businesses second to none — and now, more than ever, it is so important for us to support our local companies. Throughout my time as mayor of Cleveland, governor of Ohio and now, as your United States Senator, I have been steadfastly committed to keeping jobs in our state and bringing new business to Ohio and its companies.

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In fact, when I was governor, I helped establish the OHIO PROUD program to promote food and agricultural products that are grown or processed in Ohio. To this day, you can still find OHIO PROUD tags on products in grocery stores throughout the state, helping Ohioans support their local farmers and growers.

Agriculture is proudly Ohio’s largest industry, contributing $98 billion annually to our economy. It is only fitting that Thanksgiving should be a time to show our gratitude for these entrepreneurs and the thousands of hard-working Ohio families who support them.

Steiner Cheese is 175 years old and located in Ohio’s beautiful Amish Country in the town of Baltic. As the country’s oldest cheese factory, Steiner Cheese remains true to its principles of crafting artisan cheese the old-fashioned way — by hand. Try some of Steiner’s famous old-world style Swiss cheese this Thanksgiving and you’ll say it’s worth every penny.

Ohio’s vineyards provide an exceptional variety of Ohio wines at reasonable prices. Wineries like Markko Vineyard in Conneaut, Debonne Vineyards Winery in Madison and Ferrante Winery in Geneva are adding to Ohio’s growing reputation as a producer of world-class wines. This Thanksgiving, let’s enjoy the wonderful varieties that are grown in our own back yard.

Obviously, no Thanksgiving is complete without a delicious roasted turkey. Since 1948, Bowman Landes, based out of New Carlisle, has provided Ohioans with delicious free range turkeys.

Their turkeys are grain-fed and grown without antibiotics or animal byproducts — a difference that Ohio families have come to taste. Bowman Landes was awarded the 2007 Ohio Environmental Stewardship Award for poultry, a distinction they are very proud of. When purchasing your turkey this Thanksgiving, consider an OHIO PROUD producer like Bowman Landes.

And you have to have dessert on Thanksgiving — so why not make it a little pumpkin pie ala mode! Luckily, Ohio has many local providers willing to satisfy even the most demanding sweet tooth.

The Pierre’s Ice Cream shop on Euclid Avenue has been a perennial favorite of Clevelanders since first opening in 1932. Today, Clevelanders aren’t the only Ohioans who can enjoy Pierre’s.

There are now more than 235 different products that bear the Pierre’s name and the company distributes throughout Ohio, western Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan, Chicago and even Aruba. And with help from OHIO PROUD, Pierre’s annually helps build the World’s Largest Ice Cream Sundae out of 750 gallons of ice cream.

Thanksgiving represents a time to reflect on life’s blessings and the year that has passed. I often reflect on the opportunity I have to serve Ohio as a United States Senator as my life’s greatest honor and passion.

However, the pride I have for this office pales in comparison to the splendor of family. This Thanksgiving, be grateful for those who are so grateful for you and enjoy a wonderfully OHIO PROUD meal together. God bless us all.