Marilou Suszko, an Ohio author and chef who supports purchasing locally grown or raised foods, is signing copies of her first book, “Ohio Food and Farms: From Garden Gate to Dinner Plate,” at the Athens Farmers Market this Saturday.

Suszko said her book gets readers thinking about who in their area is producing or supporting local products. The book is written for two people: cooks, because there are a lot of recipes, and people who love to eat.

This compilation of stories and recipes includes several food producers and entrepreneurs from the Athens area. “Athens was one of my favorite parts of the state to visit,” said Suszko, “because there are so many people participating in the push for locally grown and raised foods and products in this area. Athens is one of the best food corners in the state. There are lots of creative people doing creative things with food and supporting the local community in the area.”

While Suszko admitted to having a hard time choosing whom to include from the Athens area, some of the local producers and businesses featured in “Ohio Food and Farms: From Garden Gate to Dinner Plate” include: Integration Acres, a farm featuring paw-paws; J.B. King, a farmer from Amesville who supplies free-range meats to Athens and surrounding areas; Casa Nueva, the Athens restaurant/bar that regularly features local and organic products in their dishes; Village Bakery and Cafi, an ardent supporter of locally grown and produced foods; Sticky Pete’s, a local maple syrup producer; and Rich Gardens, an organic farm outside of Athens.

Suszko said she supports purchasing locally grown or raised products because the quality of the food is better and because a connection is developed between the purchaser and the farmer when the consumer knows where the food comes from and how it was raised.

“When you know who’s putting a lot of time and effort into growing or raising your food, it tastes even better because there’s a personal connection there,” said Suszko.

According to Suszko, she was inspired to write this book because as a chef and food writer, she found it a natural subject for her to explore.

“When you’re a cook, you always look for the best ingredients,” said Suszko. “It doesn’t take long to figure out the best ingredients come from a farmer. They come from someone you know because you know how they are growing or raising your food.”

In addition to promoting awareness about establishing relationships with local farmers, Suszko said she hopes this book helps readers connect back with the seasons.

By going local, people promote food security and reduce the distance their food has to travel to their dinner plate, said Suszko.

According to Suszko, two parties benefit when consumers opt to purchase locally grown or raised products: the consumer, because they are getting fresh products; and the farmer, because more cents on the dollar go to the farmer instead of to middlemen and distributors such as grocery stores.

Suszko will be signing copies of her June 2007 release, “Ohio Food and Farms: From Garden Gate to Dinner Plate,” from 10 a.m. to noon this Saturday at the Athens Farmers Market on East State Street.