When we look back through the history of festivals, events or gatherings related to farming, food, and harvests – you’ll find that each will have their own version or interpretation of what that celebration represents. From the ancient sacrifices in honor of Greek gods, to our modern-day hometown harvest festivals – you won’t find one occasion quite the same. One contributing factor to those differences, is location. A harvest festival in Spain often highlights grapes, where here in Michigan we celebrate cherries and blueberries. Our geography and local climate largely determine when we hold these events and what they celebrate. Another important piece is the people. Throughout history cultural influences such as religion, art, politics, and business have shaped rituals that find their way into being. As time goes on, activities evolve, disappear, grow, and sometimes become honored by tradition. Many cultures mention in their own ways, the importance of coming together as a group, family or community and the vital social connection these moments bring.These same reasonings can be applied to the MQT Local Food Fest,
Last May, four cool guys embarked on a journey around the coast of Lake Superior in order to bring awareness to the health of the Great Lakes. Read their story here. This month, I was able to connect with the guys and get some answers on my favorite topic: food.
What is kombucha exactly? The simplest answer is “fermented tea” – a statement that rarely encourages a first time sipper to indulge in the sweet and tart flavors that the fermentation process produces. I fell in love with the drink myself when living in Seattle, one taste-bud-convincing sip at a time. The beverage was different, and I can’t lie and say that I was crazy about the stuff on day one – but as time went on I found myself using it to quench that desire for a sweet and flavorful beverage. Years ago, I remember visiting the UP from Seattle, and not being able to find Kombucha in the stores at all. However, in the last few years, the UP has gained some fantastic brewers who are changing the local culture.
When I say the words “county fair,” what comes to mind? For me there is nostalgia that rolls in as I think of my own Menominee County Fair at Shakey Lakes Campground in Stephenson, Michigan. There, I competed in animal showmanship for multiple species, entered crafts and photos, rode my bike like a hooligan, and made endless campfire delicacies like smores and pudgie pies.
I can not believe the month of May has come and gone. I have a sinking suspicion that this long Upper Peninsula winter caused us all to feel the anxiety that is lost time. I moved out to the farm (Rock River Farm) in Chatham on May 9th and the anxiousness of a late spring caused me to jump into work right away. The greenhouse was full, the kitchen in disarray, and snow was still standing in some places – but somehow, collectively working towards the challenge that was catching up (a quest to regain our lost time), we were able to cross task after task off the list. May 26th marked our first day of the Downtown Marquette Farmers Market as well as our own farm’s first catering of the season. Now that the dust has settled from our crazy weekend, I think we all are able to see how much we have accomplished these past few weeks – and we are stoked. We’ll never get that lost time back, but we catch up, we relax, reflect, and we get inspired to do more.
I remember how excited I was to first see the ocean when I was younger. It was an experience that I had been missing out on my whole life, something others write about in poetic ways. When I finally got the chance to make it to the eastern shore and see the ocean – the moment was a bit flat. Although it’s beauty was undeniable, I didn’t find myself as moved as I had anticipated. It didn’t feel any more epic than my day to day life around The Great Lakes. I guess that must have been it; although unique and breathtaking in its own way, the ocean experience had been damped by my relationship with Lake Superior.
In the United States, we waste 40% of food produced, and an alarming 90% of that goes to the landfill, where it emits methane gas which is a mere 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. If that statistic doesn’t do anything for you, then how about that the average American spends about $1,500 a year on food they are just going to throw away.
I am not sure what I was thinking when I asked the owners of Belgiumtown Bar & Restaurant if I could host a locally sourced Chef Dinner in the dead of the UP winter. Part of me liked the idea of the challenge, but the goal was also to highlight the local food in our area and how we can better utilize products being grown by our neighbors.