Walk through any Leelanau County or Traverse City farmers market and it’s hard to miss how much things have grown. For the past 15 years, these markets and farm stands have been the source of produce and locally produced products for our business, Epicure Catering & Cherry Basket Farm.
A farmer I know, let’s call him John, is up late tonight in his orchard. As a Leelanau County farmer, his work requires vigilance. It’s been a wet summer so far, and that means there’s a virtual laboratory of bugs, molds, and fungi waiting to threaten his way of life. Tonight, reluctantly, he sprays an insecticide to head off the codling moth hatch that’s sure to devastate his orchards.
There’s a break in the rain, and John’s training tells him he’s got the opening he needs. The wind dies down at night too, making it a lot less likely that what he’s spraying will end up on unintended fields. All of this information points to the fact that now is the time. John decides to follow this lead and get to work, but it happens to be midnight.
Where does your money go when you buy products from California or a major corporation?
By Bill Palladino
Food, of its nature, is a social agent. What we eat, where we eat, and with whom help to define our identities as people. Show me these three things, and I will describe for you with some accuracy, your age, cultural origins and social strata. There may come a time in the future where you are measured by these truths.
Many of the most important archeological discoveries in history have unearthed the remnants of food. Physical evidence of what was eaten, when and where has also helped us to understand the origins of our nutrition and the role food has played in shaping society. Archeology also teaches us that sharing food has played an important function in communities stretching back millennia. All meaningful gatherings of people, whether around a campfire, at the kitchen table, at large celebrations or on battlefields involve the sharing of food.
“The act of growing, preparing, and serving food for others is one of the most intimate acts we can perform in public.”
By Bill Palladino
We are deep into the season of sacred traditions. The crisp darkness of winter brings with it many celebrations, each anticipating the light yet to come. And strangely, it is the darkest nights that reveal the most stars. This time of year we are given the gift of seeing things previously unseen. Religious and secular practices call to our attention the longest night of the winter solstice, Hanukkah’s victory of the Maccabees, the transformative fires of Yule, the first fruits and seven principles of Kwanzaa, and the Christmastime birth of Jesus Christ.
The common thread throughout this myriad of sacred traditions, beyond prayer and candles, is the gathering of family and friends, always with celebrations of food. But is it enough to keep food as something sacred only during the holidays? I am fearful we are quickly losing this connection, as the way we eat begins to mirror the brief, staccato, way we’ve come to communicate.
“Before the reward, there must be labor. You plant before you harvest. You sow in tears before you reap joy.” – Ralph Ransom
The abundance of northern Michigan’s many riches is never more apparent than now. The approaching fall demands that farmers set our tables with the literal fruits of their summer’s labor. Visit one of our local farmers markets and be ready for an impressive diversity of locally grown crops.