Michigan winters, particularly those here in the UP region, don’t allow for much production. Even those individuals who have been able to bridge the gap with season extension find themselves unable to do much in the blistering months of January and February. So, what are our local farmers up to at times like these? Catching up on the Netflix binging they missed? Creating sleep patterns that almost replicate those of hibernation? Read books by the fire, hot chocolate in hand?
When a small group of individuals driven by the idea of bringing a farmers market to Les Cheneaux first met, they envisioned a Friday night tourist attraction in the summers, and were able to secure an economic development grant from the Les Cheneaux Community Foundation to jumpstart the market. They didn’t expect such a strong community response that the market could go year-round. The market— now on Sundays— has become a vibrant attraction and business incubator in the Les Cheneaux community. Farmers and makers alike have found the market is a vehicle for expanding sales, fine tuning products, and even launching “bricks and mortar” businesses.
Community can often be a word people just toss around, but when the community literally owns your business, there is no taking it lightly. Oryana Community Co-op was an idea devised on the back porch of a home in Traverse City. It came from a small group of passionate community members looking to start a buying club and have control over where their food came from. That buying club started in 1973, and is now a 10,000 square foot, $17 million-a-year business that still lives by the founding principles of quality, accountability, sustainability, and localism.
For locals, Foods For Living is a landmark. Maybe they come in for the Lansing area’s only all-organic produce section, the coffee samples, and the friendly staff. (We’d like to think it’s the latter, if we’re being honest. And we are. That’s another reason people keep coming back, probably—honesty.) Perhaps they come for our massive supplement section, and the vitamin and herb experts who run it. Many just come for the live music and the freshly-prepared deli food. Where else can you reliably get amazing carrot cake and listen to some bluegrass on lunch? Regardless of what brings them through the door, they’ve been coming for twenty years, and we are so, so humbled and grateful to be celebrating with our East Lansing family.
Oryana has been a proponent of local food since its inception in 1973. As farmer Jim Schwantes of Sweeter Song Farm said, “Before there was a local food movement, they were the local food movement.” And Oryana takes it an important step further by prioritizing organic, local food. At this time of year, our produce department is bursting with local, organic vegetables and fruits and one of our favorites is zucchini.
Stepping into The Flying Moose, in downtown Marquette, feels like what stepping into a store probably felt like 100 years ago, except now there is kombucha on tap. The shelves are filled with spices, wines, syrups, and skateboards.
When you step into Benjamin Twiggs, you are greeted with the most heavenly aroma… locally roasted Cherry Vanilla Coffee.. the coffee of the day. Your eyes are drawn to the wall of cherry products to your right. After a few steps, you are welcomed with a friendly hello by our staff… today it is Cindy. She offers you a cup of that incredible coffee, and introduces you to our sample table. She will invite you to taste what is already laid out, and of course invite you to sample anything else you want to try.
The clocks don’t match exactly, but we know it’s time to unlock the doors when the first eager shoppers of the day are peeking in at the gleaming seafood cases. Our team at Burritt’s has been assembling products, cutting and grinding meat, planning for the day, and straightening up for at least an hour.
When you hear Gaylord, people from downstate will list the golf courses they have played and the beautiful outdoor activities they have participated in. When you’re looking for the up-and-coming food scene, people tend to go more towards Traverse City or Petoskey area. We, at Main Street Bistro, are trying to change that.
Walk into Essence on Main in Clarkston and you’ll find yourself engulfed in a cloud of delicious smells: freshly brewed Bourbon Pecan Torte Coffee, warm organic ginger molasses cookies (shh! The recipe is a secret!), or the grilled buttery goodness of the Turkey Loves Cherry sandwich (hungry yet?).