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A Challenge to Support Local

This summer, I was the catering manager for Rock River Farm, a flower farm in the central U.P. They are focusing their efforts on flower production, so they don’t need my services in 2019. After being asked a few times if I’m sad they are done catering, here’s the truth: I’m stoked to see farms find their niche. This said, I will be going back next summer in the same way I got started there: as a volunteer who is in it for the beautiful drive, lack of cell service, the company and inspiration they provide.

I’ve reflected on 2018, focused on the issues, successes, and struggles my partners have shared. I feel this pressure to supply people with an answer, a fix, a solution – but it’s not always so simple.

But, what if I focused less on what I don’t know – and utilized my area of expertise? I’ve been doing events and catering for over ten years. Fortunately, there are endless events in the U.P. all summer long – county fairs, weddings, tastings and beer festivals, live music, camping, barbeques, and more.

So that’s it – I’m proposing a challenge. I want caterers to buy more local food. I want brides and grooms to request seasonal local menus, to prioritize locally grown flowers and feature local libations for their guests.  I want your 4th of July barbeque to feature grilled veggies and burgers from local farms. I want food trucks to incorporate local ingredients on their festival specials.  Planning a party or meeting for your business? Why not support a local caterer or restaurant who is buying ingredients from your neighbors?

In return – I want to support you! I want to get you the ingredients you need, connect you with farmers, plan menus, find you a chef, help negotiate price, find ways to workout logistics – let me support you so you can support the community.

Taste the Local Difference has been doing Certified Local Food Events for years now. In 2018, we completed 30 different Certified Local Food Events throughout Michigan that contributed over $63,467 to the local food economy. The whole reason I even found out about TLD was through their CLFE Program.

So, let’s spend 2019 spreading the impact of supporting local food here in the Upper Peninsula. If people are coming here, let’s make sure the money they spend stays here – and gets into the hands of people who are helping restore land and improve our health, and most importantly give them a flavor and experience that is unique and representative of the region we all love so much.

Alex Palzewicz is the UP Local Food Coordinator for Taste the Local Difference. She’s motivated to utilize here background in weddings, events, and catering to help boost local food systems through Upper Peninsula communities. If you are interested in the Certified Local Food Event email her at alex@localdifference.org.  Not in the UP?  Send your email to events@localdifference.org.