Chefs in the Garden: Growing the Community

Agriculture, Eat Local, Emma Beauchamp, Event, Find Local Food

Get your tickets to Growing Hope‘s Chefs in the Garden dinner on October 13! Held on the grounds of their sprawling urban farm, attendees will enjoy a multi-course meal under the hoophouse. This year, area chefs Ji Hye of Miss Kim and Brandon Johns of Grange Kitchen & Bar sponsored the events*. Much of the menus highlights locally grown produce, some of it even coming from the Growing Hope farm.

Crop Spot: Romanesco

Agriculture, Crop Spot, Eat Local, Find Local Food, Mieko Diener

Romanesco hits a sweet spot for me as a nutrition science geek. It is beautiful, nutritious and delicious, but best of all, the chartreuse buds spiral into Fibonacci sequence fractals. What more could you want, except for maybe some ideas on how to prepare it? 

6 Ways to Handle CSA Overload

Eat Local, Find Local Food, Health, Know Your Farmer, Learn More, Mieko Diener

I love my CSA, for getting the freshest local veggies, knowing that I am supporting the farmers in my community, connecting with likeminded neighbors and investing in my local food system – it’s the best. But sometimes I get a little overwhelmed with just how many gorgeous veggies I come home with every week, and I know I’m not alone. Here are a few tips and tricks, if you’re like me and you love your CSA, but need strategies for using everything effectively.

Crop Spot: Pawpaw a.k.a. “Michigan Banana”

Crop Spot, Eat Local, Find Local Food, Learn More, Mieko Diener

If you’ve never heard of the pawpaw, you are not alone. This mysterious fruit is native to the Midwest, but defies commercial production and is rarely seen in stores. However, with increasing interest in native crops and local agriculture, you can expect to hear more and more about the pawpaw, officially named Asimina triloba, and with many fun, colloquial names including “Michigan banana” and “hillbilly mango”.  

Louise Earl Butcher: Quality & Community in West Michigan

Annaliese Brown, Eat Local, Find Local Food, Grand Rapids, Retail, Specialty Producers

The vast majority of chicken we purchase and consume in the United States is from a breed known as the Cornish Cross. The hybrid was first developed after World War II, carefully selected for the trait that has come to define it — its phenomenal rate of growth. Most Cornish Cross birds we eat are slaughtered at five to seven weeks of age. This rapid growth rate, combined with the disproportionate amount of white meat the bird produces, is precisely why the Cornish Cross is so ubiquitous. It dominates grocery store coolers, restaurant menus, and poultry barns across the country. 

Despite the economic advantages of the Cornish Cross, a butcher shop in Grand Rapids is working to bring customers something different. Husband-and-wife team Matt Smith and Cyndi Esch opened Louise Earl Butcher in January of 2012. Louise Earl is a full-service butcher shop that sells grass-fed and finished beef, heritage pork, and pastured lamb and chicken, alongside a variety of dry goods and specialty products. Smith and Esch are lifelong residents of Grand Rapids that first met working in the food and beverage industry in the 90’s, and have spent their time since building a community around food. 

4 Ways to Store Summer Berries

Eat Local, Farmers Markets, Find Local Food, Recipes

At the farmers market, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries abound. A visit to the local U-pick farm is an essential item on the weekend agenda. As we hit peak berry season, make the most of the harvest by properly storing these delicious, nutrient-packed fruits. 

U-Pick Rules at King Orchards

Eat Local, Find Local Food, Know Your Farmer

Need a break from the beach? King Orchards offers great family fun for all ages. Starting with strawberries in June and ending with apples in October, there is almost always something to pick yourself. In between strawberries and apples are sweet cherries, tart cherries, raspberries, and occasionally stone fruit (apricots, peaches, and nectarines) depending on the crop size.