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. 

Eating Like a Local in Alpena, Part 2 of 3

Eat Local, Find Local Food, Molly Stepanski

With summer (finally) under way on the Sunrise Side, the quaint, small town of Alpena is abound with tourists seeking the best local food and libation experiences for that warm weather bucket list. Overlooking the beautiful Thunder Bay of Lake Huron, this city truly provides a warm and friendly port for all that visit. Luckily for the locals, they get to appreciate this city’s burgeoning food scene year-round.

In this second part of our three part series, I’ll detail some of the locals’ favorite haunts, so you can also find the best locally-sourced cuisine during your travels.  (See part 1 here.)

Introducing 2 New Local Food Coordinators

Eat Local, Find Local Food, Jobs, Press Release

We are excited to introduce our two new employees at Taste the Local Difference. Annaliese Brown will serve as a West Michigan Local Food Coordinator out of Grand Rapids. Devon Wilson will serve as a Southwest Michigan Local Food Coordinator out of Battle Creek. Get to know our two new employees below!

Pork, Mushrooms & Wild Rice : Modern Twist on a Childhood Meal

Alex Palzewicz, Eat Local, Find Local Food, Recipes

Many of us all have that one dish that seemed to make it to the dinner table more often than most. My mom, who worked full time, often deferred to a boxed, rice based, one dish meal. A portion of starch, a packet of seasoning, add in your favorite protein, serve white bread and margarine on the side, and voilà! – dinner. 

I’m not throwing shade at my mom’s cooking skills, she was a busy woman, who volunteered often and had three kids, plus, I was the world’s pickiest and most dramatic eater. I distinctly remember a few nights where we sat at the kitchen table for an hour before my parents would become frustrated and set me free. 

Years later, not only do I have a much different palette, but I also have friends with kids, and I am truly amazed at how they somehow manage it all! I wonder if they sleep? I don’t even have pets and often fail at feeding myself a proper meal. So, the following recipe is an ode to my super-mom, and all they busy parents out there. I hope it can help you support local and encourage healthy eating while keeping in mind your busy schedules and tight budgets. 

Quick Pickles: Meal Prep Hero

Eat Local, Find Local Food, Health, Recipes

Pickling is one of my favorite ways to celebrate seasonal produce. The process is simple, quick, and almost mess-free. Pickled vegetables are great to have on hand in the fridge for an easy flavor boost on salads, sandwiches, tacos, or rice dishes. It’s fun to experiment with different combinations of vegetables, herbs, and spices and the results are reliably beautiful and delicious. Best of all, pickling short season vegetables like asparagus lets you enjoy them for longer without sacrificing too much texture or flavor. 

Eating Like a Local in Alpena, Part 1 of 3

Eat Local, Event, Farmers Markets, Find Local Food, Molly Stepanski

One of the best parts about traveling across the Mitt during the summer is discovering new, locally-sourced farmers markets, restaurants, breweries, wineries, and all the events in between! There’s one city in particular that keeps popping up on our radar, and for good reason. Located right on Lake Huron, the “Sanctuary of the Great Lakes,” Alpena offers countless shipwrecks to explore, 100 miles of hiking and biking trails, three Dark Sky Preserve Parks, seven lighthouses in the area to clamber, and over 300,000 acres of fishing and boating opportunities. You’d think it couldn’t get much better.

But with a growing local food scene beckoning growers and producers alike to this area, the cuisine competition is challenging chefs and event planners in the area to up their game and source more locally. We are doing a three part series on Alpena. Here you’ll find the best places to find your locally-sourced grub while you’re visiting this spectacular Lake Huron haunt during the height of the season.