By 2030, we aspire to live in a community where your zip code no longer determines your opportunity in life. United Way of Washtenaw County fights for the health, education, and financial stability of all people. Our mission is to CONNECT people, resources, and organizations TOGETHER to create a thriving community for EVERYONE.
I’ll admit, I have a lot to learn about the Western Upper Penisula’s local food system. My connections there have been growing and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people. They are the ones clearing a path and leading the way in both research and action.
On Saturday, March 16th, I presented My Local Food Relationship at Northern Michigan University’s TEDx. (Editor’s note: link to video is coming soon!)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PETOSKEY, MI – MARCH, 2019: Staying home for a spring break or holiday is often more appealing than the busyness of getting ready for a vacation. Staycations are becoming evermore popular.
“Not everyone takes off for a week-long spring break,” explains Bob Keedy of Wineguys Restaurant Group. “We wanted to reach out to our friends and neighbors to make a stay-at-home spring break a little more appealing.”
What the heck is hydroponics? If this sounds like Greek to you, it is. “Hydroponic” is Greek for “water-cultivation,” and that sums it up well: hydroponics is growing plants in water instead of soil.
For me, food has always been a source of connection, a tool to communicate love, and a way to pass on family traditions. Some of my most vivid memories involve shared meals and many dishes are connected to specific loved ones in my mind. For example, my mom is chicken, rice, and carrots, whereas my dad is graham crackers dipped in milk. Apple pie and sharp cheddar cheese bring to mind my grandmother. The foods we made on our first date, kimchi and sauerkraut are my partner. These dishes provide comfort and a reminder to slow down.
Food has always been an important part of my life; however, it wasn’t until I studied abroad in Italy that I really fell in love. We toured a Parmigiano Reggiano facility, learned about Balsamico di Modena on a small family farm, and tasted traditionally cured prosciutto. Specifically, all the foods we encountered were part of a movement to preserve culturally significant foods and their traditional production practices: Slow Food.
Being the second most diverse agricultural producer in the nation, Michigan has no shortage of specialty crops. In fact, lake effect microclimates are generally the most ideal for growing cherries, apples, and other stone fruits you’ve seen bolstering the economy of northwest Michigan for decades. However, over the years, young people have relocated from Northeast Michigan, family farms have gone corporate, and jobs have disappeared. The Huron Shores Local Food Coalition wants to bring the community together to overcome the obstacles in place and restore the prosperity to Northeast Michigan.
Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the US and a national leader in the cultivation of apples, asparagus, blueberries, tart cherries, green beans, dry beans, potatoes and squash. Despite our rich produce production, most Michiganders still do not meet the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables and 32% of our children are overweight or obese.
Fruit and vegetables are the cornerstone of good health and lifelong health patterns are often established in childhood. Exposure to healthy habits at an early age can encourage long term health. One of the best places for this positive exposure to occur is in the school setting. Fortunately, a statewide pilot program, 10 Cents a Meal for School Kids & Farms, is supporting schools in infusing more fresh, Michigan grown produce into their menus.
What do you think of when you hear the word “co-op”? Most people will likely envision a small health food store or perhaps their local credit union. However, these are just part of a myriad number of businesses that follow a cooperative structure.
Michigan Farmers Union is a grassroots organization that works to protect the social and economic well-being of family farmers throughout the Great Lakes State.
Our members are our policy makers. We engage elected officials on issues that come directly from our membership and press lawmakers to implement and enforce laws and regulations that will strengthen agriculture in Michigan. They exist because we exist!