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!
It’s a Wednesday morning at the Ypsilanti Farmers MarketPlace and the room is fragrant with fresh, cut flowers overflowing in buckets. There’s dahlias from Luella Acres, zinnias from Fresh Cut Detroit, and eucalyptus from Seeley Farms. Now in its second year, the Michigan Flower Growers’ Cooperative is creating a new model for local flower growers to sell to florists and other wholesale buyers.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) was founded over 110 years ago and advocates for grassroots policy change that supports the welfare of family farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and consumers. NFU writes, “We promote sustainable production of food, feed, fiber, and fuel and work with our 200,000 member families nationwide to support smart farm policies, educate the public and develop the next generation of farm leaders.” To achieve this mission, the nationwide organization coordinates legislative fly-ins in the spring and fall every year as critical issues come before Congress for a vote.
The days are getting shorter and the smell of drying leaves and woodsmoke is in the air. Fall is here and that means it’s back to school for Michigan’s 1.5 million public school students. For many of us, back to school conjures up a variety of images and smells: freshly sharpened pencils, crisp notebooks, new backpacks, and the infamous mystery meals served in the cafeteria. For many of Michigan’s students, however, the school year also brings with it the tantalizing smells and flavors of locally sourced, and carefully prepared, food.
Registration is now open for the fifth biennial Michigan Good Food Summit! The Summit will be held on Monday, October 22, 2018 at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center on Michigan State University’s campus. New this year, the conference will be a Certified Local Food Event with at least 20% of all ingredients coming from local producers.
Here are a few July job postings for organizations in Southern Michigan that support the local food and agriculture movement.