There are a number of things to celebrate this Spring! Farmers market season is back. Asparagus and rhubarb is in abundance. Farmers are gearing up for another busy season of providing fresh and local produce to the community.
Are you a new restaurant, food truck, or catering business looking for local produce? Are you an existing restaurant looking for ways to simplify the process? Or, maybe you just need a reminder of how important it is to support local farmers! Since there is not a better time to put more local produce on your menu, here are the 5 ways to source local produce for your menu:
California has always been a benchmark (at least for me) when it comes to trends within our food and wine industry. The San Francisco Bay area, along with the surrounding wine country often sets many standards that the rest of us adopt, though sometimes a bit later than sooner. On a recent visit to the region with amical Executive Chef Benjamin Hoxie, it wasn’t a real surprise to see that our Grand Traverse region reflects somewhat of a parallel universe, albeit on a minuscule scale.
Winter continues to drag on in its unforgiving way, but with each day spring is ever nearer. For you farmers and gardeners out there, now is the time to order your seeds for spring. Not all seeds are created equal, so learn why it’s important to opt for earth-enriching seeds here!
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.
The months that produce the most diversity of fruits and vegetables in our dear Mitt include August, September, and October. October almost seems to embody a last-grab month of seasonal bounty before the long hunkered-down winter of root and storage vegetables begins. So what better time of the year to treat yourself to an extraordinarily fresh and local dining experience, paired with some of Michigan’s finest wines at Thunder Bay Winery?
When we look back through the history of festivals, events or gatherings related to farming, food, and harvests – you’ll find that each will have their own version or interpretation of what that celebration represents. From the ancient sacrifices in honor of Greek gods, to our modern-day hometown harvest festivals – you won’t find one occasion quite the same. One contributing factor to those differences, is location. A harvest festival in Spain often highlights grapes, where here in Michigan we celebrate cherries and blueberries. Our geography and local climate largely determine when we hold these events and what they celebrate. Another important piece is the people. Throughout history cultural influences such as religion, art, politics, and business have shaped rituals that find their way into being. As time goes on, activities evolve, disappear, grow, and sometimes become honored by tradition. Many cultures mention in their own ways, the importance of coming together as a group, family or community and the vital social connection these moments bring.These same reasonings can be applied to the MQT Local Food Fest,
You either sink or swim under the grueling demands of a busy professional kitchen. Chad Edwards has been cooking in Gaylord restaurants since age 14, and was the chef for two establishments in the city before turning 21. After years of rigor and practice, Edwards’ was swimming full bore on October 28, 2010, when he opened The Bearded Dogg Lounge. And at this colorful cafe, “you may sit in a booth made from old doors or at the bar crafted from maple flooring from the local nunnery, at a gathering table, in a loveseat, or at any one of several antique dining tables.” You can tell a lot of love and ingenuity has been put into this place. And it’s not just the quirky, hand-hewn seating and masterful plating of food. It’s the flourishing garden in the adjacent field constructed and tended by Chad and his father that accents the menu’s favorites. It’s the fact that Edwards wants to create a line of his own bottled salad dressings and brews the restaurant’s Doggweiser Blonde Ale. It’s the fact that in northeastern Michigan, Chad Edwards is pioneering in an old way of doing things again.
Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District (TBA ISD) is using gardening as a tool to improve student health. Thanks to SNAP-ED funding through the USDA and the Michigan Fitness Foundation, TBA ISD implements a program called LifeSPAN, which performs cooking and nutrition lessons year round in the classroom to increase students fruit and vegetable intake and physical activity levels. Currently, they’re running summer garden camps where kids partake in nutrition lessons, help in school gardens, and cook healthy meals using produce they harvest.
Jeff Rose, Michigan State University alumnus and Come as You Are (CAYA) Smokehouse Grill executive chef, will be the featured chef at the MSU Tollgate Farm to Table Dinner, Aug. 25, 2018, at 4 p.m. The event’s four-course meal will highlight food grown at the MSU Tollgate Farm in Novi, Michigan, or from farms within a 25-mile radius of the facility.
Senior Resources in Benzie County is committing to the community they serve in new ways. The Gathering Place is working with Taste the Local Difference to improve mealtime at their center. Thanks to funds from the Building Healthy Communities grant, this partnership is catering meals to meet nutritional needs of older adults while simultaneously incorporating more fresh, local produce into meal time.