This year, dozens of restaurants are participating in Traverse City Restaurant Week (TCRW) from February 24 – March 2nd . This is the perfect opportunity to take a culinary excursion and enjoy some of Traverse City’s finest restaurants! Prices always range between $25-35 a person, three course meals are offered, and reservations are strongly encouraged.
What is the big deal with food safety?
It can be rather ‘gut wrenching’ finding out about potentially contaminated food. Over the year’s farmers, growers, retailers and more have had to adapt to new challenges in ensuring products from farms are not only meeting consumers changing market demands, but safeguarding that those products are not contaminated. Through changes in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the state of Michigan, and partnering organizations have developed new strategies to tackle the biggest challenges with pesky microbes and food borne illnesses.
Maple syrup production is a strong aspect of the history of the Alcona FFA chapter. However, it wasn’t until 2005 through 2007 that the Alcona FFA chapter wrote grants to build their own maple syrup production facility for pure Michigan maple syrup at Alcona Community High School. This dream came true; and in 2007, we built what was to become the Alcona FFA Sugar Shack. The Sugar Shack was added to a log cabin previously existing on our school’s property. Since the spring of 2009, we have hosted Maple Syrup Celebration Day at our facility – and this spring will be no different –marking the 10th Anniversary of this event!
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!
This year, consider what you should add into your daily diet rather than remove. Moving beyond restrictive diets is one of TLD’s top health goals for you in 2019.
This summer, I was the catering manager for Rock River Farm, a flower farm in the central U.P. They are focusing their efforts on flower production, so they don’t need my services in 2019. After being asked a few times if I’m sad they are done catering, here’s the truth: I’m stoked to see farms find their niche. This said, I will be going back next summer in the same way I got started there: as a volunteer who is in it for the beautiful drive, lack of cell service, the company and inspiration they provide.
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.
Conference season is upon us! With so many food and farming conferences between now and March, it’s often difficult to decide which to attend. If you’re free February 9th, I’d highly recommend attending the Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS) 16th annual Michigan Family Farms Conference. This conference provides beginning, small-scale, and culturally diverse farmers a chance to network and learn. At past conferences, I shared conversation with other small-scale farmers, learned new skills from talented presenters, and left energized and motivated for another season of farming.
In the dead of winter, we long for the abundance of summer gardens and farmers markets. While their bounty is hard to outshine, it is amazing to take stock of, and appreciate, how much variety is still available this time of year. Season extending techniques like hoophouses (aka high tunnels) allow us to have fresh tender greens, spinach, and cold sweetened carrots. We’re also able to find a wide range of storage vegetables: cabbage, beets, carrots, garlic, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, kohlrabi, and more! And don’t forget this month’s crop spotlight: the humble turnip.
With January winding down, it looks like ice has encapsulated just about everything in northeast Michigan. All the greens on our farm are mostly done for the winter, except the rare occasion the sun peeks out from the clouds long enough to thaw a bit of hoophouse spinach. Storage potatoes and carrots have already begun to dwindle, and the familiar retreat indoors this time of year also translates into more one-on-one with new cookbooks, more opportunities to splatter and stain fresh pages with new and sometimes challenging creations.