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.
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.
Myth: It’s impossible to find local food in the middle of January in Michigan. Reality: it’s easy! In fact, many restaurants participating in the Ann Arbor Restaurant Week, January 13 – 18, are putting local food at the center of the table. See the list of who is going local during restaurant week here, designated by the Taste the Difference® logo.
Kelly and Patrick of Daybreak Dreamfarm shared a recipe in our 2018 Guide to Local Food using Michigan grown mushrooms that is a great alternative to traditional crab cakes! Give it a try!
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.
Did you know that The American Cranberry is native to Michigan? While we are not the national leader in growing this fruit, our sandy soil, access to water and climate make them part of our fruit belt with major future growing potential. When you follow the seasons to guide your meals and menu planning, it is no surprise that the cranberry is part of our nation’s traditions.
Another Michigan winter is upon us, we are bundling up in our layers, naturally slowing down, and enjoying the Holidays with family and friends! Even though it’s cold outside, many local farmers and specialty producers continue to work hard to bring us fresh, local food year round in Northern Michigan. You can still enjoy the heartiness of local produce while visiting the farmers market in the winter. Plus you’ll find eggs, bread and baked goods, jams, tea, honey, cheese, meat, and a variety of holiday gifts!
Our second session with the 2018-19 National Farmers Union’s (NFU) Beginning Farmer Institute (BFI) took us into the country’s heart of organic produce, the salad bowl of America, the sunny Salinas Valley, California. Again, we were the last to arrive late at night, and a bit jet-lagged. For the first day of training, we participated in a hands-on learning session, hosted in partnership with the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA), an organization dedicated to creating economic opportunity for limited-resource and aspiring organic farmers through land-based education. ALBA creates farming opportunities while providing education and demonstration of organic farming, conservation, and habitat restoration. About 35 farmers operate their small organic farm at ALBA on an annual basis.
This is a baked kohlrabi fritter. It can be served over greens or used as a patty for a veggie sandwich. It’s very versatile and tastes great at any temperature.