I sat down with Jesse Huff of Radio Results Network, one of our main sponsors, to discuss this year’s MQT Local Food Fest. After casual greetings, he started off with, “Wow, year three!” I hadn’t really thought about it, but it’s crazy to think about how things have worked out. A simple conversation about getting NMU Hospitality Management together for an event of some kind has spiraled into an annual farm-to-table celebration, honoring and connecting links throughout the Upper Peninsula’s local food system, from farmers to eaters and everyone in-between.
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!)
MQT Local Food Fest Statistics
•7 Northern Michigan University Hospitality Management Alumni Chefs
First Place & People’s Choice Rory Shimp of Spiaggia in Chicago
MAD Rabbits Farm, Daggett
•3 NMU Hospitality Management Faculty
•5 NMU Hospitality Management Alumni Coordinators
•10 NMU Student Volunteers
•3 Outstanding Community Volunteers
•Over 10 indispensable Sponsors
•Over $500 spent on a UP Food Exchange Purchase from UP Farmers
•Over $1,100 spent on local food via direct farmer & producer purchases
•11 UP Harvest Basket Entries raising a total of $615
•$1,100 spent on local live entertainment
•$400 spent on other local specific businesses
•$150 spent on local decor; flowers & produce
•Purchases made from over 20 local farmers, and 6 local producers
•14 Different Locally Focused Chef Dishes
•Over 30 Door Prizes from Local Businesses
•Over 200 Attendees – plus kids!
$1,850 Raised! – THANK YOU!
I had this vision for the MQT Local Food Fest, and that vision is not what I saw this past Saturday at Barrel + Beam Brewery, in Marquette, MI. What I saw when I took a moment to step onto a hay bale and look over the crowd was so much grander. Since I have become a part of the Taste the Local Difference Team, I’ve had the honor of traveling and working with some incredible people including chefs, farmers, local business, different organizations, health professionals, brewers, and everyday people who are passionate about local food. This past Saturday, I got them all in the same room. I wish I could write a novel so I could tell every small story and highlight every relationship, because each one give me more and more confidence in the success of Local Food Systems here in the UP.
I think the most important message of our event wasn’t just to support local food, but to honor and respect the people and careers connected to food. I started raising animals at the age of 5, and started working at a local resort at the age of 16. I don’t mention this because I want to prove that I have experience, I mention this because since then, I’ve been a first hand witness of the struggles, successes, ups and downs of people who work in careers surrounding food. Late nights washing dishes, long days planting in the sun, hauling hundreds of pounds of produce to and from market, 16 hour days all on your feet, high stress situations – and these are just some of the experiences people in our industries encounter daily. These situations will always be a part of life for many of us – but the point I want to make is that healthy and delicious food, purchased from local farmers, producers, and chefs is to be honored and respected. A lot of work goes into something that we then place into our body – a very intimate experience and decision that affects your own health and wellbeing, along with the wealth of your own community.
I am proud to say we raised over $1,800 at our event, and that $300 will go to sponsor a Garden Bed through Partridge Creek Farm, a non-profit farm working on Farm-to-School programs and community garden projects in Ishpeming. We are also excited to donate $150 to the Downtown Marquette Farmers Market Power of Produce Program. Monetarily, our event was a success, but more importantly we were able to get some important conversations started and some crucial connections made.
Personally my favorite part was how this event helped put a little glimmer of light back into the eyes of people that mean so much to me and the Local Food Movement. I saw so many smiles, hugs, high fives, so much teamwork, collaboration and most of all celebration. So thank you again to our amazing sponsors: Ojibwa Casino, Marquette Food Co-op, Radio Results Network, Barrel + Beam, NMU College of Technology and Occupational Sciences, NMU Alumni Association, UP Health & Happiness Magazine, Travel Marquette, the Marquette Downtown Development Authority, the Marquette Chamber of Commerce, Econo Foods and last but not least – Taste the Local Difference for all your support, and helping us make our event a success.
Stay tuned for details on next year!
Alex Palzewicz is the UP Local Food Coordinator. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last May, four cool guys embarked on a journey around the coast of Lake Superior in order to bring awareness to the health of the Great Lakes. Read their story here. This month, I was able to connect with the guys and get some answers on my favorite topic: food.
What is kombucha exactly? The simplest answer is “fermented tea” – a statement that rarely encourages a first time sipper to indulge in the sweet and tart flavors that the fermentation process produces. I fell in love with the drink myself when living in Seattle, one taste-bud-convincing sip at a time. The beverage was different, and I can’t lie and say that I was crazy about the stuff on day one – but as time went on I found myself using it to quench that desire for a sweet and flavorful beverage. Years ago, I remember visiting the UP from Seattle, and not being able to find Kombucha in the stores at all. However, in the last few years, the UP has gained some fantastic brewers who are changing the local culture.
In the United States, we waste 40% of food produced, and an alarming 90% of that goes to the landfill, where it emits methane gas which is a mere 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. If that statistic doesn’t do anything for you, then how about that the average American spends about $1,500 a year on food they are just going to throw away.
Excuse me if my writing feels a bit exhausted, walking fifteen miles uphill in two feet of snow, just to get wi-fi for this post has drained me.
Gottcha! It’s hard not to joke, but I am happy to report that I am actually warm in my home, with indoor plumbing and all. Although, we do have a generator because when the power goes out it is often for days, and my closest ‘neighbors’ (besides a plethora of deer camps) are over two miles away.
Greetings, my name is Alexandria Palzewicz, and I am beyond excited to be the new UP Local Food Coordinator! Besides a recent two-year excursion in Seattle, I have lived in the UP my whole life.
It’s already snowed here in the U.P. a handful of times. The farmers markets have closed down until next year or retreated inside, but that doesn’t mean the season for eating locally has ended. It is possible to enjoy local food year-round, even in the U.P. The Marq, a restaurant and bar in Marquette, is a working testament.
Stepping into The Flying Moose, in downtown Marquette, feels like what stepping into a store probably felt like 100 years ago, except now there is kombucha on tap. The shelves are filled with spices, wines, syrups, and skateboards.