Breweries Above the Bridge

Alex Palzewicz, Beer, Upper Peninsula

I apologize for often referring to the fact that the Upper Peninsula (UP), although 30% the land mass of Michigan, contains just 3% of the state’s population. A new comparison I was able to make with the help of the Michigan Brewers Guild Website, is that the UP is home to almost 18% of the breweries that make up our “great beer state.” 

Pork, Mushrooms & Wild Rice : Modern Twist on a Childhood Meal

Alex Palzewicz, Eat Local, Find Local Food, Recipes

Many of us all have that one dish that seemed to make it to the dinner table more often than most. My mom, who worked full time, often deferred to a boxed, rice based, one dish meal. A portion of starch, a packet of seasoning, add in your favorite protein, serve white bread and margarine on the side, and voilà! – dinner. 

I’m not throwing shade at my mom’s cooking skills, she was a busy woman, who volunteered often and had three kids, plus, I was the world’s pickiest and most dramatic eater. I distinctly remember a few nights where we sat at the kitchen table for an hour before my parents would become frustrated and set me free. 

Years later, not only do I have a much different palette, but I also have friends with kids, and I am truly amazed at how they somehow manage it all! I wonder if they sleep? I don’t even have pets and often fail at feeding myself a proper meal. So, the following recipe is an ode to my super-mom, and all they busy parents out there. I hope it can help you support local and encourage healthy eating while keeping in mind your busy schedules and tight budgets. 

Eat Small: Roasted Rabbit with Gravy

Alex Palzewicz, Eat Local, Environment, Find Local Food, Proteins, Recipes, Specialty Producers

In 2017, Tim & Naomi decided to start the Happy Hoppers Organic Rabbit Farm. They both grew up with rabbits so it was a natural fit. Originally, they decided to have rabbits for meat, pelts and compost. Rabbit compost is one of the only fresh composts you can put directly on your garden, without it burning your plants. Also, it’s high in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium which makes it perfect for great growth!

Michigan Tech Students Conduct Food Assessment

Alex Palzewicz, Economy, Environment, Find Local Food, Get Involved

I’ll admit, I have a lot to learn about the Western Upper Penisula’s local food system. My connections there have been growing and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people. They are the ones clearing a path and leading the way in both research and action.

Local Fusion Cooking: Beef & Potato Potstickers

Alex Palzewicz, Find Local Food, Recipes

This recipe is an ode to my life in Seattle. Folding dumplings was one of the most therapeutic tasks from my kitchen time there. Mostly, it was a task we completed after a busy brunch service on Saturday, which signified that your day was approaching an end, which after the insanity that is the first 8 hours of Saturday Brunch in Seattle, is always a feeling of relief.

A Challenge to Support Local

Alex Palzewicz, Farmers Markets, Find Local Food, Get Involved, Local Ingredients

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.

Introducing a New Resource to UP Farmers

Alex Palzewicz, Environment, Find Local Food, Learn More

As December speeds by, we rush to ready ourselves for the holidays. Once the new year arrives, our growers and producers will jump right into planning and preparing for the 2019 season. I myself am already dreaming of summer harvests. With preparation approaching, this month seemed like a great opportunity to introduce a new resource to Upper Peninsula Farmers: Landen Tetil, the new Produce Safety Technician for the UP region.

Young Professionals of the Upper Peninsula

Alex Palzewicz, Find Local Food, Get Involved, Stories

Where are the young people? It’s a question I have been asked a lot this past year as Upper Peninsula Local Food Coordinator for Taste the Local Difference.

To get answers, I turned to an organization called 40 Below in Marquette County. The group was created in 2010 as a way for professionals under the age of 40 to come together through networking and professional development opportunities. The group hosts fun events, puts on conferences and encourages young adults to volunteer in the community. 

MQT Local Food Fest 2018 Recap

Alex Palzewicz, Benefit, Event, Find Local Food

MQT Local Food Fest Statistics

•7 Northern Michigan University Hospitality Management Alumni Chefsmff4

First Place & People’s Choice Rory Shimp of Spiaggia in Chicago
MAD Rabbits Farm, Daggett

Second Place Colin Campbell of POUR Kitchen + Bar
Thill’s Fish House, Marquette

Third Place Angela Verburg of Harley’s Lounge at the Ramada InnSwanzy, Gwinn & Seeds and Spores Farm, Marquette

•3 NMU Hospitality Management Faculty

•5 NMU Hospitality Management Alumni Coordinators

•10 NMU Student Volunteers

•3 Outstanding Community Volunteers

•7 Judges

•Over 10 indispensable Sponsorsmff2

•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 mff1what 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 thankIMG_3364 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!

Cheers,

AP

Alex Palzewicz is the UP Local Food Coordinator. Contact her at alex@localdifference.org