TLD Launches Guide to Local Food in Southeast Michigan

Press Release, Tricia Phelps

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Date:               July 7, 2016

Contact:          Tricia Phelps, tricia@localdifference.org (847) 809-7643

New Guide to Local Food for Southeast Michigan

Ann Arbor – Taste the Local Difference®, Michigan’s local-food branding and marketing program, will publish its TLD Guide to Local Food in Southeast Michigan starting Thursday July 14th, 2016. The new magazine-format guide will cover nine counties across the region.

Taste the Local Difference® (TLD) has become an iconic brand, helping to market and sell local food in Michigan for more than a decade. Its mission is to “help food businesses and the communities they serve benefit from the economic value of local food while making fresh, healthy, local food available to all.” TLD first appeared in 2004 as a small booklet listing farms and restaurants in five counties around Grand Traverse Bay. Since then it has grown to include a robust set of online, mobile, and print resources for local food businesses across the state. Its annual Guide to Local Food magazine will now have a special printing for Southeast Michigan.

In 2016, TLD began offering its services to the local food community in Washtenaw County through an ACT 88 economic development grant.  TLD has since expanded those services to eight other counties including Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Monroe, Ingham, Livingston, Jackson and Lenawee counties. The new TLD Guide to Local Food in Southeast Michigan will include maps and listings of farms, farmers markets, and food businesses, making it easy for consumers to find locally grown and produced food.

In addition to the nine counties represented in the southeast Michigan guide, TLD also covers all 15 counties in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, 11 counties in northeast Michigan and 10 counties in northwest Michigan, totaling 45 counties across the state in two publications with a circulation of 80,000 copies.

Inside the thirty-six page guide, consumers will find maps and listings of hundreds of farms and local food businesses. There are also directories of farmers markets, community-supported agriculture (CSA) farms, locally made beverage businesses, and stories about the people and organizations creating a thriving local food movement in southeast Michigan.

Beyond the guide, TLD offers a basic set of marketing resources to farms, farmers, and farmers markets at no cost. Additional marketing support can be added using an inexpensive fee-based system. Value-added food producers, food hubs, restaurants, retail stores, markets, wholesale distributors, schools, hospitals, and other large businesses can also benefit from TLD’s local food marketing strategies. All of this is available at a very reasonable cost, scaled to meet the needs of each business.

The TLD Guide to Local Food in Southeast Michigan will be available to the public free of charge starting on July 14th, 2016.  Magazines may be found at participating farm stands, farmers markets, grocery stores and visitor centers.

For more, information, please contact Tricia Phelps at (847) 809-7643, tricia@localdifference.org, or visit http://localdifference.org.

 

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For a print-ready version of this media release click here.

Taste the Local Difference® is a social enterprise of the Traverse City-based Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities. For more than 20 years, Groundwork has focused on three areas to create stronger, more vibrant, and resilient communities: transportation, clean energy, and food and farming. Groundwork’s Taste the Local Difference® program is a recognized leader in developing new models for local food systems in Michigan and elsewhere.

GM, Ford, Chrysler, and Food

Bill Palladino, Food Policy, Learn More

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This story originally appeared as part of the Ag Forum section of the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

-by Bill Palladino  (Bill Palladino is Senior Policy Specialist for the Michigan Land Use Institute)

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine our Great Lakes state, from Detroit to the Sault, and across the U.P. to Ironwood.  We’re a big, proud, two-handed state.  For an entire century we’ve been known for greatness, and the one proud thing to rule them all is the great American automobile.  It started here, innovated here, and is still struggling to reemerge here.  Remember Chrysler’s Super Bowl ad, “I got a question for you, what does this city know about Luxury?”

As you stroll through your own town each day, look at the streets.  If they’re like mine they’re lined one upon another with big, glorious, American steel beasts, pickup trucks, SUVs, and big old sedans.  Sure, there’s a growing infestation of smaller, more svelte Asian and European invaders, but Michigan lives by its“Big Three,” and for these we’ll fight to the death. Just up the block from me is Hagerty Insurance, where there’s always a brightly polished reminder of better days on display. These Fords and Chryslers and GMs all harken back to a time when tires came from rubber trees and steel was hacked from the Earth by Yoopers singing Woody Guthrie songs. We’re proud of this heritage. Our fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers labored to provide Michigan this great story.  Are you singing “This Land is Our Land” yet?

Now, imagine if you will a time when we walk down these same streets and the tables are turned.  Instead of mostly American made cars, the parking lots are filled with 95 percent imports, with only a small smattering here and there of the American breeds.  For whatever reason, Michiganders are happy to ignore our homegrown brands. How might it make you feel that all this great American genius was pushed to the wayside?  How would it effect the emotional state of that relative of yours who once worked for GM?  How would our economy be impacted?  Are you angry yet?  O.K., now take a breath.

What if this economic and social catastrophe had already occurred but in another sector of the economy?  What if we as consumers had already turned our backs?  Well we have, and I’m talking about our local food economy.  The story’s the same , and so is the cast of characters: hard-working, values-based, dirt-under-the-fingernails pioneers.  But there are no rock stars pumping their fists to regenerate the lost economy of locally grown food.  Neither Kid Rock, nor Clint Eastwood, has ever pitched ads for Bardenhagen apples or American Spoon jam.

Go to your favorite grocery store and look at the shelves.  Where is the locally grown food?  Oh, it’s there, but it’s buried behind an insipid blur of commodity-scaled products with glitzy labels and expensive ad campaigns. Why is it so difficult to find local produce here during the first week of October, when bin-fuls from Washington, California, New York, and Mexico are plentiful?  Why, when we live in the second most diverse agricultural state in the U.S., do we struggle to buy the very products that are grown virtually in our own backyards?  The answer of course is a complex one.

Many of us in northwest Michigan are tired of waiting for the right answer. We’re about to go out on a limb and try something on our own, something new.  Over the next few months we’ll be testing a series of marketing strategies to help sell more locally grown food from Manistee to the straights of Mackinac.  You’ll be seeing a new brand emerge in your local grocery stores, starting with Tom’s Food Markets and then spreading outward. The Taste the Local Difference (TLD) name and logo will soon begin to appear on your grocer’s shelves to help differentiate local products from the mass of others crowding them out.

Imagine a day when you look down the aisles at your neighborhood grocery store, and at a glance know which products were grown or made here.  This vision is part of our strategy to get northwest Michigan farms to provide 20% of all the region’s food by the year 2020.  I can see the TV ad now.  It’s being voiced-over by Eminem. As the camera moves in slowly filling the screen with images of swaying green fields and orchards, you can hear the proud angst in his voice as he says, “This is northwest Michigan, and this is what we do.”