Evergreen Market is well known for being a local food marketplace, specializing in Michigan-made products. Fresh produce, local honey, beer and wine—you name it. In fact, Evergreen’s ready-made items are also a specialty. They produce a wide variety of easy weeknight meals and ready-to-go lunch offerings, even fresh baked pies for dessert!
Traverse City is known as the Cherry Capital of the World. And even before the National Cherry Festival became an official national celebration in 1931, we’ve been celebrating this history. As a part of the new “Farm to Festival” initiative, Taste the Local Difference has been working in coordination with the National Cherry Festival to bring focus back to our area’s local agriculture.
Boyne City has been making waves in their commitment to local food in recent years, with a booming year-round farmers market and the opening of The Grain Train’s second location. Now, with this spring’s opening of Northern Table, they can boast a serious farm-to-table restaurant as well! In true farm-to-table spirit, Northern Table offers a full seasonally-rotating menu as well as daily features based on local ingredient availability.
May 15, 2015 (Traverse City, MI)—Taste the Local Difference launches its 2015 Guide to Local Food in Northwest Michigan. MyNorth Media partnered with Taste the Local Difference to realize the 50-page publication that connects readers to Northern Michigan’s vibrant food community with the mission to sell more locally grown and made food.
In northern Michigan we get through the long, cold winters by looking forward to spring.We appreciate each season because we’ve experienced its absence.To eat seasonally builds this same excitement around the food we eat because locally grown and raised products come and go at different times.
By Tricia Phelps
The popularity of canola oil is on the rise amid reports of its health benefits. On the heels of our two stories of specialty oil processors in Traverse City two weeks ago, we wanted to keep you apprised of the trend, one that arguably was started by TLD partner B&B Farms.
From time to time we create short polls that are designed to help us measure certain aspects of the local food system. Each only takes a few seconds to finish. Fill out one, or all. And thanks in advance for your time.
What does “local” mean to you?
See other TLD polls here, https://localdifference.wordpress.com/take-a-tld-poll/.
Beeftock TC 2013 – By Bill Palladino
Pigstock TC 2013 stretched itself across three days, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in late October. Pigstock hopes to instill in people knowledge of the slaughter. A connection to the beast(s) we tend to consume without understanding whence they came.
Michael Ruhlman described the first part of the slaughter experience during 2012 Pigstock, “The pig was lifted mechanically with a tractor lifter and brought to a bathtub filled with 180°F water, in which the hog was scalded, then removed to a table to have its fur scraped off. It was then relifted so that Christoph could demo the dressing, doing it slowly, showing us all the organs and viscera as they emerged, all of it to be used. When the pig had been sawn and cleaved in two, Christoph cut a strip of backfat from the pig, then cut small pieces of it for us to taste. Warm, chewy but tender, neutral in flavor, succulent. It was kind of like taking communion of the pig.” (Read his entire post from 2012 here.)
-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.”