In Search of the Northern Summer: Part II

The entire western coast of Michigan is home to tons of farms and many of these farms are reaping the benefits of a growing population of “locavores”. Broadly defined, locavores are passionate about eating local, sustainable foods.

Aspiring locavores, ourselves, we were excited to hear about a local food event being held at one of the nerve centers of the local, specialty food farms in northwestern Michigan: Food for Thought in Honor, MI. You can read all about their work in creating sustainable, high-quality, locally produced foods on their website. They do fascinating things for local farmers while making amazing products at the same time. Hopefully more businesses in the food industry will take a cue from them.

Once each year, Food for Thought hosts a local food event called Green Cuisine. Over 30 local food & beverage vendors and organizations gather on the farm to create a spectacular outdoor picnic – totally FREE – for over 800 visitors. All one has to do to be invited is show up! How fabulous is that?!

Aside from the amazing food and knowing that you’re sampling the best that the entire region has to offer in food and wine, the entire event is as waste free as possible. An ordinary event of this size would produce several dumpster loads of garbage and other waste. Amazingly, from the 2009 event, only one ounce of non-recyclable waste was produced. Everything else is either recyclable, reusable, or goes into the compost heap. Sound impossible? Not if you were there and witnessing it!

We started out the evening by picking up our nametags at the registration area which was delightfully IMG_0857located right amongst the lavender field used to produce lavender for Food for Thought’s legendary Blueberry Lavender Preserves. I’ve already mentioned how much I love lavender, but this was the first time that I’ve been surrounded by so much of it that the slightest bit of breeze sent waves of perfume my way. I want my own field of lavender, someday!

I had been worried that attending an event that involved sharing food with over 800 people might mean for slim pickings and maybe even a late start (thanks to James’ sniper-style photography, you can see the concern on my face), but the event started promptly at 5pm. IMG_0860We marched through the gate, grabbed a plate, fork, wine glass, and napkin and then set out to explore the several tents which contained untold treasures! Truth be told, I think the only annoying bit of the entire event was the fact that the plates were rather small making it so that you had to make several small trips to the vendors’ stands. Looking at the practical side of feeding 800 people, though, I suppose having smaller plates decreases the chance for food waste and the likelihood of someone making off with half of the supply of cheese samples!

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On my first run, I picked up two excellent Indian dishes whose names I can’t remember to save my life, but I will never forget the taste of either of them! Unfortunately, I also can’t remember which vendor made them. Trust me, they’re worth looking up! The yummy baked goods, here, were from Pleasanton Brick Oven Bakery and the breads were from Stone House Bread (we paid a visit to Stone House Bread later on in the trip… more to come on that).

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On my second run, James and I decided to strategize and maximize the power of two. While I was off gathering and foraging for food, he was out scoring our beverages! He found a spectacular Riesling from Bel Lago Vineyard of Cedar, MI. It turned out to be the perfect companion for the Lamb Kafta pitas from Siren Hall and the forever memorable bruschetta from Trattoria Stella that I swiped for us.

I was pretty well stuffed after all of that, but James wandered off and came back with a wee sample of ice cream for us to share. As it turns out, we managed to eat ice cream at least once a day on our entire trip. We have become quite the connoisseurs of all things butterfat.
IMG_0868Nicole found great pleasure amongst her new friends at Land of Goshen. They provided us with several samples of sausages and cheese. We were even able to see pictures of the goats which had provided the milk for the cheeses we were sampling. Nicole especially enjoyed the giant block of raw goat milk cheddar which was so beautifully displayed amongst a bed of nasturtiums.

All of the vendors were so talkative and friendly. We’re looking forward to being sent more information about their businesses and unique products. After all, the only way to support local businesses and food production is by casting a vote with your purchase – and it’s certainly not a sacrifice with this quality of food!

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With the individual vendor displays being so lovely, the atmosphere so celebratory and yet calm and rural, the only thing that seemed to be missing was a chamber orchestra tucked away in the corner, somewhere, playing the royal fireworks music! It was also nice to see so many people coming out to support such an important cause as local food and local businesses.

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By the time we were pretty well stuffed, the picnic area was becoming a bit crowded. We decided it was time to hop in the car and head still further north to our B&B. This time, we were heading north on one of Michigan’s most scenic thoroughfares: M-22. What awaited us there made for a very pleasant end to an already blissful but lengthy day! (to be continued)

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~ by Jason on July 26, 2010.

6 Responses to “In Search of the Northern Summer: Part II”

  1. Love your blog… that garden is beautiful (we have pumpkin envy!) and you have some really fantastic recipes… we’re fans!

    • Thank you, Jen & Rob! Don’t have the envy just yet! The pumpkins haven’t been harvested yet! 😀 Since this is my first time with a non-container garden — and my very first time growing pumpkins, for sure — I’m definitely not counting my pumpkins till they’re picked.

      Thanks for reading, too. Glad to have you along. 🙂

  2. We loved hosting you at the Food For Thought farm! We were so pleased that you made the trip up the coast to come and share great local food and drink with us. Thanks!

  3. Great story! Thanks for coming and spreading the word. I hope all visitors and readers will be inspired to keep their local food producers in mind and don’t forget, many of them do gift mail order as well. Sure beat s a tee-shirt or hat….though many of us have those too!
    Timothy Fitzgerald Young
    President/Chef
    Food For Thought, Inc.
    Honor, Michigan
    http://www.foodforthought.net

  4. We are proud to include Food For Thought organic products in our gluten-free dairy-free gift baskets!

  5. Sounds like a great time and great food. It’s good to see all of the fantastic natural foods available, especially in Michigan.
    We would love to make it to next year’s event.

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