Thursday, January 24, 2008

What's Local (about Now) in Michigan


Here's an eat local conundrum. If a Chicagoan, running low of local foods, jets off to Los Angeles to hit the Santa Monica Farmers Market, considered one of the best markets in the USA, and one in full bloom now as in summer, buys a bunch of stuff, is he eating local?

To eat local in the winter, in a northern zone like Chicago, one must rely on stored food or farmers that take extraordinary means to coax food. Our stored food dwindles; we can only get so much from Farmer Vicki. With the kidz off of school for two days, we hit the trail looking for local. We did not get as far as Santa Monica. What made more sense, we'd go to Michigan.

Most of Michigan is more than 100 miles from my bungalow, but the family and I do not limit our localness to 100 miles. We count the whole state of Michigan from its tartest cherries at the tip to the abundance of Zingerman goat cheeses at the other end of the mitt as part of our local. Like Wisconsin, who we also include in its entirety, Michigan is a state with an abundant local food culture. I guess when the key food crop of your home state is high fructose corn syrup it helps to look afield. Our plan included the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, the above mentioned Zingerman's, and Detroit's Eastern Market. On the way to Michigan, we hoped to finally hit the American Countryside Farmer's Market in Elkhart.

We really hoped to find some roots, especially rutabaga, which we have none, as well as more beets, more carrots are always useful, perhaps some celery root; we'd be even happy with more turnips. Stored, winter cabbage would be especially cool. After four days on the road, we found none of that. We did come back with some local foods (and had quite a few good meals too).

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