Saturday, October 11, 2008

I spent the morning at the Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Station in a workshop about preserving traditional foods that are at risk of disappearing. I asked to be there so I could get a feel for what we can do as a restaurant to keep traditional foods alive. I don't know if I have mentioned in other posts or not but one of our big goals for the restaurant is to help define what Great Lakes Cuisine is. A cuisine is the sum total of available food stuffs, culture of the region, bias' and preferences, technical skills, beliefs, and the list goes on, and so I thought this was a good place to start. Boy was I right. I was struck first by vastness of experience of those who were there. I recognized many of the faces and knew many of them by name, but did not really know how knowledgeable they were in such things. I thought to myself, "Just keep quiet and they may think I belong here." Which is what I did for the most part. I am excited to be part of what looks to be a grass roots movement to revive the traditional foods that were once prevalent in Northern Michigan. We have such a rich tradition up here it would be shameful to see it disappear. On my end of the equation I feel an even more urgency in using local foods than before. Somehow the other restaurants in the area need to be convinced that they also need to buy more locally. I would like to enjoin all of you who read this to find out more about your own local food traditions and support them. We live in a global economy where literally everything from everywhere is accessible anytime. We can buy dates from Egypt and eat them on a chicken we buy from across the country with a salad with ingredients straight from France. But as I continue my journey into the local mindset I have to wonder about the rightness of doing this. Is it not better to buy from those who live next door to us? We all live in cities and towns where people are struggling to make ends meet why not build up our local economies by supporting those who grow locally. It makes no sense to me to buy asparagus from California when we can get it here. I don't know what I am wanting to say. I'm just typing my thoughts as they come to me, but I think what I want to say is this: We are all part of the community in our back yards and we can never have true community if we don't buy our food from the community. Food is such a central, vital part of life that I have to believe that when we change the way we buy the food we eat and eat food that forms a part of the tradition and culture we live in, we connect in a way we cannot do so otherwise to our local communities. A solid, peaceful world can start with our stomachs when we make a conscience decision to support our own local community. We are what we eat, so they say, and I am sure we lay the foundation of a better life when we keep ourselves local. Or something like that....


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right on with this post! It all starts with our local community to make it all work in the big picture of things. Bravos to you!
Also really enjoyed the article on you on!
Keep up the great work!

Your Very Proud Mom

10/12/2008 12:22 PM  

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