A Culinary Look At Supporting Your Local Economy

kalamazoo550(832)One of the biggest concerns for most Americans right now isn’t where to vacation or have dinner, it’s the state of our economy, and I’m sure everyone is with me that the last thing we need right now is another age of “Great Depression”.  So you start thinking about positive things you can do to try and help turn things around, and also negative things that won’t do at all. If you’re like me, then you’ve thought of so many things by now you can’t possibly remember them all! This is the point when frustration starts to set in, when I realized just how much the chips are stacked against us right now. So I decided what I need to do is look at things in a different way, what if I start focusing my thoughts and efforts on things I can do to fix things a little closer to home.

Kale

Fresh Local Kale at the Farmers Market

When you start thinking about things in a smaller, local perspective, it becomes a bit easier to figure out a way to make an impact. Being a cook, naturally the first thing that comes to mind is putting my money back into local agriculture, artisanal products, and the restaurants that strive for both of these as well, because more money spent locally means more local jobs. Starting to think local food, I’m sure a lot of people like myself can say that their first experience with it was as a child with a parent, pulling off the side of the road to buy freshly picked fruit from a farmer with a small fruit stand. That doesn’t seem completely reliable right? But while I was working with Zazios, and when I started working with Webster’s, is when I finally realized how easy it is to buy local, and how much better it is for everyone involved. The Bank Street Farmer’s Market has definitely become my one stop shop for the vast majority of fresh food I use at home, and if your not in Kalamazoo enough to make it worth the trip, there’s also a great market to look up in Texas Corners as well! Both markets carry a great selection of the basics like beef, chicken, pork, herbs, grains, fruits, and vegetables, but the best part is all of the seasonal gems that you can’t get at the store like wild ramps, fiddlehead ferns, fresh morel mushrooms, (good) heirloom tomatoes, it really makes you wonder what other treasures are out there. It has been great to see how much the Market’s have really grown from last year to this year, and I’m happy I could be a part of the difference.NH(1)

Southwest Michigan is always going to consist of a large amount of farmland, and all this land and great food is a perfect opportunity for the right people to start crafting beautiful artisanal products. For one, Michigan is becoming a front-runner in the craft-brewing world, and Kalamazoo’s very own Bell’s Brewery is definitely one of the best in my opinion. What’s great is the new emphasis being put on creating beers made with strictly Michigan ingredients, and then brewing large batches for distribution. However, if you’re not much of a drinker, you can always head back down to the Farmer’s Market for craft made cheeses, all-natural sausages, Amish butter, noodles, bread, syrups, and homemade pies, just to name a few. The possibilities of culinary creation are limitless you just have to get out there and discover them.

Grilled Short Rib Potato, Cauliflower, Garlic Chive, Jus

Grilled Short Rib
Potato, Cauliflower, Garlic Chive, Jus

As you can see we all benefit when we support local agriculture and business. Taking your new “shop local” perspective towards buying food for home, the natural next step is to look at where you dine when you decide to eat at a restaurant. Next time you’re trying to decide where to go, take a second to look at the menu from your choice. Most restaurants will advertise where they source their product from, because you never know, a few familiar names could be the reason you choose one restaurant over another. I can’t stress how important it is to know where and how your food was grown, and also how it got to you. I do know that here at Webster’s Prime we pride ourselves on sourcing the freshest product we can get, and we’re proud to support our local farmers and artisans.

Jeremy Loomis
Line Cook
JL

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