lake2Vacationing here near Lake Michigan, it is easy to eat local. Grocery stores sell milk from local farms (grass fed and antibiotic free). Bread is locally sourced, some of it from organic grain farms. There are lots of greens in the local stores and farmers markets. Practically every restaurant we have visited has featured locally sourced foods. I have not seen a national chain grocery store or restaurant.

This region near Traverse City Michigan has a signature crop – cherries! Though cherrytrees2the fruit is not yet ripe for 2014, you can still find dozens of food products using dried or frozen cherries. We’ve had cherry pie, cherry rhubarb crisp, cherry salad dressing, cherry jam, etc. Yesterday, I had cherry chocolate coffee!

Approximately 70% of all tart cherries and 20% of all sweet cherries that grow in the U.S. come from this region. Farmers and local businesses are taking advantage of their signature crop by branding and processing the cherries and using them for tourism purposes. The National Cherry Festival is held each July in Traverse City.

cherry capital foodsTraverse City’s Cherry Capital Foods is also home to one of the most effective food hubs in the country.  It aggregates food from more than 150 small farms and distributes to food services, grocery stores and high-end restaurants.

Michigan’s total ag sales grew 51%, from 2007 to 2012, according to the ag census. Agritourism, processing, value-added sales, and effective marketing of the signature crop all contribute to total ag sales in Michigan!