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Our Voices: Celebrating the Power of Local Food!Print

Food & Farming | June 29, 2011 | By Jim Dulzo

They came in gigantic pick-up trucks, tiny hybrids, and luxury cars. They sported down-home jeans, colorful summer casuals, and fancy clothes. And they braved rainy skies, damp lawns, and the occasional long line—all to enjoy our third annual Summer Celebration of local food and drink, held Monday evening at Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa, in Benzie County.


More than 500 people enjoyed a remarkable local food and drink buffet at MLUI's Summer Celebration at Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa.

 

It was a remarkable testament to the power of local food: What’s a pair of wet shoes or a droopy ‘do when your reward is fabulous fare from nine top area chefs, 20 specialty food producers and farmers, two breweries, four wineries, and a distillery?

Accompanied by a tireless and tuneful Celtic band, the 500-plus folks who braved the day’s drizzle wore broad smiles, their conversation lively and their laughter genuine.

Those high spirits carried a message that is taking root across the state and our country. Local food isn’t a fad, it’s a new way of doing business that is actually old and much-missed: Knowing who made your food, knowing it’s fresh and naturally nutritious, knowing the money stays here rather than flying to some faraway place, knowing how good it’s going to taste.

The Michigan Land Use Institute launched its Food & Farming program (we used to call it Entrepreneurial Agriculture) a decade ago, with one purpose in mind—helping small- and medium-sized farms, an endangered species in agribusiness’s commoditized culture, to start thriving again by doing whatever it takes to rebuild local markets for local food.

So, our Summer Celebration is both a proud look back on the work we and our many partners have done, and a hopeful look forward not only to what the rest of the summer brings to our market baskets, but also to the prosperous future that building a strong local food system can—and will!—create.

Thanks to all who made it possible. And if you haven’t done so already, don’t you think it’s time to take the Spend 10 pledge? You’ll find yourself smiling, too; we promise!

Jim Dulzo is the Michigan Land Use Institute’s managing editor. Reach him at jimdulzo@mlui.org.