Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Supporting Michigan farmers
As a Willie Nelson fan, I've always taken his advice seriously, and when he appeared on CNN news recently to talk about his annual Farm Aid concert I listened intently. His message was: Buy your produce directly from local farmers as a way to support family farms.
During a recent drive along M-22 between Manistee and Frankfort, I looked at the heavily ladened apple trees, and wondered why our local supermarkes bring apples in from the West Coast. It's a waste of fuel, especially when we have apples in abundance grown by Michigan farmers.
We stopped at a roadside stand and loaded up on apples and pears, and I couldn't help sampling them during the ride. The apples were crisp, not like the ones from the grocery store, which were probably picked green and shipped 2,000 miles. I was eating apples that matured on the tree, not in a box car or semi-truck.
Unfortunately I live in suburban Detroit, where there are few roadside stands. The efficent master plans of our suburbs have a way of wiping out such stands, one of the few free maket place for farmers.
In the Detroit area, we do have the Eastern Market, and a few suburbs have clung to their farmers' markets on Saturdays. Ann Arbor is a bright spot, with its Saturday market.
On a recent visit to Westborn Market in Livonia, I was pleasently surprised to see Michigan apples and tomatoes on display along side produce from Washington state. I bought the Michigan tomatoes.
From now on, I'm going to buy Michigan produce when I can, and shop in stores that sell it.