Tag Archives: food

Farmers Markets Offer So Much Good Food!

I wish I could eat all day long. I am so enjoying the vegetables and fruits at the local farmers markets. My problem is everything looks so good I want to try everything. I now have a refrigerator full of fresh produce.  I love visiting my favorite farmers market at Vantage Point in Port Huron, MI.  But then I love visiting the markets where I work so I stop at the Detroit Eastern Market and the Mt. Clemens Farmers Market regularly to  pick up fresh fruits and vegetables along with meat, eggs and cheese from local farmers and businesses.

I try to plan my meals 2-3 days at a time using up the produce as quickly as possible to use it at the freshest possible moment for the best flavor and quality. Starting with vegetables as the main course of the meal keeps the calorie levels down and then I can add a grain like rice or couscous and some protein if I need it.
I try to purchase vegetables that I know and love but also a couple of new things I have not tried before. Vegetables can scare people away – you may not be sure how to prepare, peel or cut up the vegetables. That is OK and there is no one who is going to give you a hard time for trying a new vegetable out! And I will say if you don’t like or care for the way you make it – do a different recipe next time! Keep trying – start by tasting many vegetables raw and use a yogurt dip!  I was doing a food demo a couple of weeks ago at the Mt. Clemens Farmers Market trying to encourage patrons to try some new vegetables.  Many people were surprised you could eat green beans raw as well as zucchini and summer squash.

A very quick vegetable dip is to chop up 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic from the market along with 1-2 Tablespoons of chopped fresh dill  and add that to a 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt.  Let it sit for a couple of hours to blend the flavors and serve with fresh washed cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, pepper strips, slices of raw zucchini and summer squash and green beans along with some red and yellow cherry or grape tomatoes.

I try to keep recipes simple – I work my 40 hour week and drive almost 2 hours a day – I don’t want to spend a lot of time preparing food at night even though I love to cook.
I try to cook all my vegetables at the same time and then add them to recipes or use for my lunch and dinners.  Do you have other quick tips for quick meals using fresh vegetables?

Fresh farmers market vegetables.

Fresh farmers market vegetables.

Where is your favorite farmers market?


Celebrate Earth Day with Green Eating Habits – Being Earth Friendly with Food

Earth Day is a great time to celebrate our beautiful planet, but we can learn green eating habits that help the earth every day.  Michigan State University Extension can help you eat greener.


Reduce your food waste by purchasing food around meal and menu planning.  Katherine Hale, Extension Educator says, “This can help reduce your daily stress by planning out meals ahead of time and reduce your food budget by buying only what you need.”  Plan your meals around what is left in the refrigerator and also plan meals to cook once but eat several times with a new meal plan.  Hale likes to steam a large amount of vegetables at one time and then use broccoli or cauliflower in salads or additions to pasta dishes later in the week or as a take to work lunch.  By having meals planned you can reduce the amount of food that spoils or gets thrown out.

Start a compost pile of vegetable scraps and if pre-cooked vegetables get old, just add them to the compost pile.  You will reap a wonderful soil amendment for growing future plants.


Buying what is in season is usually less expensive and you can buy in larger quantities, blanch if necessary and freeze for later use.  This reduces the packaging that comes with multiple smaller packages.

Use real dishes instead of paper and cloth napkins to reduce your daily waste.  Eating at home as a family encourages family time and conversation while also reducing calories and packaging from fast food restaurants.


When cooking, try doubling recipes and you can freeze or repackage in reusable containers to eat for lunches and meals later in the week that will save you time by just reheating.  For example, try roasting several chicken breasts at one time – you will use less energy cooking once, and use this protein source for chicken sandwiches for lunch or add the chicken to pasta later in the week.  These methods require a little more planning but will save time and energy when you can get several meals out of cooking just once.


Take advantage of end of season price reductions on tomatoes and other vegetables that can be made into chili recipes and spaghetti sauce that can be frozen or canned in reusable containers.  You can save money and increase health by buying real food and less packaging that produces less waste.


You can eat greener every day and be earth friendly.  Celebrate Earth Day!




The All About Food Conference was held on February 14 in Clinton Township and featured several local restaurants and food businesses.  It has been over a month since that event with almost 250 people in attendance but the word is – they all want to learn more about living healthy and how to find local food.  Local food is here – we just need to take time to find it!

Starting off the day we featured the former Che Cosa Coffee now known as the Box Theater Cafe at 42 Pine Street in Downtown Mt. Clemens.  We loved their coffee and the team was great to work with and delivered the coffee to us – They were awesome!

Henry Ford Health Systems of Macomb sponsored our lunch and their food service program provided soups and salads that were wonderful and healthy.

The Mitt Restaurant in downtown Mt. Clemens served a Michigan Salad and a Spinach Salad using local ingredients.

For dessert we were treated to cupcakes from The Happy Cake Lady.


Lovely cupcakes!


Safies Products

We also featured sides from  Safies, another local food business that has been making great pickled beets and asparagus for over 75 years in Macomb County, Michigan.

Our milk was provided by Crooked Creek Dairy.   White and Chocolate versions were excellent.  This farm is bottling their own milk and other products and selling from the farm!

We had water donated by Westview Orchards and door prizes donated by MI By the Bottle Tasting Room, and   Hul-Bee Honey.

Sourcing local foods is an awesome adventure.  You learn about the people and businesses that build a community and make it great!

Fall is Apple Picking Season

In Michigan, many apple growers lost their crop last spring when  early spring warm weather had trees blossoming too early.  A hard frost followed and killed many of those apple blossoms, hence, no fruit.  Some growers lost more than half their crop while others lost all of it.  Some farmers were able to plant other crops to try to make up for some of their lost income.  WE have many orchards that are involved with Agri-Tourism where they offer the traditional apple picking followed by cider and doughnut treats.  All of these events and activities will be affected by the huge losses of this apple crop.

With all that said, there are some apples.  So, make sure you purchase them now  from farmers markets and orchards and enjoy those crisp, juicy tastes of our fall apples and savor the flavor.  They may not be here long.   There have been news articles and stories everywhere reporting on the monetary value of these losses, the jobs and income lost, but several farmers are insisting they will have apples and apple cider.  What we will see is farmers purchasing apples from New York and Washington and other apple producing states to make cider  or they may be purchasing cider to make sure we all have the full experience at the cider mills and orchards.   You may find some sticker shock on bags and baskets of apples since the supply is low.  The prices of cider are also higher.  WE can  still support our local apple growers by purchasing the apples and cider they do have and enjoy this fall experience.  Because what is fall without them?

Check Michigan Farmers Market Association for an apple orchard near you!

Donate That Surplus Garden Produce – Fresh Produce Donation Guidelines for Gardeners

Hungry people need good food – we want to provide safe, nutritious food to those who might otherwise go without.

Community and school gardens, orchards, farms, and home gardens can be great sources of fresh local produce for food pantries.

Food banks and pantries generally welcome donations of fresh produce from community gardeners.

However it is important to check with them before making a delivery to determine if they can accept produce that day, they may not want 10 more bags of zucchini and you need to know whether they can handle fresh produce at their site.

If gardeners are concerned about liability for donating food – check out the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.

Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act:  in 1996, the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was signed.  The Act encourages the donation of food and grocery products to non-profit organizations that, in turn, distribute to those in need.

This bill makes it easier to donate because it protects the donor from liability when they donate fresh produce.  It protects people from civil and criminal liability should the product, donated in good faith, later cause harm to the needy recipient.  It also standardizes donor liability exposure and it sets a liability floor of “gross negligence” or intentional misconduct for persons who donate.


Handling Produce:

  • Be sure to offer only quality produce to food pantries and discard any that isn’t fresh
  • It’s important to handle fresh fruits and vegetables safely to minimize any risks of foodborne illness
  • To reduce risks, don’t ‘mix produce and keep each in separate containers/bags.
  • Donate freshly picked produce.
  • Donate produce free from mud and dirt as much as possible
  • Select the best produce – free from holes, bugs, and soft spots
  • Donate produce with no signs of mold, spoilage or bruising

If you have a large donation, please call the food pantry a day ahead of time. Find out delivery times and days of operation.  The food pantry may have a preferred delivery day of the week and time of day – so you don’t interfere with other operations.

Pick produce and plan to deliver it as soon as possible – preferably on the same day you pick for best use.

On the day you plan to deliver the produce, harvest the produce/vegetables early in the morning while they still have the coolness of the night.  If they have dew, wipe them dry with paper towel.  Each item should be visibly inspected for serious bruising, insect damage and ripeness.

Do not donate produce that you would not buy for your own family.


Produce that is overripe, has mushy spots or is seriously blemished should be added to the compost pile but not donated.

There may be some foods that can easily become over ripe or inedible.  Vegetables like GIANT summer squash, such as zucchini which aren’t very edible when they are overly large – should not be donated.  There is only so much you can do with large zucchini – like grating it for cooked recipes – that people may not be able to use and it goes to waste and becomes a problem for the food pantry to discard.  Sweet corn can become overripe quickly as well.

IF you used pesticides in your garden, take the time to clean each vegetable as recommended by the pesticide manufacturer on the label before you let anyone eat it.

Package your produce in supermarket bags and take them to the pantry at the requested time.  You may want to set up a weekly time schedule with the pantry for additional produce throughout the growing season.

For further information about safe handling of fresh produce go to:  FDA’s Safe Handling of Raw Produce information.

For a listing of organizations and food banks in your area – search the internet or check local telephone directories.

In Southeast Michigan, Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) has educators who provide Community Food Systems educational programming and assistance. For more information, you can contact Kathe Hale, at halek@anr.msu.edu.