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How to Eat Fresh and Local In Michigan

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Blueberries

Statewide, 600 family farms grow blueberries, with almost 21,000 acres devoted exclusively to the sweet fruit. (Which, BTW, is really good for you.)

Savor:

  • Blueberry Blue Cheese SaladBlue CowBig Rapids. Along with a blueberry vinaigrette, fresh Michigan blueberries bring a sweetness to this salad with creamy, rich cheese and pecan crunch over greens.
  • Blueberry PancakesPhoenix Street Cafe, South Haven. Plump and juicy Michigan blueberries fill fluffy buttermilk pancakes.
  • Chilled Blueberry Soup120 Taphouse and Bistro, Paw Paw. Start a summer lunch with this sweet, creamy dish made with fresh blueberries.

Sip:

  • Blueberry Cream Ale, Cheboygan Brewing Company, Cheboygan
  • Blueberry Wheat Ale, The Vierling Restaurant and Marquette Harbor Brewery, Marquette
  • Wild Blueberry Pancake Ale, Kuhnhenn Brewing Company, Warren

Celebrate:

  • Imlay City Blueberry FestivalImlay City, July 20–21
  • Downtown Marquette Blueberry Festival, Marquette, July 28
  • National Blueberry FestivalSouth Haven, August 10–13
  • Annual Wild Blueberry Festival, Paradise, August 18–20

Where to Pick:

  • Bumbleberry AcresSouth Haven
  • The Blueberry PatchSawyer
  • The Extraordinary BerryBenton Harbor

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Asparagus

In ideal conditions, asparagus spears grow a half-inch per hour. That means some fields are picked twice per day! (Here's everything else you need to know about picking, preparing, and cooking this healthy veggie.)

Savor:

  • Filet-Wrapped Asparagus, Cornerstone Barrel HouseDetroit. Tenderloin pieces hug a bouquet of crunchy Michigan asparagus, finished with a sweet soy glaze and served with wasabi cole slaw.
  • CHAR, Red HavenOkemos. In this seasonal special, charred Michigan asparagus accompanies a poached egg, chervil microgreens and grated Parmesan.
  • Asparagus Bisque, The Lake House Waterfront GrilleMuskegon. This simple soup features roasted asparagus and Parmesan, as well as onion, carrots and other veggies.

Sip:

  • Asparagus Wine, The Fox Barn Winery, Shelby
  • Spear Beer, Right Brain Brewery, Traverse City

Celebrate:

  • Empire Asparagus FestivalEmpire, May 19–20
  • National Asparagus FestivalOceana County, June 9–11

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Lavender

Bees seek out lavender's colorful blossoms, which have a delicate nectar that is appealing for making honey. (Also add it to this DIY coconut lavender body scrub for a skin-soothing shower.)

Savor:

  • Lavender Lemon Ice CreamSecret Garden at Brys Estate Vineyard, Traverse City. Secret Garden has partnered with Moomers Homemade Ice Cream to create handcrafted custom flavors such as this one, with white chocolate chips and garden lavender.
  • Grilled Salmon with Lavender Balsamic Vinegar GlazeThe Waterfront WyandotteWyandotte. Salmon tops a bed of wilted spinach finished with a lavender-essence glaze and served with a side of pretzel-crusted mac and cheese.

Sip:

  • Old Dam Gin, Mammoth Distilling, Central Lake
  • Honey Lav (a summer seasonal beer made with honey and lavender), Blackrocks Brewing Company, Marquette
  • Anahata Chakra Honey Lavender Ale, Arbor Brewing Company, Ann Arbor

Celebrate:

  • Michigan Lavender Festival, Blake's Orchard, Armada, July 14–16

Where to Pick:

  • Lavender Hill Farm, Boyne City
  • Sweetwater Lavender Farm, Petoskey (by appointment only)

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Cherries

With nearly 4 million trees, Michigan orchards grow about 75 percent of the tart cherries produced in the United States. (And the latest research shows that tart cherries might do amazing things for muscle recovery.)

Savor:

  • Leelanau Cherry OmeletteThe State Room, East Lansing. Want a fresh and tasty way to incorporate Michigan's superfruit into breakfast? Do it with the cherry wine compote in this fluffy three-egg omelette
  • Cookie Dough EggrollPenny Black Grill and TapRochester. Sigh over warm chocolate chip cookie dough deep-fried in a crunchy egg roll wrapper, served with drunken cherry ice cream and candied bacon crumbles.

Sip:

  • True North Cherry Vodka, Grand Traverse Distillery, Traverse City
  • Spirit of Cherry Brandy, Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
  • Ugly Dog Black Cherry Vodka, Ugly Dog Distillery, Chelsea
  • Spirit Cider: Cherry-Apple, Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Traverse City

Celebrate:

  • National Cherry Festival, Traverse City, July 1–8
  • Cherry Festival, Eau Claire, July 4

Shop:

  • Cherry Republic stores (cherryrepublic.com).These outposts carry all things cherry: candies, chocolates, wines, meats and more. The on-site cafe at Glen Arbor offers a hummus and pita salad with house-made cherry hummus and cherry balsamic vinaigrette.
  • American Spoon stores (spoon.com). Find treats such as cherry preserves, brandied cherries, spoon fruit and sauces.

Where to Pick:

  • Jollay Orchards, Coloma
  • Rennie Orchards, Williamsburg
  • North Star OrganicsFrankfort

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Must-See Farmer's Markets & Roadside Stands

Many towns feature weekly farmers markets and offer roadside produce stands, but here are a few favorites. (Just make sure you follow these tips for healthy market shopping.)

  • Eastern Market, Detroit: With 200 plus vendors, Saturdays at Detroit's Eastern Market continues a 125-year tradition of fresh-picked produce. For a less traditional experience, Sundays showcases Michigan artisans, musicians and more.
  • Flint Farmer's Market, Flint: The indoor Flint Farmers' Market is a year-round home to typical market vendors but also offers wine, cheese, baked goods, chocolates and more. Hungry? Stop at Steady Eddy's Cafe for a cheesy three-egg omelette.
  • Downtown Market, Grand Rapids: This market offers traditional fare plus classes. With cocktail mixing and other skills courses, plus lessons designed specifically for kids, there's a fun and educational foodie experience for everyone.
  • Holland Farmers Market, Holland: This spot is hopping at 10 a.m. Saturdays with its Chef Series. Professional chefs demonstrate how to prepare simple, healthy dishes using local market ingredients.
  • Cherry Connection, Old Mission Peninsula: This bright yellow roadside stand is a quick stop for the area’s famous farm-fresh cherries.
  • Kilcherman Christmas Cove Farm, Northport: Find more than 250 varieties of apples in one place.
  • Perbellus Flower Farm, Cedar: This stand boasts beautiful bouquets. 

For more information on Michigan adventures, see michigan.org.

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