When we launched our first Taste Makers package three years ago, the intention was to celebrate metro Detroit’s culinarians — to honor the passionate people who toil selflessly to feed us day after day. And not just the chefs who are most often the faces of the restaurant industry, but also the farmers, the food entrepreneurs, the servers, and the activists.
Last year, when the pandemic exposed the cracks in the food and beverage industry and we saw the toll it took on food industry workers, many of us joined the push to support local establishments even more than ever. We bought swag and tipped well. We even chipped in to GoFundMe campaigns to support our favorite spots. So this year, to make sure no sector of the food system was left without a little TLC, dining editor Lyndsay Green wanted to take the concept of supporting local businesses to the next level. This Taste Makers package is intended not just to shine a spotlight on local culinarians, but to highlight specifically the folks who are growing, cooking, and selling foods that are all grown in Michigan — and in most cases, right here in metro Detroit.
I asked Lyndsay to elaborate on what she learned while putting this package together:
Dan Caccavaro: What stood out to you as you learned more about all these local producers?
Lyndsay Green: It was really nice to see the range in food producers here in metro Detroit. Never in a million years did I think we’d find a cattle farmer raising Angus cows on 86 acres just outside of Detroit!
What do you want readers to think about as they read these pieces?
I’d love for people to fall in love with Michigan all over again, to appreciate it for its rich agricultural landscape, and to support the people who are honoring the land by nourishing us with fresh foods sourced from our bountiful backyard. More and more restaurants are sourcing ingredients from local farms, which is beneficial for everyone involved. By supporting an eatery that serves farm-fresh ingredients, you’re supporting the restaurant industry and the urban farm it gets its fruits, herbs, and vegetables from.
Are there practical steps people can take to support Michigan’s producers?
A lot of businesses are being far more transparent about where ingredients are sourced from these days. Take a look at menus before dining at a restaurant; take a quick glimpse at a label to read the origin story of your next snack food. If you can support two or more local businesses with just one purchase, you’re taking a great step toward supporting our food economy.
Did any one comment really stand out to you?
Indigenous farmer and chef Kirsten Kirby-Shoote left me with a profound sentiment, which I think sums this package up nicely. “We’re here because a seed cared for us,” they told me. “The seed cared enough to produce food for us, and that’s our relationship: We give them water and preferential sun, and they in return nourish us.”
Here’s to the culinarians who tend to our seeds.
This story is featured in the August 2021 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more stories in our digital edition.