Twenty Things You Might Not Have Known About Michigan Agriculture

Today is National Agriculture Day! Guest blogger Barbara Ann Siemen, known as Farm Barbie, shares 20 little known facts about freshly grown Michigan food and agriculture. 

Barbara and her family on their beet field

Barbara and her family on their sugar beet field

I’ve always been in love with Michigan. I believe it is unparalleled in its diversity of seasons, activities, and food! We are a very active family; we enjoy many things Michigan has to offer including camping, water sports, snowmobiling, and of course, food and farming! On our farm, we produce dairy, beef, corn, wheat, and sugar beets, but I’m always interested in learning more about other commodities.

Did you know Michigan farmers produce 300 different types of food and agricultural products? Michigan is also home to many national brands that you know, love, and trust. Recently, Governor Snyder proclaimed March “Food and Agriculture Month” due to Ag’s positive impact on Michigan’s economy. Check out this list which highlight some of Michigan’s lesser known areas of agriculture.

1. SugarMichigan Sugar Company is the only sugar processor in the state. It processes sugar for Pioneer, Big Chief, and more than 20 other private labels. Sugar is an important ingredient for all types of goodies, like those made at Bon Bon Bon, located in Hamtramck. Our farm grows sugar beets, which are harvested in autumn.

2. Cherries: Michigan ranks 1st in the nation for tart cherry production, and 4th for sweet cherries. Check out this website for more info on Michigan cherry wines. I like to drink a little tart cherry juice right before bedtime.

3. Milk: Michigan ranks 1st in the nation for the production of low fat ice cream mix, but Michigan dairy farmers also contribute to other products such as Hudsonville ice cream, Kraft cheese, Yoplait yogurt, Michigan Made cottage cheese, and Country Fresh sour cream.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 11.56.34 AM4. Beans: Michigan is 1st in the nation for production of dry black beans, cranberry beans, and small red beans and 2nd for production of all dry beans. Bush’s Beans, based in Tennessee, buys beans from Michigan!

5. Potatoes: Michigan is the nation’s leading producer of potatoes in potato chip processing. Better Made Chips, which just turned 86, are a favorite Michigan brand. We like taking a bag of chips with us on the boat, or in the camper in the summer.

6. Grapes: Michigan has over 100 commercial wineries, and ranks 1st in the nation for production of Niagara grapes and 8th for wine grape production.

7. Nursery: Nursery and perennial plants are the 2nd largest agricultural commodity group in Michigan.

8. Eggs: Michigan egg farmers supply all the eggs to McDonald’s restaurants east of the Mississippi River. Check out this video from McDonald’s. My kids take care of a small flock of laying hens, and they produce enough for us, and a few neighbors, family members, and friends.

9. Blueberries: Michigan is number 1 for production of blueberries for the entire nation and only 600 Michigan family farms do it all! That’s amazing! I like to use blueberries in this breakfast bake. Yum!

5019864379_a35c8468f5_b10. Cucumbers: Michigan ranks number 1 in the nation for production of cucumbers for pickling, and 4th for fresh market cucumbers.

11. Maple syrup: Maple syrup production is the oldest agricultural enterprise in the United States. Right now, in spring, is the time to tap trees! Battel’s Sugar Bush, which is near me, is hosting a tour and pancake breakfast as part of Michigan Maple Weekend.

12. Christmas trees: Michigan supplies 3 million Christmas trees annually to the national market. Real Christmas trees are so beautiful! I love driving past Christmas tree farms in the winter months. There are approximately 25-30 million real Christmas trees sold each year in the U.S., according to the National Christmas Tree Association.

13. Apples: Michigan slices more apples than any other state for use in pies. Michigan also processes apples into applesauce, fresh and shelf-stable apple cider, and apple juice, such as Indian Summer juice which is made in Michigan too! My family loves a cup of fresh cider with a doughnut in autumn.

14. Wheat: Michigan wheat farmers contribute to the national market in a big way, too.  In fact, one of the top 5 counties for producing wheat is Huron, which is where I live! Wheat is used in products from Michigan brands such as Kellogg’s cereals, Aunt Millie’s breads, and Jiffy mixes.

15. Squash: Michigan is 2nd for squash and carrot production, which is good for Michigan companies such as Gerber baby foods. Squash and carrots were favorites with my kids when they were babies!

16. Tomatoes: Michigan is 9th in the nation for production of fresh market tomatoes. This is good news for me, because I love using fresh tomatoes for pico de gallo, which is an easy bbq party dish.

17. Cranberries: Cranberries are grown in Michigan too! I never knew that! Michigan has 280 acres of cranberries and they are harvested every year from September through November.

3307466046_a91c527ea6_b18. Peaches: Michigan is 8th in the nation for production of fresh market peaches. Look out, Georgia! Michigan is in the ranks.

19. Honey: Michigan honey bees are busy little bees! Check out this resource, to find local honey.

20. Farmer’s Markets: Michigan is 4th in the nation for farmer’s markets, supplying fresh farmer products to Michiganders every week. Port Austin is a huge farmer’s market in the Thumb, where I live. The market is very busy in the summer months!

As you can see, there’s so much to love about Michigan! Whether it is the seasons, a multitude of outdoor activities, or the vast array of agricultural products, I believe Pure Michigan is the finest in the nation! I could go on and on about Michigan and food, but to find out more for yourself, visit MichiganAgriculture.com. While you’re online, check out my family’s favorite breakfast recipe: Farm Barbie’s Waffles of Pancakes. Don’t forget to serve them up with Pure Michigan maple syrup!

Which Michigan grown products are your favorites? Learn more about Michigan agriculture in the video below.

FB Profile picBarbara Ann Siemen, known as Farm Barbie, is a city girl turned country chick, thanks to falling in love with a farmer. She’s a stay at home mom and professional farmer’s wife. She’s also an amateur photographer, chef, and fashionista and an aspiring children’s book author. Check out her blog.

 

7 Pure Michigan Pizzerias That Will Make Your Mouth Water

Today is National Pizza Day! Who doesn’t love a cheesy, saucy piece of pizza? No matter how you’re celebrating, either with a slice or a whole pie to yourself, we’ve scouted seven of the best pizzerias in Pure Michigan that you can visit today to celebrate or whenever you’re craving this delicious dish. 

Supino Pizzeria
2457 Russell St, Detroit

Our first stop is Supino Pizzeria. This much-loved pizza joint, located in Eastern Market, uses the freshest ingredients and bakes their pizzas in an Italian wood-burning oven. They have a wide variety of thin-crust pizzas sure to make your mouth water. If you’re feeling cheesy, get the Quattro Formaggio: a red pizza with mozzarella, smoked Gouda, chevre and feta cheese.

Photo Courtesy of Buddy’s Pizza

Buddy’s Pizza
17125 Conant St, Hamtramck

Of course, we had to include Buddy’s Pizza on this list. This iconic pizzeria started out in Hamtramck on Conant St in the 1930s. However, it wasn’t until 1946 that their famous square pizza was introduced. Buddy’s has now grown to 11 different locations in Michigan, so you’re likely to find one near you! Try a pizza from the Great Lakes Pizza Collection like the Lake Superior and you won’t be disappointed. It incorporates a cheese blend, basil, pine nuts, pepperoni, tomato basil sauce and Buddy’s Sicilian spice blend all into one great pie.

Mani Osteria & Bar
341 E. Liberty, Ann Arbor

Mani Osteria & Bar is an independently owned restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor that specializes in artisanal pizzas and other creative Italian dishes prepared in a wood-burning oven. They often use locally sourced ingredients for their dishes. Check out the bar for regional craft beers, old world wines and much more. Indulge in the Shrimp Scampi pizza equipped with fontina cheese, scallion cream and bacon.

Ambassador Restaurant
126 Shelden Ave., Houghton

One of the best U.P. restaurants to get your pizza fix is the Ambassador. It has been around since 1965 when the Rossi family transformed the previous tap bar into a restaurant that specialized in pizza and sandwiches. One of the most interesting pizzas here is the Tostada, a pizza with spiced ground beef, white Colby cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, topped with hot sauce. If you’re looking for a more traditional dinner, try the BLT pizza made with thin crust, salad dressing, Colby cheese, smoked bacon, lettuce and tomatoes.

Photo Courtesy of Ambassador Restaurant

D’Angelo’s Pizza
1305 Columbus Ave., Bay City

D’Angelo’s Pizza in Bay City is a local joint that has several rave reviews of their pizza and has won many awards. The restaurant is often included in the best of Michigan lists. Be sure to try their Voodoo pizza that includes grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, garlic, spinach, sun dried tomatoes and fresh mushrooms. (Closed Tuesdays)

Fricano’s Pizza Tavern
1400 Fulton Street, Grand Haven

Fricano’s is claimed by many customers to be the best pizza they’ve ever had. The restaurant started as an old boarding house in the late 1800s, but was transformed in 1949 by the late Cosimo (Gus) Fricano and is thought to be the first pizzeria in Michigan. Try their Sausage and Mushroom Fricano’s Pizza pie!

sausage pizza

Photo Courtesy of Fricano’s Pizza

DeLuca’s Restaurant
2006 W Willow Street, Lansing

DeLuca’s is a family-owned business since 1960, specializing in pizza, so you know they have great pies to try. The family jokes that pizza sauce, not blood, runs through their veins. The restaurant has been voted best pizza in Lansing 10 years in a row by View Magazine. Satisfy your cravings with a Bruschetta pizza made on thin crust with olive oil, bruschetta, tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella and Romano cheese.

What other Pure Michigan pizza spots do you love? Comment below!

Two Pure Michigan Bakers Weigh in on Pie Day

According to our fans, Apple is the official flavor of a Pure Michigan pie! Between locally-grown apples, blueberries, cherries and many other delicious fruits, it’s no wonder why Michigan is a mecca for delectable pies, pastries and other mouth-watering delicacies. In advance of Pie Day (Jan. 23), two Pure Michigan pie experts weigh in on why Michigan is an ideal destination for owning a bakery and some other sweet bits of knowledge you might not know.

Pie from Achatz Handmade Pie Company in Michigan

Photo Courtesy of Zack Achatz

Linda Hundt – Sweetie-Licious

Since I was a little girl, I’ve always been very proud to call Michigan my home state.  I love the way we as Michiganders get to experience the seasons, each one intensely vibrant, and defined by its color, temperature, activities and the food it brings to the table!

Whether you’re picking fruits or vegetables from a tree, bush or garden, Michigan’s seasonable bounty is plentiful, especially our delicious, juicy apples that sets autumn apart from all the other seasons.

Michigan apples taste as close you can get to a crisp and sunny fall day here in the Great Lake State, and also happens to be the perfect fruit to make pies with!  At Sweetie-licious, one of the cutest little pie shops in the whole world, we use only Michigan apples for our national award winning apple pies.  Folks wait all summer for them, as the sweet aroma of cinnamon apple pies soothes our souls and secures our memories like no other comfort food can.

For the trueness of comfort food is indeed indisputable.  And pies are the ultimate in comfort, for they have the ability to carry on traditions and homemade goodness that takes you home…to beloved Pure Michigan.

Fruit Pies from Achatz Handmade Pie Company in Michigan

Photo Courtesy of Zack Achatz

Ariel Achatz – Achatz Handmade Pie Company

Did you know Michigan is the top cherry-producing state in the nation and the third largest for apple and blueberries? What better use for a bountiful harvest than to use it in pies!

At Achatz Handmade Pie Company, we use 98 percent local Michigan ingredients. It’s a no-brainer to buy Michigan produce as it’s some of the best in the country, works well in pies, and grows in our own backyard.

AHPC is best known for their Michigan 4-Berry pie which uses Michigan blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and raspberries and their Apple pie which uses thinly-sliced Northern Spy Apples! Buying Michigan products allows us to work directly with local farmers that we know personally, and also lets us guarantee we get the best and freshest fruit.

Whether it’s blueberry, apple, raspberry, or strawberry-rhubarb, utilizing Michigan fruit in your pie this year for National Pie Day, January 23, won’t disappoint!

Baked Fruit Pies from Achatz Handmade Pie Company in Michigan

Photo Courtesy of Zack Achatz

GTPC

 

Looking for your own slice to celebrate National Pie Day? On Jan. 23, Grand Traverse Pie Company  will celebrate the delicious comforts of PIE during National Pie Day  by serving up a FREE SLICE of Michigan fruit pie – Apple Crumb or Cherry Crumb with ANY purchase all day long. Yum!

 

ArielAchatz

Achatz Handmade Pie Company was established in 1993 by Dave and Wendy Achatz, who began selling pies out of their home and at local farmer’s markets. AHPC soon outgrew their small home kitchen and moved to a 10-acre apple orchard in Armada – where they still sell today. AHPC now has 7 retail locations through Michigan and has been featured on Good Morning America and The Today Show. Don’t forget to like on Facebook and follow on Twitter! Pictured: Guest blogger Ariel Achatz.

 

LindaH

Linda McComb Hundt grew up in Lansing with a huge sweet tooth, loving her Easybake Oven, and dreaming of owning her own pie shop someday. She married her high school sweetheart, John Hundt in 1985, graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Education and worked as a substitute teacher until 1989.

Later, Linda quit her job to pursue her life-long dream of starting her own pie shop business. As a home-based business, she sold her fare at farm markets and high-end restaurants. In 2005, the business grew into a retail café bakery in DeWitt. The entire business is based on love and nostalgia through the business’ mission, comfort food, vintage ambiance, and merchandise. Visit the Sweetie-licious Bakery Cafe website, Facebook page and Twitter for more!