Take a Bite Out of Michigan’s Produce Season

To celebrate Food and Agriculture Month in Michigan, we asked blogger Liz Della Croce of The Lemon Bowl to tell us how to take advantage of Michigan’s fresh produce season with fun family outings and a few delicious Michigan made recipes.

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Spring is right around the corner which means one thing here in Michigan: the growing season has finally arrived! As one of the nation’s largest exporters of produce, we do not take this time of year for granted. From ripe cherries to crisp apples to juicy blueberries and more, here are few fun ideas to make the most out of produce season and create long lasting memories with your family:

Visit a Farmers Market: Nothing gets kids excited about eating fresh fruits and vegetables quite like a visit to a farm stand.  Whether you visit the same farmers market regularly or only pass a farm stand a few times a month, let your kids pick out a new fruit or vegetable each visit. Getting little ones involved in the buying process is an ideal way to get even the pickiest of eaters excited about trying something new. Check out this Farmers Market locator to find one near you!

Head to a U-Pick Orchard: Take advantage of the warmer weather and head to a nearby orchard. Picking your own fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to get the freshest produce available while also sneaking in a little exercise.

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Be sure to bring the whole family and get the kids involved. Little hands are great for picking ripe blueberries or sitting on Daddy’s shoulders to reach that perfect peach. This Michigan U-Pick Guide will help you find a nearby orchard and also guide you through what is in season and when.

Eat Seasonally: From the first asparagus spears in early spring to late-fall apples, eating with the season is one of the best ways to ensure that your family gets a full range of nutrients throughout the year. Additionally, when you eat fruit that was picked just a few miles down the road, you will get maximum flavor and peak freshness.

Create Something Delicious: As you eat your way through the season, here are a few tasty ideas for Michigan’s most popular fruits and vegetables:

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Photo courtesy of The Lemon Bowl

Apple Recipes:

Asparagus Recipes :

Peach Recipes:

Cherry Recipes:

Blueberry Recipes

What are your favorite ways to take advantage of Michigan’s world-class produce and agriculture? Do you have a favorite farm stand or u-pick orchard? 

Learn more about Michigan Agriculture in the video below.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 3.15.39 PMLiz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been creating delicious recipes using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality. Liz has appeared live on the TODAY Show and tapes regular cooking segments for her local NBC affiliate station.  She is a contributor for The Huffington Post and Cooking Light. Liz’s recipes and food photography have been featured on several websites including Shape Magazine, Food Network blog, The Cooking Channel, TODAY Food and more. 

Twelve Days of Michigan: An Infographic

The holidays are a time for celebration, food, festivities and traditions. Michigan has unique connections to many of these.

During the 12 Days of Michigan, we will celebrate all that our state has to offer with a Michigan holiday fact each day.

Day 1: Monday, December 2
Michigan grows more than 300 farm commodities including a holiday meal favorite – cranberries!  Our nearly 300 acres produce more than 3 million pounds of cranberries a year.

Day 2: Tuesday, December 3
Do you enjoy a Honeybaked Ham for holiday dinners? Did you know that the recipe, crunchy sweet glaze and unique machine that slices the ham were all invented in Michigan? In 1957, Harry J. Hoenselaar opened the first HoneyBaked Ham Company in Detroit and it has since grown to be more than 400 stores nationwide.

Day 3: Wednesday, December 4
December 4 marks the third annual Menorah In the D on the last night of Chanukah. The 24-foot menorah was designed and built by local artists and brothers Erik and Israel Nordin and stands proudly in Campus Martius/Cadillac Square.

Day 4: Thursday, December 5
Looking for a one-of-a-kind festive event? Experience scenes of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” with Downtown Holly’s 40th Annual Dickens Festival, visit the largest Christmas store at Frankenmuth’s Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland  or view one of the 1.5 million twinkling lights at Rochester’s Big Bright Light Show. For more events, visit michigan.org/events.

 

Day 5: Friday, December 6
Picking out a fresh, fragrant Christmas tree is often a holiday tradition.  Michigan ranks third in the nation in the number of Christmas trees harvested and produces a wider variety of trees than almost any other state, supplying approximately three million fresh Christmas trees nationally each year.  The 2013 Michigan state Christmas tree is a 71-foot blue spruce that traveled 460 miles from Iron River and now stands in the Capitol.

Day 6: Monday, December 9
If every family in the U.S. shifted $10 a month to locally-owned, independent businesses instead of national chains, over $9.3 billion would be directly returned to local economies.  With nearly 98% of all businesses in Michigan being small businesses, it’s important to support local retailers this holiday season including popular pop up shops that are making their way from downtown Detroit to Grand Rapids.

Day 7: Tuesday, December 10
Kwanzaa is celebrated each year between December 26 and January 1. In Detroit, many families gather to reflect and honor its founding principles. The Charles H. Wright Museum will pay tribute to this holiday’s rich cultural heritage with a candle lighting each night followed by evening festivities.

Day 8: Wednesday, December 11
Michigan winter recreation offers travelers a variety of things to do and brings in about $2.5 billion to the state’s economy. Why not take a holiday trip?  In Michigan, you are never more than two hours away from a ski area and with more than 6,500 miles of interconnected snowmobile trails in the state, dashing through the snow is a breeze.  Experience Mount Bohemia, which was one of four destinations competing for Powder Magazine’s 2014 Ski Town Throwdown or make a stop in Christmas, Michigan – a town in the Upper Peninsula that got its name from a roadside factory built there in 1938 to make holiday gifts and is now a popular destination for snowmobilers.

Day 9: Thursday, December 12
December 12 is National Poinsettia Day and many of the holiday plants are grown here in Michigan.  The state is seventh in the U.S. for poinsettia production and produced 2.3 million plants last holiday season.

Day 10: Friday, December 13
The Polar Express has been a holiday classic for more than 25 years, but did you know that author Chris Van Allsburg, a Grand Rapids native, used a Michigan train for inspiration?  When the movie was made in 2004, Michigan’s Pere Marquette 1225 locomotive was used for the prototype and technicians used sounds of the whistle and the clatter of the wheels for the animated film.

Day 11: Monday, December 16
Indeed, a northern Michigan company is supplying the wool that will be used to make sweaters for Team USA at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.

Day 12: Tuesday, December 17
Chestnuts are famous for roasting on an open fire, but Michigan is known for growing the sweet, edible nut with the largest number of chestnut growers and the most acreage of any state.   Chestnuts can be used in a wide variety of dishes, from soups, stews and stuffing to fancy desserts.

 

Do you know any Michigan holiday fun facts? Use #12DaysofMichigan and be sure to follow us on Twitter. 

Celebrate National Pie Day with Pure Michigan (Plus a Giveaway!)

We’re celebrating the fruits of Michigan during National Pie Day, next Wednesday, January 23rd! Created by the American Pie Council, ‘Pie Day’ is dedicated to celebrating America’s love of pie. And in Pure Michigan, we know and love pie. In fact, Michigan produces:

  • More than 50 percent of the nation’s apple slices and is the largest supplier of apple slices used in commercially prepared apple pies.
  • Roughly 75 percent of the country’s tart cherry crop every year. Those are the ones that go into pies, juice and preserves.
  • 25 percent of the national highbush blueberry crop (110 – 180 million pounds)

While there are many flavors and variations of this classic American dessert, nothing makes for a better pie than using pure, fresh ingredients and fruits – Michigan’s surrounding Great Lakes and rolling hills create a perfect climate for fruit-growing and is a leading producer of many popular pie fruits that can be found in local bakeries as well as national store-bought brands. 

Among these establishments is Grand Traverse Pie Company, who makes more than 95 percent of its purchases locally – fruit, sugar and flour all come from growers and processors within the state. In honor of National Pie Day, each of their locations will be serving up a free slice of Michigan fruit pie with any purchase all day on the 23rd.

To get in on the ‘Pie Day’ fun, we’ve teamed up with Grand Traverse Pie Company to offer fans on Twitter the chance to win an entire pie every hour between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. EST on the 23rd. To be eligible to win, fans can simply tweet their favorite type of pie to both @PureMichigan and @GTPie. Tweets must include the hashtag #puremichiganpie and entrants must follow both Pure Michigan and Grand Traverse Pie Company on Twitter.*

Pure Michigan will choose one winner at random each hour, contacting winners through Twitter with details for obtaining their prize.

Additionally, we encourage fans nationwide to post photos of pies to the Pure Michigan Facebook wall during the week of January 21st. One fan photo will then be featured at the end of the week. Bakers and fans alike can also add their favorite pie recipes to Pinterest, using the #puremichigan or #puremichiganpie hashtags.

Be sure to follow @PureMichigan and @GTPie for your chance to win a free pie on January 23rd!

*Disclaimer: Users can only enter the Twitter contest once and those who make multiple accounts in order to enter more than once will be ineligible to win. Those who post the same tweet repeatedly or violate any of the other Twitter Rules will also be ineligible.