Fresh is Best Back to the Basics

Fresh is best!Set your table with locally grown, fresh and organic food selections. Or, leave the details to the pros and treat your palate to holistic and absolutely scrumptious menu choices from a number of diverse restaurants across Michigan.

At Ann Arbors Cafe Zola, you'll find the freshest ingredients for their omelets, crepes, waffles, salads, sandwiches, appetizers, entrees and pastries. Nearly all of the restaurants produce, dairy, eggs, poultry, meat and seafood dishes are made from organic products.

The name "Zola" comes from Emile Zola, the famous French writer, because the original breakfast and lunch menu is largely influenced by French cuisine and culture. The scrumptious dinner menu has flavors and recipes borrowed from Italian and Mediterranean cultures and cuisine, including some Turkish recipes.

At The Lark in West Bloomfield, the overall theme of the restaurant is a sophisticated European style country inn. There are waiters in tuxedos, an outdoor grill, and garden grown herbs, vegetables, and fruit. The cuisine is eclectic and distinctive with French cooking techniques. Although the restaurant is small, it has its own pastry chef.

For organic food straight from the farm into your hands, visit Pond Hill Farm & Garden Cafe (about five miles north of Harbor Springs). The Pond Hill Farm & Garden Cafe is a year round destination for family fun and delicious foods. For more than 20 years, the environmentally sustainable farm has sold herbs, fruits and vegetables grown and canned onsite. The store features everything from maple syrup to Christmas wreaths made with local tree greens.

Fill a gift package with store goodies such as hot garlic pepper jelly, which makes a great cracker spread. If the seasons right, you can even pick your own strawberries. Pond Hill also offers hayrides, pig racing, animal feeding, several squash rockets, a trout pond to feed the fish, a very diverse pumpkin patch, a market with a huge assortment of mouthwatering homemade canned goods, wonderful year round pesticide and herbicide free produce, farm raised antibiotic and hormone free meats, handmade soaps and bath salts, a great selection of organic and natural foods, crafts and more.

This popular family attraction is also home to the Garden Cafe, which is open during the warmer months and features homemade lunches using their farm fresh produce and meats. Before you leave, see the Black Angus cows and Suffolk sheep that the farm raises.

RESERVE Food & WineRESERVE Wine & Foodin Grand Rapids, serves a world-class menu, fully embracing the West Michigan farm-to-table philosophy. The locally-driven and seasonally-inspired menu features an eclectic and inviting selection of artisanal small plates, hearty entrees and decadent desserts, with an emphasis on house-made.

Apple Valley market, Michigan's largest natural food store offers an amazing selection of vegetarian foods, vitamins and natural foods. The market has over 600 bulk items, fresh produce, from scratch bakery items (mostly made from sprouted wheat) and a deli serving homemade vegetarian entrees. Apple Valley Natural Foods has five Michigan locations Berrien Springs, Battle Creek, Cadillac, Grand Rapids and Holland. Call your location of choice ahead of your visit for hours.

Steller Apiaries, in Jackson sells raw, organic honey, fresh vegetables, organic eggs and more.

So, you're still not ready to make the switch or at least add more healthy food choices to your menu? Then, you should plan a trip to the newly opened Cacao Treso Cafe in Royal Oak to learn about raw foods and the benefits of holistic nutrition. Specializing in gourmet raw foods, vegan and gluten-free menu items, this specialty eatery also serves raw handmade chocolates, desserts, juices, smoothies and a variety of organic superfoods.