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food

SAM CORDEN

The Crystal Café in Benzonia has been a popular breakfast spot for 20 years. The restaurant serves standard diner fare like corned beef hash, but also gets creative with dishes like Hawaiian omelets and bread pudding French toast.

Thomas Wright is the new owner of Crystal Café, but just a year ago, he was a server here. He moved north from Ann Arbor with his fiancé, and they were enjoying the Up North life and planning their wedding.

Then, last summer, out of the blue, the owners of the café said they wanted out of the business.

Hannah Johnson, of Spera Foods, making granola and flour out of tiger nuts and the Incubator Kitchen at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market
Grand Rapids Downtown Market

The Next Idea

The Incubator Kitchen at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market is helping people with an idea for a food product or business turn their dreams into reality without risking their life savings.

The Incubator Kitchen is a full-sized commercial kitchen where hopeful food entrepreneurs can get help with business planning and the licensing required to legally produce their products and sell to the public.

Hot dog food cart
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

A Michigan native and Army veteran is looking to expand his West Michigan company.

Michigan native James Meeks is the CEO of Move Systems International. The company makes and operates food carts -- like the ones hot dog vendors use on the sidewalks of New York City.

The New York-based company is investing $13 million to manufacture more of its food carts in the Grand Rapids area.

He says his military background has influenced how he does hiring.

MORGAN SPRINGER / Interlochen Public Radio

In Traverse City’s East Bay, on the busy hotel strip on U.S. 31, is Don’s Drive In. The pink and turquoise restaurant is known for its burgers and shakes and the fact that it’s kind of old school.


AARON SELBIG / Interlochen Public Radio

As you pull into Mancelona, the highway narrows. You drive alongside railroad tracks and past a couple of abandoned warehouses. And then, there it is: a red, white, and blue chicken — the unofficial mascot of the Iron Skillet.

A group of retirees holds court almost every morning at Cops and Doughnuts in Clare.
Maya Kroth

At Cops and Doughnuts in Clare, classic tunes play on the stereo while customers line up at the glass display case, waiting to place their orders.

But Bill White isn’t here for the doughnuts.

“I never have a doughnut,” says White. “When you get old enough you can’t eat good stuff anymore. You have to go with fruits and vegetables.”

White has been coming in every Saturday morning, for years, even though he doesn’t partake in the doughnuts or coffee. In fact, White doesn’t order anything at all at Cops and Doughnuts.

smussyolay / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Grocery store shelves, restaurant menus and cookbooks are a lot different in 2017 than they were 30 or 40 years ago.

Americans tend to pay a lot more attention to the food we eat and how it's prepared. We know more about fine wines. Many of us seek out organic fruits and vegetables, and are willing to try exotic foods our parents and grandparents couldn't even imagine.

But, at the same time, we've seen the income inequality gap widen. How has "good food" become conflated with high status?

Courtesy of Nature and Nurture Seeds

As we ease our way into spring, gardeners might want to consider planting heirloom seeds.

That's Erica Kempter's advice to growers this year. She's co-owner of an organic seed farm called Nature and Nurture.

The result could be a chance to taste surprising and often forgotten foods that belong here in the Great Lakes region. 

Ali Lapetina, Courtesy of Mana Heshmati

What better way to bring people together than through food? That's the idea behind the gastrodiplomacy movement.

Mana Heshmati is bringing gastrodiplomacy to Southeast Michigan with her low-profit start-up Peace Meal Kitchen.

Earlier this year, volunteers from Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist Church in Flint unload fresh produce and boxes of food from a mobile food bank.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Many kids in Flint were exposed to elevated levels of lead in their drinking water during the water crisis. One way people are helping to curb the effects of lead exposure is by providing healthy food options to the community.

It's being done, in part, through a mobile food pantry created via Flint's Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

"So far Flint residents have received more than 2 million pounds of food through these mobile food pantries," says MDHHS Communications Manager and Public Information Officer Bob Wheaton.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/9090732482

The Next Idea

Every year, the United States spends $218 billion growing, transporting, and processing food that no one ever eats. That's billion. The financial, resource, and environmental costs of all the wasted food in the United States is staggering. 

Giant burger in California
Sam Howzit / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

We asked and you answered. 

In preparation for National Cheeseburger Day on Sunday, September 18th, we asked you about the strangest burger toppings you'd ever had — like olives or a fried egg. 

Mobile farmers market on the road in Flint

Sep 13, 2016
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A traveling farmers market has begun popping up around the City of Flint.

It's a retrofitted 14 passenger bus that's been equipped to carry fresh produce and other healthy foods to Flint neighborhoods.

The project, called Flint Fresh Mobile Market, is the joint effort of several local non-profit organizations and one local business, according to Pam Bailey of the YMCA of Greater Flint.

The groups are the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Flint Food Works, The Local Grocer, Neighborhood Engagement Hub, and YMCA of Greater Flint.

What's the weirdest burger topping you've ever had?

Sep 13, 2016
Burger with a fried egg on top.
user Jason Thien / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Have you ever ordered a burger with strange toppings? You know, not the typical stuff - like mustard, ketchup, tomatoes, onions, pickles or lettuce - but something like a fried egg.

As we approach National Cheeseburger Day  — September 18th — we're curious about the most unconventional topping you’ve had on a burger in Michigan.

Did you like it? Or... no so much.

Here are three places we found with some out-of-the-ordinary toppings. 

A Coney Island hot dog from one of the many American Coney Island restaurants.
Flickr user Eugene Kim / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

A recent MLive poll asked readers: What’s Michigan’s state food? Climbing above competitors such as the pasty, the Boston cooler and Superman ice cream, the Coney Island hot dog emerged on top.

The Coney Island hot dog is an key part of Michigan’s food scene, especially in Detroit. But how did it become so popular? And how did it get its name?

Joe Grimm looked to answer that question in a book he co-authored with fellow journalist Katherine Yung, Coney Detroit.

Garden Fresh

You may not know Dave Zilko's name, but you've probably seen his products in your grocery store.  Zilko is the former vice chairman of Garden Fresh Gourmet. He and business partners Jack and Annette Aronson took a scrappy little Oakland County company that was deep in debt and turned it into the number one brand of fresh salsa in North America, with revenues topping $100 million.  Last June, Garden Fresh was sold to Campbell Soup Company for $231 million.

The Coney dog was the winner of MLive’s poll to choose a “state food.”
Flickr user Steven Depolo/Flickr

Michigan has a state fossil, and even a state soil, but not a state food.

MLive writer Emily Bingham discovered that other states have a designated food, and soon set out to find a dish Michiganders can call their own. In a poll for MLive, Bingham offered a list of suggestions to take the title – a few of which surprised readers.

user mytvdinner / Flickr

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say 48 million Americans get sick from eating contaminated food each year. That's one in six people.

One of the big challenges for companies is tracing those food products and getting them off the shelves quickly.

Kaitlin Wowak is an assistant professor of management at the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business. She’s the lead author of a new study in the Journal of Business Logistics. She says a number of factors determine how difficult it is to recall a food product quickly.

Labels on nutrition labels will look a lot different over the next two years
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

The Food and Drug Administration is changing the design of the nutritional labels on the food you buy. To give us an idea of what changes, why the changes, and when we’ll see the changes is Laura Bix, a Packaging professor at Michigan State University

Among the changes, the new design is expected to make calorie and serving sizes more prominent and easier to find. Also, serving sizes are being adjusted to be more realistic to how people typically eat.

Curly fries and a burger
flickr user ebruli / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Fast food has dramatically changed our food landscape.

Unlike our parents or grandparents, we don't have to plan too far ahead to figure out what's for dinner tonight.

But the greater variety and convenience of ready-to-eat meals hasn't made finding good food easier for everyone.

Lester Graham

Dearborn has become a flashpoint for many people in America. Anti-Islam protestors carrying weapons have rallied in the city. The Arab American National Museum has responded by inviting people to better understand the city through food. Lester Graham recently joined a group going on a food tour called “Yalla Eat!

A Michigan man suspected of spraying a contaminant on unpackaged food at grocery stores faces four charges of poisoning food, according to the Associated Press.  

Kyle Bessemer appeared in an Ann Arbor court Thursday, two days after his arrest.

The FBI says Bessemer admitted to spraying a mixture of hand sanitizer, water, and mouse poison on produce and food bars at three Ann Arbor stores: Whole Foods, Meijer and Plum Market. The charges cover two stores.

Students from the Detroit Food Academy.
Jen Rusciano / Detroit Food Academy

It started with mangos on a stick.

In the spring of 2011, kids at a high school in southwest Detroit were challenged to use their entrepreneurial spirit to come up with a creative way to get their classmates to eat some fruits and vegetables.

After more than 300 mangos were sold, the groundwork for the Detroit Food Academy (DFA) was laid.

Steph Harding / Steph Harding Photo

There's a difference between making your business the best in the world and making it the best for the world.

Recognizing that difference is what has earned the Grand Rapids-based Essence Restaurant Group a B Corp certification.

This certification is what USDA Organic is to milk, or Fair Trade is to coffee. The designation goes to companies that show a commitment to sustainability and positive social impact in their communities. 

The Essence Restaurant Group has become the very first restaurant group in the country to earn the B Corp certification.

Chef James Rigato
Joe Vaughn

Anyone in the restaurant business or any regular viewer of Top Chef can tell you that it doesn’t get much bigger than winning a James Beard Foundation Award. College football has the Heisman Trophy, Hollywood has the Oscars, but for chefs, just getting a nomination for a James Beard Award can make a career.

Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

When you’re driving into Lexington, Michigan on M-25, you pass this house with a teeny wooden sign out front: “Mary’s Pie Shop: Ho’Made.” No store front, just a house. I loved it as soon as I saw it.

“That’s so cute,” I said to Daniel, my friend whose family has a cottage down the road.  

“Have you been there? Who’s Mary?”

“She's so cool! But I think she’s retired,” he said. “They sell her DVD in the general store. It costs $100.”

It’s true. It does. It’s totally real.

food, leftovers
Kathleen Franklin/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Great Depression really marked the golden age of leftovers.

They were meant to be slipped into a pot pie, suspended in a jello ring, buried in a casserole or a meatloaf.

There's a lot to be learned from studying Americans' relationships with leftovers.

Today on Stateside:

  • This week there was some optimism that the state Senate might pass a road funding plan, but it didn’t happen. Rick Pluta, co-host of It’s Just Politics and Daniel Howes, business columnist at the Detroit News, joined us to talk roads.

Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

Rewind a few thousand years to a time before grocery stores existed. You would have gotten a lot of your food by finding it out in the wild.

Foraging is no longer a necessary skill … but some people like to do it as a hobby. Rachel Mifsud is one of those people. 

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan's local food movement is growing and thriving. We're seeing more chefs who deeply care about what they buy and from whom.

Chefs like James Rigato of the Root, a locavore restaurant in White Lake Township.

Writer Michael Jackman of the Metro Times recently analyzed a meal prepared by Chef Rigato and traced nearly 100% of its ingredients to Michigan producers. His just-released story in the Metro Times is billed as "a grand tour of Michigan's local food movement."

The meal consisted of a Charcuterie platter with meat, cheese, fish and vegetables from the region.

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