At its core, what we eat nourishes our bodies and provides energy to sustain our daily routines. But have you ever stopped to think about how the food economy – the systems that allow a local restaurant to serve you your favorite meal or a grocer to stock collard greens on the shelf – could have a larger impact?
If so, please meet the Michigan Good Food Charter! Since 2010, the Michigan Good Food Charter has curated a “vision and a roadmap to advance Michigan’s food and agricultural contributions to the economy, protect our natural resource base, improve our residents’ health, and enable generations of Michigan youth to thrive.” Now in 2022, the Center for Regional Food Systems has launched a renewed vision and roadmap for the next decade of Michigan’s food economy – from local supply chains to land stewardship. The Charter acts as a guiding document connecting programs, policy, and people.
People First Economy believes that nourishing our community is made possible by providing the ingredients necessary for equitable and healthy growth within the food economy so that the environment, businesses, and local communities thrive. Furthering an equitable, healthy food economy is the result of both consumer habits and business practices. What does an equitable, healthy food economy look like in action?
Check out how these local businesses are taking action on the ground!
Cellar Door Preserves: Local Wholesaler Highlights
Charter Goal: Prioritize local and regional food systems within a global economy
Cellar Door Preserves, an artisan preserves business in the heart of Grand Rapids, knew there was something special about sourcing long before their opening day in 2017. Whenever possible, Cellar Door Preserves prioritizes local ingredients for the good of the economy and the environment. Over time, the value of local sourcing was embedded in their scaling practices.
“Cellar Door’s first-ever wholesale account was another small local business, Art of the Table. Being able to get our foot in the door there was huge for our business in the beginning. Art of the Table has been a consistent customer and amazing to work with ever since. Another favorite retail partner of ours is Aperitivo, which shares ownership with Art of the Table. Aperitivo serves our preserves on charcuterie boards and also sells jars of it in their shop. Through building good relationships with other small businesses like these we've been able to scale up and approach other similar wholesale customers with some proof of concept. Some of our other favorite local spots that sell our preserves are The Cheese Lady, House of Wine, Bridge St. Market, and Harvest Health Foods.”
- Zenobia Taylor Weiss, Owner
100 Years of Farm Development at Fulton Street Farmers Market
Charter Goal: Cultivate thriving local/regional farm and food businesses.
Farms, food businesses, and people have been the backdrop of the Fulton Street Farmers Market’s 100-year history. Weekly offerings bring together community members who prioritize investing in locally-sourced produce and small businesses, acting as a catalyst for an equitable and resilient food system growth in West Michigan.
“Operated since 1922, the Fulton Street Farmers Market has served as a pillar of the greater Grand Rapids community uplifting farmers, producers, and artisans alike. While supporting local agriculture and small businesses year-round, the Market is committed to increasing food access for the people of West Michigan. For example, the gleaning initiative fostered by the Fulton Street Market aims to cultivate an equitable food system for all by providing free fresh produce and nutrition education to those in need.”
- DeAnne, Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Brewery Vivant’s Burger Reduces Impacts on Climate Change
Charter Goal: Foster climate resilience through equitable land stewardship.
Brewery Vivant was born out of an appreciation for traditional European beer styles and a dedication to demonstrating how food and beverage business practices would advance environmental integrity, social equity, and economic viability.
“From day one, Brewery Vivant has considered what impact our food has on climate change. We prioritize sourcing from local farms to support the economy and reduce transportation miles on our ingredients. Our beef is sourced locally from Wernette Beef, where our farm partner has participated in an international study with researchers from Michigan State University to measure how various cattle farming practices impact the environment. Their research suggests that grazing cattle among multiple paddocks can contribute to climate change mitigation through the sequestration of carbon in the soil. This study challenges existing conclusions that only feedlot-intensification reduces the overall beef greenhouse gas footprint through greater productivity.”
- Kris Spaulding, Owner
These local businesses (and many more) are making big strides toward the kind of food system growth possible in Michigan. From their commitments to local sourcing, dedication to equitable opportunities for small businesses, and stewardship of the place we call home, it’s the people behind our businesses (and consumers who invest in them) that have the ability to shape our food economy. We can’t forget that food at its core is relational and we need the many sets of hands and channels that make it possible for us to nourish ourselves and the community.