Here in the Midwest, we are blessed with an abundance of delectable agricultural products. Corn. Tomatoes. Beets and beans and blackberries, onions and cucumbers and eggplant, potatoes and peppers and radishes and squash. Everything from apples to zucchini is available to us, and the best place to find it is at the local farmers’ market.
As consumers tire of the bland, who-knows-how-old-they-are offerings in the chain supermarkets, farmers markets have boomed. In addition to offering produce at the peak of freshness, markets also stimulate local economies and promote sustainability and healthy communities. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures indicate that 150,000 farmers, ranchers, and agricultural entrepreneurs sell their products directly to consumers, with sales exceeding $1.5 billion nationwide in 2015.
Michigan boasts more than 300 farmers markets, including the Flint Farmers Market, a year-round market near downtown that features produce, meat, poultry, baked goods, Middle Eastern and Mexican groceries, a café, an art gallery and a demonstration kitchen.
Across the state in Grand Rapids, some 11,000 people a week shop at the Fulton Street Farmers Market. Many vendors have been with this lively market for generations. Today it’s the place to get honey, blueberries and baked goods, as well as amazingly fresh produce and meat from a variety of nearby farms.
In Ohio, the West Side Market is Cleveland’s oldest public market. Home to 100 vendors, it’s the place to go for meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, baked goods, dairy, flowers, ready-to-eat foods, spices and nuts. Don’t miss the corn in season!
A cherished Cincinnati institution, the Findlay Market is one of Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public markets. Running in the same iron-framed building since 1855, it offers a serving of history along with meat, fish, poultry, produce, flowers, cheese, artisanal delights and deli and ethnic foods.
Indianapolis, Indiana’s capital and largest city, has room for several farmers’ markets. The Original Farmers Market at the Indianapolis City Market specializes in Hoosier-grown fruits, veggies and meats, as well as baked goods, spices and herbs. The environmentally conscious Broad Ripple Farmers Market encourages shoppers not only to buy local but also to reduce their use of plastic.
Know Before You Go
Here are a few tips on making the most of your farmers’ market experience:
- Take your time. If you just want to grab and run, go to the megastore.
- Get to know your farmers/vendors. The folks who grew the food can explain what’s in season, how the food is grown, what you can make with it and more.
- Try to bring cash, especially small bills. Even vendors who accept plastic prefer cash because it helps them keep costs down.
Find A Farmers Market
Probably the best way to discover a market is to ask other people what they think. The Internet also can come to your aid. Cities and towns are proud of their markets, so start with local websites.
On the state level, many departments of agriculture or related marketing groups maintain comprehensive lists of farmers’ markets. One example is Ohio Proud, which includes a searchable database.
For the real bird’s-eye view, consult Farmers Market Online, a national list of markets by state.
Wherever you go, don’t forget to take your reusable bags!
If you enjoy eating out, you probably have heard the term “Farm-To-Table” (F2T). It has grown from a restaurant category to a full-on movement in the food industry thanks to people becoming more conscious about the quality and source of food they consume.
Here is some insight into the world of Farm-To-Table dining and how you can find a Farm-To-Table experience in your area.
What Is It?
Farm-to-Table refers to the stages of food production, including growth, harvesting, storage, packaging and preservation, as well as the process by which food is transferred to consumers. The term “organic” is closely related to Farm-To-Table. Foods that are labeled organic must comply with organic farming standards that restrict the use of chemicals, pesticides or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). To call itself a Farm-To-Table dining location, a restaurant should have a direct relationship with the farms that supply the meat and produce it serves. Ideally, the restaurant would source most of its ingredients from farms rather than conventional chain suppliers that ship nationwide, a process that requires preservatives and processing to make sure the food survives the trip.
What Are The Benefits?
Farm-To-Table dining offers many benefits to the restaurant, consumer, farmer and local community. When restaurants purchase directly from the source (farm), they eliminate the middleman (conventional wholesalers and suppliers). The diner can enjoy the food at its freshest because it has just been harvested – as opposed to harvested, preserved/processed, shipped and sold. The result is a fresher and more natural experience for the consumer. Since the products purchased from farmers need to be in season, menus are frequently re-crafted to take advantage of ingredients during their periods of abundance. Rather than having the same dishes over and over, loyal customers always have something new and exciting to try. Farmers make more sales, which benefits their business. Finally, chefs and farmers form friendly relationships, which contributes to a tighter-knit, stable community. Clean, delicious food and a prosperous community – what could be better?
Where Can I Find A F2T Restaurant?
If you live in the Michigan area and consider yourself a foodie, a good place to start would be Republic in downtown Detroit, which aims to deliver innovative, hyper-local dishes made with seasonal products. Another great spot to try in Michigan is the Selden Standard, run by 2015 and 2016 James Beard semi-finalist Andy Hollyday. Also located in Detroit, Selden Standard focuses on delivering local and seasonal menus for food, craft brews and cocktails, and hand-selected wines. The restaurant’s pride is dishes featuring ingredients captured at the peak of the season and prepared in a wood-fired oven on sharable-sized plates.
Live in Ohio? One spot to check off the bucket list is Skillet, located in Columbus. The restaurant offers a deliciously local farm- and seasonal-inspired menu that captures comfort food spirit. Reservations are recommended because the place is quite popular. Wolf’s Ridge Brewing is a trendy family-owned and –operated American-style restaurant that doubles as a brewery. The owners love creating an atmosphere for high-quality craft beer and seasonal ingredients.
Located in the historic Holy Rosary Neighborhood in downtown Indianapolis is Bluebeard, which specializes in contemporary cuisine featuring meat and produce from local farms. If a smoked Swiss-cheese-and-ham Dutch Baby pancake suits your fancy, check out Milktooth, also located in Indianapolis. The eatery offers a variety of locally inspired dishes, a coffee bar and exciting array of craft cocktails.
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Summer’s here! Ice cream and air conditioning have their place, but nothing beats the heat like splashing into a pool – or, better yet, a refreshing Midwestern lake or stream.
Before you grab your swimsuit and sunscreen, take a minute to see if you’re really ready to take the plunge.
Keeping Your Head Above Water
What do you do when you get into the water? Stay in the shallow end? Wade in up to your knees because you’re afraid to go any farther?
Wrong answer. If you can’t swim, get out now, dry off and go sign up for a class. The local YMCA is a good place to start. The Red Cross offers lessons as well and independent swim schools and private instruction also may be available. No excuses. Sign the kids up for age-appropriate lessons, too. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1 to 4.
Now that you can swim, here are some other basic Red Cross tips for being safe at the beach or pool:
- Swim only in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
- Use the buddy system. Don’t swim alone, even at a public pool or a beach with a lifeguard.
- Don’t leave young children unattended near the water. Always supervise your kids, even when lifeguards are present.
- Wear sunscreen to protect your skin.
Enjoying lakes, rivers and streams, which are abundant here in the Midwest, can require additional attention and energy. Cold water and air temperatures, currents, waves, weather and other conditions make swimming al fresco more challenging than swimming in the controlled environment of a pool.
When venturing into natural bodies of water, keep in mind some safety advice from the Red Cross:
- Be aware of your surroundings, including changes in air or water temperature. Check weather conditions before heading out; leave the water if you see signs of severe weather.
- Pay attention to the water. Waves, rapids and fast-moving currents are common, even in the shallows.
- Always enter unknown or shallow water feet first. Dive only in areas clearly marked as safe; the water should be at least 9 feet deep with no underwater obstacles.
- Be aware of hazards such as dams, rocks, underwater obstacles or debris on the surface.
- Remember that plants and animals live in or near the water too. Be careful of vegetation that can entangle your feet and just give the critters a wide berth.
- Young children and weak swimmers should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket whenever they are in or around water.
Help! I’m Drowning!
If you can yell, you’re probably okay, or at least able to grab a lifeline if someone throws it to you.
TV and the movies make everything look dramatic, with lots of splashing and screaming, but the truth is far different: drowning is a very silent killer. Many victims appear to be just treading water and looking up. Other signs include:
- Head low in the water, mouth at water level
- Head tilted back with mouth open
- Hair over forehead or eyes
- Trying to roll over on the back or swim in a particular direction but not making headway
Know what to do in a water emergency. Keep a cell phone handy to call 911. If you lose track of someone, especially a child, look in the water first. You may have only seconds to save a life.
Now that you are fully prepared, hit the water and have fun!
If you can’t stand the heat, take the kitchen outdoors.
Outdoor or summer kitchens are not a new concept. For centuries, people moved the fiery work of food prep away from the main part of the house when the weather warmed up, for obvious reasons. No longer an extravagance, today’s “summer kitchens” are de rigueur in both landscape remodeling projects and new construction. Oh, and they’re not just for summer anymore.
Outdoor Kitchen 101
The first thing you need is a grill. No matter how sumptuous, no self-respecting outdoor kitchen is complete without one. Some 75 percent of people in the country own an outdoor barbecue grill or smoker, according to a recent survey by the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association. The majority (62 percent) own a gas grill. Charcoal accounts for 53 percent of the total. Favorite day to fire it up? Fourth of July (76 percent).
Built-in grills are gaining on the traditional free-standing models, in large part because they let the home chef take advantage of accessories such as side burners, storage units and griddles. Eggs and pancakes on the grill? Coming right up!
A built-in also makes a better anchor for the kitchen space, which these days includes all of the amenities of an indoor version: cabinets to store the plates and glassware, refrigerators for the juice that goes with breakfast and sinks for washing up afterward. The most up-to-date outdoor kitchens also feature plenty of counter space so food prep and cleanup can be done in one spot and the family can be together. No more does Dad have to flip burgers in the yard while Mom makes potato salad inside.
Center Of Attention All Year Round
Just as the kitchen is the heart of the home, the summer kitchen is the center of the increasingly popular outdoor entertainment area. You may not have fries with those burgers, but you can enjoy a pool, ceiling fans, big-screen TVs, outdoor lighting to keep the party going after dark and dining areas with comfortable seating that put old-fashioned picnic tables to shame. Ten percent of your fellow grillers, according to the survey, have an outdoor kitchen.
Keep in mind that a full-service kitchen will require the same infrastructure you have indoors, including plumbing, electrical wiring and possibly gas lines for the grill, and permits for the work as well. Many kitchen/entertainment areas also sport fireplaces or fire pits for when the weather cools off.
Speaking of chilly grilling, the survey also noted that 63 percent of American grill owners use their grill year-round and 43 percent fire up the barby at least once a month during the winter. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they grilled out on Super Bowl Sunday; 9 percent welcomed the new year with barbecued food.
To Roof Or Not To Roof?
Gimme shelter – or at least a little shade. Protection is a must, for appliances as well as people, and homeowners should think about what kind they want: something as simple as patio umbrellas or a canopy; a shady, breezy pergola; or a complete roof system.
A roof would be the most expensive option, but it also offers the most substantial defense against the elements. It shields you from the sun and keeps both rain and birds from ruining your fun. It also safeguards your biggest investments – appliances and furniture – and helps them withstand thunderstorms, hail, snow, high winds and anything else Mother Nature might throw at them.
Because grilling involves fire, safety is paramount when putting on a roof. Keep in mind:
- If you plan to install an outdoor grill under a structure, allow plenty of clearance between the grill and the ceiling and make sure you have sufficient ventilation.
- To prevent house fires, never operate a grill under eves or decks unless you have a professionally installed ventilation hood.
- Keep the grill clean to prevent accidental fires.
Fire Up Your Imagination
When you’re ready to get cooking on your outdoor kitchen, remember that Sherriff-Goslin offers free roof estimates. Visit Sherriff-Goslin.com to browse the galleries for inspiration. For additional assistance, contact our knowledgeable team. Your neighbors will envy the roof on your outdoor kitchen as much as they do your grilling skills.
We’re going to go out on a limb here and say that you may have spent some time in a tree house when you were a kid. Remember climbing the ladder? Playing made-up games with your friends? Being blissfully out of sight of the parental units? It was a world of its own, wasn’t it? Quiet, uncomplicated, fun — if only we could recapture that feeling now that we’re adults.
Maybe we can — and tree houses might, once again, be the answer.
Tree For Two?
Far from the casual construction and “no gurlz alowed” policies of childhood, grown-up treehouses are arboreal oases of comfort for couples and families. To ease back into the lifestyle, your inner child – the part that’s still adventurous – might enjoy a vacation at a tree house resort. Go rustic with remote locations and shared bathrooms or enjoy the same luxuries the ground-dwellers do, including king-sized beds, indoor plumbing and infinity pools.
Hawaii Volcano Treehouse offers two genuine treehouses, both of which are 20 feet off the ground and integrated into living ohia trees hidden away on four pristine acres of Hawaiian rainforest. Be sure to check out the skyway and deck that stretch out into a canopy of giant tree ferns and visit fiery Kilauea in nearby Volcanoes National Park.
At Costa Rica Treehouse Lodge, environmentally conscious visitors walk through the jungle and across a wooden suspension bridge to a forest hideaway that comes complete with a king-sized bed and furniture hand-carved of sustainable wood.
Forget the kids. TreeHouse Point in Washington state is the place for some me-Tarzan-you-Jane action. Secluded and private, its claims to fame are weddings and celebrations, massages and yoga. No kids under 13 can stay overnight and potential guests have to schedule a tour rather than just drop in.
New Heights For A Home
Sleep-away camp is fine, but what if you want a tree house of your very own? No problem. From a DIY or professionally built backyard playhouse for the kids to a custom sanctuary for the grownups or even a full-time arboreal abode, all you need is a builder – and a permit, especially if you plan to include plumbing and electricity. Oh, and make sure the neighbors won’t be freaked out. Some people are so sensitive.
Multi-bedroom treetop palaces are on display on Treehouse Masters on Animal Planet, a reality series starring “tree whisperer” Pete Nelson, co-owner (with his wife Judy) of TreeHouse Point Resort. His construction company is more down to earth, building more modest – though still substantial – backyard retreats with an average size of 260 square feet.
His number one suggestion: respect the tree. It is a living organism. Choose a healthy one that will continue to thrive with the treehouse attached.
On the other side of the continent, Pennsylvania-based Tree Top Builders offers basic treehouses for the kids as well as custom builds for adult tastes or even commercial uses. Top tip: Hire an arborist to assess your trees.
Elevate Your Imagination
No matter what the altitude of your home sweet home, you can receive a free roof estimate from Sherriff-Goslin. For inspiration, browse the galleries at Sherriff-Goslin.com and contact our knowledgeable team for additional assistance.