Localize your Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving is upon us already and what better time than now to take advantage of “buy local, eat local” throughout the state of Michigan? This is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation, only behind California.  In fact, agriculture is our second leading industry next to manufacturing.  Take the pledge this holiday season (and beyond) to support Michigan and source local.

Localizing your Thanksgiving dinner may not be a one-stop grocery store trip, however, so make an adventure out of it and order and/or visit the various stores and farms throughout the state that offer any dish or ingredient needed.  From cheeses, meats and sausages, nuts, turkey, ham, cranberries and everything in between, Michigan is home to an all-encompassing menu of Thanksgiving fare.  Below, you will find different Thanksgiving foods and where find them from farms and businesses alike.

  • Turkey (the star of the meal!): Michigan has about 16 turkey producers scattered about. Butterball started in Grand Rapids, but has since moved turkey production out of state.  Find your Thanksgiving turkey from farms like Otto’s in Middleville and Roperti’s in Livonia.
  • Ham: Cass County supplies a large number of hogs for the state of Michigan, ranked #1 in ham production.  In fact, Honeybaked Ham began in Detroit in 1957.
  • Cheese: Michigan is home to cheese companies like Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, Schuler’s Cheese (started in Marshall), and Leelenau Cheese Company’s award-winning Raclette cheese.
  • Potatoes: Michigan is 7th in potato production and has been a prominent feature of Frito-Lay commercials, endorsing the support of Michigan farmers.  The featured farm in said commercials is Walther Farms, headquartered in Three Rivers.
  • Stuffing (or Dressing): With the main ingredient, shopping at local bakeries throughout Michigan can supply the bread.  Additionally, Portage (and Kalamazoo area) is known as the “celery city” with the Celery Flats Historial Area.
  • Pumpkin Pie: The state of Michigan is 2nd in the country for the number of acres of planted pumpkins. Pumpkin patches are scattered amongst various regions in Michigan, listed here.  (Find a list of Michigan apple orchards here).  Like ice cream on your pumpkin pie? Check out Hudsonville Creamery (my very favorite ice cream ever) in Hudsonville, they even have Limited Edition Pumpkin and Pure Michigan Caramel Apple flavors.
  • Cranberries: Forego the aluminum can shaped goo this year and visit Whitefish Point, along Lake Superior, for the “cranberry capital” of Michigan.  Michigan ranks 6th in the nation for cranberry production.

Finish off your Thanksgiving dinner with a Michigan wine or beer.  Michigan has approximately 94 wineries and 100 breweries, with Grand Rapids as reigning Beer City, USA.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes?


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  1. – I agree Ash. It’s interesting caopmring the natural disasters that happened in Japan vs. the Earthquake in Haiti, and even Katrina. I haven’t heard a single report of looting in Japan, yet you’d think that it would be rampant. It’s beautiful to see people coming together after being united by such a terrible force of nature.

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