Celebrate the Michigan harvest in October
Highlighting the importance of food in the U.S. is the goal of National Food Day, celebrated on October 24.
The vision of National Food Day is to celebrate and work towards food that is “healthy, affordable, and produced with care for the environment, farm animals, and the people who grow, harvest, and serve it.” Food Day celebrations highlight various components of our food system. They may focus on those components that are working well and upholding the overarching vision of food highlighted above, or they may focus on changes that need to happen in order to better embody this vision. Each food day celebration or event can demonstrate a different focus, depending on the community in which it is located. While this holiday is celebrated on October 24, the organizers of the nationwide event suggest that it is really a catalyst for a year-long goal of healthier diets and a better food system.
Locally in Michigan, we have a wide variety of events taking place. On the state wide level a local foods distributor, Cherry Capital Foods, is hosting the Michigan Apple Crunch. The apple crunch is a celebration of a Michigan seasonal food with a fun twist. Organizations, including schools and workplaces, can register as a crunch site. Everyone who wants to participate will take a big bite out of a Michigan apple at a predetermined time. This year, to accommodate school and work schedules, the celebration is happening on October 22. Thousands of students, employees and community members will be crunching into an apple on this date. In 2014 there were 225,000 participating crunchers!
Many schools that participate in Farm to School use the Michigan Apple Crunch as a reason to source local apples for the yearly event. The holiday is motivation to incorporate a relatively small amount of local produce into the school’s menu, engage the students, and provide an educational opportunity about the importance of local and healthy foods. The whole month of October is also National Farm to School Month, which encourages schools to bring in local food and related education or events.
On a smaller scale, various events take place to bring Food Day to life. In Macomb County a celebration will occur at the Mt. Clemens Farmers Market on October 24, from 8 a.m. – noon. A wide variety of fun and informative activities will occur including free raffles (with food related prizes), healthy and local cooking demonstrations, a scavenger hunt for young people, preservation and storage education and samples of unusual local foods. This event is being hosted by the Macomb County Health Department, Macomb County Community Services Agency and Michigan State University Extension, in partnership with the Mt. Clemens Farmers Market.
Regardless of where you are, or what you do, there is likely a way for you to participate in National Food Day this year! Check out the how to get involved page on the Food Day site to see how you can participate.