Make the switch to local in your institutional menu

Swapping out non-local ingredients in recipes is a way to increase local food purchases.

Many different kinds of vegetables can be used to make a roasted vegetable medley throughout the year.

Many different kinds of vegetables can be used to make a roasted vegetable medley throughout the year.

Institutions looking to purchase local foods have many options when choosing items for their menus. One way that this can be accomplished is through local food substitution. Sometimes a substitution can be as easy as purchasing a local vegetable or fruit for a recipe when that item is seasonally available in Michigan. The Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems has a handy Michigan Produce Availability Chart. Another form of substitution is using different kinds of local vegetables or fruits in the same recipe throughout the year, depending on when they are available locally. This also offers flexibility to local farmers to supply a different product if your original requested item is unavailable.

Substitution ideas for institutional menus

Salad and sandwich toppers

Sliced: cucumber, tomato, young zucchini or summer squash, radish, turnip, jalapeno pepper, bell pepper

Sliced, diced or shredded: carrot, onion, young zucchini or summer squash, cucumber, tomato, red cabbage, daikon radish, radish, turnip, kohlrabi, beet

Roasted vegetables

Celery root (celeriac), winter squash, carrot, parsnip, sweet potato, potato, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, onion, bell pepper, turnip, asparagus, eggplant, mushroom, kohlrabi, green beans, beet, rutabaga, Brussel sprouts, Romanesco, pumpkin, rhubarb

Steamed vegetables

Carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, sweet corn

Soup, stew or stir-fry ingredients

Chopped or pureed: Celery root (celeriac), winter squash, carrot, parsnip, sweet potato, potato, peas, green beans, garlic, onion, bell pepper, turnip, asparagus, eggplant, mushroom, broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower, sweet corn, beet, rutabaga, Romanesco, pumpkin, celery

Greens: kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, spinach, mustard greens, beet greens, turnip greens, cabbage

For K-12 school nutrition staff interested in learning more about using local produce, a special pilot series of the training Making Michigan Recipes Work is being offered regionally in Michigan this summer and fall through Michigan State University Extension. This training has been supported by USDA funding and is free, though pre-registration is required.

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