Local food is hot. As we continue discovering evidence of all the social, environmental and economic benefits of eating local, the phenomenon becomes less of a debate and more of a movement. For instance, it seems that almost every day I hear of more and more people who are adopting the 100-mile diet approach to life. The goal of the diet is to eat foods produced within 100 miles of your home.
I think this is a valiant task and I applaud anyone who makes this type of commitment. But to be honest, I’m a lapsed follower of such a diet because there are certain out-of-season and bio-regional foods (bananas, chocolate, winter lettuce, etc.) that simply bring so much pleasure and health to life! However, we all don’t have to strictly practice the 100-mile diet to make a big difference in our collective quality of life. I recently read a statistic whereby if every Michigan resident increased their weekly purchase of local food by $10.00, it would keep $37 million circulating in the Michigan economy each week! Such statistics always cause me to wonder, "If it works for food, why not culture?" Such statistics also remind me to recommit to buying local beyond food.
For example, I’ve committed to making local music a purchasing priority. To initiate this, I’ll be purchasing CD’s from local bands and musicians and giving them out this holiday season. Call it my 100-mile cultural diet. Sure I may download the occasional chocolate, banana or winter lettuce in the form of Iggy Pop, Brain Eno or Jack Johnson, but for the most part, I’m going to make an effort to purchase my culture within my region, be it music, art or literature.
Let’s face it. Every community has rock star quality musicians that deserve our attention and dollars. Michigan is certainly fortunate in this regard. In fact, tonight I’m going to listen to a local musical legend, Seth Bernard. He’s playing with his musical partner May Erlewine – which is sure to be a treat. Be it Claudia Schmidt, Levi Britton, Mike Moran, Neptune Quartet, Andre Villoch, Jason Kott, Ron Getz, Jeff Haas Trio, Don Julin, Joe Wilson, The Photographers, Steppin In It, Down the Line, they are all incredible talents.
And oh yes, our new marketing guy here at Food For Thought, Adam Reid, is the lead singer for the fabulous wedding band, Mac Daddy. No doubt this is just a sampling of some of the auditory wonders of Northern Michigan. I’m sure I’ve overlooked many.
I’m quite sure that every community in this country has them. They are hard-working, smoky bar-playin’, wake-up-wondering-why-they-do-it musicians. Furthermore, they are the ones that show up and play for free at fund-raising and educational events. They live, eat and create in our community and add richness to our lives. Therefore, it saddens me when a local artist feels the need to move to Austin, Nashville, NY or LA to "make it" in the industry. While they don’t have multi-million dollar ad campaigns or videos on MTV, they do make fantastic music that deserves a listen and a purchase to support what they do here at home. And they are always in season.