Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mo' Food for Thought

Just returned from Model D's "Mo' Food," a panel and conversation on the future of food and food systems for the Detroit economy and community.

Among issues discussed were: What are the emerging opportunities for Detroit's local food economy? Is the city open to new ideas and ways of doing business? How are markets and restaurants changing the economic profile of the city and how can they contribute to its growth? What are the opportunities for collaboration between large scale markets, existing food markets and emerging entrepreneurs?

A panel discussion led off -- on it were DanCarmody, president ofEastern Market Corporation; Todd Abrams, food writer and co-founder ofGourmet Underground; James Garrison, kitchen manager at Honey Bee Market La Colmena; Joe McClure, co-founder of McClure's Pickles; and Jess Daniel, founder of Neighborhood Noodle. Noah Ovshinsky, WDET reporter on food issues moderated.

First off, the venue, Cliff Bells downtown was packed to the gills, standing room only. Clearly, there's a lot of interest and passion in the topic.

Second, Eastern Market is set to become a real power house in the development of food systems, linking consumers, wholesale, retail, entrepreneurs and even schools in developing a comprehensive, fresh, Michigan-centric products. According to Carmody, Michigan stands to become a national leader this area. Among things planned at Eastern Market are an open market kitchen incubator available to cottage and emerging artisan food producers; technical and business support for these emerging producers, a linkage between Detroit Public Schools kitchens (Carmody says they're some of the best commercial kitchens in the country) and entrepreneurs and farmers, making these sites for fresh produce for neighborhoods.

Also learned more about the Good Food Working Group that's helping start-ups connect with others in the same boat, the Detroit Food Policy Council and the Food Justice Task Force.

A critical mass is converging around this broad topic - food access, food business, food fairness and justice and it's an exciting mix of individuals, business, city experts all working to push Detroit to embrace and lead in this important area.

I'll look forward to learning more about all these various efforts --- inspiring and exciting.

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