Fast facts about Michigan onions, berries, celery and beets
Each year the Cultivate Michigan and the Michigan Fresh initiatives promote seasonally available Michigan foods to two different groups of people.
Two Michigan State University Extension led initiatives promote the seasonal use of Michigan’s fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy, focusing on two different audiences. Cultivate Michigan is an institutional food purchasing campaign of the Michigan Farm to Institution Network and has the sourcing, marketing and recipe resources to help schools, hospitals and other institutions find, buy and use local foods. A consumer-focused initiative, the Michigan Fresh program, helps individuals explore the state’s bounty of fresh, locally grown foods from farms, gardens and local farmers markets, with tips on growing, handling and preserving as well as healthful recipes. Both initiatives support farmers, food businesses and consumers, enhancing local economies.
In 2018, Cultivate Michigan is promoting four seasonal foods: onions (spring), berries (summer), celery (fall) and table beets (winter) to institutional food service directors. A few fast facts about these 2018 featured Michigan fruits and vegetables:
- Michigan Onions:
- Are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Potassium
- Grown in south central and southern counties of Allegan, Barry, Eaton, Ionia, Kent, Newaygo, Ottawa and Van Buren
- In 2016, 2,400 acres were harvested, yielding 88 million pounds with a value of $10.05 million
- Michigan Strawberries, Raspberries and Blackberries:
- Berries are rich in Vitamin C, an excellent source of potassium, fiber and phytochemicals
- Michigan grows berries for both fresh and processed uses, and ranked seventh nationally in strawberry production in 2016
- In 2009, Michigan produced 43,000 tons of fresh strawberries and 3,000 tons of processed strawberries, generating $6.6 million
- The raspberry and blackberry industry is relatively small in Michigan, we produced 26,512 pounds of raspberries in 2015
- Michigan Celery:
- Celery is a great source of vitamin C, potassium and dietary fiber
- Michigan ranks second in the nation for celery production
- In 2016, 1,900 acres were in production, yielding 119 million pounds, with a value of $18.5 million
- Michigan Table Beets:
- Table beets are a good source of Vitamin C, Iron and Magnesium, and a very good source of fiber, Folate, Potassium and Manganese
- They are closely related to sugar beets and Swiss Chard
- Michigan-grown beets are available late July to late October
Each year, the Cultivate Michigan team plans field tours featuring the featured seasonal foods for institutional food service staff and others to learn first-hand about the production, processing and distribution of the foods, as well as to network with other food buyers, growers and suppliers. Several tours are planned for the year ahead featuring Michigan onions, summer berries, celery and beets.
Both initiatives support Michigan Good Food, a policy initiative of the Michigan Good Food Charter, and several of its goals by the year 2020:
- Michigan institutions source 20 percent of their food from Michigan sources
- 80 percent of Michigan residents have easy access to affordable, fresh, healthy food, 20 percent of which is from Michigan sources
- Michigan farmers will profitably supply 20 percent of all Michigan institutional, retailer and consumer food purchases and be able to pay fair wages to their workers.
The Michigan Farm to Institution Network and Cultivate Michigan are coordinated by the Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Regional Food Systems with support from MSU Extension. Michigan Fresh is supported by MSU Extension and includes a handy Michigan Availability Guide so you know when dozens of popular items are in season throughout the year, including those crops that are produced using season extension techniques, which extends their availability over a longer period of time.