Macomb Food Collaborative hosts “All About Food” conference

Michigan event offers informational smorgasbord on local foodie topics.

The Macomb Food Collaborative, in combination with Michigan State University Extension, is hosting its second annual “From Farm to Fork: All About Food” conference from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on February 14 at the Macomb Intermediate School District in Clinton Township.

This one-day conference is aimed at anyone who grows, produces, processes, markets, distributes or eats food –there is something for everyone who loves good food.

“Interest in locally grown food continues to explode in Macomb County,” said Katherine Hale, Macomb Food Collaborative coordinator and MSU Extension food systems educator. “Whether you’re a parent or commercial chef, local pizzeria owner, school cafeteria director, hospital food employee, food blogger, culinary instructor, home vegetable gardener or local farmer, our conference addresses your passions and challenges.”

Bridging relationships between individuals and industry players is another key benefit of the conference.

“This event brings together growers, vendors, distributers and consumers,” Hale explained. “That’s what we’re all about: connecting individuals and families to healthy, local food sources and promoting economic opportunity and development.”

In the 2010 PolicyLink publication “Healthy Food, Healthy Communities,” the authors outline how local communities can improve the health of residents and improve economic opportunities for farmers by taking multiple approaches to provide healthier food access. The report documents solutions that communities can initiate such as improving neighborhoods with healthier food options at corner stores, linking farmers to consumers at farmers markets and community gardens, and by offering food access programs like EBT access, WIC and Senior Project Fresh coupons. All of these efforts will be shared in various sessions at the conference to inform local residents about the opportunities in Macomb County.

The event’s inaugural debut in 2012 drew more than 200 guests. Once again, Macomb County Executive, Mark Hackel will open the conference with a welcome and remarks.

The keynote speaker, Mike DiBernardo, Michigan Department of Agriculture Economic Development specialist, will discuss the impact agriculture and evolving food markets have on the Macomb County economy.

Breakout session topics include: economic success stories, how-to-start a food-based business, trends and best practices from Detroit’s Eastern Market, the proliferation of community and school gardens, the scoop on food-assistance resources, food hubs and their regional benefit, food safety, and the local food/school connection, along with several inspiring cooking demos.

To register for the event and purchase tickets – $15 through Jan. 31; $20 afterwards – visit the Macomb Food Collaborative website. A limited number of scholarships are available for the conference. Contact Katherine Hale at

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