DETROIT, Mich. – Inner city Detroit has been called a food desert. Many of the city’s residents have trouble finding fresh fruit and vegetables in their local stores, a problem that’s also shared by residents of Chicago, Cleveland and other urban places across the region.
That’s ironic, because Detroit is also a major hub for some of the best agricultural products in the country, thanks in large part to the Detroit Produce Terminal. Built by the railroad in 1929, the terminal market comes to life in the middle of the night, when the streets of southwest Detroit are otherwise desolate. It’s safe to say many Detroiters don’t even know that it’s here, just a few blocks from the Ambassador Bridge. Continue reading
If Julia Child had specialized in seafood, she would have been Mike Monahan. He has taught a generation of people in Ann Arbor, MI, how to cook fish, including me.
Growing up, my fish experiences were limited to Fridays and fish sticks. But once I discovered Monahan’s Seafood, in the Kerrytown Market, an entire world opened up. Monahan’s sells everything from Lake Superior whitefish to Copper River salmon to a lobster salad that rivals any you’ll find in Maine. Continue reading
The Midwest’s food scene depends on its farmers. And those farmers depend on its restaurants, food purveyors and individual customers to stay afloat.
One place where farmers, chefs and customers gather every Saturday is the Green City Market in Chicago. The non-profit market began in 1998 in an alley outside the Chicago Theater. Now, white tents fill a lawn in Lincoln Park during summer Wednesdays and Saturdays, and the displays move indoors come November.
I’ve been a frequent shopper at the Green City Market during my time as senior editor of Changing Gears. As I’ve strolled through the displays, I’ve noticed that many the farmers are from my home state, Michigan. I’ve also noticed that many of those farmers are charging more than they could there. A basket of apples that might sell for $3 at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market fetches $4-5 here. A quart of raspberries that could go for $5 at home cost $7 here.
But behind every box of apples and every bunch of radishes is a story like Rene Gelder’s. Continue reading
In Sunday’s New York Times Travel section, I write about Detroit’s Grand Circus Park. You can see some wonderful photos by Detroit-based photographer Fabrizio Costantini here.
Grand Circus Park is a good example of the revival that’s taking place in downtown Detroit, and stories we are telling at Changing Gears.
It has taken a few years for the area to come back to life, and there are still some empty storefronts, vacant lots and office buildings. But if you visit Detroit on a weekend when the Lions are playing at Ford Field, or on a night when the Red Wings have a game at Joe Louis Arena, the district around Grand Circus Park bubbles with activity. Continue reading
All across the industrial Midwest, a reinvention is going on. Chefs, restaurant owners, food purveyors and farmers are taking a fresh look at the food they make, serve and grow. Changing Gears’ contributing food writer Michael Nagrant brings you the first in an exclusive series called Reinvention Recipes — new ideas for the way we eat.
You might call Barry Sorkin, chef/partner of Smoque BBQ located in Chicago’s Irving Park neighborhood, the James Dyson of barbeque. For, like the designer behind the bagless vacuum cleaner and the scary efficient jet-like bathroom hand dryer, it seems everything Sorkin touches, at least when it comes to smoking meat, he makes better.
Sorkin started out by reinventing himself. Uninspired by a job in corporate IT, he attended night classes at Chicago culinary school Kendall College. After earning a certificate, he and his future partners, weekend warrior pitmasters, asked themselves why there wasn’t better Southern BBQ in Chicago? They planned, dreamed and traveled across the country studying the ways of America’s legendary grizzled pitmasters. Continue reading