Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hastings Hospitality

Wow, Hastings. Who knew? Hastings, MI, with a population of a bit over 7,000, is less than an hour drive from my home. I had never been there until last Friday. Anchored – and I mean this in every sense of the word – on the west by big box stores and fast food joints, is their small, quaint downtown area.

The draw to Hastings was a presentation and book signing by Michigan native, Robin Mather who penned The Feast Nearby. The book chronicles one year of seasonal eating in Barry County Michigan, as described on the book jacket: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on forty dollars a week). There are a variety of seasonal recipes included as well.

Her presentation educated the audience on why we should eat local. The slides showed the serene animals that we like to think of as we eat meat and milk products juxtaposed against slides of the realities / horrors of factory farms.

The Q & A time turned out to be foodie networking. I quickly took notes as participants learned about website links for research and the hours and locations of local growers. 

Three pieces of advice from Robin Mather:

1.       Ask for local products. Your local store owner won’t automatically know you want locally-sourced food.

2.       “If it has a coupon, it is not something I want to eat.”

3.       Shop “slow money”. Buying from local businesses keeps the profits local.

The event location was the LEED Certified Hastings PublicLibrary. It’s a lovely visit is all in itself. The library staff and volunteers put together a display of local food sources and books available for lending. There were home-made cookie and Haywood Family Farm cheese samples for noshing. Haywood is in Hastings, and I could not find a website for them.

Prior to the event, I ate wood-fired pizza and drank a beer flight at Walldorff Brewpub and Bistro. I sampled the unique Cabin Fever Ginger, the balanced Amber Waves, the slightly citrusy IPA, the lightly sweet Bee Sting Honey Rye, and the bold and delicious Hopnoxxious IPA. Also in town is the County Seat Lounge which features local farm specialties and Michigan made wine, beer, and spirits.

Author Robin Mather

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