Over the past couple of weeks, there's been a news item making the rounds in the media about how millennials may be one of the most food-savvy segments of the population. And when you mix love of food with laptops, well, it's a sure recipe for someone to start a food blog.
So when I read that an astounding 65 percent of those ages 18 to 24 say they are "casual cooking enthusiasts" while only half of the total population classify themselves that way, I had to take a look at what blogs we have in metro Grand Rapids. Overall, I'd say we are behind other metropolitan areas in the number and variety of food blogs, but that may change soon.
While there are a number of global websites such as Trip Advisor, Yelp and Serious Eats that make mention of area restaurants, I was really searching for local individuals who want to share their love of culinary delights over the Web.
I noticed that Joy Wellington, long time WOOD-TV staffer, writes a blog that covers a lot of ground about food and events that revolve around food. Her blog can range from recipes for fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables to encouraging a garden exchange where an entire neighborhood can share its bounty.
For those interested in cooking fresh with produce gotten from the market or a Community Supported Agriculture farm, I discovered that a fellow foodie friend, Joy-Elizabeth Lawrence has just started posting her “insightful (or at least engaging) ideas on food, books, and this creaturely existence.” Though lacking in pictures, I think this blog makes up for them with short and easy, creative, and fun recipes -- every one of which I want to make!
As I surfed the Web from Joy-Elizabeth’s website, I linked over to a blog of photos called “A Season in the Sun” that documents the seasons of produce at Trillium Haven Farm in Jenison, courtesy of photographer Shane Folkertsma. I thought this take on a blog was fantastic because reminds us that operating a farm is a very human endeavor. Real people toil everyday in the good earth to make things grow and thrive, giving a new perspective to those of us learning about and participating in eating local.
There’s the seemingly members-only information at the West Michigan Co-op’s blog, but could be a nice resource for any food gatherer. Reading it might even inspire one to get involved in the cooperative.
Though very new, probably the most comprehensive local restaurant blog I’ve found is GR Dine. This website gives a brief synopsis of the “new perspectives on Grand Rapids dining establishments” from Jon Dodge and Trevor Mauk. It sets its sights on letting readers know where they’ve enjoyed (or not enjoyed) eating recently. Helpful to me is that the blog divides experiences into food categories so I can research one style of restaurant at a time.
When I asked why they chose the blog's conversational tone, Jon said they’re want to give a fresh perspective on restaurant information since they are both relatively new to the area. With big city dining experience already in hand, Jon from Chicago and Trevor from Cincinnati, they “feel Grand Rapids has a lot to offer on the dining scene” and there was really no website giving people honest feedback to an experience.
If you’re really into grilling, John Rumery, a professor at Grand Valley State University, writes a rather in-depth blog aptly named grilladelic.
Some information here is technical stuff about grilling, but it’s enjoyable, useable information if not completely Michigan related.
Grand Haven mother and teacher Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben keeps up a blog called GreatFood4U with recipes that are conveniently categorized by cuisine, special diet or occasion. She covers a wide range of food related items, from suggested wines to ways to use up stale bread.
Local PR and marketing maven, Sally Littlefair Zarafonetis, has been involved in Michigan tourism planning for 25 years, and she has started a blog focusing on Michigan food and travel options called Great Food and Travel. Though narrow in scope at this time, it seems its future attention to at least the west side of Michigan travel will broaden over time.
I also ran across Chef Benwa’s blog. He’s a local guy who professes to have “20 years of cooking experience under my ever expanding belt.” Chef Benwa takes his blog in the direction of food he has made and experiences he has had as a chef around the area. It’s slightly more attuned to other blogs I read where I can find inspiration toward my own cooking through recommended dishes and great shots – as we know, a picture can be worth a thousand words!
During my research, I realized that not everything on the Internet about food in Grand Rapids is in the form of a blog. Facebook has group pages for events around the area such as the Grand Rapids International Wine and Food Festival, Joel Wabeke of JW Marriott has a Chef’s Library, and local restaurants such as Marie Catrib's of Grand Rapids and the Winchester have fan pages when customers comment on the food choices they've made.
The GR Food Police serves up some spicy restaurant and food news items over the social network Twitter -- and these cops are pretty serious about their business.
If you’re trying to find out more about local foods and dining out, one can utilize resources on restaurants on websites like Rapid Growth, Grand Rapids Social Diary, and GR Now .
So, do you blog and I’m not finding it? Want others to know? Post your blog link on my blog, Art of the Table, and we food devotes can join together in the world of “what’s going on” in our very hot and cool food region.
Amy Ruis owns and operates Art of the Table, a specialty food, beverage, and tabletop retail store in the Wealthy Street Business District. She blogs at www.artofthetable.com/talk
and you can reach her at [email protected] Photos:
Joy-Elizabeth Lawrence, food blogger -courtesy
Farm photos courtesy of farmphotography.blogspot.com (4)