Eating Locally This Winter –Even in the UP

It’s already snowed here in the U.P. a handful of times. The farmers markets have closed down until next year or retreated inside, but that doesn’t mean the season for eating locally has ended. It is possible to enjoy local food year-round, even in the U.P. The Marq, a restaurant and bar in Marquette, is a working testament.

“There was not a week this year that I was not able to buy at least from one local farm,” said chef Austin Fure. “That’s pretty amazing, especially when you get into January, February.”

How’s it possible though?

“It’s tough,” Austin admits. But it seems it comes down to adaptability.

12370875_534205683412099_1551388472845003134_oThe Marq switches its focus to root vegetables and storage crops when it gets cold. They purchase a lot from farms with root cellars and change their menu based on what is available.

“For me, it’s not like seeing some recipe in a book and thinking okay I want to make that thing. It’s okay, what do the farms have right now?” Austin said he is changing the menu daily to make it work.

At this point a Marq employee, Danny, chimed in to say Austin changes the menu more than daily.

“I’ll print it and then he’ll add three more things.”

Maybe some restaurant-goers struggle not being able to rely on getting the same thing they ordered last time.

“I still hear stuff about, it’s weird the menu changes all the time, but you know it’s alright with most people who come here on the regular. That is why they come here, because it’s constantly changing, because you don’t know what will be here.”

And they do all this with touching a canner, although they’d love to.

“We pickle and we do a lot of oils and stuff. But in terms of preserving food, I’m not really allowed because I don’t have license.”

So, even if you missed canning salsa this summer, the Marq is a testament and inspiration proving with flexibility and storage crops it is possible to eat local year-round, even in the U.P. as we begin another winter.

The Marq, 113 W. Baraga Ave, Marquette, MI 49855

Melissa Orzechowski is the Upper Peninsula Local Food Coordinator for Taste the Local Difference and is shivering at Seeds and Spores Family Farm while continuing to farm, as it’s snowing. Contact her at [email protected] and she’ll respond when her hands have thawed.