I don’t know about you, but I love to eat when I travel. Food is such an important aspect of travel. It gives us a sense of place and the culture behind the destination. I’ve said before, that here in Louisiana we don’t eat to live, we live to eat. Our culture is that a meal isn’t just for sustenance, but for enjoyment and entertainment. That’s right – entertainment.
In other areas of the world, food is also enjoyed in the same way. I sometimes think that we eat way too fast in the United States. We don’t savor the aromas of the food we eat or take the time to let the various flavors delight our tastebuds. Just think of all the memories we associate with food! One aspect of a meal I’ve never considered is how it actually gets to my plate, from farm to table.
I was invited by the Cherry Marketing Institute for an immersion trip into the world of cherries. I wrote about the health benefits of cherries a while back and how they contain melatonin, which can assist with alleviating jet lag. It only made sense that I would accept this invitation and learn more about this little juicy fruit that looks so pretty in pictures.
The experience is one I’ll never forget. It took place in Traverse City, Michigan coinciding with the National Cherry Festival. Michigan never was really on my radar as a must-see destination, but after witnessing with my own eyes, the natural beauty of the northern part of this state, I strongly recommend northern Michigan as a destination for anyone. And, now I can say that I’ve seen Lake Michigan.
If you’ve ever wondered just where that cherry in your cocktail or cherry pie came from, chances are it came from Michigan – producer of 75% of all cherries consumed in the US. I learned that there are so many varieties of cherries, with some sweet and some tart. Plus, they’re healthy for you, too. I’m on my own personal cherry diet and so far so good. I’ve been sleeping so good at night, my energy is higher, and I’ve even lost a few pounds in the past week by drinking Montmorency tart cherry juice concentrate produced by Shoreline Fruits under the Cherry Bay Orchards brand.
Before partaking of this super fruit, I was taken on a tour of the Gregory Family Farm which grows, harvests, and packages this fruit, as well as other fruits (including apples for Gerber). We walked through the rows of tall trees, many with the fruit still hanging from the limbs. Our group also observed the actual harvesting and I even had a chance to shake a cherry tree. Yes, heavy machinery was involved! When no one was looking, I picked a cherry off one of the trees and tasted a tart cherry like I’ve never tasted it before. It was plump, juicy, and had an explosion of flavor that I won’t easily forget. I wanted to stake a tent in that cherry orchard and just live off of the cherries. Fortunately, Mrs. Gregory treated us to apres-tour goodies made with these delicious cherries.
For more stories related to this experience, be sure to check out posts from some of the wonderful bloggers I met:
- Matt Armendariz – MattBites.com
- Kathryn Hill – The Kitchn
- Doniree Walker – NomadicFoodie.com
- Chef Nathan Lippy – NathanLippy.com
- Dina – NutritiousFeast.com
- Rachel – A Southern FairyTale
- Gloria Tsang, RD – HealthCastle.com
- Dr. Wendy Bazilian – WendyBazilian.com
Special thanks to the Cherry Marketing Institute and the Gregory Family for hosting this immersion experience. To find out more on the health benefits of cherries, check out ChooseCherries.com.