Ain’t that the berries? Or is it the cherries?

What? You haven’t heard about the face-off between blueberries or cherries over which will become Michigan’s official state fruit?

In 2010, Sen. Rebekah Warren, prompted by a petition drive by Ann Arbor fourth-graders, introduced a bill to designate the tart cherry as the state’s official fruit. More tart cherries are grown in Michigan than in any other state.

"If it doesn't pass into law, it would be the pits," two of the fourth-graders told legislators.

But blueberries have their backers, too, and Michigan ranks first in the country for blueberry production, growing more than 100 million pounds annually. Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker recently called for legislation naming the blueberry as the official state fruit.

“Michigan ranks first in the country for both tart cherries and sweet cherries,” according to Hillary Bisnett, director of the Ecology Center’s Healthy Food in Health Care program.

Bisnett learned of the dispute last week when she was making a presentation about farm-to-institution efforts at the Michigan Commodity Executives meeting, where she was unveiling Cultivate Michigan, a campaign to help institutions find, buy and track Michigan food purchases.

The Cultivate Michigan campaign will launch on April 3rd in Lansing with a focus on connecting growers and suppliers of Michigan foods including asparagus, tomatoes, apples, and, yes, blueberries, with institutions around the state. ‘We hope to learn more about how these products make their way into institutions and see if this could be a new market opportunity for Michigan growers,” Bisnett says.

While refusing to be drawn into the cherry/blueberry dispute, Bisnett diplomatically points out that, “Due to the large volume, simple packaging and storage, Michigan blueberries are very high on the list of priorities for schools, hospitals and colleges to purchase and promote in their institutions.”

In a shrewd political maneuver to change the subject, she’s recommending this recipe from Lansing’s Sparrow Hospital that takes advantage of Michigan’s plentiful asparagus, expected to arrive in local farmers’ markets and grocery stores in May and June.

Asparagus Omelet 
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup fresh asparagus cut thin, plus tips
  • 1 green onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1 tbsp fat free sour cream
  • ⅛ tsp. lemon pepper
  • 2 tbsp fat-free cheddar cheese
  • ⅛ tsp. dill weed
  • ⅛ tsp chives (fresh, fine chopped)
  • cooking spray as needed

Directions

  1. In a small mixing bowl, whip egg whites, eggs, lemon pepper, dill, and chives
  2. In a small non-stick saute pan using cooking spray, saute asparagus and green onions on medium. heat until tender, remove from heat, add sour cream, warm gently and set aside
  3. In a small, non-stick saute pan using cooking spray, add egg misture. Let eggs firm up slightly on the bottom of the pan, then using a spatula lift eggs slightly until the liquid eggs run under the firming eggs.  Repeat until most of the liquid has run under the firm layer, then flip.
  4. After eggs are flipped add asparagus mixture and the cheddar cheese, fold in half and cut into two servings.

Nutrition analysis per serving: 142 calories, 5g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 260mg sodium, 6g carbohydrates, 1.5g dietary fiber, 18g protein
Recipe provided by our partners at Sparrow Hospital
 

EcoLink — March 2014
An online publication of the Ecology Center

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