A Food Journey: Local Breakfast

Here’s one I’ve been working through for a while: How do you eat a “local” breakfast? Yes, I’m a traditionalist, I eat three meals a day. If I don’t eat breakfast, I’m hurting by 10 AM. I’m not a bacon and eggs guy, either. I suppose if I were, I would have the “local” covered. I could get my bacon from a local farmer and my eggs from Blandford.

In a previous job, my wife had Israeli colleagues. When they came to the States on a project, she learned they ate salads for breakfast. Maybe I could go that route, too. Then I could have a local breakfast of CSA produce or from the Fulton Street Farmers Market in the Winter (choices are a little thin, though).

Nope. Growing up in the 50s and 60s in a large family, I learned to eat cereal. That tradition is hard to break. These days, I have two Weetabix biscuits (it’s a Canadian cereal – long story), with milk and sugar. Plus a cup of coffee and glass of OJ on the side. Let’s see, I use Hilhof or Mooville milk – both local. Pioneer Sugar from across the state in Bay City. Yeah, that counts as local. But, the coffee, OJ, and cereal not only are not local, they’re not even domestic. My bad.

I started thinking about this when I quizzed my wife about what I should buy for her for breakfast. She typically eats fruit: often citrus, or (now) pears. The citrus she loved were Rio Star Red grapefruit from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. In Dallas, you could get these nearly year-round. They were beautiful, tasty, and ruby red. Yes, technically they were local, although they travelled at least 8 hours to reach us with stops along the way (Texas is a big state).

I noticed bags of Rio Star Red grapefruit in a local grocery store. Peering through the orange mesh at the actual fruit…they looked kinda sad. Guess they don’t travel well to Grand Rapids.

The pears are a recent change for her. Until the season ended, we were getting nice local Michigan pears. Now, I buy passable ones from some mystery point in the “USA” (according to the label).

Yes, we could eat apples for breakfast. They are very local, and very tasty. Access during the winter is still possible, too. But there’s just something not very “breakfast” about an apple, and wielding a knife before I’ve had my coffee could be hazardous. (Side note: When we lived in Dallas, relatives from the Great Lakes region would ask what we wanted for Christmas. “Send us apples!” They thought we were crazy. You can’t get decent apples in Texas. My mother sent us a huge box of apples one year. We stretched the shipment to last a few months.)

Maybe there’s hope for my wife’s breakfast. Some creative growers in the Midwest are experimenting with geothermal greenhouses (here). This would allow near year-round enjoyment of local citrus.

As for me, guess I’ll continue munching on my cereal. I can’t be a purist about eating local at breakfast. At least not yet.

About the Author:  Dave Gillen didn’t want to eat hotdogs for the rest of his life, so he learned to cook. His mother taught him to boil water, fry an egg, and make oatmeal cookies. Dave forgot how to make the cookies, barely remembered how to fry eggs, but is spot on at boiling water. Currently, he divides his days between being wife Lois’ in-house techno geek and personal chef…and walking his greyhounds.



One thought on “A Food Journey: Local Breakfast

  1. Rio Grande Ruby Reds are undeniably the best grapefruit! My dad would always bring up a big box after visiting my grandparents that lived in the Valley. But i do enjoy an apple for breakfast as long as i combine it with cheddar cheese or Koeze Cream-nut PB. For me, trail mix/granola/oatmeal is a good way to start the day and Michigan cranberries/cherries, sunflower seeds, and walnuts are at least a part of it and Sobie’s (http://sobiemeats.com/restaurants-and-suppliers) carries these oats: http://www.factoryfreeoats.com/.


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