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My Favorite Grand Rapids Foods

August 19, 2009

I try to buy foods made and grown locally.

There are a few foods available for purchase that are made right here in Grand Rapids. Here are some of my favorites, and information about where to purchase them.

Koeze Peanut Butter

Frankly, I have no idea how to pronounce this name. Cozy? Co-ez? Cotz-y? Despite this fact, Koeze is my favorite peanut butter. It’s easy to find at Family Fare, D&W, and Art of the Table. Don’t look for it at Meijer; it’s not there and I can’t figure out why. But at around $5.00/jar at most places, it good value for a terrific product.  I’ve even taken to giving it as a hostess gift when we travel or visit people. I like wine, but Grand Rapids peanut butter is a more unique discussion topic. Don’t be fooled, however. The peanuts that go into this peanut butter are not from Michigan. It’s way way way too cold here to grow them.

They also make candies with the peanut butter that you can order online or purchase from Art of the Table.

(If you’re interested in the fascinating way peanuts grow, check the link or pick up Barbara Kingsolver’s tremendous book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in which she discusses the life cycle of the peanut plant.)

El Matador Tortilla Chips

They don’t have a website, but you can get them everywhere around here. You can recognize them by the bright yellow bags. The corn is probably GMO and they’re cooked in canola and soybean oil, but nevertheless I’m a big fan (who just doesn’t eat them every day!)

I had this ridiculous fantasy about El Matador. I wanted to go there on a field trip or factory tour with out of town guests. In a moment of brilliance, I called the phone number on the back of the bag of chips (616.241.1121) and spoke to the receptionist. My fantasy was dashed to pieces when she informed me that, because of their insurance policy, they are unable to offer factory tours. (Apparently, I’m not the first person to ask.)

So, I guess I’ll have to give my friends the Grand Rapids experience by serving El Matador chips in my own home. (I don’t even know of any local restaurants who serve them. I eat plenty of nachos at The Cottage Bar and Restaurant, but I know from their taste that they’re not El Matador.)

To the dear mysterious folks at El Matador: Get a website. Make some organic chips. Get different insurance. We want to know more about you!

El Milagro Tortillas and Chips

Again, same story. No website. I buy the El Milagro corn tortillas (they also sell high quality tortilla chips) on a regular basis in the summer; they’re a staple at our house. And, again, they’re probably made with GMO corn and oils. The tortillas, however, are only made with corn, water and lime (Calcium hydroxide, not the fruit. This gives the them their unique flavor and is a source of calcium.) I use these corn tortillas for all sorts of recipes, including the bean tacos with cabbage slaw I wrote about last week.

Well, these are the three primary foods I eat that are produced in Grand Rapids. What else is there? I know there’s lots of food production around Grand Rapids (Hudsonville Ice Cream, for instance), but I’m interested in foods produced right here, in our city.

The best place to find all local foods, however, is not the grocery store. It’s the farmer’s market. Be sure to ask farmers where the food was grown and if they grew it. Then, consider how you could marry it to some peanut butter or tortillas.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2009 2:52 pm

    On Facebook, I would be able to leave this entry with a thumbs up!

  2. Kristen Moore permalink
    August 20, 2009 10:49 am

    I love love love Milagro tortilla chips. Strangely enough, they are much more expensive at Meijer and cheaper at Family Fare.

  3. October 28, 2009 11:08 am

    I, too, have had the fantasy of a field trip/tour at the El Matador tortilla factory. I know rumors have circulated about the possibility of such an event, but, as you said, they need to find some new insurance.

    I guess the next best thing is to make some tortilla chips yourself, perhaps with some industrial sound effects playing in the background.

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