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The Michigan Humanities Council is proud to host Key Ingredients Michigan Foodways, a year long series of exhibits and public programs touring six Michigan Communities in 2007-08: Chelsea, Calumet, Cheboygan, Whitehall, Frankenmuth, and Dundee.

Key Ingredients is a Smithsonian exhibit depicting our national food culture. Michigan Foodways is a Michigan State University Museum exhibit exploring our state's food story by examining our rich agriculture, our diverse ethnic cuisines, and our special culinary traditions.

Key Ingredients

Key Ingredients: America By Food

Key Ingredients is from the Museum on Main Street (MOMS), a partnership of the Smithsonian Institute and the Federation of State Humanities Councils. With photographs, illustrations, and artifacts, it explores the connections between Americans and food via the historical, regional, and social traditions of everyday meals and celebrations. In addition to farming, table manners, history, and markets, the exhibition also examines the evolution of the kitchen, the technological innovations that bring us a wide variety of prepared and fresh foods, and the role of public eateries and food celebrations in building a sense of community.

Key Ingredients explains the little-known, the everyday, and the obvious through an entertaining and informative overview of our country’s diverse regional cooking and eating traditions. The exhibit inspires the gathering, celebration, and preservation of the finest of what rural America has to offer.

See all the exhibit panels. Link here.

Michigan Foodways (by Yvonne Lockwood, MSU Museum)

What is Michigan foodways? Michigan Foodways focuses on the local and regional foodways in our state, attempting to define what, indeed, is Michigan foodways. Unlike places such as Louisiana with its distinct cuisine, Michigan is best described as having local specialties. Michigan foodways are those of the many communities, ethnic, occupational, local, which constitute Michigan. There is little that all Michiganders eat in common or that only they eat; therefore, the exhibit looks at the regional foodways of Michigan, the products of gradual development, foods that define locales that together constitute Michigan foodways.

The exhibition considers not only the food but the entire complex of behaviors and ideas related to its preparation, serving, and consumption. Hunting, fishing, and gathering, for example, are significant social, recreational, and occupational activities and their products comprise large additions to our diets. As an important agricultural state, Michigan leads the nation in a number of crops, for example, tart cherries, blueberries, and mint, which also are ingredients in local food specialties.

Michigan is home to more than one hundred ethnic groups, and the exhibit focuses on some of their contributions to Michigan's foodways -- pasties, cudighi, coneys, and paczki, to mention just a few. Local foodways events, sometimes based in an ethnic or religious tradition, also pepper the state -- sauerkraut suppers, fish fries, and pow wows. In such cases the culture, history, and meaning of the foods are emphasized.


Examining other influences that shaped Michigan's foodways, the exhibition acknowledges a number of Michigan food producers and retailers who have enriched the foodways of Michiganders as well as those nationwide. It provides a glimpse at some of Michigan's earliest cookbooks and community cookbooks in the 20th century. While cookbooks are important in maintaining foodways traditions, they also introduce new cooking methods and recipes, ideas about healthy and unhealthy foods, and disseminate recipes to larger audiences. The exhibit also looks briefly at some of the new directions involving foodways, for example, organic farming, family farms, garden-to-school programs, community gardens, and the Slow Food Movement, and their impact in regions in Michigan



Key Ingredients Michigan Foodways
presented by the Michigan Humanities Council - copyright 2007-2008
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 3B, Lansing, MI 48912. phone: 517-372-7770. fax: 517-372-0027.

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