Select Michigan: local food production, food safety, culinary heritage, and branding in Michigan agri-tourism
Che, D 2006, 'Select Michigan: local food production, food safety, culinary heritage, and branding in Michigan agri-tourism', Tourism Review International, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 349-363.
Smaller US farms, such as those in Michigan where the average farm size is 215 acres, have been disproportionately impacted by declining agricultural commodity prices; the competition-driven need to adopt capital-intensive, large-scale production; and the globalization of agriculture. Niche production and agritourism can provide Michigan farmers with the means to differentiate their products from cheaper out-of-state or imported produce. Using focus groups, this article illustrates how agritourism helps Michigan farmers sell their locally produced food at a premium, and thus deal with declining commodity prices. Firstly, agritourism provides a venue for demonstrating how food is produced locally, which can help assure customers of its quality and safety. Secondly, it provides a means of sharing declining culinary knowledge and showing customers how to use their locally produced fresh fruits and vegetables. Finally, agritourism fosters the positive reputation and branding of Michigan agricultural products, which, in addition to reinforcing current state agriculture and tourism marketing programs that emphasize Michigan's natural bounty, helps keep land in production.