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Buy Michigan Now Experiment: March 31st – April 14th

by Guest Blogger: Jennifer Berkemeier on Apr 19th 2010

Hello all! Entering the second two weeks testing out the Buy Michigan Now Experiment and I’m not starving, I’m not driving far off my route, and I’m not living off of apples and Faygo! These first four weeks have actually been a very fun, friendly challenge and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed going to new places and meeting new people. Don’t look now, I’ve also been expanding my horizons.

I want to give a very big thank you to everyone who responded to the first blog; what a great response! I truly appreciate the advice and product suggestions and enjoy hearing about all the great and unique buying opportunities we have here in our state. I have a friend whose uncle is part owner at DragonMeade Brewery; a suggestion to try Hiller’s (ahhh, old friend Hiller’s; they were my regular when I worked in Northville…I’m due for a trip back).  Keep them coming…other people read the comments section too. 
To anyone who is new to the blog and the Buy Michigan Now experiment, here is a quick summary: I challenged myself and boyfriend Pat to buy only Michigan-made products, or items from a Michigan-based store, or things made with Michigan ingredients for six months. Could we possibly do this? To cover the complexities of definitions, we came up with a rating system which indicates how much money spent is kept in Michigan:
Buying a product made in Michigan, from a Michigan-based/owned store, made from Michigan ingredients = 3 Mittens (the highest rating)
Buying a product made in Michigan from a Michigan-based store = 2 Mittens
Buying either a product made in Michigan OR shopping at a Michigan-based store = 1 Mitten
None of the above = 0 Mittens
See how we did in weeks three and four!
Ok so I will admit to going through mild shock and withdrawal when I had to stop buying my favorite peanut butter from my “old” grocery store. In addition to being completely hooked on my one cup of black coffee in the morning, I am also a shameless slave to that natural wonder, peanut butter. I rarely eat PBJs, yet it keeps disappearing from the jar…weird! Anyway, I knew I had to find a replacement spread, and fast.
March 31 – I make my third or fourth trip to my “new” grocery store, the Spartan store Heartland in Farmington Hills. Yes, it’s 4 miles round trip out of my way but that just means I get to enjoy my favorite cd for one song longer. This time while shopping, I realize I’m getting to know the aisles a little bit and not hopelessly pushing my cart around while internally screaming OH WHERE IS THE YOGURT ALREADY?? That’s right, I’m learning my new store. I buy as much store brand as I can, as well as other Michigan-made products (I’m hooked on Old Orchard Healthy Balance Juice with low sugar) and end up with 30% of my items as 2 Mitten items and the rest 1 Mitten.
April 2 – It’s that time again, time to get the oil changed! I remember a vague rumor that Uncle Ed’s Oil Shop is based in Michigan, so I whip out the cell phone and ring them up. Sure enough, based right here in our lovely state. 20 second phone call is the effort there.
April 2 – Where does one go when looking for acres and acres of peanut butter? I could think of no better place than Rocky’s in Eastern Market. Well, they don’t have “acres” but they do have multitudes. So I buy four different kinds from Rocky’s, and of course simply do not have the will power to pass up the chili lime dip, the apple cinnamon granola and don’t even get me started on the dark chocolate peanut butter malt balls. First day of spring weather and Eastern Market is hopping! Can hardly find a parking space. 2 Mitten items, maybe 3 Mitten!
April 2 – I designate this night movie night! So it’s off to my friendly neighborhood Orchard 10 Spartan Store for Better Made tortilla chips and queso salsa…I figure will go great with the chili lime dip (and turns out I’m right). Ahhhh…salt and salsa. All items are 2-3 Mitten and I drive 0 miles out of my way.
April 3 – It’s been a looong week; I haven’t done this in a while; spring is on the way; I need some girl time. Whatever your excuse is, just do it! Of course I’m talking about a pedicure. So off I went with my sister to my lovely little shop Orchard Nails where I think they are getting to know me. I nearly doze off in the giant massaging chair and decide the best way to top off a perfect pedicure is with smoothies at Michigan-based Ashby’s Sterling. Mmmm…raspberry banana… There is nothing that will bring a girl down from a pedicure high like getting an oil change but life is not one big foot rub after all. So off I went to Uncle Ed’s (I do think there may be one on every corner) and to honor the spring yard cleaning season that is upon us I made my first trip to the ACO Hardware for lawn bags. A big 2 Mitten day for me; 2 miles total out of my way. 
April 5 – I made my second trip to ACO for fertilizer and other things that are heavy and come in a plastic bag. I’m thinking the folks at ACO are going to get to know me very well, unless I develop better planning skills in the very near future. 
April 7 – I decide my lawn needs more than just a good dandelion killer, it needs a good meal, and hopefully organic at that. So I stopped in at Chaps Feed Store, a great little shop in Livonia that looks small but the back opens up to a huge warehouse piled high with lime, fertilizer, etc. Not only did I get my organic earth-friendly stuff, I picked up some thistle for my bird feeders and dog chews for my appreciative pooch. And the lawn care advice at Chaps is FREE. 1 Mitten purchases, some 2 Mitten; 0 miles out of my way.
April 8 – Pat tells me he finally has found the shoes he’s been looking for since his last pair of black work shoes up and quit on him. He finds them at Meijer’s (surprised?) along with his weekly groceries AND two jars of Meijer’s peanut butter to add to the stash that will eventually make up the products in the first ever Peanut Butter taste-off. 
April 9 – I have a real challenge on my hands: how to feed 70 staff members who will be arriving at work at 6am, serving a crowd of 5,000 beer, hot dogs, beer, pretzels, beer and more beer and doing that until 5pm? Can you say Opening Day in Detroit? Yeah, we know all about that at the Fillmore. How better to keep your co-workers handing out the pitchers than by making sure they are full and happy on coffee and bagels? Biggby on Woodward Avenue to the rescue! This little store was amazing; had everything ready for me, labeled the boxes and EVEN CUT EACH AND EVERY BAGEL FOR US. Now that is service. 
April 11 – Not to keep talking about it but, coffee. Yes, I’m almost out at home. So, I take the suggestion of a very friendly commenter to my blog who suggests I try Jackson Coffee Company for the best roasted coffee the internet has to offer. So order I did. Maybe that will be the next taste test… I can say that the website is beautiful and user-friendly, the service wonderful (I got a personal note acknowledging my order) and a shipping notice that came a day later. I can smell the Brazilian Bourbon already!
April 13 – It’s taste-test day. I don’t know why, but today is the day. Oh and, I had a friend send me a jar of Cream Nut Natural, made in Grand Rapids to throw into the mix. 
So Pat and I and co-worker Jacob (we did this on our lunch hour, honest) gathered round the conference table (which I’m sure was not intended for this), got our water (to cleanse the palate, of course) and our spoons. Here is how the contenders fared:
Rocky’s No Salt Peanut Butter – great but unfortunately our tasters are used to a little more additives and we wished for more salt in this one.
Rocky’s No Salt Almond – same story here; wonderful almond taste that made us go mmmmmm but sadly we thought we’d like more salt.
Rocky’s Salted Almond – NOW we’re talking! Here was the answer to our salt-deprivated tasters. Three thumbs up on this one.
Rocky’s No Salt Cashew – we loved this one even without the salt; who doesn’t love creamy cashews and oil on a spoon?
Meijer’s Natural Creamy – this one is my favorite. Gets high marks for stir-ability as well.
Cream Nut Natural – made with sea salt! We liked this one and give it a nod for a very interesting flavor that puts it in a class of its own. Could become a favorite with repeated use.
Meijer’s Organic Creamy – this one got the highest votes from two out of three of us. Vows were being made as we left the table to run, not walk to the nearest Meijer’s and stock up on this nectar of the gods.
Thanks for reading; until next blog! BUY MICHIGAN!

User Comments (1)

If you're still looking for a peanut butter... Naturally Nutty has the BEST MI made peanut butter. MANY flavor variations of nut butters. I love their vanilla peanut butter. My kids love their chocolate sunbutter. It's addicting though! :)

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