Sen. John Proos helped judge locally made pies on Friday at the Harbor Market’s first pie eating and pie baking contest in Benton Harbor.
“It was an honor to be a part of celebrating Pure Michigan agriculture, our wonderful farmer’s markets and the fresh products grown and made right here in Southwest Michigan,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Agriculture is a key part of our economy, and I commend the Harbor Market for putting together a great event that supports farmers and highlights local small businesses and cottage kitchens in way that is fun for the entire family.”
Joining Proos as judges for the pie baking contest were Elizabeth Frost, owner of The Phoenix; Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey; and WIRX Morning Show host Rex Charger. The panel rated each entry based on crust, filling, appearance and originality.
The winner received a grand prize of $100 and all contestants earned a $10 Harbor Market gift certificate. After the pie baking awards, kids participated in a hands-free pie eating contest, with a $10 gift certificate going to the person who ate the most pies in two minutes.
“With so many good pies, judging was tough,” Proos said. “In all seriousness, today is about highlighting the growth of farmer’s markets and cottage kitchens. I have long supported farmer’s markets because they directly connect consumers with local growers and producers, and I sponsored Michigan’s Cottage Food law to help family farms and encourage entrepreneurship.
“As a result, creative Michigan residents, like many of the people who entered pies in today’s bake-off, can now make goods in their own homes and sell them at roadside stands and farmer’s markets — without having to invest in a commercial kitchen. Allowing for cottage kitchens has had a direct impact on Southwest Michigan’s economy by allowing for job creation through the elimination of government regulation.”
The Harbor Market is at 510 W. Main St. in Benton Harbor and is open every Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. until Labor Day weekend. For more information, visit www.harbor-market.com.
For residents interested in starting a cottage kitchen, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has gathered valuable cottage food law information at www.michigan.gov/cottagefood. The site includes answers to FAQs, a downloadable checklist for “Starting a Cottage Foods Business” and a link to an online food safety training program.
Editor’s Note — Audio comments by Sen. Proos are available on the senator’s webpage at www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Podcasts.”