Business advocate for local food production

With a struggling economy, many people are looking to support their communities any way they can.

A growing trend is to buy local produce, and a number of restaurants are offering menus centered completely around food that has never left the state.

“I hate calling it a trend,” executive chef of The Root restaurant in White Lake, James Rigato said. “It’s more of a calibration.”

The White Lake restaurant has been praised by customers and critics alike for featuring ingredients from Michigan front-and-center, and for orienting the menu towards what the kitchen team can get fresh that day.

“We’re trying to get back to the roots of a restaurant, which is the bed and breakfast,” he said. “They would make and you would eat what they had, what was local and in-season.”

On each menu is a list of where the food has been originated. Included in the list are dairy products from Guernsey’s Dairy in Northville and meats from C-Roy and Sons from Yale.

“The feedback has been phenomenal,” Rigato said.

“The local population is looking for good food,” said Corryne Urbina, a student at Oakland University and an employee at a Troy restaurant. “I support restaurants using local foods.”

According to, a non-profit organization looking to educate consumers about where their food comes from, the value of buying local doesn’t stop at increased profits to growers, which helps the local economy.

“It’s about supporting local businesses with home-grown food,” said Kellie Sullivan, also a student at OU.

Rigato says that while locally sourced food may cost more, some customers do not mind.

“Local foods are a little more expensive,” Rigato said. “Guests whose priority is cost may not like paying a little extra. But those guests who derive value from local foods don’t mind as much.”

The average American food products travels 1,500 miles before arriving on your table, while local foods travel an average of 100 miles, saving fossil fuels and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

As Mirreille Sandborn, a White Lake local puts it, “There really is no tastier way of helping Michigan’s economy.”

For more information about The Root including menu, location, source list, or to make a reservation visit

To read more about sustainable eating, visit


Contact staff intern Stefan Pelak at [email protected]