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Cherry Adventure in Traverse City, Michigan

Cherry mama treeI don’t know about you, but I love to eat when I travel. Food is such an important aspect of travel. It gives us a sense of place and the culture behind the destination. I’ve said before, that here in Louisiana we don’t eat to live, we live to eat. Our culture is that a meal isn’t just for sustenance, but for enjoyment and entertainment. That’s right – entertainment.

In other areas of the world, food is also enjoyed in the same way. I sometimes think that we eat way too fast in the United States. We don’t savor the aromas of the food we eat or take the time to let the various flavors delight our tastebuds. Just think of all the memories we associate with food! One aspect of a meal I’ve never considered is how it actually gets to my plate, from farm to table.

Cherries on the TreeI was invited by the Cherry Marketing Institute for an immersion trip into the world of cherries. I wrote about the health benefits of cherries a while back and how they contain melatonin, which can assist with alleviating jet lag. It only made sense that I would accept this invitation and learn more about this little juicy fruit that looks so pretty in pictures.

The experience is one I’ll never forget. It took place in Traverse City, Michigan coinciding with the National Cherry Festival. Michigan never was really on my radar as a must-see destination, but after witnessing with my own eyes, the natural beauty of the northern part of this state, I strongly recommend northern Michigan as a destination for anyone. And, now I can say that I’ve seen Lake Michigan.

Cherry ProductsIf you’ve ever wondered just where that cherry in your cocktail or cherry pie came from, chances are it came from Michigan  – producer of 75% of all cherries consumed in the US. I learned that there are so many varieties of cherries, with some sweet and some tart. Plus, they’re healthy for you, too. I’m on my own personal cherry diet and so far so good. I’ve been sleeping so good at night, my energy is higher, and I’ve even lost a few pounds in the past week by drinking Montmorency tart cherry juice concentrate produced by Shoreline Fruits under the Cherry Bay Orchards brand.

Gregory Farms SignBefore partaking of this super fruit, I was taken on a tour of the Gregory Family Farm which grows, harvests, and packages this fruit, as well as other fruits (including apples for Gerber). We walked through the rows of tall trees, many with the fruit still hanging from the limbs. Our group also observed the actual harvesting and I even had a chance to shake a cherry tree. Yes, heavy machinery was involved! When no one was looking, I picked a cherry off one of the trees and tasted a tart cherry like I’ve never tasted it before. It was plump, juicy, and had an explosion of flavor that I won’t easily forget. I wanted to stake a tent in that cherry orchard and just live off of the cherries. Fortunately, Mrs. Gregory treated us to apres-tour goodies made with these delicious cherries.

Cherry Orchard at Gregory Brothers Farm near Traverse City, Michigan

Cherry Tree Shaker gathering cherries on conveyor

Cherry Tree Laborer

Cherries drop from conveyor

Farmer Don Gregory holds a handful of Michigan tart cherries

cherry brie

For more stories related to this experience, be sure to check out posts from some of the wonderful bloggers I met:

Special thanks to the Cherry Marketing Institute and the Gregory Family for hosting this immersion experience. To find out more on the health benefits of cherries, check out ChooseCherries.com.

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  1. Well dang it all…were you there this past week? We just returned home from a week in the Grand Traverse/Benzie/Leelanau area today!
    We’ve visited this area for years, and in all seasons. There are a lot of stories at Midwest Guest about our travels there 🙂
    I love the tart cherries, but they are a little difficult to find here in the Detroit area. I did find them at Detroit’s Eastern Market the weekend before we left for up north, though.
    They do make just about any imaginable product with cherries up TC way…and I’ve probably tried most of them over the years.
    Glad you enjoyed your trip to Michigan.

  2. I had an awesome time with you guys! Your pics look great… I think you could probably get a job as a cherry “Shaker.” hahaha Talk atcha later,

  3. The “Cherry Mama” picture is hilarious! It was so wonderful to meet you, glad you enjoyed the experience!

  4. Another great travel destination in Michigan is Ann Arbor (there’s also a chance to win an Ann Arbor vacation – copy the link below). They have everything from kid friendly attractions to a wide variety of unique restaurants shops. Enter to win a free trip and Find more about Ann Arbor at visitannarbor.org/different?id=wRqti8mc97a115p0y0s0c34425

  5. Okay, Shannon, you’ve made me hungry for cherries. Plus now, Traverse City, Michigan is on my travel list. Keep us posted on how the cherry diet is working for you.

  6. I absolutely LOVE fresh cherries.I’m definitely going to have to check out this festival. Thanks so much for this article – I never knew the festival existed.

  7. ‘It is true, there are the innocent pleasures of country life, and it is sometimes pleasant to make the earth yield her increase, and gather the fruits in their season; but the heroic spirit will not fail to dream of remoter retirements and more rugged paths. It will have its garden-plots and its parterres elsewhere than on the earth, and gather nuts and berries by the way for its subsistence, or orchard fruits with such heedlessness as berries.’

    -Henry David

    Cool post !

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