LASATA: Made in Michigan!

Published 8:00 am Saturday, September 18, 2021

Farming and food production are critical economic drivers in Michigan — and both industries include countless small businesses that have been perfecting their craft for generations.   

I recently had an opportunity to tour some of these family businesses for a behind-the-scenes look into their daily lives and to highlight the hard work that goes into each of their operations.

I started at Bit of Swiss bakery, which began as a small bread shop in the late 1960s and has grown to be a staple of the Stevensville community.

I learned the unique details that make Bit of Swiss special and even helped with some bakery preparations during my tour. Everything that comes out of their bakery is made with careful attention to detail and only the best ingredients. The rewards and recognition Bit of Swiss has received are a true testament to their hard work and quality products.

For the next stop, I headed south to Shuler Dairy Farms in Baroda. The farm uses the latest high-tech equipment to ensure healthy, happy cows and quality products. The farm also allows the public to come see the cows and get a first-hand look at how some of their favorite treats are made from start to finish. I was fortunate enough to get a wide-reaching look at the farm’s operations — I even had a chance to milk a cow.

Wine tasting and vineyard tours are becoming more and more popular, and lucky for those of us in southwest Michigan, we have a top-notch destination offering a unique Pure Michigan experience just beyond our back doors.

For 50 years, Tabor Hill Winery and Restaurant has been serving the Buchanan community and offering vineyard tours, wine tasting, and a special dining experience to people from every corner of the state. I joined them to celebrate their 50th anniversary for a tour of the vineyard as well as a look inside the canning and other processes used to perfect their products. It was a pleasure to see their farm-to-table outlook from start to finish.

One of my other stops was at Zick’s Specialty Meats in Berrien Springs. Zick’s has served the region for three decades, processing traditional and unique meat products, like sausage, jerky, snack sticks and other smoked meats — especially during Michigan’s time-honored deer hunting season.

It was great getting to meet and spend time with the father and son team at Zick’s as I learned about their family-owned and operated business and dedication to Southwest Michigan.

I would like to thank everyone who took time out of their schedules to share with me an inside look at their business. Small businesses like these are the backbone of our economy, and I encourage everyone to buy local when you are able.

For those who are interested, videos of each of these tours can be found on my website

Sen. Kim LaSata, R-Coloma, represents the 21st state Senate District, which includes all of Berrien, Cass, and St. Joseph counties.