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East Hills food tour promotes local food and businesses

Purchasing and eating local food is a lifestyle choice adopted by many. For some individuals, knowing where to start can be the most difficult part. Tasty Adventures Food Tours aims to take the guesswork out of taking the first step.

/Liz Studt

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Tasty Adventures Food Tours information

East Hills tour: Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m.

Rockford tour: Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m.

Tours last aproximately 2.5 hours. The tour is $15 for one person, $25 for two people and $10 for each additional person.

For reservations or more information visit the Tasty Adventures website.

/Liz Studt

/Ruth Rittersdorf

Tasty Adventures Food Tours, a new project created by Greenville native Ruth Rittersdorf, provides a unique experience for Grand Rapidians who are looking to explore different possibilities for local food.

Rittersdorf guides participants on foot around the East Hills neighborhood to locally owned businesses that support and specialize in staying local. Rittersdorf also offers a tour of downtown Rockford.

The tour is aimed to be educational and recreational, allowing participants to explore shops and parts of town that they may be unfamiliar with. Tour participants can talk with shop owners and ask questions. Most sites hand out informational materials, such as brochures and free samples to assist in the learning process.

“For some people, entering a local small business for the first time can be intimidating. They are afraid that it will be expensive or they are scared that they’ll have questions and not know who to ask,” Rittersdorf says. “Staying local has become such a huge trend, but some people just don’t know where to start.”

Rittersdorf hopes to help people who are new to the local scene feel more confident entering and supporting local businesses. Rittersdorf encourages participants to not buy anything during the tour and instead immerse themselves into the learning process, which makes a return visit more comfortable and natural.

The tour begins at the Fulton Street Farmers Market with an informative discussion about herbs with Connie Hanson from Grand Shire Farm of Rockford. Participants learn about growing and cooking with herbs and the different flavors that each herb lends to different dishes.

The next stop on the tour is Global Infusion, a shop that offers fair trade organic merchandise, teas and herbs.

Under the Vines, a store that features Michigan made products and gifts such as wine, coffees, chocolates, jams and seasonings, is the third stop on the tour.

The group continues on to Nourish Organic Market for a tour of the small yet fully stocked store.

The tour ends at Art of the Table, a shop that promotes themselves as providing what shoppers need for almost every aspect of the at-home dining experience, from place settings to food to beer and wine.

All of the shops featured in the tour pride themselves on contributing to the local community, an important focus that Rittersdorf looked for when selecting venues.

“It is important to me to know that I am supporting local shops and helping them to succeed,” Rittersdorf says. “Each shop is special and unique. I know all of the owners and they know me. They were all very receptive to me and have helped me along the way with ideas for my business.”

Rittersdorf was inspired to create a food tour in Grand Rapids after attending one of a similar style in Chicago.

“The tour took us to smaller local shops that we would have never thought about going to in Chicago, but because of the tour we did and will return to them when we go back,” Rittersdorf said. “I looked at my husband and said that I could do this in our area. Then I worked all winter to try to talk myself out of it.”

Rittersdorf turned to Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW) for the confidence she needed to continue with her dream when she realized that nothing was holding her back.

“GROW gave me a starting point. By going through the classes I felt I had a good handle on where to start with beginning my business. Through the classes I met some really wonderful people who had the same questions that I did and they all had some really good ideas for new businesses,” says Rittersdorf. “The classes gave me the confidence to follow through and start the tours. It also gave me the reality check that it isn’t always going to be perfect, but to continue on.”

Rittersdorf has had success since her first tour in June. She hopes to expand and add venues and more tours once her current tours are more established.

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