EL Farmers' Market Vendor Profile: Spoonful of Granola's Sara Beer

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014, 11:46 am
Ann Nichols

Sara Beer doesn’t just show up at the East Lansing Farmers’ Market on Sunday mornings with homemade granola and a great smile. A tremendous amount of work goes into every week of selling Spoonful of Granola at the Market, and for Beer, that work is a labor of love.

“My favorite thing,” she says,” is to see people love what I do. I like the fact that I’m making something homemade that’s not full of sugar, and is pretty much a super food – it covers all the food groups if you add dairy.”

Beer makes and sells her granola under the provisions of Michigan’s Cottage Law. This 2010 addition to state food safety codes allows food to be produced in a non-licensed kitchen, although sales are restricted to a small number of venues including farmers' markets. Cottage Law vendor must be present at the point of sale.

These restrictions don’t seem to bother Beer, also a member of the Market’s Board of Directors, who says she “loves the East Lansing Market because it’s quaint, and every vendor has to be the producer or grower.” The Market’s motto is “100% Home Grown,” a higher standard than many other regional and national farmers’ markets.

Every Monday Beer buys ingredients from a variety of local sources, and spends ten to fifteen hours during the week baking batches of granola while her youngest child is at school. Her bestsellers include cherry almond pistachio, toasted pecan, peanut butter, dark chocolate coconut, and blueberry coconut, and she creates seasonal flavors including pumpkin spice and caramel apple for fall.

Making a “batch” begins with mixing a five-pound bag of oats plus ingredients, which then bake for an hour with frequent stirring. Once a batch is baked, Beer allows it to cool before measuring it into containers of various sizes. Spoonful of Granola products are brought to market in the Beer family’s thirteen-year-old “Market Van.”

Come Sunday, shoppers find Beer smiling, handing out samples, and enjoying the rewards of her hard work. She says that many of her best customers are MSU students who keep coming back after they try a sample.

Located in Valley Court Park, the 2014 East Lansing Farmers Market runs through October 26. October 5 is the Market’s Autumn Fest, featuring free cider and donuts, horse and carriage rides, and live music.


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