Food companies win Making it in Michigan awards


Monica Randles and Andrew Maternowski are physicians by training, but their passion for nutrition is leading them in a new direction. Courtesy Nutcase Vegan Meats

Three West Michigan food businesses have won Making it in Michigan awards from Michigan State University.

The food businesses were recognized with awards at the MSU Product Center’s Making it in Michigan conference this month.

The Making it in Michigan conference allows specialty food entrepreneurs to showcase their products and connect with retail market buyers.

The awards are presented at the conference and recognize outstanding clients of the MSU Product Center.

Award winners are MSU Product Center clients nominated by the innovation counselor who has worked with them.

The selection committee is comprised of innovation counselors and Product Center administrators.

Director’s Award: Clara Cookies

Founded by Rebecca Cruttenden, Clara Cookies is a volunteer-run protein cookies business that donates 100 percent of its profits toward efforts to adopt international children with special needs.

Startup to Watch Award: Nutcase Vegan Meats

Founded by married board-certified physicians Andrew Maternowski and Monica Randles, Nutcase Vegan Meats products are walnut-based, gluten-free, soy-free and corn-free meat substitutes that include frozen sausages and burger patties.

Value-added Agricultural Producer Award: Mud Lake Farm

Founded by Kris Van Haitsma and Steven Van Haitsma, Mud Lake Farm specializes in greens, micro-greens and herbs for specialty markets selling to restaurants and through community supported agriculture. They work toward sustainability and use biomass-heated hydroponic greenhouses for year-round production.

In 2014, the farm added a processing room and began selling handcrafted cordials made from elderflowers and ginger grown on the farm, according to MSU. In the past year, the business began canning craft sodas from their cordials under the name St. Steve’s Cordials and Sodas. The cordials and sodas are now carried in more than 90 locations in Michigan and are shipped across the country through website sales.

MSU Product Center

Founded in 2003, the MSU Product Center helps Michigan entrepreneurs develop and commercialize “high-value, consumer-responsive products” and businesses in the agriculture, natural resources and bio-economy sectors.

The center has assisted in launching more than 600 new businesses and business expansions.

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