Minnesota Local Foods

Guide to Minnesota Local Foods

Garrison Keillor can make all the "hotdish" jokes he wants, locals know that there is plenty of fresh, wholesome, delicious, exciting food in Minnesota. From a short but very sweet and prolific growing season, to diverse cuisines, fresh lake fish, and, of course, truly wild and hand-harvested wild rice.

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    Minnesota Seasonal Produce & Farmers Markets

    Beets and Carrots at Market
    Beets and Carrots at Market. Photo © Molly Watson

    The growing season in Minnesota is short, but goodness it is awfully sweet while it's happening. Use this Guide to Minnesota Seasonal Fruits & Vegetables to figure out what to expect when from local growers.

    Minnesota has a large system of great farmers markets where you can buy such seasonal produce from local growers. Larger ones are open from April through November, many have shorter seasons so check listing to be sure. There is more than local produce for sale - look for locally made cheeses, pastured chickens, eggs, and more. Find one near you with this Guide to Minnesota Farmers Markets.

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    Minnesota Markets

    The Twin Cities are full of excellent purveyors of local foods:

    • The Golden Fig sells only hand-crafted foods from the Upper Midwest at 790 Grand Ave in St. Paul
    • Traditional Foods Minnesota offers locally grown and produced foods in a membership warehouse-style store
    • The Wedge Co-op is a fabulous natural foods store in South Minneapolis with the first certified organic meat counter in the country
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    Minnesota Meats

    • Clancy's Meat & Fish at 4703 Upton in South Minneapolis sells pastured meats and and hand-crafted sausages
    • Ingebretsen's is an 88-year-old Scandinavian meat market on East Lake Street that sells lutefisk, blood sausage and lefse, as well as exceptional hams and other smoked meats
    • The Sausage Shop in New Ulm specializes in German sausages and ships direct
    • Shwiky Meats in Brainerd, Minnesota sells locally grown beef and pork and also does custom processing of wild game for hunters
    • Thielen Meats makes and sells world famous bacon at their butcher shop in Little Falls, Minnesota
    • Thousand Hills Cattle Company raises grass-fed, pastured beef out of Cannon Falls, Minnesota
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    Minnesota Producers

    Look for these great Minnesota produced foods at farmers markets, natural foods stores, and grocery stores in the Gopher State:

    • Ames Farm Honey sells single-source honeys, beeswax products, and bee pollen at markets around Minnesota
    • Cedar Summit Farm is a fifth generation dairy farm in Minnesota that sells milk and dairy products (including kicking ice cream) from grass-fed cows, as well as pastured beef, pork, and chicken
    • Kadejan Chickens are fully free-range, pastured chickens raised in small flocks and air-chilled
    • Pastureland sells butter and cheeses from grass-fed cows
    • Wild Country Maple Syrup makes amazing maple syrup up in Lutsen, Minnesota
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    Minnesota Cheeses

    There are many dairies in Minnesota, and from dairies comes cheese. Look for these Minnesota-made cheeses at markets and cheese counters near you:

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    Minnesota Sweet Corn

    Grilled Corn. Photo © Molly Watson

    Minnesota sweet corn is sweet indeed - and tender as can be when bought fresh from road-side stands and farmers markets. When you're done eating it plainly boiled with butter and salt, try one of these Delicious Sweet Corn Recipes.

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    Minnesota Walleye & Other Lake Fish

    !Walleye is the Minnesota state fish, for what it's worth, and the most prized of the many fish that populate the state's lakes and rivers. Much of what is available in restaurants or fish counters comes from Canada, so ask about origins if local is important to you. Or, catch and cook it yourself

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    Minnesota Treats

    A newer, but just as coveted treat, is 1919 Draft Root Beer, available only at restaurants and special events on draft. Rich and fully flavored, 1919 reminds me what a treat soda pop can be.

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    Minnesota Specialties: The Juicy Lucy

    Juicy Lucy Cheeseburger
    Juicy Lucy Cheeseburger. Photo © Molly Watson

    Locals may disagree about exactly which South Minneapolis bar first served a Juicy Lucy, but experts agree that this cheese-stuffed hamburger hails from the Twin Cities. Make one at home with this Recipe for a Juicy Lucy Cheeseburger and find out Where to Get the Best Juicy Lucy from our Guide to Minneapolis/St. Paul.

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    Minnesota Wild Berries

    Blueberries. Photo © Molly Watson

    Berry picking - on blueberry hills and raspberry patches around the state - is a great summer treat in Minnesota. Both blueberries and raspberries tend to come into season in July (there's global warming for you - I remember August being the time when I was a kid). Find wonderful ways to use your haul with this Guide to Blueberries and these Berry Recipes.

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    Minnesota Wild Rice

    Wild Rice. Photo © Molly Watson

    Over 90% of the wild rice consumed in the U.S. comes from cultivated fields in California. The upside of that is that many more people get to eat wild rice than they otherwise would, but the downside is what they're eating isn't wild. Minnesotans know that the best wild rice is hand-harvested from lakes and rivers where in grows naturally (the harvest, in fact, is also next year's planting as some of the seeds don't make it into the boat and float to the bottom of the lake to grow the next year) and parched in small batches (as opposed to the large kiln ovens for commercial crops).

    No matter what kind of wild rice you have, here are some great ways to use it:

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    Minnesota Local Foods Resources

    • Our Guide to Mpls/St. has great ideas for Finding Local Foods in Minneapolis
    • For plenty about eating locally in Minnesota (and the entire Upper Midwest) check out Heavy Table
    • Find local farms, markets, and other sources for local foods in this Minnesota Grown Directory available as a free download or at farmers markets around the state
    • Find like-minded folks at Slow Food MN
    • Find great local foods sources and stories at Edible Twin Cities