Iowa business is “gateway drug” to fermented food enjoyment

by Kelli Boylen


Five years ago when Eric and Sarah Underberg started making fermented foods most people had never heard of the idea.

Sarah Underberg
Sarah was interviewed on WHBF-TV on September 20, 2017 and snapped this selfie.

Nowadays, most people have heard of kombucha and sauerkraut, but there are many other products including fermented hummus, kimchi, pickles, salsas, and traditional sourdough bread.

Eric started exploring fermented foods to improve his own health. “My husband started making fermented foods to heal his body after years of abuse from college football and working as a master carpenter,” shared his wife Sarah. “He began making milk kefir and sauerkraut and eating it every day. I was not interested in the beginning, however his passion for spreading the truth about food was so profound that I jumped on board. After about six months of Eric consuming these foods and the almost immediate bounce back, he talked to me at length about how we needed to share this information and food with others. That is when we decided to put everything we had into this business,” says Sarah.

They founded Agri-Cultured in 2012 in Dallas Center, Iowa with a small, licensed kitchen. They started making five-gallon batches of sauerkraut and kimchi.

“It was so important to us that we make the transition to whole food eating so easy, that people didn’t even realize they were eating ‘healthy.’ That’s why we offer the flavors that we do,” she said, adding, “Our company is the “gateway” drug to fermented on taste, pairs well with so many other foods and it gives us the opportunity to plant the seed of cultured food.”

Read more

Zaza’s Pastas offers heart, soul, and samples at Feast!

by Kelli Boylen

Julie Parisi, founder and owner of Zaza’s Pasta, is not only making local food, she is using local sources for the raw ingredients whenever possible as well!Julie Parisi

“We're using only Minnesota and Iowa grown wheat in all of our products. Throughout the whole process we're supporting local farmers along the way,” she shared.  All of their garlic, herbs and vegetables come from Frontier Natural Cooperative out of Norway, IA, whose mission it is to support and strengthen rural communities around the globe.

Zaza's Pastas started in 2010 in a small, one-bedroom apartment in Iowa City, selling at local farmers markets. Zaza’s Pastas has been working out of a commercial kitchen since 2012. In 2015 they started working with some local food wholesale distributors. This has allowed their product to reach farther than she could have ever anticipated.

“We pour our heart and soul into each batch of pasta,” expressed Julie. “We love the ingredients, we love the process and we want you to love what you eat!” Her pasta includes only local, organic and non-GMO flour.

Read more

Tonic: From Field to Feast!

by Marlene Petersen


Scouting Local Food Talent at Feast! Local Foods MarketplaceTonic

When it comes to buying local, Nicci Sylvester, owner of Tonic Kitchen and Juice Bar, puts her money where her mouth is. Literally. Okay…not literally. But pretty darn close. A fervid advocate for delicious, regional fare, Nicci refuses to compromise on quality and spends her time, talents and resources scouting out the best.


Committed to Local

“I have a passion for fresh, local food,” Nicci says. She started Tonic in November 2013 to fulfill her dream of owning a restaurant committed to sourcing locally. “I buy local because it’s about living life as a whole package. It’s better for the environment, doesn’t poison my staff with chemicals, supports area farmers and tastes better.”

With local food comprising 75 percent of Tonic’s summertime menu—and 35 percent of its winter one—procuring ingredients is a daily, if not hourly, venture.

“I’m constantly buying something,” says Nicci. “Today it’s honey from Bee Shed [Oronoco, Minn.]. Tomorrow will be chicken and turkeys from Larry Schultz [Owatonna, Minn.]. Right now, I’m going to the farmer’s market and asking around to find a grower who does carrots and beets.”

Creating menus for Tonic involves more than just purchasing inventory from a foodservice distributor like other restaurants do. It’s a commitment to eating in season and constantly examining fresh lists—an inventory of products farmers have to sell now, what’s coming up, and what’s over for the season—to see what’s even available. If Tonic runs out of carrots in the middle of lunch rush, Nicci doesn’t place an urgent order with Sysco or head to Cub Foods. She calls her farmers and hopes they have more. And if they don’t?

“When I’m out, I’m out.” She shrugs.

Read more

What makes Feast! different?

In case you didn't notice, Feast! is not just another food show. It's local, and it's innovative.Ferndale Market

As the name says, Feast! Local Foods Marketplace is very much about LOCAL foods, and all that that implies. For regional economic vitality, for transparency in the food system, and for environmental considerations like food miles, Feast! carries with it a strong emphasis on supporting local and regional food businesses in their efforts to follow a sustainable model that incorporates LOCAL sourcing of ingredients.

Starting a food business is complex and costly, and it has always been important to Feast planners that we keep the costs of attending low, in order to foster our regional food businesses that are striving to grow and watching every dollar.  Enter our sponsors.

Whether it's a major premier partner like Mayo Clinic (full list here) or one of the many smaller and in-kind sponsors, all of them have expressed support for the Feast mission. They have dedicated resources — both financial and staffing — to help us work creatively to keep Feast booth costs low, provide educational & networking sessions at no extra charge, and include meals (sourced locally when possible).

Read on to see a comparison of some regional and national show costs...

Read more

Interested in growing your food/bev business? Apply now for Feast 2017!


The 4th annual Feast! Local Foods Marketplace is now accepting applications for food and beverage businesses from Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota to attend the event at the Mayo Civic Center on Dec. 1-2, 2017.

Feast! 2017 will cap off a ‘food week’ in Rochester that includes the Feast! Restaurant Week—showing off Feast vendor products in local restaurant specials—and the large annual convention of the Midwest Food Products Association (MWFPA) that features over 150 vendors from equipment manufacturers to packaging and labeling suppliers.

Special free entry to the Feast tradeshow will be granted to MWFPA registrants, and likewise for Feast exhibitors to attend MWFPA Thursday morning (lunch ticket available for purchase).

Read more

New "Grow a Farmer" Loan Fund Helps Small Farmers Get a Leg-up


January 25, Owatonna, MINN. - Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), along with its partners through the FEAST Local Foods Network, including Renewing the Countryside and Slow Money Minnesota, are happy to announce the launch of a new loan fund for small-scale, sustainable farmers. The Grow a Farmer Fund is a revolving loan fund managed by SMIF that offers lower-interest loans up to $15,000 to individuals in SMIF's 20-county region for inventory, supplies, working capital or machinery/equipment.

Fundraising for the Grow a Farmer Fund kicked off last May at Slow Money Minnesota's annual gathering and was inspired by the principles of Slow Money, which originated out of the slow food movement. Slow Money's mission is to catalyze the flow of capital to local food systems, connect investors to the places where they live and promote new principles of fiduciary responsibility that "bring money back down to earth."


Read more

Aspelund Winery Blossoms with Ingenuity

What started as planting some fruit and nut trees for their own personal use has blossomed into something much more. Bruce and Dawn Rohl’s 10 acre property now boasts a whopping 450 elderberry bushes, 150 apple trees, and 80 grapevines that they use to produce wine.



Aspelund Winery began when the Rohl’s realized they could only freeze and can so much fruit juice, fruit, jams and jellies for themselves. They knew they needed another outlet and since Bruce had experience making wine with his father growing up, it was a natural jump to become a home vintner.

Read more

Feast is a fun way to fill your day…and your belly!

Every year now (well, for two years in a row), the Feast! planners have worked hard to build off of the previous year’s event and make it even better. There are a lot of things that have been there from the beginning—most notably, the many unique and delicious foods available for sampling and purchasing directly from the farmers and artisans who make them.

Squash Blossom Farm

Also every year we have engaging activities for kids of all ages! This year you’ll see the fun Veggie Grand Prix again, where vegetables turn into race cars. You’ll also see face painting, mini-sprout greenhouses under construction, budding artists crafting designs with dried seeds and paintings with veggie cutouts, and a special KidsFit program hosted by Hy-Vee, full of games that promote movement and learning about foods and nutrition.

 Veggie Grand Prix

Read more

Korean Flavorful Food Traditions

KC Kye, a native Korean, moved with his family to the United States when he was three years old. As he grew older, he decided to bring more of his Korean culture back to the states with him—in the form of their flavorful food traditions.

After creating 90 different iterations of sauces, they selected the best ones, and K-Mama Sauce was born. They have currently perfected four sauces that are available to purchase, which include: original, original gluten-free, spicy and spicy gluten-free.

K-Mama Founders

K-Mama Sauce really started taking off as a business when it was placed in its first few restaurants. You can see K-Mama Sauce on the tables of Brasa Premium Rotisserie and taste it in multiple dishes at The Kenwood in Minneapolis.

After being a minister for ten years, Kye found it crucial to give back to the community. This is what inspired K-Mama Sauce to donate 30 percent of all profits to various charities. Some of the charities they donate to are the church, Black Lives Matter and Standing Rock.

Read more

Going Gaga for Zaza's Pastas

There is a whole lotta love that goes into Zaza’s Pastas!

“We pour our heart and soul into each batch of pasta. We love the ingredients, we love the process and we want you to love what you eat!” says founder and owner Julie Parisi. Zaza’s Pasta includes only local, organic and non-GMO flour.Zaza

Julie grew up on Long Island, New York in a large Italian family. “We cooked and ate....a lot!” she says.

She thought it would be fun to try selling something at the local farmer’s market and realized no one was making and selling homemade pasta. “I thought, ‘Hey! I know how to do that!’” she recalls. So in 2010 Zaza's Pastas got started in a small, one-bedroom apartment in Iowa City.


Read more


get the scoop on Feast!