FEAST! Local Foods SCOOP: September 2020


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Got Local? | Eateries | Fresh & Tasty | Contest Fun! | Who's Fueling FEAST!?

SEPTEMBER 2020  |  VOL. 3, NO. 3

FALL is here—and all that that implies

Cool nights and falling leaves. Gardens giving out their last glory. And of course, the election. But in the Midwest, with the inevitable cold on the way, it's a time to appreciate those good weather days along with the autumn beauty.  

The FEAST! Local Foods Magazine is taking shape, and we're looking forward to its October release! We're also signing up vendors to participate in this year's hybrid FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace, which will open with online sales in November, and culminate on Sunday, December 6th, at the Graham Park Fairgrounds. Read on for all the news...

—FEAST! Local Foods Network newsletter team 


Got Local?

Chocolate San José - Minneapolis

In the early 2000’s, Monica Jimenez was battling cancer when her family decided to make the journey to the United States in search of medical care and a better life. After uprooting a family of six (+ a dog!) to a new country and beating cancer, Monica began work in accounting but soon realized that her real dream was to own a business that she could pass down to her children.

Talking with her nephew, who oversees the San José Plantation in Ecuador, Monica found her calling. From her new home in Minnesota she became a business owner, founding San José – Minneapolis, LLC, based on chocolate made from that single family-owned cocoa plantation.

Passed down through generations since the 1930’s, the Ecuador plantation has ideal conditions for growing cocoa beans. Now, 4th generation farmers are producing Hacienda San José chocolates with Monica's help, all the while putting important practices in place for environmental sustainability and social responsibility.

Learn more on their website, including a video that shows their plantation, and follow their social channels at the buttons below.

Monica_sisters.jpg csj-grandchild.jpg
Monica (left) and her sisters at Hacienda San José in Ecuador Monica and her husband Edgar
at FEAST! 2019

Photo by Ashley Aukes, Beruck Studios
Monica and her granddaughter Kelly


Monica has continued to expand San José Chocolates since 2018, seeking out customers at farmers' markets, in stores throughout the Twin Cities, and on their website—which also shows store locations. Choose among dark chocolate, snacking discs, and cocoa powder, with bulk options for institutional sales.

Monica involves her adult children and family in hopes that the family business will continue in the future.

Like the hacienda—plantation—that began generations before her, she continues to prove that dedication, hard work and family are the real ingredients in San José - Minneapolis chocolate.



F+B Pop Up

A new downtown Minneapolis pop up is a collaboration between Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) and Birchwood Café—some might say a natural next step from their collaborations at the Minnesota State Fair's Farmers Union Coffee Shop in recent years. The F+B Pop Up opened August 20 at 750 South 2nd St, formerly Spoonriver, from 2006 to December 2019. A pioneer and champion of local foods, Spoonriver owner Brenda Langton was happy to see Birchwood and MFU take the reins in this historic location. With extensive local foods contacts between MFU and Birchwood, they started strong, featuring 29 local farmers in their menu, over half of which are current and past participants of the Minnesota Cooks calendar and state fair efforts.

The F+B Pop Up offers lunch/dinner Thursdays and Fridays, plus weekend brunch. When you arrive you can either call them at 612.436.8877 and they’ll bring your order out to you, or you can enter the building, shop their Grab + Go market and pick up your order at the counter. Masks are required.

Farms supplying ingredients:
Blue Fruit Farm — Dragsmith Farms — Featherstone Fruits & Vegetables — Ferndale Market — Fischer Family Farms Pork  — Gentleman Forager — Hidden Stream Farm — Hmong American Farmers Association — Hope Creamery — Kadejan Inc — Red Lake Nation Fishery — Red Table Meat Co. — Riverbend Farm — Shepherd's Way Farms — Singing Hills Goat Dairy — Whole Grain Milling Company

Photos by Katie Cannon Photography

Know Your Farmer

Ben Penner Farms

organic-whole-grain-flour.jpgWe've heard it said that grain is the forgotten food when it comes to buying local. That might be partly because it's difficult to grow grain at a small scale—it's still a row crop, even when grown in smaller-sized fields, and of course, it takes some serious equipment. But for all of the other reasons—environmental, economic, and social—we really need farmers like Ben Penner. With his name on the bag, he's guaranteeing his commitment to regenerative practices that build soil organic matter and sequester carbon; he's forming relationships with the miller who mills his grain, the bakers who buy his flour, all the way through to the individual consumers—many buy direct from his website in this post-COVID world.

Ben personally delivers flour from his farm in Le Sueur County, Minnesota to some of his key customers, like River Rock Kitchen and Baking Co. and Baker's Field Flour and Bread. You can find his whole grain flour—rye, turkey red wheat—at some area co-ops, including St. Peter, Just Food, Valley Natural Foods, and People's in Rochester. Even more exciting is his relationship with the Waconia School District, who uses his grain for things like noodles, breakfast bars, bread and other treats for their Cafe 110. Ben says Barb Shanks, Waconia's Nutrition Director, is a great advocate, and you can see that in this DeRusha Eats video from WCCO-CBS. Among other great things, Barb's team makes fresh pasta for some lucky kids. As she puts it, "the biggest classroom in the school is the cafeteria." 



You might recognize the photo of Ben with his family from the Minnesota Cooks calendar.

Photo by Katie Cannon Photography

Stay in touch:
Facebook - Instagram - Twitter - YouTube

Who's Fueling FEAST!?

Minnesota Farmers Union

MNcooks2019fair.jpgWe're glad to have worked with many of the farms and restaurants featured over the years in the iconic Minnesota Cooks calendar, a local foods program of MFU. And in this strange year that saw the cancellation of the Minnesota State Fair, we were among the many who missed seeing the farmer-chef pairs featured on stage during Minnesota Cooks Day at the Fair. Staff and volunteers of that effort in 2019 pictured here are headed up by Minnesota Cooks Director Bruce Miller, who passed away in November 2019 but has left a wonderful legacy that continues on.

Follow their local foods work at @minnesotacooks or minnesotacooks.org and their important policy and education work at @mnfarmersunion or mfu.org

Photo by Katie Cannon Photography



Stay tuned for more details about how we're arranging for social distancing and capacity limits for FEAST! 2020, as well as our plans for online ordering and curbside pickup at this year's event!

The FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace is a production of the FEAST! Local Foods Network, which is always open to new members. Founded by Renewing the Countryside (RTC) and Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), both the Network and the Marketplace depend on collaboration with partner organizations and individuals.  
The Network supports local food growers and makers by boosting access to financing, peer networking, and sales opportunities. Have a subject we should cover? Hit 'reply' and let us know!
The FEAST! Local Foods Magazine Vol.1 & 2 are available online here.
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  • Elena Byrne
    published this page in FEAST! blog 2020-10-15 19:03:27 -0500


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