Category Archives: Winter Eat Local Challenge

74 People Took the Winter Eat Local Challenge

By Joey Robison

I’m proud to announce that 74 people took the Winter Eat Local Challenge this past March. These local eaters proved that you can eat at least half of your food from local sources, even at the end of winter when the the root cellars are at their lowest. Congratulations to you all!

One big thing that the Winter Challenge points out is how important it is for our region to have commercial food preservation facilities. We’ve got an amazing selection of food in our local area. Supporting and creating places where our local growers can store excess root vegetables, farmers can freeze fruits for winter sales, and entrepreneurs can create and can anything from pasta sauce and ketchup to snacks and soups will make eating much more locally in a Minnesota winter not only possible, but delicious.


Potluck food

By Angel Dobrow

The challenge week hosted a delicious potluck on Thursday night: shepherd’s pie, bison tongue, chips/cheese/salsa, pesto pasta, quiche, apple crisps, roasted potatoes, root vegetable stew, mint tea, etc., etc. I know there was more…the table was full. Really good food, and about 35 good eaters. The MPIRG chapter from Carleton, a bevy of local-food get-it-done activists brought us up to date on their project to get a Rice County local food policy in place.

One of their ideas was to develop a Local Food policy council, something other municipalities have constituted. I would argue the first meeting of this “future council” has just met…….

And consumed quality food. I would also suggest more potlucks!

The Quick & Easy Guide to the Winter ELC

By Joey Robison, Marketing and Member Services Manager at Just Food Co-op

If you’re like me, you need some quick and easy go-to meals for nights that you just can’t commit to cooking everything from scratch. I’ve created the Quick and Easy Guide to the Winter Eat Local Challenge for us.

In it you’ll find a list of events, 5 reasons to eat more local foods, and lots of great—and easy—winter meal ideas that are well over 50% local.

Click on the image to download the pdf, print it back-to-back and fold in half. Or just pick one up at the Co-op.

Blueberry muffins and planning

by Patrick Ganey (Duck Fat and Politics)

I was anticipating the winter eat local challenge back in July; that’s when we picked a winter’s worth of blueberries over in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin.  This evening my daughter and I hung out in the kitchen and made blueberry muffins for the week, dipping into another bag from the freezer.  The eggs were gathered in our backyard and the flour (wheat and white) is from North Dakota.  Pretty local, but what strikes me as essential to eating good, healthy food in the winter is harvesting it when it’s abundant and finding a way to store or preserve it.  As much as we love blueberries, we wouldn’t be eating them in the dead of winter if we hadn’t picked them in July.

While we’ve been canning and freezing more of  summer’s bounty each year, we still have a long way to go to before we’ll be eating it all through the winter.  The only way I’ll eat more of my own food next winter is by planning now.  As I get ready to start seeds in my basement, I want to think a little more about what things I can plant (or pick or buy)  that will last into the winter.  Blueberry muffins are a good incentive; if an afternoon of pleasant picking can keep us flush with blueberries for the entire year, just imagine what we could do with a cabbage patch!  We’d have sauerkraut for breakfast!  And what about corn?  Could we buy enough in August to last through the winter?  A weekend of work would probably fill the freezer with enough to last until next year.  And so it goes, one food after another.  Last fall I planted garlic for the first time in four or five years; I used to plant a lot but stopped a few years ago; I hope I can eat some of my own during next year’s winter eat local challenge.

Well, I can daydream about my gardening plans all winter long, but I know what’s going in my kids’ lunches this week.

I was raised on Potato Buds

Posted by Joey Robison.

I used to live off of junk food. It’s true, I did. I was raised on processed foods, and I wasn’t taught how to cook anything. I didn’t know mashed potatoes began as anything more than a “bud” until I was in my double digits. My awkwardness in the kitchen was balanced only by my mad microwaving skills.

You can read about my journey to local food over on

Point is, it’s a process to get from a diet of processed foods to eating a decent amount of local and whole foods. But I did it, and you can too! Taking the Eat Local Challenge is a way to try it out for a short period of time, exploring and discovering along the way that there are actually a lot of local foods available to you, even in winter.

We’ve had a few really good requests from Facebook fans for materials that will help folks be more successful at taking the Winter Eat Local Challenge. We’re going to create a list of the local foods available right now. We’ll also put together a “quick meal” guide, giving you suggestions for quick and easy meals and snacks that meet the 50% local goal. And we hope you’ll keep coming back here to read about the progress of your bloggers during the week of the Challenge!

The amazing standard egg-bake dish

I dedicate this post to my very good friend Karen Olson.

Her recipe from a yellow-sticky note..the ONLY part of the recipe besides salt and pepper not from within 150 (100?) miles of my home.

Chop and saute in 1/3 c butter one onion and a few garlic cloves. Add 12 oz spinach, fresh or frozen.

Beat one dozen eggs, 24 oz cottage cheese, 1/4 c shredded parmesan cheese, 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese. Add sauteed items and season with salt and pepper. Pour into a buttered 9×12 cake pan and sprinkle 1/2 c shredded cheddar over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for about one hour. (Serve warm, but also OK cold.)

THESE are the IDEAS to SHARE at our upcoming Eat Local Potluck 3-4-10. Bring favorite locally-sourced-ingredient-prominent recipes.


My Strategy

Posted by: Stuart Reid (coopstew)

Canned, dried & fermented...

My local food strategy for winter is pretty old fashioned… grow it in the summer and save it for when you need it. Here it is January and I still have fresh beets, turnips,onions, garlic and potatoes. Dried tomatoes, apples and plums, jam, pickles, kim chee, and a handful of hazelnuts all await their culinary destinies.  My sauerkraut is at its peak, canned and frozen greens just need reheating, brussels sprouts, green beans, yellow crookneck, peas, strawberries, raspberries… all grown with the care and respect they deserve and sitting on the shelf. Add a couple of dozen chickens from the yard, pork and beef from nearby friends, and all I need is a rice paddy and a coffee tree.

Summer on Ice

I have not always been able to enjoy so much winter bounty. Now I am fortunate to have room for a large garden, fruit trees and chickens. I started pickling when I was in high school (pickled crab apples,) drying food in the 80’s, fermenting in the 90’s, and pressure-canning just last year. None of these practices are difficult, but they can be time-consuming. Think of it as your nutritional savings account. You do the work in the summer, “deposit” your earnings and withdraw your assets (plus interest!) in the winter.

If your winter diet needs an infusion of summer, now is the time to start planning for next year. Order a few seeds, get a couple of library books on preserving food, collect canning jars, and watch for the great workshops that the co-op offers.