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Serving up 'real food'

Now that the growing season is put to bed, and the holiday season is in full swing, I pause to consider the food that I prepare and serve to my friends and family. This summer my garden didn't produce as I'd hoped, but I have plenty of leftover home-canned green beans and an abundance of winter squash. But as winter drags on, the bounty from my garden quickly diminishes, and I wonder where I might find locally produced fruits and vegetables to sustain me until spring breaks.

Now, I am a foodie from way back. I enjoy cooking - and eating - marvelous concoctions. I am also a firm believer in finding the freshest and most local fruits and vegetables for my menu.

I am not the only one in this pursuit. Michael Pollan, author of "Omnivore's Dilemma," and Barbara Kingsolver, author of "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," are prolific supporters of local, minimally processed, real food.

The Farm-to-Table movement is gaining momentum, food deserts are being addressed in and around Minnesota, and in October 2014, the Minnesota Food Charter was launched. This charter is a roadmap designed to guide policymakers and community leaders in providing Minnesotans with equal access to affordable, safe, and healthy food regardless of where they live. It is supported by the Statewide Health Improvement Program at the Minnesota Department of Health with funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, and leadership support from the University of Minnesota Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute. (More information:

In this vein, I will devote my next several columns to where to find sustainable, local foods in our area during the winter months and beyond. We are fortunate to have many options available to us in west-central Minnesota. Alexandria has a large and stable farmers' market and there are many community-supported agriculture (CSA) farms in our area. Local producers grow just about anything under the sun, and there is even an online market at which you can order locally-produced food in the Alexandria area year round!

If you are interested in finding local vegetables, dairy, meat, grains or anything else for your kitchen pantry and dinner table, stay tuned in the coming weeks for more details.

Next week I will highlight our online alternative, Local Harvest Market Co., a regional food hub operating in Alexandria since fall 2014. It was formed by a group of west-central Minnesota producers and consumers primarily to build a market bridge between local farmers and local consumers.

If you have suggestions for what to include in this list of locally sourced food, contact me at 320-762-3890 or shoot me an email at

Until next time, happy gardening!