Devouring Minneapolis for a greener world

Eating locally, indulging in home-grown food for the sake of supporting family farms and trying to dine healthily is a trend that Ann Yin, co-owner of the new grocery store Local DâÄôLish , says âÄúIsnâÄôt really a new trend at all … When I was a child, we went to the local farmerâÄôs market every week âĦ and a milkman brought us our milk in the morning.âÄù Yin feels whatâÄôs actually a developing trend is the sudden push to live entirely local. That doesn’t necessarily mean weaving your own macramé clothing line or letting your natural odor run rampant, but checking out alternatives to corporate baby carrots and Hollister tank tops mass-produced in Malaysia. âÄúWeâÄôre getting back to whatâÄôs natural to us âĦ what weâÄôre supposed to eat,âÄù and that’s not an exaggeration. When you read the ingredients of most food produced by small manufacturers, it’s surprising to find that it isn’t a science-y code of thiamine mononitrate and methylated benzoate, but simple mixtures of brown sugar and natural cheeses. If youâÄôre still not sold on this whole âÄúliving localâÄù business, but your interest is piqued, why not try it out for a stitch or two? âÄúThe Local Challenge,âÄù which originated in Portland, Ore. in 2005, i s a test of resources and creativity, wherein participants are asked to try and live completely local for just one week. Sound like an expensive venture for people who listen to soft rock and blow their weekly budget at Starbucks? Well, thatâÄôs exactly where youâÄôre incorrect. Here are a few jumping off points for livinâÄô local, college style. Farmers Markets Local DâÄôLish 208 First St. N. Minneapolis, MN 55401 Lyndale 312 E. Lyndale Ave. N. Minneapolis, MN 55405 Start here. There are six local farmers markets that take place regularly. This is a great way to not only scope out the local food scene, but dabble here and there into handmade rugs and knick-knacky trinkets galore. Wandering up and down the endless stocked aisles of crated goodies, you’ll be surprised at how cheap fruits and vegetables really are âÄî bushels of peppers for a buck and fresh-cut flowers for three. Don’t let Old Man Winter scare you off. The Minneapolis Farmer’s Market, located just off I-94 on Lyndale Avenue, still runs daily from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. until Christmas Eve , and Local D’Lish is hosting a monthly indoor market (the first round beginning at 10 a.m. on Nov. 15). Local Co-Ops Okay, you love sweets and this whole local challenge business is just starting to sound like a bunch of green beans, eh? Well, don’t fret. Everyone’s got a sweet tooth, and local diners are no exception. The local grocery stores and community co-operatives are aplenty in Minneapolis and St. Paul, like the Seward Co-op on Franklin Avenue and the Whole Foods on Excelsior Boulevard , and each one is chock full of fudge from Wisconsin and ridiculously delicious salsa for all levels of capsaicin-loving kids, spiced up with grapefruit or an extra kick of cilantro. Check the labels to see if that trout cracker spread was produced right here in the Midwest. Café Brenda 300 First Ave. N. Minneapolis, MN 55401 This elegant restaurant in the Warehouse District specializes in innovative gourmet vegetarian and super-fresh seafood dishes. ItâÄôs a tad on the pricier end, about $18 for an entrée, but the owner, Brenda Langton, is often credited with bringing fine vegetarian dining from Europe to little old Minneapolis in the 1970s. She also runs the Mill City Farmer’s market, so this gal knows the ins and outs of local living. Spoonriver 750 2nd St. S. Minneapolis, MN 55401 The sister restaurant of Café Brenda, Spoonriver, has only been open since June 2006. It sports a diverse lunch menu, from mango quesadillas made with free-range chicken to Japanese-style Oshidori, a medley of chilled Soba noodles, edamame and Caledonia shrimp , perfect for a quick chat over lunch or prolonged brunch Saturday morning. The Heartland 1806 St. Clair Ave. N. St. Paul, MN 55105 Celebrating its sixth anniversary, the Heartland restaurant in St. Paul boasts heaps and heaps of fine-dining awards. From being featured in the Los Angeles Times as a Midwest hotspot to nabbing the âÄúBest Restaurant-St. PaulâÄù award from Mpls.St.Paul Magazine in 2008, don’t expect to sacrifice taste during your foray into economic stimulation. The Heartland’s menu changes every day, meaning you’ll never be able to just stick with the chicken fingers. All of the restaurant’s meats are cured on site and they bake their own bread every day, but this local dream food doesn’t come without a price. The fees are fixed at $30 and $40, so it may be best to save this one for an anniversary or the bisemesterly parental visit. The Golden Fig 790 Grand Ave. St. Paul, MN 55105 The Golden Fig is a wonderful specialty grocery shop stocking fresh Honeycrisp apples and fine chocolates. Rows of racks chock full of spices, natural honey and raspberry jam line the interior of this quaint shop on Grand Avenue. This adorable store is a great place to pick up gifts packed with flavor. The Scandinavian Cider is a definite highlight and you can’t call yourself a tea drinker if you haven’t tried the Earl Blue Tea Hand, blended from Mrs. Kelley’s Teas. Black Cat Natural Foods 2010 Hennepin Ave.E. Minneapolis, MN 55413 Black Cat Natural Foods is a catering company specializing in local, organic sandwiches and salads, offering healthy alternatives to fast food and Starbucks Pumpkin Scones with 430 calories. Black Cat supplies several cafes around Minneapolis, including Caffetto, Taraccino, Eastside Food Cooperative and Mississippi Market. Next time you want a quick lunch over coffee, nab a Wasabi Tuna wrap with your fair trade coffee. Restaurant Alma 528 University Ave. SE. Minneapolis, MN 55414 Another restaurant committed to sustainable food production, Restaurant Alma’s highlight is its diverse array of delicious desserts. Flourless Chocolate Torte with pomegranate sorbet and orange glaze and Polenta Butter Cake with maple-bacon ice cream and pecan brittle are worth a dinner date all by themselves. Live a Little Local-er DonâÄôt feel like taking the bus downtown or trekking over to St. Paul every other week? Well, there are multitudes of other ways you can support the metro economy without actually challenging yourself at all! The holiday season is just around the bend, and no matter what you celebrate, you can find that special local something for your special local someones. Snatch up some candles made in Chanhassen, or gourmet licorice from Perham. If you’re planning on entertaining and a trip to the store is a must, swing by a co-op or local grocery store to snatch a loaf of sourdough bread or white cheddar popcorn. If you want to try out being an economy-boosting frat boy, think about throwing a rager that drops Minneapolis-based Grain Belt Premium beer instead of Italian Peroni. With local products available in everything from food to furniture, you don’t have to be an intense hipster to support the Midwest economy; it just takes a little gumption and a whole lot of taste buds.