contents

DEPARTMENTS
3 5

winter 2007

grist for the mill Letter from the Publisher and Editor subscription form
A Daytrip along The Great River Road from SE Iowa’s Burlington to Keokuk

FEATURES
6
Herb and Kathy Eckhouse of La Quercia Help Italian Tradition Find a Home in Norwalk

6


0 what a difference a day makes

assisting at a miracle By Kurt Michael Friese

By Criss Roberts

8


4 notable edibles

Tasty Tidbits to Savor around the Region 

5 edible imbibables

Harvest of Hope Winter Markets

all local, all year By Wendy Wasserman

Bless this Bock: A Tale from Beyond the Brewkettle

By Jeff Allen and Tim Rask 

3 sleight of hand

Decorah Hatchery Has Four-Season Appeal

24 incredible edibles
Found Meats in Lost Nation

By Jay P. Wagner

By Brian Morelli 

8 nice to meat you

Why Custom Cut Meats Make the Grade

29 behind closed doors
Cline Hijacks the Refrigerators of Z102.9’s Schulte & Swann

By Leah Wilson

By Rob Cline

2 the impatient gardener’s guide to spring planting By Jennifer Hemmingsen 22 community supported agriculture connects farmers, consumers by Eugenia E. Gratto 26 native iowa meats
Once-Wild, Game Now Thriving on Iowa Farms

30 buy fresh buy local

What Goes Around, Comes Around

By Mallory Smith

3 edible endeavors 32 advertiser directory

Local Foods Connection: Using CSAs to Make Connections

By Sue Futrell

18

cover
Pig

By Kurt Michael Friese

21
EDIBLE IOWA RIVER VALLEY

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our contributors
Jeff Allen is the former brewmaster of Stone City Brewing Company, late of Solon, Iowa, where he still resides with his wife, Sal. Tim Rask was one of the first regular patrons at the brewery, and served as unofficial activities director. Jeff and Tim hope to turn the story of Stone City Brewing into a book someday. Rob Cline is the marketing director for The University of Iowa’s Hancher Auditorium. He is also the founding president of the Iowa Cultural Corridor Alliance and an active freelance writer. He lives in Cedar Rapids with his wife Jenny and his children, Bryan, Jessica and Emily. Fifth-generation Iowan Susan Futrell comes from a family with roots in farming, and has lived in Iowa City since she was old enough to vote. She spent 25+ years in marketing and sales with a locally-based organic foods distributor, and is now a freelance writer and sole proprietor of One Backyard, providing writing, marketing and research on sustainable food systems. She also works part-time for Red Tomato, a Boston-area nonprofit supporting small fruit and vegetable farmers. She has an MFA in nonfiction writing from UI, and her current ambition is to someday bake a perfect apple pie. Eugenia E. Gratto lives and writes in Iowa City. She moved to Iowa in September 2005 from the Washington D.C. area, where she sang in a rock band, divided her loyalties between the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles, and once paid $18 for six heirloom tomatoes at a farmer’s market. Shortly after she arrived in the Midwest, she decided it was high time she learned how to grow her own tomatoes. She chronicles her adventures in gardening, cooking, and living in Iowa on her blog, The Inadvertent Gardener, which can be found at www.TheInadvertentGardener.com Jennifer Hemmingsen planted her first garden when she was four years old and even though they’re not glamorous, johnny jump ups are still her favorite flower. When not digging in the dirt, she’s a freelance writer in Iowa City. Brian Morelli is a journalist who covers university news for the Iowa City Press-Citizen. A recent University of Iowa graduate, Morelli has a major in journalism and minor in political science. Prior to writing, Morelli traveled for several years primarily in the U.S. and Canada, and he cooked professionally at several restaurants across the country, most recently at Devotay. He currently resides in Iowa City with his wife and two children. Criss Roberts, a Chicago native, married into an Iowa farm family. She lives in Burlington, where she is feature editor of the Hawk Eye, and writes for other publications and websites. She is also a contributor to www.EssentialIowa.com Mallory Smith serves as statewide coordinator for Buy Fresh, Buy Local Iowa, a national program promoting local foods and sustainable agriculture. Smith has a BA in Home Economics from the University of Iowa and an MBA in Community Development from Western Illinois University. Her development experiences include two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras, a stint as a chamber of commerce president and setting up and running an economic development office in Louisa County, Iowa. Buy Fresh, Buy Local Iowa is part of a diverse roster of clients that Smith works with through her business, M Smith Agency. Smith resides in West Liberty, Iowa with her husband and three sons. Jay Wagner is a writer in Des Moines who focuses much of his attention now on covering food, travel and tourism in Iowa. He is a native of Sibley in northwest Iowa and has years of newspaper experience with the Northwest Iowa Review, Sioux Falls Argus-Leader and Des Moines Register, and also for a time was editor of The Iowan magazine. He publishes www.EssentialIowa.com, which covers all there is to know and more about Iowa. Jay is married to CeCe Wagner, an attorney, and they also have a daughter, Zoey, and a son, Kiernan. Leah Wilson is the Coordinator for the Johnson County Local Food Alliance ( JCLFA), a new organization fostering a more sustainable food system in Johnson and surrounding counties. JCLFA brings the Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign to Johnson County and coordinates Field to Family. (www.jclfa.org) Leah is currently working on her master’s thesis in Geography at the University of Iowa, focused on the sustainability of the University of Iowa food system. At home, Leah engages in freestyle, haphazard, micro-scale farming adventures. When not interrogating mystery plants in her garden, she can probably be spotted out in the pasture, cavorting and carrying on with her 3 dairy goats, heritage poultry and 2 organic, free-range children.
2 WINTER 2007 EDIBLE IOWA RIVER VALLEY

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PUBLISHER Wendy Wasserman EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Kurt Michael Friese designer Cheryl Koehler CONTACT US Edible Iowa River Valley 22 Riverview Drive NE Iowa City, Iowa 52240-7973 Telephone: (319) 400-2526 info@edibleiowarivervalley.com www.EdibleIowaRiverValley.com customer service Edible Iowa River Valley takes pride in providing its subscribers with fast, friendly service. Subscribe • Give a Gift Change Your Address Correct Your Subscription Buy an Ad (319) 400-2526 info@edibleiowarivervalley.com letters: To write to the editor, use the address above or for the quickest response, email us at: kurt@edibleiowarivervalley.com
Edible Iowa River Valley is published quarterly by River Valley Press, LLC. All rights reserved. Subscription rate is $28 annually. Call (319) 400-2526 to inquire about advertising rates and deadlines, or email Wendy Wasserman at wendy@edibleiowarivervalley.com. No part of this publication may be used without written permission of the publisher. © 2007. Every effort is made to avoid errors, misspellings, and omissions. If, however, an error comes to your attention, please accept our sincere apologies and notify us. Thank you.

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grist for the mill
Dear Reader: Thanks for bringing issue two of Edible Iowa River Valley to your table; Iowa’s only publication solely dedicated to this state’s local food and artisinal producers. The overwhelming response to Edible confirmed that Iowa is hungry for knowledge, insight and information about tasty local eats. Hope we can help you learn more and feed your interest in Iowa’s artisinal food scene. This season, we feature a cover pig. We chose this funny face for this issue of Edible because pork, and meat in general, are among Iowa’s most important industries. While winter is not a time of tall corn in Iowa, it is a great time to learn more about artisinal meat producers and their products. Inside this issue of Edible, you will find a story about Herb and Kathy Eckhouse of Norwalk and their La Quercia prosciutto, an exceptional cured ham that has worked its way, whole hog, onto the finest meat counters in the country. You’ll also hear from Leah Wilson, who demystifies meat lockers and guides you on how to use them to buy directly from small vendors, while meeting master butchers. Sue Futrell looks at Iowa’s indigenous roamers, elk and bison, and introduces you to some ranchers who are bringing these breeds back. Even if meat isn’t your game, there is still much food for thought inside. You’ll learn about The Harvest of Hope winter market program that travels around the state, giving you an opportunity to support farmers directly all year long, while sustaining an emergency fund for farmers in need. Jennifer Hemmingsen gets into seed buying early enough to get a head start at spring salad mix, and Eugenia E. Gratto will walk you through the benefits of Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs) and tell you how enrolling now can help farmers later while providing you with great produce, flowers and other local products all warm season long. There are some returning favorites in issue number two as well. Rob Cline goes Behind the Closed Doors to raid the fridge of Z102.9 DJs Schulte and Swann, and our Edible Imbibables column cheers on the blessing of the Bock, a special beer available only in early spring, and only after it’s been spiked by a red hot loggerhead. Criss Roberts goes on an edible daytrip through southeast Iowa —from Keokuk to Burlington—eating local all the way. Mark your calendars as Edible Iowa River Valley comes out four times annually, on a seasonal cycle. Our next issue will be full of spring cheer in May. Edible Iowa River Valley will always be free at distribution points all over Central and Eastern Iowa, but you can beat the seasonal rush by getting a subscription to have Edible delivered directly to your door. More information about subscriptions and where to find Edible Iowa River Valley is on our website at www.EdibleIowaRiverValley.com. And, if you subscribe now, we will give a donation to Local Foods Connection, a small non-profit that is providing CSA shares to those who can’t afford them. Local Foods Connection is featured in this issue’s Edible Endeavors column. In the meantime, sit back, relax, and read away. And if you are out and about, make sure to drop in at one of our advertising partners to tell them you saw them in Edible. That would make their day, and ours. Enjoy! Wendy Wasserman, Publisher Kurt Michael Friese, Editor-In-Chief
EDIBLE IOWA RIVER VALLEY WINTER 2007 3

Photos by Carole Topalian

Art GArfunkel MArch 3

the DAviD SAnborn Group MArch 7

Hairspray April 17-22

StuttGArt chAMber orcheStrA with leon fleiSher, MArch 23 clApp recitAl hAll

hancher
www.hancher.uiowa.edu
1-800-HANCHER
HancherEIRV.indd 1 11/27/06 2:18:17 PM

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Edible Iowa River Valley is published quarterly by River Valley Press, LLC. 22 Riverview Drive NE, Iowa City, Iowa 52240-7973. Telephone: (319) 400-2526. Distribution is throughout the greater Iowa River Valley region and nationally by subscription. All rights reserved. Subscription rate is $28 annually. Call the number above to inquire about advertising rates, deadlines or subscription information, or email us at info@edibleiowarivervalley.com. No part of this publication may be used without written permission of the publisher. © 2007 All Rights Reserved. Edible Iowa River Valley is printed on recycled paper.

EDIBLE IOWA RIVER VALLEY

WINTER 2007

5

assisting at a miracle
Herb and Kathy Eckhouse of La Quercia Help Italian Tradition Find a Home in Norwalk
story and photos by kurt michael friese The succulent delicacy known as prosciutto is sometimes called “A pig’s leap toward immortality.” A successful jump, when you consider that the first documentation of the process is credited to Cato and dated to around 100 BC. Back then, pork legs were buried in barrels of salt to cure, then smoked and air-dried. As the process was refined over the centuries, the burying and smoking aspects were abandoned. The prosciutto we know today is made with only pork, salt, and time. Across all those centuries, the only place one could find authentic prosciutto was in Italy. In fact, it was found only in a few select parts of Italy—notably Parma and San Danielle. Other places made similar products, such as Spain’s delicious jamón, and modern industrial meatpackers began making a ham product they called prosciutto in the mid-twentieth century, but it was only the vaguest shadow of its royal ancestor. No one could quite equal the prowess of the Italian original—until now. Herb and Kathy Eckhouse opened La Quercia Prosciuttificio in 2005, after years of research and practice. Kathy once worked as a ranch hand, and then as a researcher in Agricultural Economics at the University of California at Berkeley. The name La Quercia, (pronounced La Kwair-cha, with a slight roll of the “r”—if you can do it), is the Italian term for “The Oak.” It has particular symbolism for the product, for its origins, and for Iowa. The oak tree is the symbol of the Italian region of Parma, Prosciutto’s ancestral home. It is also the source of the acorns used to feed the pigs there, which give Prosciutto di Parma its unique flavor. The Oak is also the state tree of Iowa, another world capital of pork. It seemed predestined that the traditions of the old world would find a home here on the edge of the Great Plains. The La Quercia dream began in 2000. The Eckhouse’s vision was to make a prosciutto of their own, but in the meantime, they began by importing the prosciutto of one of the best Prosciutto makers in Parma. This helped them learn some of the ropes, build a distribution network, and work on the financing of their new plant in Norwalk, just south of Des Moines. They also began experimenting with homemade hams
6 WINTER 2007

Eckhouse’s hams hang to age during their leap toward immortality

Thin Slices of La Quercia Prosciutto, accented with Parmigiano Reggiano

EDIBLE IOWA RIVER VALLEY

of their own. Using techniques they had learned in Parma and making adjustments for the meat that was raised close to home, they closed in on the perfect combination. Making prosciutto is a slow process. It is not, as some major American cold-cut producers would have us believe, simply adding extra salt and pressing a cheap traditional American ham. There are no nitrates or nitrites to preserve it. The methods used in Parma, and now in Norwalk, have been refined by centuries of necessity. Refrigeration is a new process. For most of human existence we have had to preserve our meat through a myriad of curing, drying, and smoking techniques. The cultures around the Mediterranean were the best at it; from the cured Italian fatback known as lardo to the Spanish bacalao, or salt cod, there are thousands of them, and prosciutto could well be considered the king. The process begins with the carefully trimmed ham, or hind leg, of the pig and echoes the seasonal cycle (winter, spring, and summer) followed for generations. It is salted and allowed to rest on one side in a cool place. After weeks in the cold (winter), the salt is rinsed off and the ham is hung to dry and develop its flavor in very specific climatic conditions for months. You’ll notice that a lot was left out of that process. Trimmed how? What kind of salt? Cured for how long? What temperatures? What specific climatic conditions? Well, if you can get that kind of information out of a Prosciutto Maker, then you

are surprisingly more persuasive than I. Techniques are zealously guarded from family to family. Everything they do at La Quercia seems based on love: for the animals, for the art, for the product, and for each other. Respect for the animals is paramount, and La Quercia buys only high quality Berkshires—both organic and not (the organics cost a little more but are worth it)—for their hams. Herb and Kathy have transported this classic fare from its origins in the Italian countryside to the heartland prairie where it has found a new home and new fans among America’s modern farmers. This in turn provides a new market for the sustainable pork producers who supply La Quercia, and a local source for an imported delicacy.

Details
La Quercia Prosciutto Herb and Kathy Eckhouse 400 Hakes Drive Norwalk, Iowa 50211 515.981.1625 www.LaQuercia.us

EDIBLE IOWA RIVER VALLEY

WINTER 2007

7

by wendy wasserman

Nick Wallace is a farmer in Keystone, Iowa, a town of less than 700 people located between Tama and Cedar Rapids. He sells angus beef raised on his century-old family farm. His cattle are grass-fed and custom processed to meet the specifications of his customers, who he works with closely to make sure they get the cuts they want and know how to use them. Nick primarily relies on the internet and buying clubs around the state to sell Wallace Farm meats. But in the winter, Nick is often at a table at a Harvest of Hope farmer’s market. Harvest of Hope winter markets are sponsored by the Churches’ Center for Land and People (CCLP), an ecumenical, all-volunteer, non-profit organization based in Middleton, WI. These winter markets are held in donated church spaces around the region, and nearly every winter weekend, there is a Harvest of Hope market happening somewhere in Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois. The markets start in November, and will go through the end of March. Offerings vary from fresh meats, root vegetables, bulbs, apples, honey, dried spices, eggs and garlic, to other artisinal products like handspun wool and crafts. Specific vendors might change depending on market dates and location, but all of the participating farmers donate a small percentage of their sales to raise money for the Harvest of Hope emergency fund, which provides emergency assistance for small family farmers in dire need. The Harvest of Hope emergency fund was established in Wisconsin in 1986 in response to the farm crisis. Since then, over $700,000 has been allocated as emergency grants to over 1200 farming families in that state. CCLP started the winter farmer’s market program in Wisconsin in 2003 to raise money and visibility for the emergency fund. The winter market/fundraising model is new to Iowa, as is the Iowa version of the emergency fund. “We have an average of 6 or 7 vendors at each of the Harvest of Hope markets [in Iowa] this year. It’s our second year in Iowa and we’re building the program as we go along.” says Jim Earles, Iowa Project Director for CCLP. “Each of our vendors has a mission of sustainability and the happier the vendors are, the better the turnout.” Applecart Orchards has a regular booth at the winter market. The trees in their Vinton orchards may be in winter hibernation, but the business is still in full swing off season pressing cider and sorting apples. All Applecart Orchard cider is pressed as the season goes, and has a full, fresh and almost addicting flavor. During the summer market season, Applecart Orchard booths are usually packed and it’s hard to chat. Yet, Harvest of Hope winter markets give Allen Israel, the orchard manager, a chance to talk to apple lovers about his fruit.“ The vendors are
8 WINTER 2007 EDIBLE IOWA RIVER VALLEY

Photos by Kurt Michael Friese

all local, all year Harvest of Hope Winter Markets

really good and happy to be here”, he comments as he advises a customer as to the best baking apple for her forthcoming pie at a Harvest of Hope market earlier in the season in Solon. Harvest of Hope markets also offer an opportunity to find the unusual. Johnson Honey Farm is a regular at these winter markets, showcasing their specialty creamed honey, which comes in 16 flavors. “We are one of the very few licensed kitchens to make creamed honey” say Bill Johnson, owner of the small business. “We are in some selected retail shops, but prefer to sell directly at market to keep our prices low.” Another unusual vendor is Wallace Farms themselves. In addition to the beef, they also vend wild Alaskan Salmon, which is caught fresh by Shelley and Jerry Brennamen, an Iowa couple who run a fishing camp along Alaska’s Kenai River. The fish is flash frozen or smoked as soon as it is caught, keeping it moist and flavorful for its journey. Nick often sells out at market, which is good for him, good for his customers, and best for Harvest of Hope, which continues to support farms all year long.

Details
Harvest of Hope Winter Markets locations rotate around the state during the winter season. For more information and to verify dates/times, contact the Churches’ Center for Land and People online at www.CCLPMidwest.org or at 563.588.2935. Markets are happening through late March in the following locations: Saturday, February 17: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Christ Episcopal Church 623 N. 5th St. Burlington Saturday, March 3: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Collegiate United Methodist Church & Welsey Foundation 2622 Lincoln Way Ames Saturday, March 10: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church 1780 White St. Dubuque Saturday, March 24: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. St. Luke’s Episcopal Church 2410 Melrose Drive Cedar Falls

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9

what a difference a day makes A Daytrip along The Great River Road from SE Iowa’s Burlington to Keokuk
by criss roberts

There are surely more direct Fort Madison. The heart of the routes between the grand old city is just beyond two fortressriver towns of Burlington sized buildings. The first edifice and Keokuk. The trip takes is the Iowa State Penitentiary, 50 minutes, at worst, on U.S. established in 1839 and the old61 and most of that is spent est prison west of the river. The caught in the sludge that is second is a recreation of the fort Fort Madison traffic. that defended the region during But by opting for speed, the War of 1812. one misses the Mississippi The road through town is slow River—the sunshine bouncing and meandering, opening up off the water like diamonds reagain at the intersection of U.S. 2. fracted, ducks headed toward First stop is in Montrose, (popuNew Orleans and later, when lation 972) at Dave’s Old-Fashioned Meat Market, on North the ice begins to form, eagles First Street. Dave Beelman left plying its banks. The Great River Road, eshis post behind the meat countablished in 1938, is continuter of a major Iowa grocery store ally being developed as a linear to open the kind of place where park, peeling back the layers meat is respected. And to Beelof history along its 3,000-mile man, the king of meat is lamb. The Great River Bridge in Burlington “As a meat cutter, I was injourney to the Gulf of Mexico. On a sunny day, pack a cooler and plan to gather components of trigued that I could sell lamb,” Beelman said. “I began asking a few good meals along the way. people why they wouldn’t eat it and they said, “It tastes like it Start the day in Burlington, Iowa’s first capitol when Iowa smells.” was still part of the Wisconsin territory and before Iowa City That was enough to tell Beelman they weren’t eating lamb, usurped the role. Iowa City has its grand Old Capitol to show they were eating mutton, old lamb that wasn’t tableworthy. He for it. Burlington has a parking lot with a bronze plaque. The riv- fenced a pasture, built a barn and acquired his own flock that he erfront city has dipped its toe into the tourism game, adding fine feeds according to 100-year-old British standards. The end proddining restaurants and cozy bistros at a sustainable pace. uct is a tender and tasty as the best cut of steak. Make sure to pick One of those bistros, Mister Moto’s, a great place to get some up some lamb chops and an organic free-range roasting chicken coffee for the road. By day a Bohemian coffeehouse, adorned for dinner. with the work of artist/owner Kevin Bangert, Moto’s serves a Stay on the main drag, following Great River Road signposts, vegetarian breakfast, lunch and dinner, attracting clientele which a route that runs hard by the river into Keokuk, a once grand lady doesn’t seem to notice there is no meat on their plate. Bangert hit hard by recent plant layoffs. returned to his hometown after years of living abroad to open Fiesta Jalisco, on Main Street, is perfect for a light, authenthe sort of place he liked to hang out in. Make sure to make a pit tic lunch. The year-old restaurant is owned by Jose Perez, who stop too. The bathrooms and hall are decorated with Bangert’s brings favorites from his home state of Jalisco, Mexico, cooked exquisite mosaic work. as though he were indeed home. The region borders the Pacific The Great River Road through Burlington is on Main Street, Ocean—Puerta Vallerta is in Jalisco—and Perez’ specialities inheading south through the 85-acre Riverbluff Crapo Park. Fol- clude sublimely done fish served, as most orders are, with fresh low the green pilot-wheel signs out of the park to the old Fort Iowa vegetables. The margaritas are to die for. Madison road, which leads to U.S. 61. The 15 miles between BurFurther down Main Street is Stan’s Pastry Shop. There can still lington and Fort Madison are on four-lanes; the riverside here is be a line at 1 p.m. waiting for cream horns and cream puffs, the floodplains and wetlands and river views don’t exist again until specialties of the house. The air smells sweetly of fresh butter and 
0 WINTER 2007 EDIBLE IOWA RIVER VALLEY

Photo by Carole Topalian

caramelized sugar and the racks are filled with cookies and breads, but it is the cream-filled pastries that bring in the crowd. Retracing the route back to Fort Madison, but head away from the river at U.S. 2 toward Donnellson. Watch for signs for Franklin, a tiny town in a landscape of tiny towns, 10 miles east of Fort Madison. It’s the home of 120 people and of Christian Herschler District Winery, one of the oldest wineries in Iowa. Mike and Lori Jarvis bought the old stone stagecoach stop once owned by Christian Herschler so Lori could return to her hometown. The streets were once lined with pre-Civil War limestone structures, but 14 of the historic stone homes have been torn down since 1960. The Jarvis’ renovation uncovered murals under coats of paint and a 150-year-old wine recipe that Herschler would have used to stock his cellars. They use a variety of locally grown fruits (like peaches and tomatoes) and grapes for their wines, which they sell out of the basement wine cellar. They also run a guesthouse in a neighboring restored stone structure, calling it their Bed and Wine. “We don’t serve breakfast,” Mike Jarvis said, “But we give you a bottle of wine so you sleep through breakfast.” U.S. 2, running along the southern tier of Iowa’s counties, is farmstand-rich during the growing season. Closer to Donnellson is Kathy’s Pumpkin Patch, a gourd lover’s wonderland that is a fall family tradition in southeast Iowa. Nearby is Faeth Orchard’s, with apple trees tended by the sixth generation of the Faeth family. Back in Fort Madison, stop for coffee and dessert at the Ivy Bake Shoppe, on Avenue G. Opened in 1992 by two women who began selling baked goods from their basement, the bake shop offers sinfully good baked goods as well as daily lunch specials, much of it made from locally grown produce. The road leads back to Burlington, where dinner is at The Drake, a riverfront restaurant which is one of the largest local supporters of Des Moines County’s Buy Fresh, Buy Local (BFBL) program. The Drake hosts a BFBL dinner on Mondays, creating a menu from what is seasonally available. Always on the menu is elk, from the Wildlife Lakes Elk Farm in West Burlington, which is also served at Iowa City’s Atlas World Grill and Devotay, as well as the Lincoln Cafe in Mount Vernon. As night falls, the lights of Burlington’s Great River Bridge begin to twinkle and the barges make their slow trip south toward the Port of New Orleans. The best view of the scene is from the fourth floor of River Park Place, on North Fourth Street, home of Martini’s Grille. A nightcap at the bar, which specializes in—what else—martinis, and wine (it recently received Wine Spectator honors for its wine list) ends a daytrip with a view of the riverfront road well traveled.

Where to eat along the way:
Mister Moto’s 100 N. Fourth St., Burlington no phone The Drake 106 Washington St., Burlington 319.754.1036 www.TheDrakeRestaurant.com Martini’s Grille 610 N. Fourth St., 4th Floor Burlington 319.752.6262 www.FoodGuru.com Dave’s Old Fashioned Meats 111 N First St., Montrose 319.463.7150 Faeth Orchards 2469 U.S. 2, Fort Madison 319.372.1307 www.FaethOrchard.com Kathy’s Pumpkin Patch 1977 U.S. 2, Donnellson 319.470.1558 www.KathysPumpkinPatch.com Christian Herschler Winery and Guest House Sixth and Green, Franklin 319.835.9432 Stan’s Pastry Shop 814 Main St., Keokuk 319.524.2991 Fiesta Jalisco 719 Main St., Keokuk 319.524.1611 Ivy Bake Shoppe 622 Avenue G, Fort Madison 319.372.9939 www.IvyBakeShoppe.com

“We don’t serve breakfast,” Mike Jarvis said, “But we give you a bottle of wine so you sleep through breakfast.”

Photo by Criss Roberts

EDIBLE IOWA RIVER VALLEY

WINTER 2007 

LUNCH

DINNER

SPIRITS

122 S. Iowa Ave. Washington, IA • 319.653.4012 www.cafedodici.com 

2

WINTER 2007

EDIBLE IOWA RIVER VALLEY

sleight-of-hand Decorah Hatchery has Four-Season Appeal
by jay p. wagner

Visiting the Decorah Hatchery from March to mid-July is like stepping back in time. For four months each year, the Decorah Hatchery incubates 200,000 eggs and sells the chicks across northeast Iowa, northwest Wisconsin and southeast Minnesota. Then the owners, Steve and Peg Matter, clear out most of the hatchery equipment, clean up and convert the space into a fun and funky clothing store, specializing in winter gear for the outdoor enthusiast. The Matter family has owned and operated this hatchery since 1922, when Steve’s grandfather, John, opened the business. His son Roger took it over and then passed it on to Steve and Peg Matter. Today, the Decorah Hatchery is one of about a dozen places in Iowa that still produces live chicks. A generation ago, there was a place like the Decorah Hatchery in practically every town in Iowa, during an era when every farm raised a few chickens for the eggs and meat. Regardless of the time of year, the Matters welcome visitors into the hatchery to poke around (be sure to note how the incubator shelves are converted to display space for sweaters and other clothing during the winter months). This is where you buy one of the most popular souvenirs available in Decorah, the t-shirts with the hatchery logo, which reads, “Another Quality Chick from the Decorah Hatchery.” The Matters also carry an assortment of more than 700 stocking caps during the winter months—one of each kind from several manufacturers—so that local customers will never show up for a sledding party only to discover that, horror of horrors, another person is wearing the same cap. “I like to send them out the door with their own hat,” Peg says.

If you’re a trout fishing enthusiast and forgot a piece of gear, you might be able to find what you’re looking for here. And be sure to ask Steve Matter for tips on hot spots for catching trout. But more than a retail outlet, the hatchery also offers a bit of nostalgia for people who remember the day when there was a place on Main Street that sold baby chicks. There was a time, Peg says, when five hatcheries competed in Decorah alone. Until the 1950s and 1960s, most every farm raised chickens—as well as pigs and cows—as a way to feed the family. With the invention of the automobile, the creation of a system of good roads, and the arrival of supermarkets, many farmers bought most of their food in town and concentrated on growing crops and livestock for sale. A big customer base for the hatchery is the growing Amish community north of Decorah just over the Minnesota line. In an age when business transactions take place over the Internet, Steve still receives hundreds of carefully handwritten orders in the mail from the Amish, takes the time to hand-write a confirmation, and then arranges delivery to their farms. Peg says a renewed interest in backyard flocks and in truck farming have also helped maintain the business. But a big reason for the hatchery’s survival is the family’s pluck. Except for the Decorah Hatchery sign on the front of the building and the big egg incubator in the middle of the display area, the uninitiated would have no reason to believe this is anything but the type of funky clothing store you might find in any Bohemian neighborhood in the country. Peg says it takes about a week in March to transform the hatchery into a fullblown clothing store. The sale of clothing, particularly the “Quality Chick” t-shirts, provides a second revenue stream that
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helps to preserve the hatchery as a symbol of small town life. “This is a piece of history and we like to pass it on,” Peg says. “We get a lot of older folks who come in here and say, ‘Oh, I can remember when we raised chickens on the farm and visited the hatchery.” This article originally appeared on www. EssentialIowa.com and has been reprinted with permission.

Details
The Decorah Hatchery is open Monday through Saturday. If you don’t get there in person, Quality Chick t-shirts can also be ordered directly. Decorah Hatchery 406 W. Water Street Decorah, IA 52101 563.382.4103 decorahhatchery@gmail.com www.DecorahHatchery.com

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Photo by Carole Topalian

notable edibles
Tasty Tidbits to Savor around the Region
the wonder of gunder

The town of Gunder is almost small enough to miss along the roads of Clayton county, but its reputation looms large thanks to the Irish Shanti, home of the Gunderburger. This burger is one of Iowa’s biggest burgers to bear. Once cooked, it comes in at 1 ¼ pounds , 8 inches in diameter, 1-inch thick and is grilled to delight. Word is that the Wonder of Gunder Gunderburger was created as a hometown specialty to put the town on the map over 30 years ago. It has grown in size, and reputation, ever since. The Wonder of Gunder burger is still a great big deal at $7. The Irish Shanti is at the intersection of County Roads B60 and B65 in Gunder and is open daily. For more information call 563.864.9289 or go to www. TheGunderburger.com.

OK, who’s to say where the idea came from, but it was a great idea—battered and fried dill pickles that just cry out for a good beer. The only question is: chips or spears? No need to fret, both are available in eastern Iowa. For spears, stop in at Old Capitol Brewworks and Public House on Gilbert Street in Iowa City, alongside a frosty pint of Aaah, Bock (see Edible Imbibables in this issue). If crinkle-cut pickle chips are your preference, you can find them at the Drake in Burlington, where you can enjoy them before a nice locally raised elk steak (see Sue Futrell’s story Native Iowa Meats, also in this issue)

two sources of awesome fried pickles

La Reyna, the bodega formerly of Columbus Junction and now on Keokuk Street in Iowa City, boasts not only what must be the widest selection of southof-the-border goodies on it’s grocery shelves, but now a small café where you can enjoy truly genuine, incredible chicken tacos. Be sure to ask for the corn tortillas and the homemade pico de gallo. While you’re at it, see if they have any tamales the day you’re there—light and fluffy and full of flavor, you never knew tamales could be this good. La Reyna is at 1937 Keokuk Street (across from K-Mart), in Iowa City 319.358.8182.

the best chicken tacos ever

Iowan wines are up and coming, as the more than 50 wineries in the state will attest. The Iowa Wine Trail, a cooperative initiative among seven wineries in the Northeast, makes it easy to learning about one of Iowa’s fastest grow agri-business by issuing maps, information, and special events among its participating members. One such event is the annual Winery Open House weekend of April 28-29, 2007. Each winery—from the Amish built winery of Decorah’s Winneshek Winery to Sutliff ’s Cider Mill—will feature several of their new spring arrivals, along with pairings of cheeses, chocolates and other local food. Tickets can be purchased online at www.IowaWineTrail. com, or any of the participating wineries.

iowa wine trail’s spring open house 

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edible imbibables Bless this Bock: A Tale from Beyond the Brewkettle
by jeff allen and tim rask

We could spin this as a tale of resthe city of Einbeck, which may urrection, or one of those “phoeor may not have given the style nix rising from the ashes” tales, its name—we don’t have time but that would be a little too to go into that in this space). clichéd for our taste. However, Bocks traditionally are assowe are beer drinkers, and there’s ciated with springtime, and nothing we like better than a frequently feature the image nice tale to go with our pints of of a goat on the label. Again, ale, so if you’ll indulge us, let us we’ll save the debate about tell you the story of a tiny Iowa the connection between bock brewery that has experienced and goats for another time. a rebirth of sorts (dang, there’s Released in February 1998, “Aaah Bock” quickly became that clichéd imagery again!). a popular pull from the Stone Ten years ago, Cedar Rapids native Jeff Allen, a long-time City tap handles. Initially, pahomebrewer, dreamed of going trons chuckled over the brew’s Aaaah, Bock! whimsical name, which was professional, opening his own brewery, and selling his delicious brews to a thirsty public. In derived from an early episode of the M*A*S*H television series. July, 1996, along with wife, Sal, brother-in-law, Mark Brower, But a clever name seldom fools people for long, and it was Aaah and longtime friend, Luke Ames, Allen opened the Stone City Bock’s full-bodied flavor that made it a runaway hit. Curiosity Brewery in the small town of Solon, roughly midway between about the new beer was further enhanced by Stone City’s practice Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. The brewery embodied the best of of “spiking” the beer by heating a railroad spike with a blowtorch, the multitasking, do-it-yourself work ethic of the idyllic small lo- then plunging the red hot metal into pint of Aaah. This caramelcal business. You didn’t find gleaming copper brew kettles or gi- ized the residual sugars in the beer and produced a wonderful, ant stainless steel fermentation tanks in Stone City’s brewhouse. burnt aroma and roasted flavor that is one of life’s true pleasures. It definitely was not Miller—shoot it wasn’t even Millstream! Wielding a superheated railroad spike in a roomful of beer Rather, Jeff shoehorned some used dairy equipment into a build- drinkers is a tough act to follow, but the gang at Stone City deing that once housed a farm implement dealership and set up a cided to add to the festivities for the 1999 release. Jeff borrowed small tasting room up front (you were as likely to find Jeff serving a page from Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery and held a Blessing from behind the bar or in back tending a boiling batch of brew of the Bock ceremony to consecrate that year’s batch. Jeff donned in the back). a monk’s robe and even penned a beer drinkers prayer for the ocThe brewery was an instant hit locally (so much for the no- casion to usher in the second season of bock. tion that small-town Iowans only consume light industrial swill). The ceremony caught on, and over the years, the text of the Over the first couple of years, Jeff turned out a series of eye-open- prayer was modified, a pseudo church service was held, and St. ing beers that included a hefeweizen (a German-style wheat Arnold even showed up to bless the Aaah (with brewery regular beer), Iowa Pale Ale, and the popular Artist Colony brown ale. Roger Nidey dressed as the patron saint of brewers). The Aaah Soon the tiny tasting room at the front of the building became Bock also turned out to make a wonderful complement to brata popular local gathering spot for visitors to stop in and down wurst. For Stone City’s annual Spring Bike Ride, grilled brats some tasty pints and engage in some sometimes deranged con- were finished off in a simmering pot of Aaah Bock. versation with a loyal cadre of regulars. Alas, Aaah Bock and Stone City Brewing turned out to be In Stone City’s second year, a new seasonal brew joined the fleeting pleasures. To the disappointment of beer drinkers across brewery’s lineup: the rich, malty Aaah Bock. Contrary to popular eastern Iowa, Jeff was forced to close up shop in 2003, leaving myth, bock beers are not brewed from the residue that is left in loyal regulars without Iowa Pale, Artist Colony, and their annual the brew kettles at the end of a year’s brewing. Rather, bock is a ro- dose of Aaah. bust, dark beer that originated in fifteenth century (supposedly in Aaah, but fear not, dear reader. The Stone City Brewery may
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Photo by Jeff Allen

be defunct, but thanks to the 2004 opening of Old Capitol Brew Works in Iowa City, Aaah Bock has been granted a new lease on life. In February of 2006, Jeff Allen sat in as a “guest brewer” with Old Capitol brewmaster, Paul Krutzfeldt, to produce a “Mach II” version of Aaah Bock. As in years past, a grand blessing ceremony was held in to herald the release of the new brew. Has Aaah Bock made an appearance in 2007? And if so, where can one enjoy this seasonal delight? Jeff and Paul once again have brewed up a batch on December 26, 2006. After a loving fermentation process, the resurrected version of Aaah Bock was blessed on February 3 again at Iowa City’s Old Capitol Brewworks and Public House at 525 South Gilbert Street in Iowa City. But be sure to sip soon. When the brew runs out, it’s out, and this can happen as early as mid March. After that, you’ll have to settle on the virtual pleasures of Aaah Bock at www.OldCapitolBrewworks.com

We gather here to celebrate the long anticipated arrival of spring and with it the life restoring powers of bock. Bock is the tonic of spring the elixir of life and the re-newer of life that is experienced after a few too many bocks are quaffed. (This is the call and response) With spring there is new life, also with bock. With the spring the days are sunny and bright, also with bock. With the spring we celebrate life, also with bock. Spring & bock, bock & spring, with many bocks we can solve anything. (And now bow your heads for the Brewer’s prayer) Our lager, Which art in kegs, Hallowed be thy drink. Thy will be drunk, (I will be drunk), At home as it is in the tavern. Give us this day our foamy head, And forgive us our spillages, As we forgive those who spill against us. And lead us not to incarceration, But deliver us from hangovers. For thine is the Mai bock, the Stein bock, and the aahbock. For ever & ever, Barmen 
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the brewer’s prayer

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nice to meat you! Why Custom Cut Meats Make the Grade
story and photo by leah wilson

Early one morning, I stood in my kitchen making lunches for the kids. They were drooping over bowls of cereal, chewing with all the enthusiasm of drowsy cows. I was mixing organic sunflower sprouts with spinach and haphazardly cut carrots, quietly filling their lunch containers, when I said, “I’m slicing up some yummy ham-steak for your salads.” All of a sudden the kitchen table erupted with gleeful sounds, much like a rousing chorus from the Messiah. “We’ve got ham-steak! Halleluiah! Halleluiah!” said one. “Susan’s pork? Lunch is saved!” said my oldest with great dramatic flare. Although my kids dutifully eat their greens down to the last leaf on Salad Day, there typically isn’t such effusive enthusiasm. But their reaction is understandable. Solon farmer Susan Jutz’s pork is legendary. And we had gone for months without it until two weeks earlier when she called to let us know that, finally, the hogs were ready to go. There was an almost giddy family discussion about meat cut options that night. And then, several days later, we drove to our local meat locker in Riverside to pick it up. And now—life is good. I bought my first pasture-raised hog direct from an organic farmer five years ago, and have stayed close to my meat sources ever since. And I offer you three reasons to try it yourself. Reason #1: Quality. Want a perfectly marbled, locally raised ribeye? Some smoked turkey or mouth-watering beef jerky? Stop in at Bud’s Custom Meats in Riverside. Bud’s is famous for its beef jerky, and owner, Doug Havel, (who is one of the more energized individuals I’ve come across in a while) says it is one of their most

sought after retail items. For the more adventurous, Bud’s stocks elk, rabbit and even turtle. But one of the products that brings people back for more is hamburger. “What makes it stand out?” I asked. “Well, our burger is courser ground than what you might pick Doug Havel, owner of Bud’s Custom Meats up at the grocery in Riverside store,” said Doug. “It has good flavor and a texture that many customers have come to prefer.” Mark Lang, co-owner of Dayton Meat Products, Inc. in Malcom gives new customers bacon and hamburger samples to try. “The meat has to sell itself,” he said. A family owned business since 1959, Dayton Meats has every cut of meat you can imagine in addition to an assortment of deli meats, gift boxes and even sandwiches. The beauty of buying meat from local farmers and processors is that quality is much more within your control. Those who really want to know can visit farms and learn more about how the

how to get started making ends meat
Marcia Richmann, Co-Director of the Iowa Meat Processors Association, is in the know and suggests two potential plans for getting great meat: plan a: find a farmer Find a farmer who raises the meat you are looking for by using the Buy Fresh Buy Local directory published in your area, asking at farmers markets or by using the online farmer directory produced by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (see Resources). Once you have connected with your farmer, she/he can provide you with a few cuts to try out, answer specific questions about purchasing and refer you to a local locker if you decide you’re ready to buy larger quantities. plan b: locate a locker Richmann recommends using your phone directory to locate a locker if you are not working through a farmer. When you go this route, you can sample cuts out of the case, query the locker staff about farmers who supply the locker and receive expert guidance as you determine your eating needs in terms of pounds of meat you’ll likely consume, what fits your budget, how you’ll store it and even how you’ll cook it. And no need to worry, you don’t need to do an extensive Google search to figure out what cuts to get. All you need to do is ask the locker staff. They’re experts at helping people just like you get the most from their meat. 

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animals were raised, fed and handled. You can also visit the locker and see how the meat is processed. You can buy fresh cuts out of the case—and when they say it’s fresh, they can verify it. Generally, local lockers do not need to use preservatives to extend shelf life and meat is not being transported for hundreds of miles and being handled by dozens of hands. You also have real choices that go beyond deciding between T-bones and sirloins. You can ask the staff to recommend or help you find a farmer who is local, raises livestock organically or who finishes animals on grass (instead of a high grain diet). Alternatively, you can start this process by connecting with a farmer who will direct you to the locker they typically use. If you want to secure your meat supply for half a year or more, you can buy quarters or halves of beef, halves or wholes of pork or whole lambs and store them at home or you can rent a locker space at your processing facility and take home meat as needed. Reason #2: Personalized service. Like Bud’s and Dayton Meats, most local meat lockers are family owned businesses found in smaller communities, where forming a relationship with customers often translates into the kind of personalized service that our grandparents reminisce about. You can walk into these humble storefronts and see the same friendly faces month after month and be assured that somebody there knows your name—and perhaps the size of your roasting pan.

Kamal Hammouda, owner and chef of the Phoenix Café in Grinnell, buys high quality whole beeves and lambs direct from local farmers to be processed at Dayton’s. Kamal likes knowing the origins of the meat he serves to his customers and also appreciates having some control over how the meat is processed. “Dayton’s is very customer friendly. I appreciate that they follow my instructions for processing such as allowing a longer hanging time for the meat before it is cut.” Kamal is one of many devoted customers who know that lockers provide a service that can’t be duplicated by large food distributors or grocers. Reason #3: Building a strong regional food system. Buying meat cuts from the grocery is admittedly less involved than buying meat direct from farmers and meat lockers. But convenience has its own associated costs. We have become a culture where the production, processing and preparation of the food we nourish our bodies with is largely left to someone else. Many of us neither have the faintest inkling where or how our food is grown, nor

When you purchase “half of a half ” (yes, that’s a quarter) of a beef*, you’ll take home around 115-125 pounds of meat which will include (depending on your preferences) about: 6-7 roasts 7-8 rib-eye steaks 3-4 pounds of stew meat 7-8 T-bone steaks 3-4 sirloin steaks 1 sirloin tip rolled roast 8-10 round steaks 45-50 pounds of burger This breaks down to about 55 meals for 4 people at a cost of about $3.75/pound. Your total cost, excluding storage would ballpark $440-$500. *A quarter of a beef is sometimes referred to as a half of a half, meaning that you will get cuts from the front and the rear of the beef. The above estimates were provided by Dayton Meat Products, Inc. Number of cuts will vary according to thickness of cuts ordered and weight of the animal. Costs will also vary.

buying half of a half

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can we connect it with a human face. It has been a gradual dissociation over decades, but gradually, more and more people are looking for alternatives. We are realizing that when we lose local farms, processors and groceries, our communities pay the price and our autonomy suffers. Luckily, there are easy steps we can all take to better nourish our bodies, our environment and our communities. Those of us who eat meat can make the simple determination to buy it from people we can shake hands with. We can support farmers who are growing food on comely rural landscapes that are pleasing and familiar to the eye; farmers who raise animals in a way that satisfies our palates and our souls. We can support local meat processors who raise families and spend their money where we live and who have a vested interest in the prosperity of our region. Choosing to support local agriculture helps us build a sound regional food system that secures our ability to feed ourselves well.

Resources
Iowa Meat Processors Association Kenneth and Marcia Richmann, Executive Directors 563.452.3329, kmrichman@hotmail.com They can help you locate a locker in your area and answer basic questions about how to get started. Buy Fresh Buy Local (BFBL) Iowa Mallory Smith, Coordinator 319.627.2922, mallorys@lcom.net BFBL can help you find a campaign coordinator and farmer directory for your area Iowa Family Farms Meat Directory www.Agriculture.state.ia.us/MeatDirectory1.htm The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s meat directory covers many topics relevant to buying meat directly from farmers Bud’s Custom Meats, Inc. 3027 Hwy 22 Riverside, IA 319.648.3999 Dayton’s Meat Products, Inc. 102 Montezuma Malcom, IA 50157 641.528.3420 Café Phoenix 834 Park Avenue Grinnell, IA 50112 515.236.3657 www.ThePhoenixCafe.com
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the impatient gardener’s guide to spring planting
by jennifer hemmingsen

No one has ever accused me of being patient, and when it comes to gardening I am the world’s worst. At the first whiff of spring I am unpacking my pots, haunting the nurseries and pacing the perimeter of my modest garden plot—willing the ground to warm up. Last year, I decided to get a jump on my cold crops. As I started digging the furrow for peas I kept running across fist-sized rocks. I tossed them aside, until my daughter pointed out that they were actually clumps of frozen earth. OK, so not even peas like it that cold. This year, I resolved to sit on my hands and let Ma Nature do her work. Rushing the season is bad for a number of reasons. Planting too early puts your seeds at risk of rotting in the ground. Even if they do sprout, they could be massacred by a late frost. Stomping around the garden in wet weather spreads disease and compacts the soil. And there’s no real reason to rush anyway. Plants will grow at a slower rate, if at all, until the weather warms. That doesn’t mean you can’t get dirty. Remember elementary school when you grew those bean seeds in a Dixie cup? It’s that easy to grow your own seedlings, lettuces and herbs indoors. Leaf lettuces are probably the easiest, because the plants love diffuse light and cool conditions. Your south-facing windowsill is perfect in early spring, just as long as the window itself isn’t freezing. Later, as the sun starts to heat up, move the plants to a sunny kitchen table to keep them from burning. Sow seeds directly into a shallow container filled with good quality potting soil or a soilless matrix—other mediums are too heavy and can smother your little babies. For fun, combine several varieties of greens—like arugula, red and oak leaf lettuces and mustard greens—in pretty pots. Thoroughly water and cover with plastic until the seeds sprout. Then remove the plastic. In about three weeks, when the plants are about four inches tall, harvest the baby leaves for a spring salad. Just pinch off the largest leaves and let the plants continue to grow. Kitchen herbs are another great way to get your gardening fix and there are several starter kits on the market that include everything you need. When growing herbs indoors, start with plants when you can. Select a south or west window and water lightly. Herbs hate soggy roots, but misting them will provide a little extra humidity. If you decide to keep your herbs indoors even after the weather warms, feed them every few months with an organic fertilizer or compost tea. Finally, start some vegetable plants indoors to transplant once spring finally takes hold. Choose hearty plants like tomatoes and peppers. Invest in a seed flat and spend a few extra dollars on a fluorescent shop light and adjustable chain. Keep the light on for

10-12 hours a day and hang it just two inches above the tips of the plants. This will keep them from getting leggy (long, spindly and weak) and also keep the big flats out of your way. When you just can’t stand it any more, get out there and dig. When the days are warm but nights are still chilly, set garden cloches over transplants to protect them from frost. A cloche is like a tiny greenhouse with an open bottom and can be found at garden stores. You can also make your own out of anything from old storm windows to plastic milk jugs—just be sure there’s some ventilation so the plants don’t overheat during the day. Water once a week and uncover plants when the temperature warms up. Now if there was only some way to hurry those tomatoes.

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Photo By Carole Topalian

by eugenia e. gratto

However, consumers say the experience leaves them more connected to the food they eat, the land on which they live and the farmers who produce the goods that arrive in their share box each week. “The clients have to learn how to eat seasonally, which is difficult,” said Laura Dowd, executive director of Local Foods Connection in Iowa City (see Edible Endeavors, in this issue). “The experience helps people to make the sacrifice to eat what’s fresh rather than just satisfy their urges for a specific vegetable.” On Saturday, March 24th, Local Foods Connection will host a CSA Fair from noon-4:00 pm at Prairie Table (on Washinglearning to ride out ton Street next to the Englert Theatre), to connect consumers seasons, weather and local farmers. Farmers from several CSAs serving Johnson By taking part in a CSA, subscribers help shoulder some of the County will be represented, including Local Harvest, Oak Hill risk inherent in farming. They ride out what the season brings, Acres from Atalissa, and Sass Family Farm in Riverside. whether that’s an over-abundance of one crop, not enough of anopportunities for other, or a weather anomaly like a severe drought. “If it’s a good year, you do well, and if it’s a bad year, you don’t,” service and participation said Carl Mize of Ames, who was a member of a local CSA for Farms provide a variety of opportunities for volunteer service— three or four years, until his circumstances changed and he was sometimes in exchange for a discount on an annual share—or no longer in Ames during most of the peak season. fun activities. At Scattergood Farms School in West Branch, the
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Ed Williams lives just outside Iowa City, and keeps a small garden. But his primary source of summer produce for the past five years has arrived each week courtesy of his share in Local Harvest CSA and ZJ Farms of Solon, a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm run by Susan Jutz. “The garden ended up being more work than it was worth,” Williams said. “We can go to the farmer’s market and pick up stuff, but this seemed like a natural way to proceed.” Local Harvest is one of 50 CSAs in Iowa that offer vegetables, fruit, and occasionally additional items including herbs, flowers, meat, eggs and bread. Community members purchase CSA shares for the season in the spring, and that capital infusion supports local farmers. CSAs generally offer half and full shares, and those shares cost between $250 to $600 for the summer, depending on the farm’s offerings and the size of the share. Subscribers can pick up their share at a central drop-off location each week, or, in some cases, pick the shares up at the farm. Some CSAs offer home delivery for an extra fee. Robyn Van En introduced CSAs to the United States in 1985 at her Massachusetts farm, and worked with farmers and communities to build what has grown to a national movement. Angela Tedesco of Johnston, Iowa, first learned about the CSA model in a workshop she attended after receiving her Masters in Horticulture from Iowa State University. Tedesco said she liked the cooperative aspects of the concept. Subsequently, she founded Turtle Farms, which is now located in Granger, as a CSA. 2007 will be her 12th summer in business, with 130 subscribers taking part in the program each year. “You have to be a good manager to juggle all the crops to make sure there’s something in that box every week,” Tedesco said. “It can be very rewarding for those who want to do it.”

Photos by Carole Topalian

community supported agriculture connects farmers, consumers

CSA provides students the opportunity to help the school produce the food that ends up not only in the CSA share boxes provided to the 33 subscribers, but also on the dining hall tables. “The students really understand the concept of eating fresh and organic and local,” said Mark Quee, who supervises the Scattergood Friends program. Tonya Swanda of Des Moines and her husband and six children have participated in the Turtle Farms CSA for six years. The recent arrival of a new baby kept the family from attending the community events organized by Tedesco, and Swanda said they have missed participating and look forward to taking part in them again. “Our kids have planted potatoes and did the garlic harvest,” she said. “They had a lot of fun.” One of the advantages of CSA participation is discovering fruits and vegetables one might not ordinarily select at the grocery store. “Angela grows a lot of heirloom things, like different varieties of tomatoes. You cut them open and they’re a different color on the inside, and the kids love that,” Swanda said. “And they love kohlrabi. We never would have bought that if it hadn’t been for the farm.” Tedesco said she, like many CSA farmers, sends out a weekly newsletter with the box that goes to customers. The Turtle Farms newsletter includes a list of what’s in the box, what varieties of each vegetable or fruit is included (in case her subscribers want to grow their own at home), farm updates and, of course, plenty of recipes. For a great way to use local edamame, or soybeans, check out the Edamame Salad recipe in the sidebar. “Susan does a great job of providing recipes,” Williams said of his weekly ZJ Farms box. “You definitely have the new varieties that you would never grow yourself. It’s all about education—so much more than just the food.”

resources for finding CSAs
• • Local Harvest Searchable Directory: Offers listings of CSAs, farmer’s markets, and other local food outlets at www.LocalHarvest.org. Directory of Iowa CSA Farms: Developed by the Iowa State University Extension Service, and downloadable for free at www.Extension.IAState.edu/Publications/ PM1693.pdf or call the Extension Service fulfillment center at 515.294.5247 and request PM 1693. FoodRoutes.org works with Local Harvest to provide local supplier information at www.FoodRoutes.org/ LocalFood.

Getting to know new, fresh flavors

local CSAs open for 2007
Turtle Farms Granger, Iowa 515.278.4522 www.Turtle-Farm.com Local Harvest CSA Solon, Iowa 319. 624.3052 www.ZJFarms.com

Courtesy Turtle Farms in Granger, Iowa

edamame salad

3 cups cooked and shelled edamame beans 1 red bell pepper, diced into ¼-inch pieces 2 large tomatoes, cored and diced into ¼-inch pieces 5 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper ½ teaspoon salt 4 scallions, chopped Dressing 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 tablespoons olive oil Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together until combined. Gently toss all remaining ingredients. Add dressing. Let stand, refrigerated and covered, for approximately 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Toss again and serve immediately.

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incredible edibles Found Meats in Lost Nation
story and photo by brian morelli

With a town name like Lost Nation, you are just calling for attention. You are screaming to the wary traveler, “Hey, don’t you wonder what a town with a name like this is all about.” Hell, about a third of the towns I stopped in driving across the country years back were simply because they had cool names. Come on, aren’t you a little bit curious about what is in Kalamazoo, just because of the name? Anyway, now that I can’t hit the road on a whim anymore, I was glad to find an excuse to drive the rolling country roads out to Lost Nation, Iowa. Nestled in Eastern Iowa, about an hour from Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Davenport or Dubuque, the tiny town of just under 500 people is like many rural Iowa towns: agriculturally based, a once proud downtown now a shadow of its former self. But also like many small towns, Lost Nation is part of a growing trend of rural towns popping up with upscale offerings. Entrepreneurs not only in Iowa, but nationwide, are taking a stab at placing gourmet shops or cafes, produce stands or farmers markets in rural America. Now, rural Iowa towns and organic foods do not exactly go together like peanut butter and jelly—not yet anyway. It could take some time for getting used to. “Change is slow in rural areas,” says Linn Schultz. “You can’t change overnight the attitude of rural America towards organic meat products. Even though organic is exactly what you were eating 50 years ago.” Schultz is part of a six-person downtown revitalization group. Downtown consists of a few square blocks of businesses and homes extending out to meet fields. The partners bought a building on Main Street and Long Avenue. Half the building is used for a local consignment exchange for things from antiques and handmade furniture to local honey and jams. It even hosts a farmers market in season. Adjoining through a hallway is a separate, small white store front with a stand-up double-door glass cooler, a few ice chests and a desk with several pig ornaments. Called Marketplace Meats, the shop stocks varieties of Niman Ranch and other local organic products such as beef, pork and poultry—NY strips, pork tenderloins, apple wood smoked bacon, spare ribs, bratwurst, cured bone-in ham and whole turkeys.

Marlan Braet, one of Marketplace Meats’ owners.

The beef comes from Jewell Enterprises in Decorah, while the pigs are raised in Lost Nation. “I really thought this was a good outlet here for people to get organics,” Marlan Braet said. “It is kind of centrally located.” Braet waved me in through the marketplace’s separate entrance. He is one of the six partners, but he has the lead role in running the meat market. Braet, 65, was a longtime research faculty member for swine testing at Iowa State University in Ames and a part of the National Pork Producers. He continues to test meat for various constituents such as the Pure Bread Industry and National Farmers Association. “I know what to select and what to eat. It’s been my life selecting top lines of meat and testing color, marbling, juiciness and drip loss,” Braet said. Product moves, but the store isn’t the biggest hit locally. Locals aren’t enamored with forking over extra dough for organics. “It is a community that isn’t going to be able to afford us,” Braet said. “Rural America is in a depression. Dollars mean things to these folks.” There is a handful of local or nearby individuals that will buy 100 pounds at a time, a half cow or a whole pig, but not many. The local pub at one point but some products, but they stopped. It appears the only establishment in town that uses their meats is The Gardner House, an old Victorian style bed and breakfast owned by Linn and Leslie Schultz. “I was raised on a farm, and organic meat is the closest you get to meat and pork raised at home,” Leslie Schultz said. “Number one, we are small, but we are quality. I want to provide my guest

“You can’t change overnight the attitude of rural America towards organic meat products. Even though organic is exactly what you were eating 50 years ago.”
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with a quality experience from house to food.” Surviving on a local clientele isn’t the plan for Marketplace Meats though. Instead the town serves and as a strategic launching point for deliveries around Eastern Iowa. “People are happy with me delivering the product, but getting people out to Lost Nation is the problem,” he said. Braet spends part of his week delivering cuts to restaurants across eastern Iowa. In fact, Taste on Melrose in Iowa City featured his organic pork burgers during an Iowa Hawkeye game this season. On game days, chef and owner Christian Prochaska, abandons the gourmet menu, fires up the grill and cooks tailgating food for the faithful fans trudging down Melrose Avenue to Kinnick Stadium. While the football crowd isn’t necessarily as concerned with the organic label as his regular restaurant customers are, Prochaska said he might run with it again next year. “I like the fact that I deal with him personally, and it is local food, and he has great animals, raised in a good environment. It’s not coming from thousands of miles away,” Prochaska said. After visiting the marketplace, Braet invited me out to his farm at the southwest part of town for lunch. This worked out well since on the Sunday afternoon I visited it didn’t appear like anything was open. Braet has raised hogs for years dating back to his ISU days, and when his mother recently passed away he took over her Lost Nation farm. There roam some 40 free-range hogs that carry the Niman Ranch label, which Braet sells in at his market. Braet whipped up an all-organic lunch. He boiled green beans and served them with butter, fried samples of pork and beef burgers and fried potato chips. “Once you start eating organic, you can’t start eating anything else,” he said.

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Details
The town of Lost Nation is about 15 miles southwest of Maquoketa on State Highway 136 Marketplace Meats 501 Main St. Lost Nation, IA 52254 563.678.2722 Open Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Gardner House 400 Western Street Lost Nation, IA52254 563.678.2600 www.TheGardnerHouseBandB.com

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native iowa meats Once-Wild, Game Now Thriving on Iowa Farms
by sue futrell

“One hundred thousand [buffalo] thundered the plains in herds that took five days to pass—twenty miles wide and fifty miles long. The Indians lived from this beast as we now live from the cow, using every part for food, clothing and shelter.” —Meridel Le Sueur, North Star Country; Iowa offers more and more these days in the way of wonderful, local, artisan and sustainable foods. But what if you want to eat food that’s not just local, but native? As in, native species that have been in Iowa since before it was plowed and domesticated. As a lifelong Iowan, I’ve eaten my share of wild game, including turtle soup, rattlesnake, pheasant and venison. My grandmother Augustine once served squirrel for Sunday dinner, which shocked and delighted us kids. But for a true taste of what carnivores once depended on in this part of the world, native meat means bison and elk. Eastern Iowa is right at the center of the tallgrass prairie region, which once stretched from northern Minnesota to southern Missouri, and from the Iowa’s western edge at the Missouri River across Illinois and into Indiana. Tall grass prairie is some-

times called the true prairie—a rich ecosystem of deep-rooted grasses, taller than a horse’s head. The tallgrass prairie is nearly all gone now, plowed under to give access to some of the deepest, most fertile soil in the world. The prairie grasslands and woodlands between the Mississippi and the Missouri were once teeming with plant and animal life of all kinds. Deer foraged in the woodlands, and all manner of fowl and small mammals made their homes in the prairie. But of the large mammals, only two were true grassland species, born to thrive on the open expanses of bluestem and other grasses: bison, or American buffalo, and elk, sometimes called by its native American name, wapiti. For native first nation tribes, elk and bison were not only an important source of food but also of spiritual and material sustenance woven deeply into the cultures. The arrival of the railroads and the relentless progress of cultivation and agriculture put a dent in both the herds and their habitat, and they were hunted for both meat and prized hides. But more than any other change, the end of wild elk and bison in eastern Iowa parallels the end of grass. The prairie was plowed under at an astounding rate; today
Photo by Richard Rosen

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over 99.9% of it is gone, and Iowa has the dubious status of being the state with the most altered landscape of any in the U.S. By 1900, buffalo, elk, wolves, cougars, bears, passenger pigeons, bobcats, turkeys and many other animals were all gone from Iowa, and prairie remained only along fencerows and schoolyards. Bison, or American Buffalo, once numbered 30-40 million, roaming the Midwest and western plains in herds of millions that sometimes took days to pass by. By the 1880s they were mostly gone, and by the early 1900s efforts were underway to preserve and reestablish small remaining herds. 100 years later, by 2000, there were an estimated 300,000 bison in the U.S. and Canada. If you drive into rural Johnson County, just outside of Solon, to Jordan Creek Bison, you won’t see a wooly herd of buffalo stretching to the horizon, but Bill and Ann Leefers are doing their part to bring the buffalo back. They started with six animals in 1997, and now graze a herd of around 80. They sell individually packaged cuts to a number of area restaurants as well as to individuals. The Iowa Bison Association currently lists 41 members, including Jordan Creek, many of whom raise the animals for meat as well as breeding. There is also a herd at home on the range at the Neil Smith National Wildlife Refuge, just off I-80 near Prairie City. Both the herd and the prairie are part of a long-term restoration effort, a place to go for a hint of what the land here might have looked like centuries ago—You may have to squint to get past the silos and power lines on the horizon, but it’s possible to imagine them gone. Elk also once ranged throughout the prairie region. As the grasslands disappeared, they retreated to the higher mountain ground where they are seen more often now. One of the last reports of free roaming wild elk in Iowa was in 1871. That is, until November 18, 2006, when the Des Moines Register reported that a bull elk, with antlers as tall as full-grown corn, had been spotted “striding majestically through farm fields” near Marshalltown in Jasper and Marshall counties. It may have been an escapee from a captive herd, although none had been reported missing, and it will be lucky to escape becoming a trophy head on a hunter’s wall. According to Dr. David Schmitt, acting state veterinarian with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa currently has 54 captive elk herds, representing roughly 2,725 elk. One longtime eastern Iowa producer is Wildlife Lakes Elk Farm, just west of the Mississippi River near Burlington. Like many who raise unconventional breeds like elk, Wildlife Lakes owners Henry and Barb Bohlen run a diverse operation—they started out ten years ago raising Canada Geese, and participate in a Trumpeter Swan breeding program. They raise elk for breeding, antlers and meat, and their products, which include dried

Cooking these healthful, delicious meats at home is not greatly different than cooking beef or other red meat, but takes some extra attention until you are familiar with it. Here are a few tips and recipes to get you started. According to Beth Dooley and Lucia Watson, bison meat can be substituted for beef in any recipe by cutting back on the cooking time; roasting at lower temperatures, and making patties thicker than you would beef, all to accommodate the tendency for bison to cook more quickly. The Elk Marketing Council says that elk is a fine-textured, tender meat and is extremely low in fat.

cooking with bison and elk

jordan creek bison ranch meatballs in tomato and red pepper sauce
From Iowa City’s Devotay restaurant 1 yellow onion, minced 2 tablespoons garlic, minced 2 tablespoons olive oil ½ cup Rioja (or other dry red wine) 2 pounds ground bison 4 eggs, beaten 2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped 2 tablespoons Worcestershire 2 dashes Tabasco 1 cup bread crumbs, or as needed Salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste Preheat the oven to 400°. Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil until tender. Deglaze with the Rioja, reduce until nearly dry, and set aside. In a large bowl, mix the bison with the eggs, sage, parsley, Worcestershire and Tabasco. Mix by hand or with a wooden spoon until thoroughly incorporated. Add the oniongarlic mixture and incorporate. Add the breadcrumbs and adjust texture according to your taste. More crumbs will result in a firmer but drier meatball, less will result in a moister but softer meatball. Add the salt and pepper, then take a small piece of the mix and fry it quickly in a sauté pan on the stovetop. Taste, ands adjust the seasonings accordingly. With an ice cream scoop or by hand, portion into balls, roughly 1 to 1 ½ inches in diameter. Then roll them between the palms of your hands to make them more perfectly round. Bake on a cookie sheet at 400°f for 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve immediately, plain, or with your favorite tomato sauce. Yields roughly 4 dozen meatballs, depending on size.
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“Elk Sticks” as well as various cuts, are sold in a number of restaurants as well as convenience stores in southeast Iowa. The natural diet for both elk and bison is mostly grass, and in the wild they exist in a symbiotic relationship with their food— grazing, wallows, and droppings all help to keep the grassland in balance. Most domestic elk and bison are still raised this way, on grass and without added hormones. Buffalo meat is leaner than most beef, lower in fat and cholesterol and higher in protein. Bill Leefers and other bison farmers refer to it as “the other red meat.” Elk meat is also high in protein and lower in fat than most beef, pork or chicken. In part because they are grass-fed, both have a rich, full flavor that has been described as clean, sweet, and not gamey. A number of restaurants in Eastern and Central Iowa offer elk and bison on their menus at least occasionally. They include Devotay, Motley Cow and Atlas Grill in Iowa City, Lincoln Café in Mt. Vernon, and The Drake Restaurant in Burlington. The Drake and Devotay both feature bison and Wildlife Lakes elk as part of their regular menu, if you want to try them both!

broiled elk steaks with green peppercorn-cognac sauce Serves 4 4 elk steaks, 1-inch thick 3 garlic cloves, or to taste 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste Wash the steaks and pat dry with a clean paper towel. Carefully trim away all visible fat. Combine the garlic and olive oil Pour over steaks and marinate, refrigerated, for two to four hours. Season the steaks with salt and freshly ground pepper. Broil, about 2–3 inches from the element, five minutes per side or to desired doneness. Serve with the following green peppercorn and cognac sauce: 4 tablespoons butter, unsalted ¼ cup whole green peppercorns Salt and pepper to taste 1 tablespoon cognac In a small saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the Cognac (use caution—fumes may ignite). Heat to a simmer, stirring constantly. Season to taste and serve immediately.

Resources
For information on where to buy elk and buffalo meat in eastern Iowa, see: Bill Leefers of Jordan Creek Bison 1837 Jordan Creek Road P.O. Box 517 Solon, Iowa 52333 319.644.3535; leefers@prodigy.net Steve Bode of the Iowa Bison Association 1409 240th Street Algona, Iowa 50511 515.295.4962 ; www.IowaBison.org Henry & Barb Bohlen of Wildlife Lakes Elk Farm 13852 Washington Rd West Burlington, Iowa 52655 319.752.4659; www.WildlifeLakes.com Iowa Elk Breeders Association (IEBA) 2727 Adair-Union St. Creston. Iowa 50801-7514 641.782.2903 ; www.Wapiti.net/ieba And for an absolutely delightful, deep, thoughtful look at the landscape and ecology that is native to this place, see Prairie: A Natural History, by Candace Savage, Greystone Books, 2004.

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behind closed doors Cline Hijacks the Refrigerators of Z102.9’s Schulte & Swann
by rob cline

Whenever I listen to Z102.9, one of the most popular radio stations in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City market, one thing is immediately clear: I’m not the target demographic. For one thing, I’m more male than the target. For another, I increasingly must admit that I’m older than much of the Z audience. The “contemporary hits radio” format—CHR to industry insiders—isn’t my format anymore. Indeed, the music that would have fit the format when I was growing up is mere moments away from acquiring the “oldies” label. But I listen to Schulte and Swann, the popular Z morning team, regularly. And I know I’m not the lone demographic outlier who does so. Why? Because in their 12 years as on-air partners, Scott Schulte and Ric Swann have developed a friendship that informs their banter. And that banter is unusually smart and carries with it a clear commitment to the community. So it goes without saying that I needed to find out what was in their respective refrigerators. In “Behind Closed Doors,” CHR means “Cline hijacks refrigerators.” In the Schulte household, there are five people—Scott, his wife Marisel Del Valle and their three boys, Alex, David, and Anthony—and a dog named Chuck to feed. But Scott still opens his refrigerator for another set of hungry mouths. “Half the produce I buy gets thrown into the woods for the deer.” Why such an ignominious fate for carrots, celery and the like? “We buy stuff because it makes us feel good that we bought it. ‘By god, I’m going to buy those! We’re going to eat those!’” And produce isn’t the only category of past-it-prime food in the Schulte fridge. From the doors to the shelves there were a few items whose day had come and gone. Three cartons of expired Egg Beaters, for example. “They’re not even good!” announced Scott, which goes a significant distance toward explaining why the egg substitute had perished on the shelves. Most of the stuff in the Schulte fridge, however, looked plenty good, including the jars of corn cob jelly and rhubarb berry jam a friend made, as well as Marisel’s homemade mango salsa. Because Marisel hails from Puerto Rico, the Schulte family enjoys a variety of foods and spices from the island. Scott particularly praised the Alto Grande coffee, which boasts on its can: “The Coffee of Popes and Kings.” “When you see the white smoke coming out of the coffeemaker, you know its time for coffee,” Scott joked. “A new cup has been elected.”

Hot sauce occupies a significant amount of space in the shiny silver fridge. Alex, a sophomore in high school, has a taste for the spicy stuff, including a brand called Bull Snort, the label of which explains that it is, “Hotter than a buckin’ mare in DJ Ric Swann is not always sure what heat.” he’ll find in his fridge. That, I suspect, means it’s pretty darn hot. Cold ones are a major presence in the black refrigerator of Ric Swann, as is Rockstar Juiced Energy Drink—“It makes a good mixer”—and Coca-Cola. It’s a beverage-heavy icebox. Ric, a bachelor who readily acknowledges that he doesn’t really cook and that “comfort foods are my staples,” has settled into something of a routine with the takeout food that often shares space with the libations. “I order out, and stick the leftovers in there. I keep them cool until trash day.” Takeout was in short supply on the evening of my visit, however, because Ric began the New Year on the Atkins diet. Salad, carrots, eggs, bacon, and single serving Jell-o cups were in the mix, as was a jar of cubed Amana Ham. A container of The Laughing Cow Original Creamy Swiss was also on display. I’d never heard of the brand, but according to the web site—www.TheLaughingCow.com—the Bel Brands (“Cheese with a difference”) product, has been a “French favorite since 1921.” The Laughing Cow itself sports a pair of stylish, if a bit large for my taste, earrings…or something. In the freezer, a single frozen pizza paid homage to the pre-Atkins routine. Notably, the appliance’s Energy Star notice was still taped to the back of the freezer. That yellow piece of paper and the empty crispers in the bottom of the refrigerator made it clear that Ric’s relationship to his fridge isn’t terribly intimate. “I don’t know what the crispers are for,” he said. “It’s all a refrigerator, isn’t it?”

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Photo by Chris Lynxwiler

buy fresh buy local What Goes Around, Comes Around
by mallory smith

Buy Fresh, Buy Local Iowa is connecting consumers in communities throughout the state to the freshest, most delicious locally grown and produced foods available. By buying directly from local farmers, and shopping and dining at local businesses that support local farmers, consumers get the best-tasking food possible, while contributing to their local economy. Delicious food and vibrant communities are two cornerstones of the campaign. Remember the old saying “what goes around, comes around”? When you buy from a local farm, or any local business for that matter, you are providing the “go around”. When the farmer or local business person also chooses to shop locally they add the “come around”. Communities with lots of go around and come around are great places to live. They have lots of interesting businesses, jobs galore and great public facilities, schools and parks funded with the tax money produced by an active go around, come around machine. According to the USDA, in 2005 the typical U.S. household spent $40 per person each week for food. These diligent researchers included every possible food purchase from the ob-

vious (supermarkets) to the easily overlooked (vending machines). The average household size in Iowa that same year was 2.38, according to the Census Bureau. Trivia buffs please note there were only two states, Maine and North Dakota with smaller average household sizes than Iowa. Back to food and economics. Combining the two numbers mentioned above makes a typical Iowan household’s weekly food spending total $95.20 or $4,950 annually. Economists, economic developers, major and minor events organizers are forever citing multiplier effects and the total economic impact of this event or that business. When the subject at hand is something you believe in, you take the economic impact statistics as proof positive that your favorite project is vital. As is often convenient with statistics, when your feelings are to the contrary the numbers can be readily dismissed as theoretical, conjecture or wishful thinking. However, take $95.20 from your pocket every week and give it to your local farms, grocers, restaurants, wineries, CSAs, greenhouses, orchards and meat market and you have irrefutable economic impact that your can see, measure and taste! Suddenly the concept of supporting the local economy becomes a reality. If you watch closely you can even see the money moving around. The farmer buys something at the local feed store, the grocer’s children go to the local movie theater and the greenhouse owner picks up a prescription at the local pharmacy making the “what goes around, comes around” adage work for your community.

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edible endeavors Local Foods Connection: Using CSAs to make Connections
“Intelligence and knowing you like good, fresh food has nothing to do with money, status, or where you live.” —Robyn Van En, American Founder of the small-family-farm support movement called ‘community supported agriculture.’ Since 1999, Local Foods Connection (LFC) has been purchasing produce, bread, eggs, meat and other products from local earth-friendly farms and donating these goods to families across Southeast Iowa who cannot afford such nutritious, tasty and fresh food. LFC also provides opportunities for families to visit farms and to learn healthy cooking methods.The mission of LFC is to assist families in need of a helping hand, as well as strengthening the local foods network and empowering the farmers who live and work in the area. With the help of local charitable, religious, and social service organizations, such as the Arc of Johnson County, the Johnson County Crisis Center and the University of Iowa Lion’s Club, Local Foods Connection is matched with families who care about what they eat and the environment in which they live. Participating families include single mothers, immigrants, racial minorities and people with exceptional medical needs. LFC works with the selected families, who commit to using the donated produce to prepare good, healthy meals using throughout a four- to-five month period during the growing season. Once families are identified, LFC enrolls them in a community supported agriculture (CSA) program by purchasing a share, which is a boxful of fresh produce, eggs, flowers and other farm fresh goods every week for about twenty weeks. CSAs link people with their food, the land on which their food is grown, and the farmers who grow and produce it. LFC is committed to purchasing goods from farmers who use sustainable farming practices, such as growing vegetables without chemical pesticides and raising animals in a humane environment. Farmers in Iowa City, Solon, Brighton, West Branch, Atalissa and Wellman provide fresh fruits, vegetables, bread and eggs through CSA shares. LFC also purchases and distributes chickens and turkeys from farmers in Kalona. The latest statistics from US Department of Agriculture (2003) report that over 10% of Johnson County residents and 7.7% of Washington County lived below the poverty line. Individuals and families with limited incomes tend to have higher rates of food insecurity, meaning that they have a harder time getting access to enough food for a healthy and active life. Local Foods Connection is doing remarkable work to close that gap. Local Foods Connection PO Box 2821 Iowa City, IA 52244 319.338.2010 www.LocalFoodsConnection.org localfoodsconnection@yahoo.com Iowa is home to a multitude of non-profits and organizations focusing on the state’s formidable population of artisinal producers and small farmers. Some groups focus on the production side—helping farmers and small businesses who specialize in unique food products to stay on their feet and keep their doors open. Some organizations support the other side of the supply chain by helping consumers and customers easily access some of the wonderful products made with care in Iowa. Some organizations do other work across Iowa to keep Iowa’s cuisine alive. Edible Endeavors is our way of recognizing some of these incredible organizations. Each issue, Edible Iowa River Valley is proud to use this space to feature an organization so you can learn more about what they do, and how to assist these amazing efforts. Subscribe to Edible Iowa River Valley now, and we will make a donation to our featured Edible Endeavor. If you know of an organization that is an Edible Endeavor and supports Iowa’s unique food culture, please let us know at info@EdibleIowaRiverValley.com.

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advertiser directory
BURLINGTON The Drake Restaurant 106 Washington Street Burlington, IA 52601 319.754.1036 www.TheDrakeRestaurant.com CORALVILLE Iowa City Coralville Convention and Visitor’s Bureau 900 1st Avenue Coralville, IA 52241 319.337.6592 www.IowaCityCoralville.org New Pioneer Food Co-op 1101 2nd Street Coralville, IA 52241 319.358.5513 www.NewPi.com DAVENPORT Design Ranch at the Figge Museum 225 West Second Street Davenport, IA 52801 563.326.7804 www.DesignRanch.com DECORAH La Rana 120 Washington Street Decorah, IA 52101 563.382.3067 Seed Savers Exchange 3094 North Winn Road Decorah, IA 52101 563.382. 5990 www.SeedSavers.org FAIRFIELD Abundance EcoVillage 700 S 8th Street Fairfield, IA 52246 641.469.5240 www.Abundance-Ecovillage.com The Chocolate Café 55 S. Court Street Fairfield, IA 52256 641.209.1999 Every Body’s Market 501 N 2nd Street Fairfield. IA 52556 641.472.5199 Radiance Dairy 1745 Brookville Road Fairfield, IA 52246 641.472.8854 Revelations Bookstore and Café 112 N Main Street Fairfield, IA 52246 641.472.6733 Top of the Rock Grill 113 W Broadway Fairfield. IA 52246 641.470.1515 IOWA CITY Antique Mall of Iowa City 507 S Gilbert Street Iowa City, IA 52240 319. 354.1822 Devotay 117 North Linn Street Iowa City, IA 52245 319.354.1001 www.Devotay.net Design Ranch 701 E. Davenport Ave Iowa City, IA 52245 319.354.2623 www.DesignRanch.com The Englert Theater 221 East Washington Street Iowa City, IA 52240 319.688.2653 www.Englert.org Guido’s Deli and Market 227 E 1st St Iowa City, IA 52240 319.338.5356 www.GuidosDeli.com Hancher Auditorium The University of Iowa 231 Hancher Auditorium Iowa City, IA 52242 319.335.1160 www.Hancher.UIowa.com Harvest Heat 2968 Black Diamond Rd. SW. Iowa City, Iowa 52240 319.683.4328 www.Harvest-Heat.com John’s Grocery 401 E.Market Street Iowa City, IA 52245 319.337.2183 www.JohnsGrocery.com Lammer’s Construction 35 Imperial Court Iowa City, IA 52246 319.354.5905 www.LammersConstruction.com New Pioneer Food Co-op 22 South Van Buren Iowa City, IA 52240 319.338.9441 www.NewPi.com Old Capitol Brewworks and Public House 525 S Gilbert Street Iowa City, IA 52240 319.337.3422 www.OldCapitolBrewworks.com Prairie Table 223 E. Washington Street Iowa City, IA 52240 319.337.3325 www.PrairieTable.com Leighton Tassel Ridge Vineyard 1681 220th Street Leighton, IA 50143 641.672.9463 www.TasselRidge.com MT. VERNON Lincoln Café 117 1st. Street West Mt.Vernon, IA 52314 319.895.4041 www.FoodIsImportant.com MUSCATINE Green’s Tea & Coffee 208 W 2nd St Muscatine, IA 52761 563.263.5043 NEWTON Jasper Winery 518 W 3rd St N Newton, IA 50208 641.792.7022 www.JasperWinery.com WASHINGTON Café Dodici 122 S. Iowa Avenue Washington, IA 52353 319.653.4012 www.CafeDodici.com

waterloo
Rudy’s Tacos 2410 Falls Drive Waterloo, IA 50701 319.234.5686

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Photo by Carole Topalian

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