Travel Log: Day 1

True story, I’ve been through most of the United States a few times over. I’ve tried my best to explore much of what we have here in this country. It’s amazingly rich and diverse. All of that in mind though, I’ve never spent any real time in Iowa unless you count shopping at the I80 truck stop. (Seriously, it’s the largest truck stop in the country and it’s a wonderland.) When it was first announced that was where this years American Cheese Society conference was to be held, I didn’t really know what to think. I mean, it’s well known Iowa has a lot of corn but most don’t know that Iowa is also the pork capitol of the US.  That alone was enough to get me excited about conference.

Flying in to Des Moines is quite expensive even though I had been watching tickets for some time. I also looked at flying in to Omaha but ultimately decided on flying in to Minneapolis. Partly because it happens to be one state I haven’t really explored and the other main reason is that I have a good friend that lives there and works at a company I wanted to visit. Aimee and I worked together at Whole Foods in Portland a few years ago and now she works for Red Table Meat Company.

Red Table Meat Company is a small producer of quality pork products and they make a variety of dry cured salami and salumi. They are dedicated to the community of small farmers in which they get their animals from and they use a whole hog mentality so nothing goes to waste. Red Table has won many Good Food awards because what they make is delicious, while also building a stronger community with their farmers and using sustainable practices in their work. Using heritage breeds and promoting biodiversity within the genetics of the animals produces a more flavorful and stronger animal. Their commitment to the farmers is important since a lot of farmers are leaving the business because it’s just not sustainable for them to raise a family.

Red Table Meats is produced in the Food Building in Northeastern Minneapolis. It’s a food incubator that also houses The Lone Grazer cheese company and Baker’s Field Flour and Bread. I mean, it really doesn’t get much better than that. Meat, cheese, and bread. The things that are happening in this building are not only delicious, but they are changing the landscape for how Minnesotans eat. They actually lobbied local government to change zoning policies about milling flour. Milling flour had been relegated to industrial corners of the city due to mills exploding in to fire in the past. Safety concerns have been rectified and milling has started at the Food Building.

Things like this are what’s getting me excited about the future of food. Companies that have made it their mission to not only make great food, but to strengthen and support the producers and farmers that supply them the things they need. This will hopefully be the backbone of our food lines in the future and it seems people have been responding positively because they are continuously busy, pumping out more product. I hope more things like this will start popping up all around the country.