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“Gourmet Dining” State Fair Style

September 1, 2009

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. - Chefs from across Minnesota will be cooking up their top specialties at the State Fair today, using Minnesota-grown food. It's part of "Minnesota Cooks," sponsored by the Minnesota Farmers Union, designed to highlight the economic and nutritional advantages of including locally-grown products in your food budget. The event also brings together some of the state's top chefs and many of the farmers who grow the products, and commentary from a well-known "taste-test panel."

Organizer Doug Peterson, who is president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, says it's an effort to promote the quality of locally-grown food.

"The mission is really to feature local food, to connect farmers and consumers, and then, to hear the stories about how the food is raised, and really, where our food comes from. And, in this economy, there's an emphasis on Minnesota-grown."

Peterson says chefs will be cooking from scratch hourly, starting at 9 a.m., in Carousel Park. Also being featured is commentary from a panel of well-known "celebrity taste-testers."

Peterson says consumers are increasingly choosing food grown close to home, both because of its healthfulness, and to support the local economy and the benefits of sustainable agriculture.

"It's a local economy for food and, if you have energy savings and you can promote local efficiencies by buying local food, then we win. We have fresher food; we have food that is raised in Minnesota."

Peterson says Minnesota-grown foods being featured include cheeses and other dairy products, grass-fed beef, and dozens of specialty products such as blueberries, mushrooms, garlic, and pickles and a broad variety of other fruits and vegetables.

He notes that agriculture makes up about 20 percent of the state's economy.

More information is available at www.minnesotacooks.net

Jim Wishner, Public News Service - MN