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Better fair fare


St. Paul, Minn. — Not all Minnesota State Fair food is served deep fried or on a stick.

For the fifth year, the “Minnesota Cooks” program at Carousel Park served samples of healthy gourmet dishes made by premier Minnesota chefs using local, farm-fresh ingredients.

“This is the place to show consumers how they are connected to their food,” says Doug Peterson, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, which organizes the event. “Minnesota Cooks brings together farmers, chefs and consumers in a celebration of the great food produced in Minnesota.”

This year, students from Southwest Minnesota State University’s culinology program assisted restaurant chefs at seven 45-minute cooking demonstrations. Their creations were sampled by local celebrities and fairgoers.

“Few people have a direct connection to the farm and agriculture anymore,” says Dennis Timmerman, AURI project development director. “Events like this help reconnect consumers with the high-quality food that is produced here. Plus it encourages them to buy locally-produced items … providing market opportunities for farmers.”

Presented by the Minnesota Farmers Union and the Food Alliance Midwest, Minnesota Cooks is sponsored by AURI, Renewing the Countryside, SYSCO Minnesota, the University of Minnesota and Rake Magazine.

Minnesota State Fair visitors watching the “Minnesota Cooks” demonstrations are

treated to samples of the local chefs’ dishes.

“The demand for foods grown in environmentally and socially responsible ways has grown dramatically,” says Jim Ennis, Food Alliance Midwest director.

“Restaurants, grocery stores, colleges and hospitals are responding to these changes in the marketplace.”

Minnesota Cooks is publishing a 16- month calendar with recipes and stories about the chefs and farmers who produce the menu. For more information,