Article

"Real Food" Road Trip Connects with Food Co-ops

May 3, 2011

In a week (May 9th), I'm heading off on a six-month adventure to document, share and enjoy some of the good, real food in this country. If you aren't familiar, I spent the last year making short documentaries about farmers, hunters, fisherman and my own cooking in Minnesota. Fifty-two episodes in Minnesota was enough, but there are so many great stories to tell. Thus, the idea for a real food road trip came into being. We (my camera woman--Mirra Fine, and I) are in the midst of finding stories, organizing events, moving out of our house, updating equipment and getting excited…and also, trying to enjoy spring.

It does seem crazy to leave this land of eternal winter just as soon as the snow has thawed and the greens have begun to shoot up. It's my favorite time of year--where every day a few centimeters spring up from the rhubarb in my garden, a new flour or grass or wild green pops up in the woods and then finally stacks of asparagus come to the farmers market. And I'm sad to miss this full development. We're heading south where spring is in full swing. In fact while planning an event in Memphis, I foolishly asked if there would be any vegetables from the garden available…it turns out EVERYTHING will be available!

Morels

One thing that I can't miss are the morels. That's actually why we chose May 9th as a departure date, I thought the morels might be up by then and I would get to enjoy that incredible spring treasure hunt. You may know them as the brain-looking mushrooms that sell for $50/lb. Or perhaps you've enjoyed them picked from the wild. I'm pretty new to finding them myself, but am already hooked. If they haven't popped up by the time we leave, driving south is going to be a hazard. An easy indicator for morels are dead Elm trees, so you can drive and look for morels at the same time. Spot a dead elm in early spring? Pull over and run into the woods!

Connecting with food co-ops

Mushrooms aside, we are very excited about this journey and feel extremely grateful and honored to be working with the great food co-ops of this country. I have always like the co-op model, but was blown away when I moved to Minnesota and discovered the community and good food that spreads throughout the Twin Cities co-ops. When the opportunity arose to work with National Co+op Grocers (NCG) by stopping and doing events at co-ops throughout the country, I jumped on it. I think The Perennial Plate and the co-ops of this country are well suited to each other. Let me count the ways:

  • We care deeply about where our food comes from: we make choices about our food, we don't just buy our food.
  • We want to know the producers of our food--not just read it on the package, but develop a relationship with them.
  • We like our tomatoes to taste like tomatoes.
  • Food is about health and flavor.
  • Community is important.
  • We're in this together.

With our shared ideals in mind, I'm excited about the stops we will be making at co-ops across the country. We have a few set up, but the details are in the works, look out for us in the next few months if you are in Arkansas, Colorado, California, Oregon or Minnesota. We'll be doing cooking demos, film screenings and multi-course dinners. I'll also be posting recipes on strongertogether.coop from the road as well as stories from the various co-ops. And on The Perennial Plate website we'll have weekly videos, twitter and Facebook updates as well as blogging from resident vegetarian, Mirra Fine.

I look forward to meeting many of you on the road!

- Daniel Klein