Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU), a grassroots general farm organization, has been an instrumental force behind the local food movement in Minnesota. In 2003, MFU created Minnesota Cooks™, a program devoted to celebrating and cultivating the partnerships between Minnesota’s dedicated family farmers and talented chefs, cooks and restaurant owners who feature farm-fresh foods on their menus.
The idea that farms and restaurants could work together directly to support and help each other succeed was still far from mainstream back in 2003, but that didn’t stop Minnesota’s innovative food and farming communities from galvanizing and forging powerful business relationships, resulting in a new food system for our state revolving around local foods. Since its inception, Minnesota Cooks’ mission is to emphasize the importance of supporting locally grown and made-in-Minnesota foods and products and help grow local food markets. Throughout our 17 years we’re proud to have highlighted over 150 farms and 150 restaurants, bakeries, wineries, and other businesses committed to local food in Minnesota Cooks.
Through our one-day event at the Minnesota State Fair, an accompanying calendar sent to MFU members, the public television program Farm Fresh Road Trip and the upcoming book The Farmer and The Chef: Farm Fresh Minnesota Recipes and Stories, Minnesota Cooks strengthens the health and fabric of Minnesota’s farms, restaurants, households and economy by connecting consumers and wholesale buyers with locally grown foods. Minnesota Cooks ultimately demonstrates that locally grown food is a viable economic opportunity for many family farmers.