Local Foods Connection Blog

Local foods, hunger relief, sustainable agriculture

Dowd to Speak at Prairiewoods Conference > 9/23-27 August 28, 2008

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Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center Conference on Promoting Local Food and the Environment, Hiawatha, Iowa

September 23-27, 2008: Come enjoy developing a spiritual and sustainable relationship with food. This experience will present food as sacred and celebrate eating as a sacramental part of everyday life. The daily themes of the conference will be water, land and our bioregion.

Each day’s activities will include workshops, fieldtrips, earth art activities or individual quiet time. Topics will range from: working on and learning from the land; visiting local food producers, and learning sustainable practices related to local foods. Evenings will include activities such as learning of the Universe Story, Council of All Beings and a theatrical performance, “A Sense of Wonder,” starring Kaiulani Lee, which is a play based on the life and works of Rachel Carson.

Saturday’s events feature Patricia Mische, co-founder and president of Global Education Associates, a network of men and women in 90 countries who collaborate in research and educational programs for the advancement of ecological integrity and security, peace, justice, human rights and democratic participation.

Laura Dowd, Executive Director of Local Foods Connection, will present a workshop on Thursday September 25 from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. “Your Health, Your Body, and Iowa’s Agricultural Landscape.”

Check the Prairiewoods web site for registration details.


LFC Fundraiser @ Red Avocado > Wed 8/27 August 26, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 7:43 am
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Wednesday August 27 Red Avocado Fundraiser for LFC!

On Wednesday evening, be sure to head to the Red Avocado, 521 E. Washington St., in Iowa City. Thanks to Dave Burt and the Red Avocado for hosting a fundraiser for Local Foods Connection this Wednesday August 27 from 5:30 to 8:30 with 50% of the profits going to our organization!

You can learn a lot about this awesome vegan, all-organic restaurant on their website. They talk about their mission and philosophy, give a list of the local farms from which they purchase food, and provide their menus.

Look at the description of their hot entree “College Green Sunset”!

“Layered portabello mushroom-walnut pate, tempeh sausage, tofu ricotta, and caramelized onions wrapped in a flaky filo pastry purse on spinach polenta with horseradish-root vegetable-sweet corn relish, roasted red pepper sauce and a fine drizzle of sweet balsamic reduction.”

YUM! So if you’ve never been to Red Avocado, Wednesday night is a great time to try it, and, if you love Red Avocado already, Wednesday night is the perfect time for your next visit! Support Red Avocado, the local food system, and Local Foods Connection in one fell swoop. As LFC’s awesome intern Emma Duer put it last night, the Wednesday evening fundraiser is a win-win: “50% of the profits go to LFC, and 100% of the food goes in your tummy!”

Happy day,


‘A Cook’s Journey: Slow Food in the Heartland’ August 20, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 7:52 am

We mentioned Devotay Chef Kurt Michael Friese’s new book ‘A Cook’s Journey: Slow Food in the Heartland’ in our last post, but we wanted to devote a little more time and space to it here. ‘A Cook’s Journey’ is a must have for any food lover in the Midwest – or outside of the Midwest for that matter. Friese weaves together beautiful photos, delicious recipes, and insightful narratives in this guide to the foods, farms, and people who shape (and are shaped by) the landscape of the Midwest.

If you don’t trust me, take a look at the star studded cast on the back cover of Friese’s book and hear what they’re saying about ‘A Cook’s Journey’:

”Chef Kurt Michael Friese has written a terrific introduction to the theory and practice of slow food.”
Michael Pollan, author, In Defense of Food

Slow Food in the Heartland will give great encouragement to the reader who cares about good food and enjoys sitting down to a convivial table. Kurt Friese has drawn a new portrait of the Heartland. These states are teaming with good cooks, fine producers and appreciative eaters who are turning their abilities and senses towards delicious foods and worthy traditions.”
Deborah Madison, author, Local Flavors, Cooking and Eating From America’s Farmers Markets

“Move over foodies from the West and East coasts! Chef Kurt Friese has found, in the honey-colored Heartland of America, some of the richest, most delicious and sustaining farming and food initiatives anywhere on the continent. With a chef’s discernment of terroir, a photographer’s eye for memorable images, and a storyteller’s ear for a good tale, Friese takes us with him on an odyssey to discover what is truly nourishing the lands and peoples of the Midwest. Join him in this culinary journey.”
Gary Paul Nabhan, author, Renewing America’s Food Traditions

“Kurt Friese’s lovely, compelling and ‘slow’ journey through the rich culinary heritage of our nation’s Heartland is one not to be missed. Whether you live in the Heartland yourself, or simply have a fascination with the surging local foods movement, you’ll enjoy this look into the food culture that is alive and well in the Heartland today.”
Tracey Ryder, President & CEO, Edible Communities, Inc.

“Artisanal techniques, sustainable practices—Slow Food in the Heartland offers delicious proof that these are not fancy new terms or culinary trends, but old-fashioned, Midwestern values. Through his honest and personal accounts, Chef Kurt Michael Friese introduces us to growers and artisans, chefs and advocates who not only put the heart in Heartland, but are also a driving force in the global Slow Food movement.”
Sherri Brooks Vinton, author, The Real Food Revival

A Cook’s Journey is enthusiastic and appetizing proof positive that the food of the Midwest is much more than acres of corn and covered dish. How many people know that some of America’s most beloved food traditions were born in and continue to thrive in the Heartland?
Friese’s charming portraits shine a light on these traditions and give insight into
the many farmers, artisans, cooks, purveyors and activists who are slowly but steadily making our food system more sustainable and delicious. Here’s a voice
that reminds us of the simple and deeply satisfying pleasures of the table, community, and pride of place.”
Erika Lesser, Executive Director, Slow Food USA

If you’re in the Iowa City area, head over to Prairie Lights to pick up your copy! Otherwise, head to your local bookseller for your very own ‘A Cook’s Journey: Slow Food in the Heartland.’

Happy reading and happy eating!



LFC Newsletter August 14, 2008

Publicity for Local Foods Connection

We want to take a moment to brag about the attention Local Foods Connection has received lately. And we have to thank all the wonderful people who make our work successful, exciting and newsworthy. These people include our clients, volunteers, farmers and donors – most of you reading this newsletter! Furthermore, we want to acknowledge the writers and publications who are talking about us. Thank you!

A.  A Cook’s Journey: Slow Food in the Heartland


Great journeys are often inspired by simple questions and observations. Join Chef Kurt Michael Friese (Devotay, Iowa City) as he travels through our nation’s Heartland. One chapter is dedicated to Local Foods Connection!

When he recognized that the epicenters of the world’s different culinary heritages have always been in the heart of a nation’s grain belt, whether it be France, India, China, Italy, or Germany, he realized that great food must be waiting to be discovered all across the American Heartland. So he went looking, from Ohio to Oklahoma to North Dakota, thirteen states in all. His intuition was right – the center of our country truly is a fascinating, varied and healthy culinary region, with far more stories than would fit in one book.

B.  Farmers’ Markets Today


Follow the link and read the article in the July/August 2008 issue written by Caroline Gottschalk-Druschke: “Local Foods Connection Combats Hunger and Supports Small Farmers: Non-profit organization creates new market for farmers and introduces low-income Iowans to fresh local produce.

Farmers’ Markets Today is a must-have magazine for successful planning, implementing and selling of farm produce direct to consumers.  Find out what farmers markets across the U.S. are doing to succeed. Learn innovative strategies for direct selling and promotion. Sound off on issues affecting direct market farmers and sustainable agriculture.

C. Today’s Dietitian


The June 2008 issue of Today’s Dietitian featured a great article on Local Foods Connection written by David Yeager.

Yeager interviewed LFC Executive Director, Laura Dowd, and the resulting feature story, “Local Foods Connection: Matching Needy Families with Healthy Resources,” focuses on the specific challenges faced by low-income families in accessing fresh, local produce. Yeager was quick to pick up on the fact that LFC does more than simply provide CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares to low-income families; just as essential are the educational opportunities provided by LFC for its clients. As Laura explains in the feature, “I found that [clients] don’t recognize so many of the vegetables, they don’t have the equipment to prepare the vegetables, they haven’t really cooked much fresh food in their life, and their neighbors and their families don’t have experience doing this. And so they were calling me and saying, ‘Laura, what the heck do I do with this stuff?’ So we had to slowly integrate more and more educational opportunities.”

What really comes across in the Today’s Dietitian feature is the spirit of fun and enthusiasm that runs through Local Foods Connection; it’s important to everyone at LFC that our clients enjoy their relationship with LFC, as they learn a lot of useful information, try new foods, and have new experiences. Yeager also keyed in on the fact that LFC cares as much about local farmers as we do about our clients. As our name implies, that magic of LFC comes from connecting eaters, farmers, and advocates to promote healthy eating and to support local food systems.

D.  Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association Everyday Heroes Award


Each year on the first Saturday in August, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association celebrates Herbert’s Hoover’s birthday at Hooverfest. Visitors enjoy entertainment, food, arts and craft throughout the day. The event ends with a wreath-laying ceremony, a special tribute to Iowa’s Everyday Heroes, and fabulous fireworks display choreographed to music. Local Foods Connection was one of the service organizations recognized as an “Everyday Hero.”

Other organizations which received an award included: The Iowa National Guard, The Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Illinois, The American Red Cross, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the American Cancer Society, among others. Local Foods Connection was honored to be named among these great organizations and thrilled to take part in the wonderful ceremony.


Meet LFC: Installment One August 12, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — caroline@LFC @ 3:20 pm

This is Caroline here. I got the chance to tell you a bit about myself in a post a few weeks back, and Laura and I got to thinking that it would be fun to use the blog to introduce you to the many faces of Local Foods Connection.

LFC couldn’t do what it does without the hard work of our farmers and clients, as well as the hard work of over a hundred volunteers who complete a variety of on-farm and off-farm tasks, from harvesting to weeding to writing grant proposals to fixing computers to designing t-shirts. And the people who come together to form LFC are drawn to this work from a variety of backgrounds and with a variety of interests.

And so, we bring you our first installment of the Local Foods Connection Proust Questionnaire. You may be familiar with Proust’s original questionnaire or with the Vanity Fair magazine version but our Proust Questionnaire is undoubtedly more interesting, more fascinating, and a whole lot more fun! (Well, we think so anyway.)

Without further ado, I am pleased to introduce our first LFCer: Robert.

1. What is your name?


2. Where were you born and where have you lived?

Born in Knoxville, TN. Have lived in Iowa most of my life – Shellsburg, IA – but have also lived in Cedar Rapids, St. Peter, MN, and now Iowa City

3. How long have you been working with Local Foods Connection?

I’ve been volunteering for the LFC since the fall of 2004, on and off.

4. Who are your favorite heroes of fiction (books/movies/songs)?

John Henry

5. Who are your favorite heroes in real life?

Matt Conaway, Susan ZJ, my mom

6. What is your favorite food or meal?

Anything that can be wrapped in a tortilla makes for good eating.

7. What is the quality you most admire in another person?


8. What can’t you live without in your refrigerator or cupboard?

Onions, garlic, canned tomatoes.

9. What do you like most about the work you do with Local Foods Connection?

Sometimes in grad school it’s hard to feel like you are doing something tangible, but I get that feeling every time I work out on a farm or help Laura with a project.

10. What is your most marked characteristic?

I’m kind of a smartass, so I’ve been told.

11. What is your first food memory?

Hating tomato soup, and making an incredible mess eating spaghetti with my twin brother at our little kiddie table at home.

12. What kind of work do you do with Local Foods Connection?

A variety of things – office work, mailings, some fundraising, delivering shares, farmwork, helping with volunteer days.

13. What is your favorite thing about eastern Iowa?

The people I’ve met here.

14. What led you to an interest in local foods?

The idea of sustainable food production.

15. What is your dream of happiness?

Leaving the world in better shape than I found it, and growing old with my amazing wife.

16. What was your favorite food as a child?

Mom’s homemade mac and cheese

17. How do you spend your time outside of Local Foods Connection?

I’m a PhD student in Environmental Engineering, so that takes up a lot of time. I have a house and two half-crazed Springer spaniels, so there are always projects to do and places to run.

18. What foods do you most dislike?

Hmmm… well, I never cared for my Grandma’s Hungarian cooking, which basically involved taking a piece of edible food and stewing the life out of it.

19. What natural gift would you most like to possess?

Does humility count?

20. What is your present state of mind?

Very upbeat, just listened to a great bluegrass cd, but starting to get nervous about a 1:00 deadline today.

21. What is something that most people don’t know about you?

I was born without bone marrow

22. What is your favorite cookbook?

Cook’s Illustrated

23. What is your motto?

Ha – I have several…

1) Don’t shit your pants about this stuff!

2) Two most important things in life – attendance and enthusiasm.

The first one was advice given to me by my boss Virgil when I was starting my first job as a janitor for the summer, but I think it can pretty much be applied to most situations.


Join the Eat Local Challenge This Week! August 5, 2008

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Local Logo

Join the New Pioneer Co-op this week and take on the Eat Local America Challenge!

From August 4th to August 10th, New Pioneer Co-op will be supporting the Eat Local Challenge -stop into the Co-op and keep an eye out for the Local sticker shown above; this sticker identifies food that was produced or grown within 250 miles of either Co-op location or within the state of Iowa.

As New Pi explains:

“SIgn up for this self-monitored challenge at either New Pi location and enter to win great prizes from the Co-op and Edible Iowa River Valley magazine. Pick up a sample menu, a local products list, and tips for how you can eat local all throughout the week. Look for the ‘Local’ sticker on local items we carry to help guide you through purchases.”

You can also Eat Local by stopping by the Sycamore Mall Farmers’ Market Tuesday evening or the Iowa City Farmers Market Wednesday evening or Saturday morning. Or, head out to your yard for whatever goodies you’ve been growing.