Minnesota Labor Day

I’ve always been interested in Minnesota history in large part because this state has been not only my home my whole life, but also the home of my parents, grandparents, and, on my dad’s side of the family, ancestors back to the Minnesota Territory and before.  My dad’s family is Meti or of French-Native American descent more well known in Canada than the US – my relative Cuthbert Grant organized the Meti to fight the British in 1840’s and Antoine Gingras helped keep St. Paul our capitol while serving in the territorial legislature.  

I remember reading a biography of Bob Dylan some years back and one picture which struck me was an old black and white photo of a labor day parade in Bob’s hometown of Hibbing.  The streets were packed with hundreds of people carrying the tools of their trade; miners with headlamps with pickaxes in tow.  That picture still sticks in my mind not only because of the pride people must have had in their work to take to the streets but also because its an image for me of Minnesota’s rich history of common people working together to make great things happen.  And those prizes were hard won.  Even though I know it’s unfashionable to talk about unions, organizing labor in places like the Iron Range was a violent decades-long struggle.  In a similar way, farmers and communities worked hard organizing cooperatives to get electricity, better milk prices, or a good food supply.  We’ve seen this cooperative spirit more recently in such organizations as the NFO (National Farm Organization) which organized the dairy strikes in the 1980s where farmers dumped their milk in fields instead of taking a loss.  These were not easy times and many of those challenges stick with us still.

I like to think our current local foods movement fits into this progressive history.  Really members and farmers are part of a cooperative venture through a CSA.  Some things you may not see behind he scenes, however, are fellow growers cooperating to build new farmers markets, food hubs, and networks or organizing through organizations like Land Stewardship Project or Sustainable Farming Association for the betterment of growers and eaters alike.   
So, on this Labor Day, appreciating the struggles of those farmers who came before me, I’ll consider how I can better cooperate with my peers to help get them a fair shake and their work respected.  I hope you’d do the same.  

In the Box:

  • All Blue Potato: treat as you would any potato…they are best baked or boiled.
  • Edamame: The soybean plants loose in the box.  I know, why am I throwing in whole soybean plants?  You eat the pods, not the leaves.  Take off all the pods, boil in saltwater for a few minutes and eat with some beer – you’re good.  Visual instructions here.
  • A Couple Yellow Onions
  • Arugula 
  • Cilantro 
  • Some San Marzano Roma Tomatoes: Don’t worry if there are some black spots on them…these are only skin deep and gone with a little peeling.  Great for saucing. 
  • Some Celebrity Slicing Tomatoes
  • Red and Yellow Pepper 
  • Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper: Typically these don’t have too much heat, but not this year.  
  • Contender Green Beans: Hey, back to standard green beans after wondering through the desert of yellow, Roma, and Purple beans.  
  • Mixed Cherry Tomatoes 

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