Minnesota Cooks Day highlights local food at the State Fair

- One of the highlights of the Minnesota State Fair is, of course, the food.

Sunday, deemed "Minnesota Cooks Day" is using this love of food to highlight the connections between Minnesota farmers and restaurants.

“It’s a celebration of farmers, local food, and the restaurants who buy from farmers and serve it up,” said Bruce Miller of the Minnesota Farmers Union, who is the director of Minnesota Cooks Day at the fair. “For us, this is a part of our mission of education and outreach to consumers, helping to understand how important it is to know where their food comes from.”

The collaboration between Jake Pettit with Pettit Pastures Farm in Milaca and Aaron Hagerdorn from the Main Street Farmer Eatery in St. Michael has been particularly fruitful. Hagerdorn cooked a sloppy joe on stage made from beef from Pettit’s farm.

“That’s the reason we farm is to try to make a healthy product for the consumers and try to improve the environment while doing it,” Pettit said. “Dealing with the Main Street Farmer has doubled our business and it’s helped us to expand the farm and get it to where it’s an economically viable operation.”

Hagerdorn said he’s tried to use locally sourced ingredients for years, even before it became trendy. 

“Now that the consumer is on board with us, it makes what I do even more important and even more gratifying,” he said.

This is the 15th year of the event, which has grown from four chefs and four farmers then to 12 each now.

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