Monthly Archives: July 2013

Why Local Food?

By Kelsey Johnson


The Rosmanns, from Rosmann Family Farms


“You are what your food eats.” Or at least that’s what Wild Rose Pastures in Reasoner preaches. What they mean is – “healthy people come from healthy food,” and the way food is produced has an impact on not just the animal or produce itself, but ultimately the person who eats it.

This is the same mindset that drives Blue Gate Farm in Chariton. They “provide Certified Naturally Grown specialty fruits & vegetables, raw honey, free-range eggs and alfalfa hay, all sustainably raised on [their] small family farm.”

Rosmann Family Farms in Harlan also roots their farm in sustainable agriculture. Ron and Maria Rosmann were “not satisfied with conventional farming practices,” and began “to explore sustainable agriculture methods.” They believed their “goals of building up the soil and not just the plant, using different tillage methods, and improving the genetics in the livestock were reachable.”

What makes these farms possible is demand from local eaters for the sustainably grown food on their farms.  All these local, Iowa farms have an interest in providing their customers – and friends – with the best food Iowa has to offer, and that means not just worrying about their yearly yield, but thinking about the means by which it is produced, looking forward to how they will continue to sustain those products for years to come, and connecting with the customers who keep them in business.

The local food movement has flourished in recent years. In its annual directory of farmers markets the USDA listed just under 3,000 around the country in the year 2000, which rose to almost 8,000 last year. Buying locally is associated with a host of benefits that include better nutrition, environmental sustainability, greater sense of community, a stronger local economy, and higher quality. Buy why should our relationship with our food extend beyond our immediate need for nutrition and energy? Well we talked to some of our members and asked – Why local food?

Kerri Rush of Fresh Café & Market believes that buying and selling local produce is “really important to me and my business for a lot of reasons,” she said. While she admits that prices are sometimes higher than her mass-market competitors, there is a different value in the products she provides. “I don’t have the buying power of franchises, chains, or superstores. But usually when I explain this to customers they understand that I’m not holding large stockpiles of my kale chips,” she said. “But I provide fresher, local food because it doesn’t travel so far, and nutritionally it’s so much better for our bodies.

In any case, figuring out nutritional value is complex at best, and relies on multiple factors such as harvesting, packaging, and shipping practices.  Buying locally also doesn’t ensure that a farmer took the steps to create a more sustainable product. However, a study published by Kathleen Frith through the Harvard School of Public Health in 2007 reports that, “relying on local sources for your produce needs has some distinct advantages.” These advantages include minimal shipping and handling, crop diversity, and the farmer’s own desire to provide food of high-quality, all of which join together to result in a better product.

Nutrition aside, you can’t deny one of local food’s most compelling benefits: taste. Sondra Felbstein from SalAmander Farms says plain and simple why she loves local food: “Because it tastes better than anything you can buy otherwise.”

Along those same lines, Alba restaurant also utilizes local foods in order to increase the quality of their product. Chef Joe Tripp lets food drive his menu, always featuring what’s in season. “We use fresh ingredients from local farms because they travel less than anything we could pick up from the store,” he said. “When farmers are out of an ingredient they’re out and we know they’re not at their best anymore so we change our menu to focus on what’s fresh.”

But buying locally is more than any one of its singular advantages, it’s a compilation of factors that work to build a new way in which Iowans, and all people, think about their food. It’s a movement that both builds community and relies on it to sustain its mission. “I think it’s important to support local small businesses and farms,” said Kerri Rush. “If we join together as one force we’re more powerful.” So when you pick up sweet corn this weekend, you’re not simply investing in the probability that you are getting a higher quality, nutritious, and more sustainably produced product, but forming a relationship with a farmer, and building a connection with your local community. And we think that sounds pretty darn delicious.

What’s Fresh: Sweet Corn and Zucchini

By Kelsey Johnson

Sound the alarms! …Or maybe that’s excessive. Get ready to yell from the rooftops! …Still too much? Breaking news! …No? Well in any case, Iowa sweet corn is finally here, and we think that’s cause for some pretty enthused celebration. Westrum Produce, Reinharts Family Farm, and others will have cobs of Iowa’s gold for sale at the market this Saturday. You can find Deardorff at any Dahl’s, so make sure to pick some up while it’s still in peak value.

It’s that time of the year when market stands are overflowing with produce, and in addition to sweet corn, red raspberries, blueberries, zucchini, green beans, potatoes, peppers, kohlrabi, cabbage, carrots, broccoli, summer squash, cucumbers, beets, greens, onions and more are going strong. In the coming days and weeks keep a look out for tomatoes and eggplant as the beginning of their season is right around the corner.


This week our recipe for Easy Summer Quinoa  features a whole slew of local ingredients you can find at the market. Because we love when fresh foods work together. Recipe thanks to Iowa Girl Eats. Follow the link (and scroll down) to see step by step directions complete with beautiful photos.

Recipe includes fresh local ingredients:

  • Sweet  Corn
  • Zucchini
  • Kale
  • Basil
  • Garlic
  • Tomatoes

What’s Happening: July 18

Devour Des Moines, August 3rd
Tri To Eat It All! This swimming, biking, running, eating extravaganza shows off Des Moines’ local food, and all proceeds go to our Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign! Last day to register for a FREE t-shirt is this Friday, July 19.


Templeton Rye Dinner (Sbrocco) July 18, 6:30pm
Four courses, each prepared with Templeton Rye & served with a special Templeton Rye cocktail. $60 per person, $110 for two. Space is limited, call today!


Healing With Green Smoothies (Fresh Café & Market) July 18, 7-8pm & July 24, 9-10am
You can now LEVERAGE YOUR GREEN SMOOTHIE to prevent disease and heal! Learn how to use time-tested, empirically proven, powerful essential oils and other strategies to help
you achieve optimal health!
If you’ve hoped for alternatives to drug approaches that
“do no harm,” this is a class you will love.
Live demonstrations, samples and shared recipes!
FREE! Please pre-register at (search Healing with Green Smoothies) click on the GET TICKETS link


Beer and Brats, July 23, 4-6pm
Gateway Market will offering a free tasting of beer and Mo’ Big Brats from Mo’Rub! Don’t miss out on the tastes of the season!


RAGBRAI Celebration, July 23, 4-10pm
A RAGBRAI celebration with Jasper Winery and Madhouse Brewing Company.  We will be out on the lawn enjoying live music and Iowa craft beer and wine.  Burgers and brats will be available on the grill.  Live music featuring:
4-6pm- Brian Congdon
6-8pm- Paige Harpin Group
8-10pm- DJ Brodacious


Beer-lesque: Tasting & Tassels (Gramercy Tap), July 24, 9pm
What’s better than an evening full of craft beer from Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery? An evening full of craft beer…coupled with the one and only Naughty Pierre and his troupe of lovely ladies. They will feature a Deschutes Brewery beer in each of their burlesque and variety stage acts. This is sure to be a night of excitement, laughter, and unforgettable fun. Try beers like Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Black Butte Porter, Chainbreaker White IPA, Twilight Summer Ale and Fresh Squeezed IPA.
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at The Gramercy Tap in advance, at the door, or by calling 515.288.9606. This event will sell out so get your tickets soon!


RAGBRAI, July 21-27
One of Iowa’s most beloved traditions, RAGBRAI is stopping in Des Moines this year! (In addition to some other Greater Des Moines locations.) As you ride (or cheer) through each host town be sure to enjoy local music and food along the way!


Iowa Shakespeare Experience, July 13-23
Pack a picnic and enjoy FREE Shakespeare in the park!  The Festival presents only local vendors, and this year BFBL member Jasper Winery returns again. Plus The Cheese Shop of Des Moines is the Festival’s official picnic provider (call ahead and pick up an extraordinary boxed supper there!)
General Admission at the Mainstage in Simon Estes is free (no tickets required).  VIP seating or Residency Show seats are purchased via, limited availability at Gate. Contact: (515) 274-8989
July 19-21: “The Passion of OTHELLO”  Picnics at 6pm, Curtain at about 8 at ISE’s Mainstage at Simon Estes Amphitheater, Downtown Des Moines on the Riverwalk.


Crooked Mile – Live Music (Gramercy Tap), August 10, 9pm


Blindly Imbibe (Gateway Market), July 18, August 1 & 15, 7:30-8:30pm
Do you really know why you love your favorite wine? Take away the brand name, pretty label and points on someone’s scale, and what are you left with?
Join Abbe for a new tasting series with no labels, no price tags, and no preconceptions. Cost is $20 per person.


Wine Education Series (Splash Seafood) July 30 & August 27, 6-7pm
Discuss and taste wines from around the world and pair them with light appetizers created by Splash Executive Chef Dominic Iannarelli. The July class features wine from Oregon and the August class from Southern Italy presented by Ben Nelsen, Certified Sommelier. Cost is $40 per person. Reservations required. Call (515)244-5686.


Wine & Canvas (Jasper Winery) July 28 & August 25, 2-5pm


Homemade Happy Hour Summer Cooking Demonstration Series, Every Other Monday 3pm – 5pm
These demonstrations will happen bi-weekly starting June 24th on Monday afternoons from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the kitchen of Kitchen Collage. The event is free and there are many samples to be had! (Dates: July 8 & 22)


Food for Thought Dinners, Thursdays 5:30pm – 8pm
The Wallace House invites you to a new program, “Food for Thought,” that combines locally-sourced dining with conversation about food. Diners will order from a changing menu of appetizers, entrees, and desserts created from local ingredients, including fruits and vegetables grown at the Country Life Center. Entrees range from $15-$20, appetizers $6-$8, and desserts $5. Bring your own wine. Reservations are encouraged, as seating is limited. Call 515-243-7063 or email carlahicklin@wa​

July 18 – Chocolate
July 25 – Yoga
August 01 – Heirloom Tomatoes
August 08 – Iowa Sweet Corn
August 15 – State Fair Foods


Hear it in the Grapevines (Two Saints Winery) 1 – 4pm
Live music concert series Sundays.
July 28 – Tony Valdez
August 4 – The Bobcats
August 18 – Mills Street Band
September 8 – Hot Tamales & The Red Hots
September 22 – Tony Valdez


Music at the Winery (Covered Bridges Winery) 6 – 8pm
Kick back, relax, take in the music, and enjoy some great wine. Bring along a picnic, a blanket or chairs.
July 27 – The Soul Searchers
August 03 – Chad Elliot
August 24 – Ron Burchett


Summer Concert Series 2013, Thursday 6pm – 9pm (Jasper Winery)
Held every , enjoy free live music on the lawn. We’ll be serving wine, sangria and Madhouse beer by the glass ($5-6) as well as grilling up burgers and brats ($6). We’ll have regular appearances by the Chocolaterie Stam gelato cart – yes, you can even have a wine or beer gelato float – as well as the Gusto Pizza truck. We have some chairs and tables but it’s not a bad idea to bring some chairs or blankets as well. As a reminder, all ages are welcome but please leave the pets at home. And since it’s a free event, please celebrate the evenings enjoying our wine and beer (other alcoholic beverages will need to stay at home). Yay for summer!July 18 – Final Mix
July 25 – Brother Trucker
Aug 01 – Dazy Head Mazy


unWINEd: The Other Side (Jasper Winery) 5:30pm – 8:30pm
Enjoy wine, sangria, and Madhouse beer by the glass and bottle at Grey’s Lake South Terrace . The City of Des Moines will be cooking up food for purchase as well!
July 26 – El Dorados
August 09 – Freestyle
August 23 – Brother Trucker
September 6 – Brian Holtz Band
September 20 – Sonny Humbucker Band


Wine-In Movies (Grape Escape)
Every Saturday night from June through September join us for our Wine In Movies in the Vineyard.  Outdoor movies on a 11 foot by 20 foot screen with surround sound, full 1080p High Definition picture, and fire pits.


Sunday Socials, 2pm – 5pm (Grape Escape)
Wine Education Segments Yard Games Great Wines Good Times with friends, new and old