So, I watched this YouTube video about West Coast natives trying “Traditional Wisconsin Food” for the first time. The food choices were Kringle, Fried Cheese Curds, Herring, Beer Cheese Soup, and a Brandy Old Fashioned. Now, granted these are relatively popular foods… but what about cranberries? Wisconsin is the nation’s leading producer of cranberries, harvesting more than 60 percent of the country’s crop. What about Wild Rice? According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, “The Menominee even took their name from the Indian word for wild rice, manomin, and were often referred to as the Wild Rice People by Europeans.” It’s a food that needs specific growing conditions, including gently flowing waters with a mucky or organic bottom and in areas with relatively stable water levels during the growing season… Perfect conditions for a state full of rivers and lakes, though the expanse of wild rice fields is much reduced now compared to what it would have been when the Menominee took their name from it.
What about cherries of all varieties? Sweet Bing, tart red cherries… delicious, one of my favorite foods, grown all over the place in Wisconsin… somehow it didn’t make the list.
What about blueberries? Blueberries grow in acidic, sandy soil, just like that in our area.
There are so many healthy foods that should be considered a normal, vibrant part of traditional Wisconsin eating culture and habits. So many foods that get forgotten about in favor of less healthy alternatives. Let’s start changing that…Some quick ideas using the above ingredients…
Cranberries with recipe ideas from Health.com like cranberry citrus relish, cranberry salsa, and cranberry-orange chocolate smoothies.
Wild Rice– recipe ideas from VegWeb.com. It can be used in grain salads, stuffing, paellas, or anywhere a more refined grain is typically used (like instead of pasta).
Cherries and blueberries- in addition to eating them throughout the day (since all berries are FANTASTIC additions to the diet because of their low glycemic index and high antioxidant content), you can add them to oatmeal, granola, or anything else that needs a healthy sweetness.
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