More Than a Fried Green Tomato Sandwich

MFU Tomato Sandwich 2023 Blog

The Minnesota State Fair unveiled a lineup of 34 official new fair foods for their 2023 run, but amidst this cornucopia, one standout steals the spotlight for us without question – the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich. This culinary marvel can be found at the Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) Coffee Shop on Dan Patch Avenue and beyond its irresistible taste and cornmeal-coated crunch, this sandwich carries a profound significance. It is a gateway to expanded market access for emerging farmers in our region.

Executive Chef of MFU’s Farmers Kitchen and Bar, Kris Koch, spearheaded the creation of this year’s knockout sandwich which required the sourcing of over 3,000 pounds of succulent green tomatoes. Nearly half of those vibrant green gems trace their origins back to The Good Acre, where to fulfill their 1,300-pound order, we aggregated from five different farmers including:

  • The Lor Farm, tended by Bao Xiong and Kue Lor in Nerstrand, MN
  • Der’s Farm, nurtured by Der Thao and his son William in Rosemount, MN
  • LV Gardens, cultivated by Lylee Vue in Big Lake, MN
  • Hope Gardens, overseen by Tou Vang in Dennison, MN
  • Jane Windsperger, a dedicated farmer, and MN Farmers Union Member in Ogilvie, MN
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Photo by Tou Vang, owner of Hope Gardens in Dennison, MN

The impact of the Farmers Union Fried Green Tomato Sandwich transcends its deliciousness. It acts as a catalyst, igniting newfound market avenues for local farmers and creating more economic impact in the communities where our farmer partners live and work.

Interestingly, when we reached out to the Minnesota State Fair concessions and exhibits staff about how much Minnesota-grown food is served and sold at the fair, their response was a little underwhelming. Local food sourcing is not actually something that is tracked for any of the Minnesota State Fair’s nearly 300 vendors. This just underscores the general lack of awareness most of us have regarding where our food comes from. This fact gains added significance when we reflect on the fact that agriculture makes up nearly 30% of the economy of our state.

So, when you get the chance to savor this delectable creation at the fair this year, remember that you’re indulging in more than just a meal – you’re savoring a taste of change, a slice of community, and a bite of awareness. As we relish in this culinary delight, let us also savor the thought that each choice we make as consumers can ripple out to shape a more sustainable and connected future for us all.

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