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The End of the Twin Cities Food Scene?



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My phone rang this morning: It was a frantic local chef, one of the founders of Minneapolis’ restaurant culture. Inspectors had been in her restaurant four times during the Republican National Convention, while there, informed her that it was illegal for restaurants to buy food directly from farmers, or from farmer’s markets. “He said we could not go to the farmers’ market, period. I didn’t then tell him, ‘Well I also have farmers delivering to my door….” He said: You have to get your food from a distributor. Nothing can come from anywhere but a distributor.”

Yes, it’s apparently now illegal for restaurants to buy food from farmers. Any of it. Vegetables, herbs, apples—anything and everything. All foods in restaurants must be purchased from distributors.

If this is in fact true, restaurants that may as well just close their doors include: Alma, Porter & Frye, La Belle Vie, Lucia’s, Heartland, Firelake, Craftsman, Spoonriver, Café Brenda, Cosmos, the Corner Table, Saffron, the Dakota, and the rest of them. Oh, and just about every Hmong and Vietnamese restaurant would need to close too.

Why are they doing this? Because the Republicans were here? Because the city and state hate us, and want us to eat only unhealthy packaged foods? Because the city and state hate farmers, and wish to end their free access to markets?

I’m trying to track down the answer. As of right now, I’ve put in calls to the mayor of Minneapolis, the mayor of St. Paul, the governor, Minneapolis’ health department, and the state health department. Of course, everyone worked all last week, all last weekend, and up through today on RNC stuff, so everyone seems to be taking the afternoon off.

So far the only person I’ve heard back from is Mayor Rybak’s spokesman, who said: “The mayor and his wife are huge supporters of locally grown food. If anything, the mayor believes we should have more locally grown food, not less, so I think he would be pretty upset by this.”

Well, yeah. He should be. I am.

I’ll post more as, and if, I hear back from people, but for now: Is this the end of life as we know it?
 

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Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

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