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How local foragers and hunters take advantage of Iowa’s natural resources

By Sophia Finster, Photos by Chris Grebner and Rachel Vanderwerff We often take for granted Iowa’s abundant forests, prairies and backyards, and the variety of nutritious foods they provide. Tapping into these resources through foraging, hunting and fishing helps us understand how valuable they are. “Food is a commonality that everyone needs. As a society, […]

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How Cedar Rapids bartender Josh O’Connell turned his passion into a business

Not long ago, Josh O’Connell was flipping bottles behind a bar, taking orders from a menu of his own cocktail recipes. The tattooed and mustachioed mixologist delighted the public at the 2016 Cobble Hill and Pullman Corridor Mashup with his French Oak Old Fashioned, in which a mix of orange blossom water and bourbon was […]

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Pucker up: Local sour beers take brewing to a whole new level

“Infected” is rarely a word you want associated with your food or drink. But for hundreds of years, from Belgium to Iowa City, brewers have been cultivating the perfect cocktail of microbes to infect their beers and serve an ever-growing fan base. Characterized by an acidic or tart flavor, sour beers can taste like everything […]

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Mercy Hospital Chef Ron Hall serves some of Iowa City’s best food

Mise en place. That’s the term that comes to mind when Jeff Donar thinks about Chef Ron Hall. It’s a French phrase Donar learned in culinary school; it means “everything in its place.” Donar, a cook, has worked for Hall in the Mercy Iowa City kitchen for nearly four years. “You can tell when [Chef […]

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Local producer Agri-Cultured Foods heals customers with fermented foods

We tend to think of our food as something we put into our bodies, as something totally separate from our bodies. But what if our food was actually alive? And what if our food became a part of our bodies after eating? […]

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How Pig & Porter Chef Matt Melone makes time for family dinner

Matt Melone worked all day in the kitchen, and he’ll work more tomorrow. It’s December, an especially busy time of year at Pig & Porter, the downtown Cedar Rapids restaurant Matt co-founded with his business partner, Will Monk. Outside, the temperature sits below freezing. “I see people I work with more than I see my […]

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How the Kirkwood Culinary Arts program is training a new generation of culinary entrepreneurs

[vc_row class=”bb-row”][vc_column][vc_column_text] The Kirkwood Culinary Arts program provides top-level training to students hungry to learn. Kirkwood Community College has the only hospitality arts program in the country that includes a full-service hotel, restaurant and convention center on site, offering students first-hand training in three different cuisine and pastry tracks alongside industry professionals just down the […]

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Worth the drive: Jefferson County Ciderworks

[vc_row class=”bb-row”][vc_column][vc_column_text] Jefferson County Ciderworks is a place ripe for a daytrip from the Iowa City area and is definitely worth the drive. Jesse Narducci and Katie Greenfield have put their own twist on the brewery concept and created an idyllic escape from the trappings of city life on the outskirts of Fairfield. Offering handcrafted […]

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Wine all the time: A best case scenario

[vc_row class=”bb-row”][vc_column][vc_column_text] Five years ago, Robert Morey founded Best Case Wines, a wine importing and wholesale company. He tells us how he became an importer and shares some tips for choosing great wine. How did you become a wine importer? I started working at New Pioneer Food Co-op back when they had a member volunteer […]

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Local restaurant industry vets dish on their favorite guilty pleasures, unusual ingredients and more

[vc_row class=”bb-row”][vc_column][vc_column_text] Three local industry people — Ben Smart, head chef at Big Grove Brewery, Stephanie Sunberg, server at Clinton Street Social Club, and Carrie Schumacher, co-owner at Cobble Hill and Caucho — weigh in on what fuels them, what they’re listening to and how they bring their own personalities into culinary and service work. […]

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Seed-saving: Growers work to preserve heirloom food for future generations

[vc_row class=”bb-row”][vc_column][vc_column_text] On a Northeast Iowa farm and in backyards across the nation, Seed Savers Exchange preserves heirloom varietals and their stories for future generations. In 1975, Diane Ott Whealy received a gift from her grandfather: the seeds of the German Pink tomato and Grandpa Ott’s morning glory. Whealy wrote a letter to Mother Earth […]

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How one Linn County farm is blazing a trail for a growing regional industry

[vc_row class=”bb-row”][vc_column][vc_column_text] On their Linn County farm, Lea and Denny Rehberg raise shrimp alongside heirloom pigs, blazing a trail for a growing regional industry. Overnight, Styrofoam coolers of 20,000 post-larval shrimp arrive from the Florida Keys to the Rehberg family farm in Walker, Iowa. “They’re about the size of your eyelash when you get ‘em,” […]

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