“Eat Like a Local”: Buying Local at the Grocery Store

As the cold moves in and farmers market season draws to a close, there is no doubt that fresh, local produce items will be harder to find.  Just because you are hunkering down for winter, doesn’t mean that you have to stop eating local.  In fact, you may already be eating more locally than you know!

The two most popular grocery stores in Dubuque County are Iowa-based: HyVee, based in West Des Moines, IA, & Fareway, based in Boone, IA.  Because of their local roots, these stores carry some great Iowa products.  Although, not all Fareway and HyVee stores carry the same Iowa based items (even within the city of Dubuque), you will likely find some of these Iowa gems at our local supermarkets:

AE Dairy- Des Moines, Iowa 200 miles

Anderson Erickson (AE) dairy is a proud promoter of Iowa milk.  The company uses milk from Iowa dairy farms and makes more than 300 different dairy products including 50 flavor combinations of yogurt.  AE was also the first company to start putting pictures of missing children on milk cartons after two Iowa boys went missing in the 1980s.

Yogurt

Barilla Pasta – Ames, Iowa   183 miles

Barilla is based in Parma, Italy, so it may not seem very local.  However, most of their domestic pasta is made at their manufacturing plant in Ames, IA.  The quality of the water in Ames is ideal for pasta making.  Barilla also has a plant in Avon, New York, and their domestic headquarters in Northbrook, IL, but still makes all its tortellini and lasagne noodles in Italy.

Blue Bunny Ice Cream- LeMars, Iowa 307 miles

More ice cream comes out of the LeMars, IA Blue Bunny plant than any other location in the WORLD!  That is one awesome claim to fame! Started in 1913, the company launched a contest to name their newly created brand.  A Sioux City man submitted the winning entry and logo for Blue Bunny based on a window display his son enjoyed.  The prize was a $25 check (which translates to about $446 today) and the rest is history!

Blue Bunny

Cookies Barbecue Sauce- Wall Lake, Iowa 245 miles

The owner of Cookies barbecue sauce is one of the most unlikely people you would expect to own a condiment company.  Duane Herrig, an auto mechanic, was 1 of 30 people that invested in Cookies when it was first started.  However, things started to take a turn for the worse for the company financially, and Herrig started selling barbecue sauce to auto shops out of the back of his parts delivery truck to help the company stay afloat.  He did cooking demonstrations and shows to help promote the brand and started pitching the product to grocery stores to get it on their shelves. Eventually, he ended up taking out a loan and buying out the other partners, taking over the company’s business.  His success grew, and currently, Cookies barbecue is on store shelves in 34 states.

Cookies

Mariposa Farm Herbs- Grinnell, Iowa 155 miles

When it comes to fresh herbs, Mariposa Farms has you covered. These hydroponic, greenhouse grown herbs area available year round and are sold clipped, but are also available fresh and ‘living’ with the roots included!

Prairie Farms Dairy Products- Dubuque, Iowa 0 miles

Based in Illinois, the Dubuque plant for Prairie Farms is a staple in the area.  Prairie Farms now carries several types of yogurt, milk, ice cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, and other dairy products, but it started off as a butter manufacturer around the time of the Great Depression.

Milk

Verena Street Coffee- Dubuque, Iowa 0 miles

Verena Street Coffee is named after an actual street in Dubuque.  The street no longer exists, but has kept a special place for this Dubuque coffee company. Coffee, is a tropical plant, so the beans are not grown in Dubuque; but, the coffee is roasted here at the Dubuque factory right off Highway 20. Roasting coffee is like making a recipe, you need the right amount of each type of bean to get the flavor profile you want.  Time and temperature are also important, as well as the quality of the bean.  Verena Street only uses high quality Arabica beans to craft their brews, which ends up being about 10% of the coffee beans produced worldwide.

Verena Street

Of course there are MANY local products at all of the grocery stores in Dubuque County.  Next time you’re at the store, check out the label on some of your favorite products and support those local and regional brands!  We hope you have enjoyed this journey through a variety of Iowa based foods.  Some are icons, and some you may have been surprised to know were made in Iowa!  Either way, we hope you enjoy some wonderful local and Iowa based products, and try something interesting and new this winter season.

As always…. Happy eating everyone!

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