By Elizabeth Foy Larsen
If you spent the bulk of your University of Minnesota experience on the Minneapolis side of the Mississippi, you might not be familiar with the crop fields and barns of the U’s St. Paul campus. Both are reminders that, even in a time when most of our state’s population lives in cities, we also have a proud commitment to our agricultural roots, even if it’s just shopping at a downtown farmers market or dining at a farm-to-table restaurant.
Tucked away on the ground floor of the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, on Eckles Avenue on the St. Paul campus, there’s an opportunity to buy even more hyperlocal. That’s where every Wednesday between 2 and 5 p.m., the staff at the Meat and Dairy Salesroom stock the freezers, switch on the fluorescent lights, and let the public buy the meat, cheese, ice cream, and honey that food science students have made across the hall at the Joseph J. Warthesen Food Processing Center, better known as the pilot plant.
A customer browses the cases at the Dairy and Meat Salesroom on the St. Paul campus.
It’s a happening that draws in-the-know customers from on and off campus, who are onto the fact that our food scientists have a lot to brag about. Since the early 1900s, the U has been nationally known for its dairy product research, including procedures for making blue cheese, which researchers originally aged in caves on the Mississippi. Try the Nuworld, an extremely sharp blue cheese that was invented here using a white strain of bacteria. That means it’s white, even though it’s officially labeled blue. Go figure. A milder version is available in a spread. There are also some unique ice cream options, including Minnesota Sundae, which is vanilla mixed with honey and sunflower seeds.
Across the room in the meat locker, you can find everything from cottage bacon— which is cut from the shoulder instead of the belly and comes shaped like a disk rather than strips, making it better for sandwiches—to rump roasts to racks of spare ribs to oxtail. You can also get suet for your birdfeeder, if you feel the need. For more information, visit: fscn.cfans.umn.edu/research-services/dairy-salesroom.
Adapted from Elizabeth Foy Larsen's 111 Places in the Twin Cities That You Must Not Miss
Main Image By: Easton Green
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