From bulgogi chicken thigh tacos to seared salmon and salsa verde, meal kits based on international cuisine are easy to find online.
But meal kits based on traditional native foods have been a lot harder to come by -- until now.
Wild rice blueberry pancakes and bison sausage, along with local maple syrup and a traditional roasted dandelion tea, are the star players in a traditional meal kit ($20, serves four) being distributed on the White Earth Reservation and by Manna Food Co-op in Detroit Lakes.
It’s the first of five native meal kits planned for this autumn, and it launches Friday, Sept. 13. About 40 of the kits will be assembled at Manna by food co-op staff.
“The idea was to feature both native recipes and native cooks,” said Ryan Pesch, treasurer and a founding board member of Manna. The first recipe was developed by 4-H kids in White Earth, who tested and perfected it over three of their meetings, he said.
“It’s kind of cool,” he added. “Getting recipes from enrolled members of White Earth is more of a community invitation. It helps get people excited about it. It helps catch people’s attention.”
Zachary Paige, who leads the food sovereignty initiative at White Earth, operates the White Earth Mobile Market, which will feature the meal kits at community centers in Pine Point, White Earth, Rice Lake and Naytahwaush. The kits will also be available at Manna.
“Everything is portioned out with recipes and instructions, and there’s a demo video (made by Erika Gilsdorf of Detroit Lakes) for each recipe,” he said.
All recipes were developed with help from Sean Sherman, author of "The Sioux Chef."
The meal kit effort is supported, in part, through a $20,000 grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.
Any money raised from the meal kits will “be reinvested in native foods, both at the mobile market and here,” said Pesch, who added that he and Paige know each other well. “It seemed to make a lot of sense. We said ‘let’s do this,’ and the two of us wrote the grant,” he said.
“It’s essentially a partnership between us and the tribe and a couple other local partners,” he said. “We’re the main ones.” The tribe administers the grant, he said.
A new native meal kit will be produced every two or three weeks throughout the fall time, he said. The second one is expected to be a chicken and wild rice dish. People can participate in all five meal kits or just buy one or two, customers are not required to commit to the whole series, he said. EBT cards can be used for kits purchased at Manna.
Get the kits
The traditional native meal kits will be available at Manna Food Co-op, 105 Barbara Ave. Customers need to pre-order at www.mannafoodcoop.com/traditional.
The kits will also be featured through the White Earth Mobile Market, at community centers in Pine Point, White Earth, Rice Lake and Naytahwaush.
Manna's Harvest Fest farmers' market celebration will be 4-7 p.m. Sept. 20, with music, native and organic foods, free samples and food demonstrations.