Fargo-Moorhead’s Earth Day Celebration

Fargo-Moorhead’s Earth Day Celebration

Ugly Food of the North’s Terra Madre Celebrates the Earth, Food, and the Fargo-Moorhead Community

BY ASHLEY REZACHEK

For the first time ever Ugly Food of the North will be hosting Terra Madre, an Earth Day celebration held at the Trollwood Performing Arts Center on April 22.

Terra Madre is an event created with the idea that people who are interested in food and sustainability could come together and celebrate local foods in the Fargo-Moorhead area. It is an event for people who want to learn more about sustainable food and sustainable living.

“One of goals with Terra Madre is to have a wonderful event that people come, and are excited, and can learn more about all these good things that are happening in the area,” said Megan Myrdal co-founder of Ugly Food and organizer of Terra Madre. She hopes the event, which is free and open to the public, will get more people excited about healthy locally grown foods.

Gia Rassier, Megan Myrdal, and Jeff Knight dressed up as food promoting Ugly Food of the North. (Photo from Ugly Food of the North Facebook page.)

A number of local organizations and businesses, including Creative Plains Foundation, Heart-n-Soul Community Cafe, Red River Market, and Prairie Roots Food Co-op, as well as many others, have teamed up to make Terra Madre a success. These organizations have a shared interest in sustainable foods and many of them will be hosting their own activity at Terra Madre.

Little free garden is based off of the same concept as little free libraries but with food. (Photo by Ugly Food of the North Instagram.)

Prairie Roots Food Co-op will be hosting a farmers market featuring local food companies. Heart-n-Soul Community Café will host a community meal using local food. Family friendly yoga, make-your-own plant markers made from recycled materials, and art demonstrations are just a few of the other activities available during the event. Terra Madre will have live music and an artist will be painting a mural on the side of Heart and Soil Farm’s truck, which was once used as an ambulance truck. Seedlings will be available for sale. Information booths on how to get involved in community gardens and how to rent a plot will also be offered.

Brian Fuder of Square Foot Gardening for the Red River Valley will host square-foot gardening classes throughout the event. People will be able to build little free gardens and decorate them.

Ugly tomatoes come in a range of shapes and sizes and have a variety of blemishes. (Photo by Ugly Food of the North Instagram.)

“I’m excited about all of the different things happening on Saturday,” Gia Rassier said. Rassier is one of the co-founders of Ugly Food and an organizer of Terra Madre. “I’m the most excited about launching the second season of the Little Free Garden project. I think that the gardens provide an awesome opportunity for people to connect with their neighbors and the community by growing and sharing fresh, local food.”

Ugly apples need love too. (Photo from Ugly Food of the North Facebook page.)

Ugly Food’s mission statement says it “is a nonprofit organization based in Fargo-Moorhead working to build grassroots support for a sustainable Fargo-Moorhead food system through education, networking and community organizing.”

Ugly Food formed in August 2015 and was originally a collaboration with the Red River Market. Ugly Food asked the Red River Market to host a special ugly foods farmers market. The idea was to have people buy ugly food at the market and make something to bring to the community potluck that was held two days later.

“Ugly food is the cosmetically imperfect food that is still perfectly safe to eat but sometimes people won’t eat it because they think it doesn’t look right,” Myrdal said. For example a two-legged carrot, a misshapen tomato, or a crooked cucumber — items that grocery stores typically will not use or put out for sale.

“A large portion of that waste is comprised of perfectly good fruits and veggies that never make it to groceries and farmers markets because they aren’t aesthetically pleasing,” Rassier said. 

Ugly potatoes from Ugly Food of the North’s volunteer event at the Great Plains Food Bank. (Photo from Ugly Food of the North Facebook page.)

The event will help to bring attention to sustainable food and sustainable living, including food waste. “In the united states about 40 percent of food resources go to the waste every year,” Myrdal said. “Food waste happens all along the food supply chain, but a huge amount of that waste is happening at the consumer level,” Myrdal said. Myrdal suggests that it is a result of people not taking home their leftovers, not being thoughtful when going to the grocery store and overbuying, and confusion about expiration dates.

One other concern Myrdal has about the food waste statistics is that the human population is continuing to grow and the demand for food is also on the rise. There are so many people that are food insecure and there are other people who have so much but are throwing away good food, Myrdal said.

“There is so much need for people to become more aware of the things that they can do in their daily lives and also there is such a need for people to understand the impact of food waste on the health of ourselves and the health of our planet,” Myrdal said.

Ugly Food of the North’s Terra Madre logo. (Photo from Ugly Food of the North Facebook page.)

“There is so much more interest in our community right now about food and agriculture with people wanting to grow more of their own food, with people caring more about waste, and I personally believe that we are on either in the mists of or on the brink of a cultural food shift in Fargo,” Myrdal said.

A mutant mushroom. (Photo by Ugly Food of the North Instagram.)

The farmers market “is such a positive place for people to connect, and meet and bring family, hang out, and we know that having those good community spaces for people to feel that they belong and have a place in our community is so valuable,” Myrdal said.

Myrdal hopes the event encourages people to think small and start with the baby steps. “I hope people walk away with some sort of action they take, and do something with that,” Myrdal said.

(Ashley Rezachek is a multimedia journalism and biochemistry and biotechnology major at MSUM. She hopes to one day combine her majors for a career in science writing or editing, and help bridge the gap between the public and the science world. Contact her at rezachekas@mnstate.edu.)

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