September 10, 2015

Local foods for sustainable community


By Jerry W. Kram

For centuries, the Mandan and Hidatsa people lived on the banks of the Missouri River, raising magnificent gardens of corn, beans and squash.

Those crops not only sustained their communities but were valuable commodities to trade with other Native American nations and later with British and American traders who came up the Missouri River. In recent decades, like much of the United States, more and more of the food the people of New Town and Parshall rely upon comes from hundreds or thousands of miles away. Much of that food is processed and high in excess fats and sugars.

Prairie Rose Seminole and Twyla Baker-Demeray organized a conference at the Nueta, Hidatsa and Sahnish College in New Town looking at ways to break the cycle of relying on distance sources for food. Baker-Demeray is president of the college. Seminole wrote a grant to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development agency to host the summit.

"It came together very quickly," Seminole said. "They called for proposals just a few months ago and we put it together in about three and a half weeks. It is an opportunity for us to invite the public in to taste and champion the foods that local to our region and celebrate those foods."

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