An SGT Retrospective on 2010

The Roman god Janus, for whom January is named, has two faces: one looking forward, the other back. He represents gates and doorways. Beginnings and endings. Transitions. He’s also credited with introducing agriculture to the early Romans.

See why I chose him to symbolize SGT’s year-end retrospective on food?

As far as food is concerned, 2010 was a particular two-faced year. There was noteworthy progress in the fight for a more sustainable and humane food system, but also some crushing setbacks. This past year, food was used as a political football. A weapon. Even a scapegoat. But just as often, food was a means of self-expression, a way to communicate values and priorities, an invitation to see things with a different perspective. A chance to make a real difference.

What are your most significant food memories of 2010? We hope SGT helped shape at least some of them for you. Here’s a partial list of our own to get you started on your trip down memory lane:


SGT hosts its monthly local food event family style at Brasa with nearly 100 of its closest friends, plus Larry Jacoby from Shepherd Song Farm, Greg and Mary Reynolds from Riverbend Farm, Mike and Pete from Kadejan chicken, and Brasa chef and owner Alex Roberts.

Forbes Magazine names chemical-and-seed manufacturer Monsanto the number-one company of 2009, which seems to jinx the big-ag-co's performance in 2010 when the price for its shares plummets 50 percent.

Author Michael PollanAuthor Michael PollanFebruary

SGT launches its bookclub with Michael Pollan’s most recent work, Food Rules.

SGT hosts its monthly local food event – and celebrates its one-year anniversary –   at Grand Café, where more than 60 diners enjoy an exquisite cassoulet artfully prepared by young, up-and-coming chef Jon Radle.


SGT’s bookclub selection is The Compassionate Carnivore, by Catherine Friend.

SGT hosts its monthly local food event at Sen Yai Sen Lek, where chef and owner Joe Hatch-Surisook serves bright, fresh and spicy tasting menu of 10 dishes to 90 people. You do the math: 900 dishes of food are consumed in a little under three hours.

Lee writes “An Open Letter to Our Children: We’re Sorry About School Lunch” and apparently touches a nerve, which sparks comments all over the blogosphere. Within days, SGT launches its school lunch contest. Parents are asked to eat a meal with their kids at school, take photos, write about it, and then send their contest entries to SGT, where they are published and voted on by readers.

More than 80 restaurants in the Twin Cities raise $35,000 in “Fork the Fire,” a fundraiser to benefit the reconstruction of Heidi’s and Blackbird, two of their own which were destroyed by fire in south Minneapolis.


SGT’s bookclub selection is Much Depends on Dinner, by Margaret Visser.

SGT hosts its monthly local food event at Common Roots on an unseasonably warm evening. The menu’s highlight was the egg-drop soup with foraged ramps, one of the first local “crops” of the Minnesota springtime.

The winner of the school lunch challenge is announced: Chanelle Neilson from Beaumont, California, who wrote about a childhood lesson learned from “soggy buns.” She wins a year’s supply of Organic Valley milk.

Jamie OliverJamie OliverSeveral car loads of amateur farmers shows up at Riverbend Farm to participate in the first crop mob of the year. They plant rows upon rows of onions, and eat a hearty farm lunch prepared by Tracy and her crew at The Birchwood Café.

Lee attends the Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Networking meeting in Arizona, and writes “Good Food is Not (Only) a Class Issue,” as well as, appropriately enough, “Takeaways from the 2010 Kellogg Foundation Food and Community Gathering.”

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution airs on ABC and earns the network its highest Friday night ratings in more than three years.

Alex Roberts, chef and owner of Brasa and Restaurant Alma, wins James Beard award for best Midwest chef.

Jon Radle, chef at Grand Café, dies at the age of 30.

An explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig kills 11, injures 17, and begins pouring crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of 53,000 barrels per day.


SGT’s bookclub selection is This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader by Joan Dye Gussow.

SGT hosts its monthly local food event at Galactic Pizza, where all the pizza was free, thanks to owner Pete Bonahoom and his staff of spandex-wearing super heroes from outer space. No, seriously.

On the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, Hartmann Dairy Farm of Gibbon, Minnesota, is raided by Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture and Health officials, who charge the owner, Roger Hartmann, with selling raw milk that infected four people with E.coli 0157:H7.


SGT’s bookclub selection is Food Matters by Mark Bittman.

SGT eschews its monthly local food event to sponsor Signal-Free Saturday, an effort to get everyone unplugged from their electronic devices for at least one day.

Pastureland Butter, once on the brink of extinction, appears again in co-op coolers after finding a new buyer for its skim milk.

The Twin Cities’ newest co-op, Harvest Moon, opens in Long Lake.


SGT’s bookclub selection is Real Food, What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck.

SGT hosts its monthly local food event at The Marsh, our first ever sit-down dinner al fresco on a picture-perfect summer evening with pork prepared three ways, a la chef David Owen Jones.

SGT follows up on the Hartmann Dairy Farm story by publishing an interview between food-safety advocate Bill Marler and food-freedom fighter David Gumpert, entitled A Raw Debate about Milk.


SGT’s bookclub selection is The Minnesota Table: Recipes for Savoring Local Food Throughout the Year, by Shelley N.C. Holl and B.J. Carpenter.

SGT hosts its annual pig roast and potluck at Minnehaha Falls and serves 150 local food lovers on another impossibly perfect day.

The Minnesota State Fair debuts its best food offering yet: fresh peaches and ice cream from Salty Tart.

The toll of people sickened by salmonella-tainted eggs rises to 1,800. A half a billion eggs are recalled: One of the country’s largest egg producers, Austin DeCoster of Iowa, is implicated.


SGT’s bookclub selection is Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty, by Mark Winne.

SGT hosts its monthly local food event at Barbette, where chef Kevin Kathman combines local produce with sustainably sourced seafood and tops it all off with some of the area’s top-rated microbrews.

SGT kicks off a new school year with its first Good Food Resolution contest. Readers are asked to write about how they will make better food choices this year. Two people share the top prize; each wins a year’s suppy of Organic Valley milk.

A bigger, better, more bodaciously beautiful Linden Hills Co-op opens its doors to widespread acclaim from food lovers everywhere.

University of Minnesota officials postpone the premiere of a Bell Museum film about pollution in the Mississippi River until further review by a “scientific panel.” The dean of the University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences says the film, Troubled Waters, “vilifies agriculture.”

The Corn Refiners’ Association (CRA) petitions the FDA to change the name of high fructose corn syrup to “corn sugar,” because the current name, according to a CRA executive, is “confusing customers.”

The FDA announces its endorsement of genetically modified salmon, but backs down under vehement public outrage. Now GMO salmon must be subjected to “rigorous public review” before it can be approved for human consumption


SGT’s bookclub selection is Javatrekker: Dispatches from the World of Fair Trade Coffee, by Dean Cycon.

SGT hosts its monthly local food event at Black Dog Café in St. Paul. It’s a family-friendly event with hot dogs, bratwurst, sausage, potato salad and three selections of Flat Earth beer plus Flat Earth’s own homemade soda for the kids.

SGT representatives attend the Healthy Foods Summit at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Keynote speaker is Mark Bittman.

University of Minnesota officials relent and allow Troubled Waters to air at the Bell Museum and on Twin Cities Public Television.

SGT is invited to participate in Ben and Jerry’s Fair Trade Blog Fest at their headquarters in Burlington, Vermont.

Forbes magazine publishes "We were wrong on Monsanto. Really wrong."


SGT’s bookclub selection is A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, by Molly Wizenberg.

Minnesota Elects a new governor, but most voters don’t have any idea where he stands on food and agricultural issues.

Two new coffee shops open in Minneapolis: the first-ever Peace Coffee shop in the Longfellow neighborhood, and Dogwood Coffee in Uptown.

Austin DeCosterAustin DeCosterDecember

The man responsible for the summer’s salmonella epidemic via contaminated factory-produced eggs, Austin DeCoster, is cleared by FDA.

President Obama signs the Child Nutrition Bill into law. The $4.5 billion measure increases the federal reimbursement for school lunches by six cents per lunch, from the current $2.72 to $2.78. Sarah Palin, according to Associated Press, criticizes the bill for being "too expensive" and "another example of government overreach.” Then, to make her point, she hands out 200 cookies in a private, Pennsylvanian Christian school, where she's the featured speaker at a fundraising dinner to the tune of $750 a plate, plus an additional $200 to have a photo taken with her.

The U.S. House of Representatives passes the Food Safety Bill, 215 to 144 (74 had already left for holiday recess). The bill now awaits Obama’s signature. According to Bill Marler, outspoken advocate of the legislation, “The new food safety law will give FDA expanded authority over approximately 80 percent of the food supply – not including USDA-regulated meat and poultry products – by giving the agency mandatory recall powers and expanded access to records. It also requires growers and food facilities to implement food safety plans and stipulates that foreign facilities importing food to the U.S. must meet the same standards.” The bill is opposed by those who say it gives the FDA too much power. Glenn Beck claims, on his radio program, that passage of the bill will “at best increase the cost of food dramatically,” and that it’s really intended to “nudge us out of meat.”

For me, it is those words – "nudge us out of meat" – that bring the year to a welcome close. It's time to focus on the future, my two-faced friends. Happy new year to you and yours.


Shari Danielson is a frequent contributor fo Simple, Good and Tasty. Her last post was Minnesota Psychiatrist Touts Mood-Altering Food.