Food processing is probably the main industry in Minnesota. Pillsbury and Green Giant, two leading food brands, were Minnesota start ups. Charles Pillsbury started his business with a flour mill. Green Giant began by canning corn. Both brands are now part of General Mills, another Minneapolis, Minnesota food company.
Pancake syrup using maple syrup and cane sugar syrup was first invented by Patrick J. Towie, a St. Paul grocer who wanted to give people the flavor of maple syrup without the high price. He gave his syrup the name of Log Cabin to honor his boyhood hero, Abraham Lincoln, who spent his childhood in a log cabin.
Although farms produce primarily sweet corn, wheat, soybeans and apples, Minnesota is first among the states in the production of sugar beets. Minnesota is notable for its wild rice. Wild rice, not really rice but the kernels of a grass that grows in shallow lakes, was first harvested by Native Americans and so it is known as Indian rice. Native American groups still harvest wild rice with their canoes by late summer.
It is also a major producer of milk and dairy products. Livestock raised in Minnesota include beef cattle and hogs. Commercial fishing is an important industry and boats on Lake Superior catch freshwater fish such as walleye pike. Trout is also on the menu.
Walleye pike is served everywhere, not only family dinner tables, but from small dinner tucks to starred restaurants. It is normal to find offers offering "all the walleye you can eat" in some of the restaurants.
Many Swedish and Norwegian immigrants, and other Scandinavians, settled in Minnesota. Although not so popular as before, there are many Scandinavian traditional dishes still on the menu. Lutefish, cod soaked in lye and then cooked, and lefse, crepes eaten with butter and cinnamon, continue to be served, mainly at Christmas.
People will take a "hot dish" to a picnic or potluck dinner. This is a casserole with varied ingredients, and each family may have their special recipe.
…and food events
Taste of Minnesota Food Festival, St. Paul, July, hopefully will run again - Minnesota State Fair, end of the summer, St Paul - St. Paul Winter Festival, January.
The State Fair and the Winter Festival are not strictly food events but events with great food, and much eating and drinking.
Recipes from Minnesota
Swedish meatballs, exactly the Minnesota style.