Round Up: Mapping a Montana Meal

Putting together a local meal is rewarding, and, especially in the summer months, it’s also easy thanks to Montana’s dedicated farmers, ranchers, and distributors. Here’s an easy path to your complete Montana meal:Putting together a local meal is rewarding, and, especially in the summer months, it’s also easy thanks to Montana’s dedicated farmers, ranchers, and distributors. Here’s an easy path to your complete Montana meal:

The Salad

SOURCE: Farmers’ markets and stores

With many small, organic farms popping up throughout the state, your area farmers’ market should have quite the selection, and grocers are carrying more and more local produce. This year, for instance, the Bozeman Community Food Co-op purchased produce from 31 growers within 100 miles of Bozeman, and from more than 25 growers within 300 miles.

Regional growers have figured out how to extend their seasons with heated greenhouses and other technology. Gallatin Valley Botanical, a Bozeman-based farm, now grows microgreens year-round, and spinach, arugula, and carrots almost year-round. “We thought it was important,” says co-owner Jacy Rothschiller, “so restaurants and consumers wouldn’t forget about us in the winter.” They also sell cherry tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and more, for the complete salad.

The Meat

SOURCE: Montana Meat Co.

Meat is what Montana is known for, with cattle ranches throughout the state producing grass-fed goodness. How to choose just one? You don’t have to.  Madison Valley rancher Garl Germann started the Montana Meat Co. to source local, organic, and grass-fed meats — including beef, pork, lamb, goat, elk, and bison — from a number of producers all over the state to sell to restaurants, stores, and individual buyers. “We specialize in local, grassfed, and organic, and also have some that is grain finished, pastured, and with no nitrates,” Germann says. Buy their meat from local stores, or online with free shipping for purchases over $100 from montanameat.co.

Grains & Lequmes

SOURCE: Timeless Seeds

Not everyone finds steak mouthwatering, so for vegetarian options and side dishes, Timeless Seeds — based in the small town of Ulm, Montana — grows a large selection of organic lentils (black beluga, French, green, gold, and red), heirloom grains (farro and purple prairie barley), and more.

Timeless evolved from selling seeds into raising their own crops of organic edible legumes and grains for a divergence from the traditional Montana meat and potatoes diet. And ever since the organic and local food movement took hold in Montana, Timeless products have become a staple on the shelves of many food retailers and chefs. Look for them at your local store, or buy them through timelessfood.com.

Dessert

SOURCE: Flathead Lake Cherry Growers

It might not be the ooey, gooey pastry variety, but Flathead cherries, known for their sweetness, do the trick as a summertime treat. Most of the Flathead cherries you find in your local store in late July are from the Flathead Lake Cherry Growers, a cooperative of more than 70 cherry orchards that has been around since 1935.

Cherry stands are also common in the Flathead Valley, the last sweet cherry region in the U.S. to harvest each season, explains cherry farmer Bruce Johnson. “We have cool nights and that seems to help make a sweeter cherry,” he says.

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