It's the time of year when Minnesotans grow obsessed with all things skewered. Yet we never considered the Northern Clay Center an epicenter of "stick-stuck edibles." That's what the potters are calling them, though, at their Pots on a Stick event, 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 6. Featured clay artists are Ruth Martin, Jeffrey Nichols and Johanna Severson, but the public also gets a chance to show its stuff: Bring your most creative renditions of food on a stick to be admired, sampled and, ultimately, voted upon. It's a pretty casual event -- a plate of cheese cubes on toothpicks will suffice. But imagine what you could skewer, if inspired. The Northern Clay Center is at 2424 Franklin Av. E. in Minneapolis. For more info, go to www.northernclaycenter.org.Everything AND the tail
Few mainline grocery stores carry fresh pig ears, hog jowls, beef hearts or tongues in vacuum-packed clear bags. But that's changing as Cargill's Rumba brand of variety meats expands. Its line of beef products such as tripe and sweetbreads was launched in 2007, and it now has added a line of pork cuts, including hocks, neck bones, split front feet and fatback skins. It's one of the first brands to focus on multicultural customers, often Hispanic or African-American, by offering fresh variety meat cuts that are a mainstays of authentic family recipes. A Cargill spokesman said the beef line currently is at local Wal-Mart stores and the pork line should be available soon. For more information about these variety meats, as well as recipes, go to www.rumbameats.com.Fresh Taste Festival
There's never anything wrong with a food and wine festival, but there's something especially right about the Fresh Taste Festival sponsored by Minnesota Monthly to benefit Minnesota Public Radio. It remains one of few in the country wholly devoted to organic and sustainable foods and wines. Along with supping from some of the country's best organic vintners, sample from the best of locavore food purveyors and check out food demos by chefs Raghavan Iyer, J.D. Fratzke and Michelle Geyer. The event is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Nicollet Island Pavilion on the Mississippi riverfront in Minneapolis. Tickets are $55 in advance at www.freshtaste.com, and $65 at the door.Eat Local Challenge
The Twin Cities' 11 food co-ops are hosting their third annual Eat Local Challenge, asking shoppers to eat up to 80 percent locally produced foods in August. Co-ops will be hosting events including kick-off dinners, Ramadan feasts, cooking contests and farm tours. Those wishing to join simply sign a large poster at any of the participating Twin Cities and area co-ops, or register online at www.eatlocalamerica.coop to show their commitment to eat local food.
Seasoned locavores are encouraged to eat four out of five meals with local foods. Those who are just starting out are urged to begin by eating five meals a week made with local foods. Kim Kusnier, marketing programs specialist for National Cooperative Grocers Association, said such efforts are "good for the economy, because money from each transaction stays in the region. And it connects residents to the people who grow or produce their food, while helping to support family farms." For more info and events, go to www.eatlocalamerica.coop or www.twincitiesfood.coop.