This may be a little sacrilegious to note on opening day of the State Fair, but the folks at Slow Food USA, which "links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment," are putting out the word about a new initiative. They're urging people to take back the "value meal" on Sept. 17 by preparing a meal that costs no more than $5 per person "because slow food shouldn't have to cost more than fast food." They intend to highlight policies that result in fresh food often costing more than prepared ones. They encourage cooking a meal with friends and family members, finding a local event or hosting your own. When you sign up at www.slowfoodusa.org, they'll send you $5 worth of cooking tips.

Dine on, Harvest Moon

How better to enjoy a harvest moon than by dining beneath it? The Mill City Farmers Market will host its annual fundraising Harvest Moon Dinner on the Mississippi riverfront plaza between the Guthrie Theater and the Mill City Museum from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 11. The event begins with herb-infused cocktails, local beer and wine. The subsequent dinner, prepared by market chefs Nick Schneider and Heather Hartman, will feature heirloom vegetables and grass-fed Wild Idea Buffalo. A live auction will be followed by dessert. Tickets are $125 and are available Saturdays at the market, at millcityfarmersmarket.org, or by mail through Mill City Farmers Market, attention: Harvest Moon Benefit, 704 S. 2nd St., Minneapolis, MN 55401. (With your check, please include number of tickets and attendees' names.)

Wine pairings at the arboretum

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and the Minnesota Grape Growers Association are collaborating to create a 4x4 Culinary Series of cooking instruction and wine pairings. During dinner, a leading chef will demonstrate how to create the four-course meal being served, and University of Minnesota oenologist Katie Cook will guide participants through four Minnesota wine pairings. Some winemakers will be on hand. Dates for the Thursday evening sessions are Sept. 15, Oct. 20, Nov. 10 and Dec. 1. Cost is $55 each ($60 for nonmembers). For details on the meals and wineries featured each session, visit www.arboretum.umn.edu/cookingclasses.aspx#H3 or call 952-443-1422. Seating is limited.

KIM ODE