Model Citizen : Food as a Vehicle for Good

In Engage

Mateo and Erin represent a future ideal of harmony and health, where disconnection is a wound of the past and food has healed us all.

Model Citizen is a straight from local farms restaurant nestled in the Goat Ridge Brewery in New London, MN. It is a pairing of principles, a partnership of friends, and a beautiful co-creation to the community it lives in.

New London has seen a rise in urban creatives making their way out of the city to establish a simpler way of life. Artists, chefs, designers, painters, and brewers are building a community that is rich in relationships, good food, and strong inclusive values. It is about coming home and bringing your heart and soul with you. Choosing friends as family and making a life together.

For Model Citizen that life has a core principle of centering food as the agent for good.
A vehicle for justice.
An example of change.
A focus for restoration.

Model Citizen the Restaurant structures their business around empowering others. Sourcing their food from within a 100 mile radius brings integrity to the ingredients used and local farmers. They fund social and economic opportunities for underserved youth, they build connections to address food insecurity and social justice.  With every purchase made, plate consumed and pie baked, they are one step closer to fulfilling their dream of an all encompassing justice driven food system.

“Everything we do is purposeful. We don’t make food to just make food. It is all mindful. Food is the greatest vehicle for conversation, culture and breaking down barriers. It’s just the beginning.”

They offer fresh takes on global food using local, seasonal ingredients. They are a teaching kitchen that uses the power of food to educate and fortify communities. While the farm is a working dream, the working reality is an active kitchen that utilizes the farm-grown plants to teach culinary skills, food waste and management.

Their mission is to use the power of farming and food to build a sustainable and supportive community centered around growing the leaders of tomorrow. The goal is to do this through a multifunctional agricultural education center that provides a hands-on curriculum exposing students to the life cycle of food and small farm animals.

Getting the chance to sit down with Mateo and Erin, you are easily swept up in their heart for food justice and access for urban students:
Access to get them out of the city and experience a different interaction with the earth.
Access to healthy food straight from the ground.
Access to entrepreneurship and the full cycle of food, from planning, to planting, to growing, to harvest to preparation and finally to compost.

“In a little town 100 miles west of Minneapolis, amid the rolling hills and glistening lakes of Western MInnesota, a possibility awaits…

A future to nourish souls at the intersection of food, beer, and community. Just down the ill from main street, on the banks of the Crow river, Goat Ridge brewing company… a special place where art and community come together over unfiltered ales.”

Model Citizen is where a possibility became a reality. What we loved about this restaurant was its ever evolving colorful and innovative menu. It reflects the food of the season and it’s flavor confirms its freshness. They call it, “Adventurous Eating”.

Katrina and I savored Curried Cauliflower, feasted on tomato soup and roasted sweet potato wedges, and devoured a piece of Erin’s famous pie of the moment. Also on the menu was Tomato tart, Shrimp Jambalaya and an Heirloom salad with wild rice, buckwheat, sprouted lentil, quinoa, and mixed greens with feta and tomato.

Their menu is adorned with a philosophy of Slow Food. A reminder that the experience of eating is to be savored, the friends you share a table with are meant to be treasured and it’s ok to take pause in your life. Music paints the back drop for folks as they grab a beer, laugh and reconnect while their food is being prepared.

“Food is love. Slow food is everything. You sit down and have a conversation. It causes you to be in the  moment.”

Mateo and Erin are a love story. A love for food, community, connection, and a partner to take big wild and crazy risks with you. It is a story of a baker turned pie maker and how she fell in love with a chef who works to use food in his fight for social justice. They live in the marrow of life, planning from the earth in a way that is enticing and practical and also affordable and local.

Mateo and Erin have built their lives standing in the gap, finding a way to bridge contrast and carving out a new way to be a Model Citizen. An agent of justice and health and change. Their love is contagious while they lead by example. This partnership is built on trust and the belief that dreams do come true.

It’s food made from ingredients all within a 100 miles of the restaurant. (It’s 100 miles and runnin, friends) If it’s not in season, it’s not on the menu.
It is a way to honor the land and our bodies and what it needs.
It is focused on the footprint we leave behind.
It is traditional and artisan pizza from the bread oven out back every Sunday.
It is  celebrating our roots with food and culture inside new traditions.

It’s being a Model Citizen where food is a vehicle for good.

Be sure to check out the Model Citizen Facebook page to stay up to date on all of their events, including their new Explorer Series!

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