Does Iowa food best tell the “Iowa Story”? We connect to our region and heritage through products like Maytag Blue Cheese, Amana wine and Maid-Rite, according to Riki Saltzman. She’s Folklife Coordinator for the Iowa Arts Council.

Saltzman says she does all kinds of things in her role — looking at people’s music, craft and ethnic traditions, and occupations, which link to food and farming. She says her study of food also falls under cultural identity, traditions, holidays and festivals, and says “Y’know, it’s pretty hard to find something in life that is not about food.”

Saltzman just got a ten-thousand-dollar grant to develop Internet resources about “place-based” Iowa foods that have strong ties to where they’re produced or processed. She says food makes a wonderful gift from Iowa. She’s taken her “own little packages of Maytag blue cheese” to four national conferences this year and to friends, as well as goat cheese (chevre) to Chicago, and she’s also taken people wine from Newton, Dutch letters and lefse.

Saltzman says there’s a growing interest in “culinary tourism.” One thing tourism’s always been about is experiencing other cultures, and she says one easy way to do that is to try the food. She says everybody’s always looking for good, good-tasting, healthy, locally-produced food, and Iowa’s got some of the best out there. By the end of June Saltzman says her “web-based fact sheets about Iowa-based foods” should be up on the site of the Iowa Arts Council. Look for them at “Iowa Arts Council-dot-org.”

Related web sites:
Iowa Arts Council webpage