Key Ingredients: America by Food Smithsonian Museums Project

By Sue B. Balcom

Everyone eats. Family tradi­tions and ethic backgrounds may steer the types of foods we love but eating has evolved considerably since grandma’s day.

Medina is one of a dozen small com­munities that will be hosting a Smith­sonian Museums on Main Street Key Ingredients: America by Food exhibit into next year. And, it’s all about the food.

Food is important to our lives but who gives much thought to where it comes from and how it magically appears in our supermarkets and restaurants.

Imagine eating nine pounds of buf­falo a day to survive like the men in the Lewis and Clark expedition. Or, perhaps going with-out milk and fruit for a year while crossing 2,000 miles of this great nation in search of a place to settle.

Seriously, Fear Factor has nothing on the diets of the early inhabitants in this area. Native populations ate insects and wild plants while the Northern Eu­ropean settlers ate every last chewable bite of live­stock grazed on prairie grass or table scraps.

Key Ingre­dients: Amer­ica by Food documents the evolution of eating in America from the days of early settlers to the discov­ery that freez­ing can pre­serve the fruits of summer to enjoy all year round.

The Smithsonian exhibit will be in­stalled in Medina from Oct. 20 through Dec. 2 and is currently at the Dakota Prairie Regional Center for the Arts in New Rockford.

In partnership with The North Da­kota Humanities Council – 12 commu­nities were selected around the state to host the traveling exhibit with the intention of bringing a Smithsonian-quality experience to underserved ru­ral cities.

Medina will be showcasing its Germans from Russian heritage, local businesses, the historical so­ciety as well as the community’s food history. The committee is cur­rently securing programing, lo­cal artifacts and historic displays, and interactive demonstrations to compliment the exhibit’s six-week stay in the historic stone city hall building on Medina’s Main Street.

Booths and displays of historical items surrounding the development and culture of Medina will round out the Smithsonian exhibit, which will be free and open to the public. Hours and pro­gramming will be announced at a later date.

The display will be housed in the city hall because of its historical sig­nificance to Me­dina.

The men of the WPA program constructed the large stone building from 1939-1941. Gil­bert Horton, a well-known ar­chitect from Jamestown, designed this building as well as 256 schools in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana and a hall in Steele that is still standing. He is credited with building the first James­town Hospital, Trinity Hospitals, the hippodome in Jamestown McElroy Park and many other buildings around North Dakota and surrounding states.

Overseeing the actual construction of his building, Gilbert developed a meth­od of using rock for building material. He taught the men how to find the grain of the rock and split it just right mak­ing it square like a brick. The rock was found within an 18-mile radius of Me­dina.

About 45 men were employed on the building project during the Work­ers Projects Administration (WPA) started in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt removing their families from the relief program and putting them to work. The program lasted eight years and many North Dakota build­ings, bridges, highways, rail roads, air­fields, trees and parks remain today as reminders of this era.

August Schumaker, Rudy Hoffman, Ernest Martel, Henry (Hank) Hoff­mann, Gustave H. Hins, Reno Opp and Gust Deutcher were part of the local work crew.

If you have Medina history, items or photographs; wish to be a docent or volunteer for set up; or any other infor­mation about Key Ingredients, email sbalcom@farrms.org or call Sue at 701- 527-5169; or contact Chairman Myron Gunderson mgunderson1983@hotmail.com or call 701-269-3655 or 701-486- 3149.

For more information about the ex­hibits in North Dakota visit: www.nd-humanities.org/kingredients.php.

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