10 best vegan/vegetarian foods at the Minnesota State Fair
Let's face it: Food is the number-one reason we attend the Minnesota State Fair. Food on a stick, deep-fried bites, giant legs and chops of meat, gallons of dairy, buckets of sweet confections -- we love it all. But what about the vegetables? Where are the fruits, beans, whole grains? Isn't bountiful agricultural production what the fair is supposed to be all about? To answer that question, we posed ourselves a challenge: Could we eat vegan at the Minnesota State Fair for one day and still love it?
Produce has been part of the fair since its beginning in the late 1800s, when agriculture associations would compete to have the most bountiful displays in the Horticulture Building. Photographs from the Minnesota Historical Society show aisle upon aisle of grain sheaves, tomatoes, potatoes, melons, pumpkins, roots, seeds, and fruits of all kinds, piled into temples of abundance. Why did this bounty never make its way into the food concessions of the fair?
The fair followed the national post-WWII trend of fast food mechanization, leading to a heavy focus on refined foods and sweets. The now-famous corn roast did not even make an appearance at the fair until the mid-1980s.
Fast forward to today. With the rise of clean eating, local sourcing, and a multitude of dietary considerations, fair food has begun to change with times. The list of delicious vegan options is growing fast. From minimally processed fruits and vegetables to deep-fried snacks, from thirst-quenching drinks to globally inspired dishes, vegan food has finally arrived. After eating our way through over 20 offerings, we satisfied our fair-food cravings. Vegetables, fruit, beans, and grains are finally taking their rightful place at the Minnesota State Fair.
10. Island Noodles, Island Noodles
This stand's signature Hawaiian-style wok-fried noodle dish is made from yaki-soba buckwheat noodles, fresh vegetables, and a savory-sweet ginger garlic sauce. It's nutless, eggless, meatless, and 100 percent vegan.
9. Pineapple Piña Colada, Manny's Tortas
Hollow out a giant pineapple, blend it with pineapple juice, coconut milk, and ice, and you have the best vegan smoothie on the planet. Frothy, fruity, and worthy of sharing, this piña colada drink goes down real smooth on a hot summer's day at the fair.
8. Sweet Dream peach, Produce Exchange
Dripping with sweet peachiness, this softball-sized fresh peach is something to behold. Bring a wet nap -- your chin will need it.