Grass Roots Prairie Kitchen
By Joelle Kidd
While hip new startups have embraced local eating and heritage techniques, the folks behind Grass Roots Prairie Kitchen can truly say they were doing it before it was cool. 25 years after opening their first bakery, they continue to set the standard for local and environmentally responsible sourcing.
The business’s roots go back to the original Tall Grass Prairie bakery on Westminster Avenue, which began as a way to connect customers to the farmers that produced their food, a rallying cry against mass production and the undervaluing of the agricultural industry. From these seeds sprouted the location at The Forks, where owners Tabitha and Paul Langel, Lyle and Kathy Barkman, and Loïc Perrot have turned a simple retail space into a local institution.
Grass Roots Prairie Kitchen’s bake-at-home meals and party-saving appetizers keep customers’ freezers well stocked, while packed shelves of preserves (pickles, veggies, salsas, jams) make browsing the selection feel like a no-holds-barred raid of Grandma’s pantry. Perhaps most impressive are the bottles of organic Manitoba sunflower oil, which is cold pressed on site, eliminating the environmental and financial toll of hauling by truck.
“It’s a ‘back to the future’ kind of company,” says Tabitha Langel. From flour freshly ground from Manitoba wheat to mason jars of local fruits, the lost arts of preserving and baking from scratch are practiced here. “We’ve always believed in the goodness of simple food.”
It may seem surprising in 2015 to find a business built on techniques commonplace 100 years ago, but the revolution Grass Roots is leading is a quiet one. This respect for tradition has earned Grass Roots Prairie Kitchen Ciao! magazine’s 2015 Good Food Manitoba Award for Retailer of the Year.—JK