Nutrition: Celebrate spring, eat with seasons

One way we can celebrate, embrace our collective mother, honor our history and experience good nutrition is by choosing to include local foods in our diet.

It's tough to beat a puukko for harvesting fiddlehead ferns, but any small knife will do. Note the natural papery brown scale on these newly-emerged ferns. This scale and other forest debris should be removed through soaking before the ferns are prepared for the table. Peter Passi/
Fiddlehead ferns can be harvested in the spring in the Northland.
Peter Passi / File / Duluth News Tribune

March is an exciting month scattered with multiple reasons to celebrate. A quick search of the internet will show you many of its themes relate back to food in some way: National Nutrition Month, St. Patrick’s Day, spring equinox, the birthday of Dr. Seuss (with the menu he made famous) and Women’s History Month.

Sarah Stock headshot
Sarah Stock.
Contributed / The Studio

Women historically are tied to the role and rich imagery of food and nutrition: Many souls worldwide are nourished for the first year of life at their mother’s breast. Earth is referred to as “Mother,” providing all of us with hearth and home. Spring is the biological season of new life for plants and many creatures alike. Across cultures, we express love and caring in our relationships with gifts of food one meal at a time, one celebration at a time and one season at a time.

Good nutrition is a phrase often used and difficult to define. It is dependent on age, lifestyle, culture and other factors such as individual health conditions. One way we can celebrate, embrace our collective mother, honor our history and experience good nutrition is by choosing to include local foods in our diet.

Food helps tell the story of who we are, our personal history on a plate. Eating locally and by season is a way to tell our story, to empower ourselves, to honor and care for our Mother Earth, and to nourish each other. Slow down, take a deep breath and look around outside your back door. Become curious of the story unfolding as the days warm. What could you find growing wild in your own yard? Consider a garden, which seeds will you plant in your soil?

In our Northland during the early spring days of March, maple and birch trees offer spring's first bounty with the gift of sap to be boiled down. The syrup produced by long hours of labor pulls people together in the enjoyment of its rich sweetness. Dandelion and fiddlehead fern can accompany cherished meals spent together as we wait for longer days of sun to ready the garden for planting. Warm soil brings precious small wild strawberries as the first bright gem of our local berries.


Thane Maxwell uses a strainer to remove tree needles from nearly finished maple syrup at the Sugarbush Learning and Action Camp near Sawyer in 2018.
Steve Kuchera / File / Duluth News Tribune

Full, hot summer days offer the beauty of juneberry, chokecherry and wild blueberry. Beans, summer squash and corn complement each other as they grow, filling the garden with bounty throughout the end of summer.

Early- and late-fall harvests of butternut squash, wild rice, pumpkin, sunflower seeds and cranberry are more examples of true local foods that naturally exist here telling the story of what helped feed Indigenous people.

Ethnobotanist and author Tashia Hart toasts wild rice on the stovetop in her Duluth home in 2021 to make manoomin flour.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram

Try including some of the original local foods in your weekly routine to remind yourself of the abundance we have available to us here. Remember that people eat food, not nutrition. If the food is truly good it will tell a beautiful story of how you nourish your body, your soul and your community.

Spring Greens and Wild Rice Salad

Serves 6 or more

  • 2 cups wild rice, cooked in vegetable broth and cooled to room temperature
  • 2 green onions, minced
  • 2 cups mixed spring greens, chopped (dandelion, arugula, spinach, watercress)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, minced
  • ½ cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup dried blueberries

Place 1 cup of wild rice in a strainer and rinse thoroughly.
Place rice and 4 cups of vegetable broth in a 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover loosely and cook 45 minutes until rice has puffed and is tender. It will not absorb all the moisture.

Drain rice and let cool. Chop the remaining ingredients and mix in a large salad bowl.


  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup sunflower, hazelnut or olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the dressing in a small bowl, whisking together until combined. Taste and adjust flavors to your liking. Pour over the salad ingredients and toss well.


Sarah Stock is a registered dietitian, licensed dietitian and international board-certified lactation consultant at St. Luke's.

More by News Tribune columnists
Five planets form a line in the western sky the next few nights. Here's how to find them.
My intention is to highlight reasons a beer may be unacceptable and provide tools and reasons to ask for a replacement.
On Sunday night, March 26, Ceres smiles for the camera right in front of a galaxy 55 million light-years away.
Retired teacher Larry Weber, of Barnum, is the author of “Butterflies of the North Woods" and “Spiders of the North Woods," among other books. Reach him via Katie Rohman at
A wiry moon lights up the western sky with visits to Venus and Jupiter. It's also space station time!

What To Read Next
Get Local