Out on the road to find inspiring, less-well-known nabes devoted to the fresh, the local, the sustainable—and the drinkable. Produced by Cindy Hatcher
Central: Viroqua, Wisconsin
Don’t let Rockwellian appearance fool you. Tiny Viroqua, Wisconsin, has more in common with food-progressive Berkeley, California, than its charming Victorian storefronts might have you believe.
More than 50 organic farms are in and around the Viroqua area, and some days they make up about half of the vendors in the famous organic farmers’ market in Madison on the square. You’ll find Harmony Valley produce at Chicago-area markets, Driftless Organics (pictured: Driftless Organics' owners Mike Lind, Noah Engel, and Josh Engel—from left) vegetables in Madison’s restaurants, and Footjoy Farm’s produce on Minneapolis menus.
But not everything good here gets exported: Viroqua’s farmers have strengthened an already thriving local food scene. Drop by the Viroqua Food Co-op (membership 2,800) for local gems like Nordic Creamery butter (liquid gold, so fresh, creamy, and multidimensional), Great River Milling flour (bread made from truly fresh, just-milled flour is as different from conventional-flour bread as the music from an orchestra is different from the music of a transistor radio), and New Glarus beer (twice named one of the 10 best breweries in the world at the World Brewery Championship). —Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl