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Shakopee Mdewakanton Open Mazopiya, a Natural Food Market

Monday, January 3, 2011

Prior Lake, MNWith a focus on local, clean, and organic foods, the natural food market Mazopiya will open to the public January 3, 2011, as the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s newest enterprise.  

Mazopiya [mah-zoh-pee-ya] focuses on natural as well as locally produced foods. In the Dakota language, Mazopiya  means “a store, a place where things are kept.”  With a focus on local and natural foods, Mazopiya offers a large inventory of organic items, including free-range grass fed meats; fresh, organic, and local produce; a deli; coffee bar; full-line of groceries, paper goods, breads, healthy supplements, and  personal care products, even pet foods.  In addition, a certified executive chef is on staff creating freshly prepared dishes sold at the deli and a prepared meal area for takeout with daily specials along with homemade soups and a salad bar. Cafe seating and a demonstration food preparation area will be a focal point used to provide classes about healthy and clean eating.

A natural foods store is perfectly in line with our philosophy of protecting and preserving the environment for future generations. As Dakota people it is important to us to continue to take care of the earth to leave a legacy of a healthy planet for future generations,” said SMSC Chairman Stanley R. Crooks. “We chose to use organic farming methods in our own garden, Mdewakanton Wozupi, which just completed its first growing season. We had a very successful harvest and plan on growing our garden significantly in the future. Organic produce from our Wozupi will be sold at Mazopiya next year.”

Why Local? Why Natural? Why Organic?

Traditionally we were taught that food is medicine. By putting healthy foods into our bodies, we can increase our overall well-being,” said Community member Lori Watso, the driving force behind the store. “Our ancestors ate natural foods that were free from pesticides, growth hormones, and manmade chemicals. We think returning to this way of nourishing our bodies is a key to overall wellness. Clean foods, those produced without the use of chemicals or antibiotics, are much healthier not only for people, but also for the earth.”

Local fruits and vegetables that are produced using organic or sustainable growing practices are a priority for Mazopiya. Sustainable growing is described as using crop rotation, natural fertilizers, natural pesticides, and other methods to produce food teeming with nutrients.

Organic produce is fresher, more nutrient rich, and less harmful to people and the planet,” said SMSC Organic Gardener Rebecca Dalton. One of the tenets of organic farming she described as, “to maintain the level at which you found an area or better yet to enhance the natural world around you, for plants, animals, and bugs.”

Mazopiya Store Manager Peter Doolan agreed, “It’s important to know where your food is coming from. Food additives, artificial flavorings, food coloring, and other additives that aren’t natural – many of them are known carcinogens. There have been studies that show that people often have reactions to these additives. In the long run these dangerous chemicals can be toxic. It does nobody any good to eat those things.”

Foods that have travelled long distances are by necessity picked early, and their nutritional value can also be compromised by the long journey. In addition to higher nutritional values, local foods save on transportation costs, fuels, and emissions, yielding a fresher, tastier product at market.  By eliminating the necessity of transporting foods long distances, local, independent farmers benefit while still producing a product with a higher food quality.

Information about monthly promotions, weekly produce and deli specials, and various events and activities can be picked up in store, or for more detailed information about Mazopiya, visit Mazopiya is also on Facebook at

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