RED LAKE -- Those who have bought jams, jellies or syrups from Red Lake Nations Food might not have known that after the juices were made they were sent all the way to a company in McGregor, Minn. called Minnestalgia.

Dave Manuel, 59, originally from the Twin Cities area, has been coming up to Red Lake since he was a child, and now has been living in Red Lake for 16 years.

Manuel has been making jams and Jellies for as long as he can remember -- and has his own company called Muskrats Specialty Foods -- and when he moved back up north, he was hired by the Red Lake Nation to help teach people how to use the resources that they have around them: how to plant gardens, eat healthier and use the soil.

About two months ago he was hired at Red Lake Nations Foods, which is a local tribal-owned company, to take care of the food production side of things.

A shelf is filled with locally harvested jams, jellies, syrups and wild rice from Red Lake Nation Foods. Submitted photo.
A shelf is filled with locally harvested jams, jellies, syrups and wild rice from Red Lake Nation Foods. Submitted photo.


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Minnestalgia recently decided that they would be closing, and soon after Red Lake Nations Foods purchased the company.

“It was a matter of necessity, just a smart move for us to create a few jobs, it was cost effective and just kept everything in house," Manuel said.

“When the owner of Minnestalgia decided that he wanted to take time and focus on his health, all of the equipment that Minnestalgia owned went up for sale,” Manuel continued. “All of the raw products were forged and harvested by Red Lake tribal members for an income and all of that fruit would be shipped to Minnestalgia, we wanted to keep it local. When they hired me it was to kind of pick up where Minnestalgia left off.”

Mike Burr, the one making all the products for Minnestalgia, was hired to come to Red Lake to teach Manuel how to use all of the equipment being transferred over.

Originally, Manuel was using the commercial kitchen at Harmony Foods Co-op in Bemidji to make the jams, jellies and syrups for Red Lake Nation Foods. But recently, Red Lake Nations Food partnered with 4-Directions Development -- a non-profit organization, who revamped the old Red Lake Nation college into their new building -- making half the building a place where small shops can open.

With the new building they also rebuilt a new commercial kitchen, so the production of jams, jellies and syrups moved from Harmony Co-op to the new kitchen for more practical reasons.

Red Lake Nation Food is currently selling their products in different locations such as the Red Lake Trading Post, Harmony Co-op, area gift shops, regional casinos and on the Red Lake Nation Foods website.

Chokecherry syrup is made at Red Lake Nation Foods. Submitted photo.
Chokecherry syrup is made at Red Lake Nation Foods. Submitted photo.


Their jams and jellies include: Wild Blueberry Jam, Wild Chokecherry Jelly, Highbush Cranberry Jelly, Wild Grape Jelly and Wild Plum Jelly. They also have an array of syrups such as, Wild Chokecherry, Wild Blueberry, Real Maple, Wild Grape, Wild Plum and Highbush Cranberry.

They also sell wild rice, batter mixes, teas, soup mixes and more. All of the products are made with all natural resources harvested in the Red Lake Nation.

“My belief is that a strong Red Lake economy makes a strong Bemidji economy and makes a strong Beltrami economy.” Manuel said.