Can a simple thing like food define a culture and region such as the Northwoods? Food can be a very powerful source of history and an identifier for a culture, region and ethnic group. Similarities between a person’s ancestry and their food choice today can be found all over the world (Trichopoulou, 2007). For the Northwoods residents that cultural identifier and source of history is found in the Pasty. Brought over by immigrants from Cornish England, pasties became a staple in the diet of Northwood’s residents early on and now a present day tourist attraction people travel for miles to get (Magnaghi, 1997). This study focused on the placement of Pasty shops amongst Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin in hopes of distinguishing the Northwoods as a region from the rest of the better known, Great Lakes region. The data that was used was Pasty shop location data, which was complied through yellowpages.com and personal interviews through phone and e-mail. Ethnic background data and mine location data was used from the U.S. Census Bureau website and County population data was taken from ESRI™. This data was then combined to create maps of Pasty shops in comparison with known ancestry, mining data and population. After analysis of each map was made the wealth of pasty shops in the Northwoods differentiates it as a separate region from the Great Lakes. There are more Pasty Shops per county populations in the Northwoods then anywhere else in the Great Lakes region. A look at the history of pasties, different pasty recipes and an informational video on how to actually make a pasty will used to support the prominence of pasties on the region and culture of the Northwoods.
The first step for this project was to create maps with Pasty shops, population, mining locations and ancestry data. The data for mining locations and ancestry was downloaded and unzipped from the US Census Bureau website. Population data and base maps of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan were taken from ESRI™. A data set of all places selling Pasties in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan was compiled using yellowpages.com, google.com and personal e-mails and phone calls. The base maps, population data, ancestry data and mining data were loaded into ArcMap™ and choropelth maps were made of the population of 2007 per county, Welsh Ancestry per county, Finnish ancestry per county, English Ancestry per county and the percent of mining employees per county. Next, the dataset of Pasty locations was geo-coded into a point shapefile. Finally, the Pasty shop point file was overlaid on top of each of the choropelth maps to begin analysis. The flow chart below (Figure 1) is a visual of the process described. The green circles in the flow chart represent datasets and the blue boxes represent operations.
Figure 1: Flowchart of methods taken to create the maps. ArcMap™ is a Geographic Information System or GIS. ESRI™ stands for Environmental Systems Research Institute. They provided many base maps for this project.
In correlation to creating maps of Pasty shops to distinguish the Northwoods as a separate region a history of the Pasty was complied to understand the background of how the Pasty was invented and how it came to the United States and specifically the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This information was taken from three different sources which can be found in the reference list under, History References. The history of Pasties was used during analysis to understand the placement of Pasty Shops across the landscape and their prominence in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As part of the history of Pasties, a list of recipes was collected to show the various fillings that Pasties have adapted from different ethnic groups. This data was collected from a various amount of internet sources which are listed in the reference list under, Pasty Recipe References.
The next step was to learn how to make a Pasty and then be able to share those steps with others. The product of this step is a video showing the process of making a Pasty and sharing some helpful tips. This was done through the help of many people one Saturday morning and a video camera. There were 85 Pasties created half with the more traditional filling of beef, rutabaga, carrots and celery and German style filling of cabbage, tomato sauce, onions and squirrel. A vodka pie crust was used for the Pasty crust. The sources of the crust and fillings recipes can be found in the Pasty Recipes section in the reference list.
The first of the results were four different Choropleth maps. Choropleth maps of the population of 2007, Welsh ancestry, Finnish ancestry and the number of mining locations per county. All of these maps were then overlaid with the point file of Pasty locations. The ancestry and mining location maps were normalized by the population per county of 2007. The first map (figure 2) is shown below.
Figure two shows the Population of 2007 per county and Pasty shop locations throughout the three states. This map shows the different clusters of Pasties in correlation of county population. There are pasty shops in all three major areas of population, Detroit, Milwaukee and Minneapolis/Saint Paul. The large amount of shops in Detroit relate to the displaced Cornish and Finnish miners from the Upper Peninsula. They brought their traditions, including the Pasty to the Detroit area. There is also a large amount of Pasty shops in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and in the southwest corner of Wisconsin. These two clusters correlate to where the Cornish first settled when they came to the United States. They first came to the southwest corner of Wisconsin, specifically Grant county and then to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The amount of Pasty Shops in the UP is what really stands out. Over 43% of all of the Pasty shops in the three states are in the UP but every county but one in the UP is under 5000 in population. The amount of Pasty shops per people in the UP is much higher than anywhere else in the Great Lakes Region. This fact contributes to making the Northwoods its own region.
The next figure (figure 3) shows the percent of Finnish ancestry per county and Pasty shops on top.
Figure 3, below, Pasty shops per capita using the Population per county in 2007.
Figure 3 was simply made to show how dense Pasty shops are in the North, especially in the Upper Peninsula. By showing the number of Pasties based on the county population of 2007 the clusters of Pasty shops in Wayne county is negated and the most abundant places with Pasty shops can shine through.
The idea of creating this map was to correlate counties with Finnish ancestry with large amounts of Pasty shops. When the Finnish came to the United States they also travelled to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to work in the mines. In the UP they met the Cornish migrants also working there and adapted some of their culture, like the Pasty. The results of this map however show differently. There are large amounts of people with Finnish ancestry on the southwest side of Minnesota and the Northwest side of Wisconsin. There are very little amounts of those with Finnish Ancestry. The large urban centers of Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Detroit have a fewer percent of Finnish then most surrounding areas, that is caused by the large amount of other populations that are also present in those centers. Finnish culture does have ties to pasties but it does not help in delineating the Northwoods as a separate region.
The next figure (figure 5) is of the Percent of Mining Employees per county and Pasty shops.
This map was created to show the correlation between the mining culture and the Pasty. Pasties were created as a hot and easy meal the miners could take with them down in the mines. As the map shows the counties with the most mining employment are in the northern section of all three states with exceptions of Green Lake County in Michigan and Steven County in Minnesota. Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula have the largest clusters of counties with high mining employment as well as the largest amount of Pasties. Pasties came to these areas where mining was flourishing and then dispersed when mining jobs began to deplete and the Cornish and Finnish people left to find other work, such as to Michigan and down through Wisconsin. The correlation between mines and Pasties is still there but was much more prevalent in the 1900s. This dataset is from 2000 if much earlier data was used from the 1900’s the correlation between Pasty shops and mines would be much greater.
Throughout the last decade Pasties have changed from a staple in the miner’s diet to a staple in the tourism industry. Pasties are used to promote the history of mining in the area and promote the culture of the first people to settle the area. The prominence of Pasty shops in the north supports the distinction of a separate Northwoods region from the Great Lakes Region. The prominence of mining locations does not.
A look at the Welsh and English heritage was done for a study of ancestry in replace of Cornish. Cornish ancestry data is not available through the US Census website. The ancestry of English and Welsh had extremely low occurrences that analysis could not be done.
Throughout this project the distinction of the Northwoods has been sought after by the prevalence of Pasty shops in the Great Lake through different bases like ancestry, mining and population. The prominence of Pasty shops per population most certainly helps distinguishes the Northwoods as a distinct region from the Great Lakes. Despite the fact that the ancestry and mining locations do not provide evidence of a separate region the raw number of Pasty shops in the UP are so great that a distinct Northwoods region can be created based on the location of Pasty Shops. An example of this region is located below as figure 6.
Shanahan, Derek. "The Geography of Food." Journal for the Study of Food and Society 6, no. 1 (2007): 7-9.
Trichopoulou, Antonia, Stavroula Soukara, and Effie Vasilopoulou. "Traditional Foods: A Science and Society Perspective." Trends in Food Science & Technology 18 (2007): 420-427.
Data for Maps:
Ancestry Data: US Census Bureau Website: http://www.census.gov/
Base Maps: ESRI™
Street Locator: ESRI™
US Census Bureau. 2004 County Business Patterns: Michigan. [updated 6 June 2006; cited 30 November 2009] available from
US Census Bureau. 2004 County Business Patterns: Minnesota. [updated 6 June 2006; cited 30 November 2009] available from
US Census Bureau. 2004 County Business Patterns: Wisconsin. [updated 6 June 2006; cited 30 November 2009] available from
Programs/ Tools Used:
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