Fresh Pickings Magazine | Spring 2020

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SEE INSIDE AN

Iowa Herb Farm PLAN A TENDERLOIN ROAD T RIP SCOOP UP A LOCAL DAIRY DELIGHT


Nicely done, beef. Substituting your taste is beyond impossible.

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Welcome IN THE SPRING ISSUE OF FRESH PICKINGS MAGAZINE, YOU’LL FIND STORIES THAT CELEBRATE THE INCREDIBLE FOOD, FARMS AND FAMILIES THAT MAKE IOWA A SPECIAL PLACE TO LIVE.

THIS QUARTERLY PUBLICATION IS COURTESY OF THE IOWA FOOD & FAMILY PROJECT — AN INITIATIVE INVITING IOWANS TO EXPLORE HOW FOOD IS GROWN AND RAISED AROUND THE STATE AND MEET THE FARMERS WHO MAKE IT HAPPEN; 24/7, 365 DAYS A YEAR.

WE NETWORK WITH NEARLY 35 FOOD, FARMING AND HEALTHY LIVING ORGANIZATIONS WHO ARE PROUD OF IOWA’S HOMEGROWN FOODS AND HOMETOWN VALUES. YOU CAN LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR PARTNERS ON PAGE 4.


Features 14

DAI RY ON D I SPL AY

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BO U Q U ETS O F F LAVOR

C ONS U MER PULSE

TA NTA LIZIN G T ENDERLOIN S

A small-town creamery

Fresh herbs

A recent survey

If Iowa had a state sandwich,

embraces visitors

infuse dishes with

shows Iowa

it could be the breaded

with wholesome dairy

unparalleled aroma

grocery shoppers

pork tenderloin. Foodies

products and serves up

and taste. Delight your

are fans of farmers

from near and far traverse

a farm-life experience

senses with a look

and savvy to food

the state in search of iconic

that quenches curiosity.

inside Mariposa Farms.

marketing.

breaded perfection.

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In Every Issue 5

EDITOR’S NOTE: UNPRECEDENTED CHANGE

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FAMILY TABLE: TURKEY CHOPPED THAI SALAD

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MERCYONE: HOME AWAY FROM HOME

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POINT OF INTEREST: A SIGN EXTRAVAGANZA

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AISLE INSIGHTS: GROW TOGETHER

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FRO M B E A N S TO B R E W

AG R IC U LT U R E AT T HE BA LLPA R K

Jeff and Ellen Frank

At Principal Park,

blend their newfound

fans have a panoramic

passion for roasting

view of soy-based

coffee with their family’s

products. From food

century-long farming

to seats, soy hits a

legacy in Auburn.

homerun!

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I S S U E N O. 5

ON THE COVER: Mint grows in perlite — a type of volcanic rock — at Mariposa Farms in Poweshiek County.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE IOWA FOOD & FAMILY PROJECT

FRESH PICKINGS MAGAZINE EDITOR KELLY VISSER PHOTO EDITOR JOSEPH L. MURPHY CREATIVE ASHTON BOLES WRITER AARON PUTZE, APR

CONTRIBUTORS ANN THELEN Thelen Public Relations CRISTEN CLARK Food & Swine HALEY BANWART Farm Roots & Chore Boots DARCY DOUGHERTY MAULSBY Darcy Maulsby & Co. SARAH TODD MercyOne Central Iowa

IOWA FOOD & FAMILY PROJECT FOUNDERS Iowa Soybean Association Iowa Pork Producers Association Iowa Beef Industry Council Midwest Dairy Iowa Corn Growers Association Iowa Poultry Association Iowa Egg Council Iowa Turkey Federation The Soyfoods Council

SUPPORTERS Anderson Erickson Dairy Cargill Cookies Food Products Corteva Agriscience Earl May Nursery & Garden Center Farm Credit Services of America Heart of America Group Hy-Vee Iowa Grocery Industry Association Iowa Machine Shed Restaurant Iowa State Fair Jethro’s BBQ Key Cooperative Latham Hi-Tech Seeds Live Healthy Iowa MercyOne Subway

REQUEST YOUR MAILED SUBSCRIPTION AT IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM/MAGAZINE/SUBSCRIBE

Thank you to the Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Beef Industry Council, Midwest Dairy, Iowa Corn

For advertising information, please contact kvisser@iasoybeans.com

Growers Association, Iowa Egg Council, Iowa

Cooperative and MercyOne for the financial

Advertising space reservations must be made through the above contact information. In consideration of the acceptance of the advertisement, the agency and advertiser must, in respect of the contents of the advertisement, indemnify and save the publisher harmless against any expense arising from claims or actions against the publisher because of the publication of the content of the advertisement.

investment that makes this publication possible.

Comments: iowafoodandfamily.com/magazine/feedback

Turkey Federation, Farm Credit Services of America, Cargill, Corteva Agriscience, Key

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Fresh Pickings is published four times a year by: Iowa Soybean Association, 1255 SW Prairie Trail Parkway, Ankeny, Iowa 50023

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editor’s note

UNPRECEDENTED CHANGE main conference room. It shows how Iowa’s farmers have embraced change to shape agriculture for the better with milestones between 1964 and 2014. For example, in 1964, one U.S. farmer produced enough to feed 46 people. Because of improvements in seed genetics and equipment technology, one farmer now produces enough to feed 155 people.

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nnually, Merriam-Webster publishes a word of the year. I’m willing to bet that “unprecedented” will top the list in 2020. The term is an adjective meaning “never done or known before.” And you’re sure to see it in nearly every headline related to COVID-19. The pandemic has brought about uncharted territory as we all try to navigate its economic, social and emotional impacts. No one is insulated from the changes of this decade, but not all are related to the headlines. My husband Adam and I are expecting our first child in late August, and we’re absolutely thrilled! With each daycare visit or piece of advice from other parents, we find ourselves in a time of change and a big step outside of our element. Change is challenging, scary and an exciting part of life. At the Iowa Soybean Association’s office in Ankeny, there’s a timeline on the wall in the

And in 1960, Americans spent an average of 16.8% of their personal incomes on food. Today, we spend about 9.7%, thanks to improved efficiencies in our food system. And thank goodness, especially during today’s pandemic. I’m sure if you zoomed in on a single tick on the timeline, the future would seem fuzzy and unpredictable. But seeing the entire time span is comforting to me. Improvements in agriculture or today’s food system would not be possible without visionary Iowans who embrace change with confidence and faith. And today, the stories of many of those farmers, homemakers, chefs, entrepreneurs and community leaders are shared in each issue of Fresh Pickings magazine. As I work to navigate uncertain times on a global scale and in my personal life, I find comfort and confidence in examples from those on the conference room wall. They’re a reminder to embrace unprecedented change and do our best to shape the future for good. Enjoy the issue,

WE WANT TO HEAR WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT FRESH PICKINGS! SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS AT

iowafoodandfamily.com/magazine/feedback

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family table

S H A K E U P YO U R S A L A D R O U T I N E H O M E M A D E S A L A D D R E S S I N G S M A K E R O O M F O R C R E AT I V I T Y A N D F L AVO R By Cristen Clark

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pringtime is the perfect opportunity to welcome fresh flavors and local produce back into our kitchens. Growing up, my mom would always make fresh veggies taste even better with homemade dressings.

Cristen Clark is a pig farmer, creator of the Food & Swine blog and an award-winning baker and cook. She lives on a farm near Runnells with her husband Mike and children Halle and Barrett.

Homemade dressings can be divided into two main categories: vinaigrettes or cream-based dressings. Vinaigrette recipes have a base of oil and something acidic, like vinegar. A good ratio to consider when making basic vinaigrette is to use three parts oil to one part of the acidic component. Cream-based dressings use ingredients like buttermilk, mayonnaise, avocado or yogurt. Adding seasonings and fresh herbs will give the dressings a nicely balanced flavor. When making homemade dressings, there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind.

1. Dressings will taste strong if you are testing them directly off a spoon. Try tasting on a leaf of lettuce or any ingredient in the recipe for a more accurate flavor of the final product.

2. If your homemade dressing is too sharp or acidic, be sure you’re using the correct amount of salt. Salt

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tempers acidic qualities and boosts flavors. Ingredients like honey, sugar or jam can also be added in small amounts to round out flavors. If you have an almost-empty raspberry jam jar, add vinaigrette ingredients, like balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and shake vigorously for an easy dressing shortcut!

3. Vinaigrettes will separate if you do not use an emulsifying agent. Mustard is a common emulsifier, and miso (fermented soybean paste) is another popular option. Miso adds a lot of depth to a dressing but can be quite salty. The dressing should be tasted as the ingredients are added to ensure the final product isn’t over salted.

4. Juice from lemons, oranges and limes adds brightness and freshness. For a greater punch of citrus in your recipe, rub citrus zest between your fingers with a pinch of salt or sugar (whichever is called for in the recipe). This releases the oils in the zest and gives a big, bold flavor boost. You can put your new dressing skills to the test with my Grilled Turkey Chopped Thai Salad recipe. The colorful vegetable salad, topped with protein-packed turkey tenderloin and edamame, is perfectly complemented by a flavorful peanut dressing!


Grilled Turkey Chopped Thai Salad FOR THE TURKEY • 1 pound turkey tenderloins or turkey breast • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt • ½ teaspoon black pepper FOR THE SALAD • 8 to 10 cups Napa shredded cabbage or chopped romaine hearts • 6 green onions, chopped • 2 cups carrots, shredded • 2 cups bell pepper or any sweet pepper, red and yellow preferred, thinly sliced • 2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced • 2 cups snow pea pods or snap peas, chopped • 2 cups edamame, shelled

FOR THE DRESSING • 1 large garlic clove, finely minced and mashed • ½ cup creamy peanut butter • ¼ cup honey • 3 tablespoons soy sauce • Juice of one small lime • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar • 1 teaspoon sesame oil • ½ teaspoon sriracha or a pinch of cayenne pepper • 1 tablespoon water (if a thinner consistency is desired) GARNISH • Salted peanuts, lightly chopped • Cilantro leaves • Sesame seeds • Wonton strips

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Sprinkle seasoned salt and pepper onto turkey. Grill until meat registers 170 degrees F in the center, on a digital instant read thermometer, approximately 4-5 minutes per side. Rest and slice prior to serving. Combine cabbage and lettuce in a large serving bowl. Add onions, carrots, bell pepper, red cabbage, snow peas and edamame in clustered rainbow style rows on top of greens. Fan strips of grilled turkey on top of salad, dress lightly and place a bowl of extra dressing on table for guests. Salad can be tossed together to combine, if desired. The dressing recipe is purposely generous.

Servings: 4-6 entrées | Nutrition per serving: 367 Calories, 33g Carbohydrate, 13g Fat, 2.1g Saturated Fat, 32g Protein, 5.9g Fiber, 752mg Sodium IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE W E LC O M E S FA M I L I E S N E W “ H O M E AWAY F R O M H O M E ” O F F E R S

A M E N I T I E S TO E A S E ST R E S S A N D E N R I C H L I V E S By Sarah Todd, MercyOne Central Iowa

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amilies who bring their children to MercyOne Children’s Hospital in Des Moines have a new comfortable place to stay – all thanks to the opening of the new Ronald McDonald House. Since 2011, MercyOne Children’s Hospital has been home to the state’s first Ronald McDonald Family Room, providing shortterm sleeping accommodations, kitchen access, a family room, laundry room and more. Last year, 325 families from across the state benefited while their children were hospitalized. The new Ronald McDonald House, which opened this year, includes 14 bedroom suites, a full-size kitchen and dining room, laundry room, playroom and respite rooms. Families of patients who are 21 and under and are receiving treatment at MercyOne Children’s Hospital can stay at the House. Once a family is referred by a social worker,

nurse, doctor or other health care provider, they can stay as long as their need exists. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Iowa expects to serve approximately 750 families at the new House this year. “The mission of the Ronald McDonald House is to enrich the quality of life for children and their families,” says Brenda Miller, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Iowa. “We keep families close by providing a home away from home for families traveling to Des Moines to seek the critical medical care for their child that is not available in their home communities.” One of the ways they help provide some of the comforts of home is an evening community meal. Families can go to the house at 6 p.m.

each evening for a home-cooked meal. When the house opened to families in January, the first dinner was prepared by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows-Iowa. Their members prepared a beef pot roast, mashed potatoes, green beans and more – all from scratch – for the families who were moving in. “The families were so appreciative of the time and work that went into their first meal in the House,” Miller says. “We welcome the support of individuals and groups to help prepare our evening meals, or to help stock our family pantry with snacks and self-serve food items.” For more information about Ronald McDonald House at MercyOne Children’s Hospital, or ways you can help, visit MercyOne.org/rmh.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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point of interest

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Every Sign H A S A STO R Y

By Haley Banwart

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Photos by Joseph L. Murphy

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point of interest

Hal Colliver pauses for a portrait in front of an out building covered in signs he has collected.

A N I O WA FA R M E R I S P R E S E R V I N G T H E H I STO R Y A N D ART OF AMERICAN ADVERTISING

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f Hal Colliver’s colorful collection of road signs and billboards could talk, they would tell stories of America’s highways and byways and the endless products, goods and services they promoted to motorists whizzing by each day. Almost every inch of the outbuildings on Colliver’s farm, located 1 mile south of West Chester, are covered in colorful advertising memorabilia. From petroleum and hardware to bus lines and seed corn, his unique collection is a kaleidoscope of history and art.

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Colliver, a retired farmer and truck driver, says he started collecting signs 45 years ago. A majority of his collection has been sourced from flea markets, auctions and conventions over the past two decades. “I always took note of billboards when I traveled. One sign led to another, and my hobby for collecting became almost like a disease,” he jokes. Made from porcelain, neon, wood, tin, plastic and glass, just a few of Colliver’s finds required restoration, and nearly all are in their original condition.


Although most of his signs were found in Iowa, some of Colliver’s collection originated from places as far away as Arizona and Tennessee. VALUE BEYOND A PRICE TAG Collectible road signs are valued for their age, rarity and design. Colliver credits the growing popularity of sign collecting to hit TV shows like “American Pickers,” which stars a team of antique enthusiasts from Le Claire. Today, he says the price of these rare artifacts depends on how much someone is willing to pay. “They aren’t getting any cheaper. Every sign has a price tag, but to

me, their worth is invaluable,” Colliver says. “You just don’t see road signs and billboards like you used to,” he adds. “They are a piece of history. To me, sign collecting is about preserving some of old Americana.” A LEGACY WORTH SHARING In true Iowa fashion, Colliver doesn’t keep his collection solely for personal enjoyment. It’s something he openly shares with his community and the frequent stream of passersby. Over the years, he has hosted tour buses, car clubs and international visitors who often comment the display is unlike anything they’ve seen before.

Colliver’s collection has also expanded to novelties, such as antique gas pumps, oil cans and other one-of-a-kind vintage treasures. One of his more recent finds includes an authentic wooden windmill. Sunset is a popular time for visitors to stop and admire the iconic advertisements from years gone by. Many guests drive in after dark to get a glimpse of the gas pumps illuminated against the night sky. “Everyone is welcome,” Colliver says. “That’s what it’s here for.” Each sign’s story comes to life for visitors who are willing to slow down, take a detour and soak in the patchwork of American advertising history.

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Dairy on Display

DA N A N D D E B B I E ’ S C R E A M E R Y H I TS A SW E E T S P OT By Ann Thelen

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Photos by Joseph L. Murphy

n the small eastern Iowa town of Ely, Dan and Debbie’s Creamery proudly sits on the town’s quaint and flag-lined Main Street. The shop’s corner location provides a welcoming embrace. With rustic, antique milk cans flanking the entrance, customers know they have arrived at a special place.

DREAMING OF A CREAMERY In 1985, the Takes started raising cattle and farming soybeans and corn. As the young couple grew their family to include four sons and two daughters, they transitioned from raising beef cattle to becoming first-generation dairy farmers in 1997.

Dan and Debbie Takes established the creamery just 4 miles from the family’s farm in 2016. From selling cheese curds and milk to ice cream and butter, Dan and Debbie’s Creamery has become a destination for farm-fresh, wholesome dairy products. It also serves up a farm-life experience that quenches curiosity.

Not long after, Dan planted a seed to diversify and expand the family farm to include a creamery business. While raising a family and working long hours to operate and pay off the dairy farm, the dream sat on the back burner but was never far from mind.

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“Growing up, my parents were always trying to figure out how to create a more sustainable dairy business. One that wasn't driven by fluctuating market prices,” says Josie Rozum, the eldest of the Takes’ two daughters, who now spends her time focused on marketing sales and operations of the creamery. In 2013, the time was finally right to make the dream come true. “Three of my brothers – Dustin, Tyler and Riley – and I were now adults and interested in coming back to the farm or being involved in the creamery,” Rozum adds.


CREATING A SWEET EXPERIENCE Dan and Debbie set their sights on transforming the town's former Vavra Lumber Company and hardware store into their family’s dream creamery. “Dad has always been a visionary; he can see a run-down building and picture turning it into a modern facility,” Rozum says. “From the moment they found the property, he knew it was the right spot for the shop.” Dan and Debbie spent the next three years visiting creameries in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin while renovating the site and turning the building into a certified, modern-day processing facility. “We took a significant risk and leap of faith when we dipped our toes in the creamery business. We had to learn everything from creating cheese to making ice cream and being efficient in the process,” Rozum explains. Beyond producing safe and highquality dairy items, the family is passionate about creating “an experience” with a viewing area within the storefront where products are sold. The glass window overlooking the creamery’s production offers

customers an opportunity to be visually immersed in how raw ingredients become a delicious finished product. The realtime viewing activity is also popular for kids, with the creamery hosting an average of two to three tours a week. CREATING SUSTAINABILITY FOR GENERATIONS The family has 150 Holstein cows, which are easily distinguished by their black and white spots and known for being the best cow breed for milking. Each cow produces about 10 gallons of nutritious milk each day, 30-35% of which goes to the creamery, with the rest going to Wapsie Valley Creamery in Independence. In addition to serving as the chief ice cream maker at the creamery, Debbie spends several hours twice a day – at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. – milking the cows. Dan spends most of his time on the farm and transports the milk. The family is meticulous in raising, handling and feeding their cows. There is a strong emphasis on creating optimal living conditions in the barns by controlling temperature and air flows, along with having clean bedding and a constant source of fresh water.

DAN AND DEBBIE’S CREAMERY IS A D E ST I N AT I O N FO R FA RM- F R ES H CHEESE, MILK, BUTTER AND ICE CREAM.

“ W E TO O K A S I G N I F I C A N T RISK AND LEAP OF FA I T H W H E N W E D I P P E D O U R TO E S I N T H E CREAMERY BUSINESS.” — Josie Rozum

Dan and Debbie Takes in the milking parlor of their dairy.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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Josie Rozum in the creamery in Ely.

“ W E LO V E SHARING W H AT W E D O AND GIVING CONSUMERS THE OPPORTUNITY TO L E A R N F R O M O U R FA R M . ” — Josie Rozum

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The cows are fed a special mix of feed, including corn silage, roasted soybeans, high-moisture corn, orchard grass and minerals.

monitored. By receiving real-time information about the herd, farmers have more data and can make better decisions.

“We believe all these factors lead to an exceptional product,” Rozum says. “Our priority is creating a sustainable way of dairy farming that will live on for generations to come and give consumers confidence in serving our products to their families.”

An added benefit of the new technology is that it will allow the farm and creamery to expand their educational reach and provide more opportunities for the community to get a firsthand look into the dairy farm.

LETTING ROBOTS DO THE MILKING Dan and Debbie’s Creamery recently won a national dairy award for a robotic milking system. The family is using the opportunity to implement advanced technology on the farm. A new barn is being built, and once it is in operation this spring, the family will have two robotic milkers and a robotic feeding system. With robotic milking, cows are milked at their leisure. Some cows will stay in the routine of being milked twice a day. Other cows may find more comfort in milking three times a day, which the robotic system accommodates. Research shows cows are happier and more relaxed with robotic milking and often produce more milk. Fitbit-type devices on every cow will allow for health and activity to be constantly

“We've added a viewing area on the side of the barn so visitors can see how the cows are living, their habits and how the robots work," Rozum explains. “Transparency is important to us, and we want people to see how we have transformed a conventional dairy farm by implementing the latest technologies and incorporating innovation, conservation and sustainability.” The addition of robotics will help the dairy and creamery rise to the next level. The time that will be saved on milking will allow the family to extend its passion. “As we grow our brand, finding more opportunities to further enhance the well-being of our dairy herd and being an educational resource for schools and the ag industry is our top priority,” Rozum adds. “We love sharing what we do and giving consumers the opportunity to learn from our farm.”


Dairy-licious Products Dan and Debbie’s Creamery is open seven days a week and offers a vast selection of fresh products. All the dairy items are made with milk directly from the family’s farm. Milk is naturally nutritious and contains several important nutrients, such as B vitamins, calcium, protein, iodine, potassium and phosphorus.

CHEESE CURDS:

The first product sold at the creamery remains a popular favorite. The cheese curds are available in five flavors – White Cheddar, Onion and Chive, Dill, Tomato Basil and Spicy Chipotle – and made from a whole milk, white cheddar base. Before cheeses like cheddar are formed into blocks or wheels, they begin as curds. Fresh curds are known for having a slightly rubbery texture that “squeaks” with each bite. Working with a retired cheesemaker from northern Iowa, the family first learned to make cheese curds and then taught themselves the aged cheddar process.

CHEDDAR CHEESE:

Cheddar cheeses are aged a minimum of 30 days to create the perfect savory cheddar. The flavors include Farmhouse Cheddar, Garden Cheddar, Jalapeno Cheddar and Caraway Cheddar.

CREAM-TOP MILK:

The creamery’s cream-top bottled milk is produced with traditional practices using the least amount of processing. Under the State of Iowa’s food

regulations, it is pasteurized like other milk found on store shelves. However, it is not homogenized. Homogenization is a high-pressure process of breaking up fat molecules in cream to such a small size they dissolve into the rest of the milk. Non-homogenized milk allows the cream to naturally rise to the top. It offers the same great taste and nutrition as homogenized milk and simply requires shaking the bottle before enjoying.

ICE CREAM: Each flavor is handcrafted in small batches. The creamery offers 12 signature flavors, such as Strawberry Cheesecake, Coffee Oreo, Swiss Chocolate Chip, Peaches and Cream, and Salted Caramel. Plus, several limited-edition flavors are offered, such as Cotton Candy, Lemon Poppyseed, Strawberry Rhubarb Pie and Iowa Sweet Corn. Many of Dan and Debbie’s Creamery items also are found in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City area at Hy-Vee stores, independent grocers and several restaurants. The Ely store also carries a variety of local foods and beverages.

HAZELNUT C A F É -AU - L A I T

• 3 cups low-fat 1% milk • 2 cups brewed coffee • 3 tablespoons hazelnut-cocoa spread, such as Nutella • Dash of ground cinnamon • 3 tablespoons whipped cream In a large, heatproof glass bowl, microwave milk, coffee and hazelnut-cocoa spread, on high for 2 minutes or until mixture is hot, but not boiling. Whip with a hand mixer or whisk until frothy. Pour into 3 serving cups. Top with whipped cream and dust with cinnamon. Calories per serving: 230 Servings: 3 Source: Midwest Dairy

For more great dairy recipes, visit dairygood.org. IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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Pictured from left, Lindsey Peiffer, Denise Conkling and Colette Conkling Cox at Mariposa Farms.

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BO U Q U E TS O F

Flavorful magic M A R I P O S A FA R M S

T H R I V E S A S A M I DW E ST HERB GROWER

By Ann Thelen

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Photos by Joseph L. Murphy

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Colette Conkling Cox plants mint in the greenhouse.

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resh herbs are potently delicious, small bouquets of magic. Whether used by the pinch or by the bunch, herbs can make you feel like you've been transported to the culinary cuisine of the mountains of Italy, the islands of Southeast Asia or the Mediterranean Coast. By infusing dishes with unparalleled aromas and flavors, fresh herbs elevate any dish, whether it’s scrambled eggs, meat, fish, salad or a vinaigrette dressing. No matter the time of year, Iowans don’t need to go far for fresh herbs.

The Midwest's leading herb grower is right in central Iowa’s backyard and delights the senses with flavorbursting products. GREEN AND GROWING Off a gravel road in rural Poweshiek County, and once the site of a dairy farm, Mariposa Farms has been growing highquality herbs and expanding its multistate business for 25 years. Founded by Dave and Denise Conkling, the family-owned and operated business is thriving year-round, despite Iowa’s limited growing season.

STORING FRESH HERBS:

The couple is no stranger to thriving in Iowa’s always-changing seasons. They met while students at the University of Northern Iowa, where Denise received a degree in biology. Her first post-graduate job was working for the university’s horticulture business, where she was responsible for the plants and landscaping across the campus. With Dave’s degree in liberal arts, the duo’s skill sets complemented one another to launch a green and growing business. After living in New Mexico for a decade, the couple returned to their Iowa roots and founded Mariposa Farms.

Fresh herbs can be stored in a plastic

bag or a jar filled with water. Leafy herbs can be stored upright in a jar of water, with the leaves sticking out of the top. All herbs can also be stored between a damp paper towel in an airtight plastic bag in the refrigerator.

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“When our parents started the business, they chose a hydroponic system so that Mariposa Farms could operate year-round,” explains Colette Conkling Cox, the couple’s eldest daughter who grew up with the business and now serves as the company’s business manager. “They worked with a consultant who provided start-up advice. After establishing two bays – also known as greenhouses – they have been growing the business ever since.” With the hydroponic system, plants in the farm’s 12 greenhouses are grown in elevated trays. Instead of using soil, perlite – a type of volcanic rock – is used to stabilize the roots. The herbs receive 100% of their nutrients through drip irrigation, which flows through

the perlite, giving the plants clean, nutrient-rich water 24 hours a day. “For us, this system is more efficient than growing in the soil because the plants have constant nutrition and water,” Conkling Cox says. “The water is recirculated into a holding tank. The tank is checked five times a day to ensure proper nutrient levels.” Mariposa Farms grows 15 different varieties of herbs. They are used by many Iowa restaurants and sold in stores, such as Hy-Vee, Fareway, Price Chopper and Wal-Mart, in Iowa and contiguous states. Grocery shoppers can easily spot the brand, which boasts an iconic monarch butterfly encircled with the words, “Mariposa Farms – Herbs from the Heartland.”

Herbs Perfect for Pairing

BASIL The intense flavor, color and aroma of basil gives it universal appeal. A primary ingredient in pesto, basil also goes great with tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, pizza, red meat and poultry dishes, eggs and soups.

MINT Mint enlivens meat, fish or poultry dishes, creamy vegetable soups and steamed mild vegetables with a sweet, zesty flavor.

ROSEMARY An herb with intense aroma and flavor, rosemary wonderfully accompanies garlic, oregano and thyme. Add it to tomato sauce, pizza, pork or red meat dishes, stuffing and as a marinade. Lindsey Peiffer adjusts a water sprinkler inside the greenhouse.

Continued on Page 23

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CLEANING FRESH HERBS: To clean fresh herbs, dunk them in a coldwater bath and gently move them around in the water to remove any dirt or debris. Shake off the excess water, and carefully pat the herbs dry with paper towels. More delicate herbs like parsley, cilantro and chervil should be handled gently in comparison to sturdy herbs like sprigs of rosemary and thyme.

FOOD SAFETY IS ALWAYS PRIORITY At Mariposa Farms, food safety is paramount. The business is certified as a globally food-safe growing, harvesting and packing facility. Independently audited by five different inspection agencies, the Food & Drug Administration, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, State of Iowa, Iowa Weights and Measures, and PrimusLabs, the Mariposa team is rigorous in its food safety protocols. “We produce herbs that we are confident serving to our families,” explains Lindsey Peiffer, who is

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Denise Conkling works inside the greenhouse. She and her husband have built a successful business selling and growing herbs using a hydroponic system.

the third of Dave and Denise’s five children and recently joined the business. A nurse by training, she enjoys helping to oversee food safety and many other management responsibilities of the company. “We can be randomly audited 365 days a year, so it’s imperative to be up-to-date on everything we do at any given moment," Peiffer adds. Inspectors evaluate everything from how and when floor drains are scrubbed to the packaging areas. They are meticulous about assessing employee hygiene and dress codes. Mariposa has strict rules about handwashing, wearing hair and beard

nets, not allowing any jewelry to be worn and equipping workers with protective clothing. The goal is to eliminate any potential for crosscontamination or allergens on the herbs that could harm the products or cause illness to consumers. “Every day, we are precise and methodical in our approach to growing fresh herbs with tender loving care in a clean, healthy, greenhouse environment,” Conkling Cox adds. “We know our customers appreciate the difference, and we put our passion into delivering safe products that add a remarkable flavor of Iowa to food.”


Herbs Perfect for Pairing

OREGANO This herb has a strong flavor that is almost essential in Italian, Greek and Mexican dishes. Used best in tomato sauces, on red meats and poultry.

Nature’s Bouquets of Magic Herbs are an easy way to infuse a recipe with flavor and allow the complexities of the food to shine.

CILANTRO This herb has a fresh, pungent citrus-like flavor. It goes well in salsas, pasta, marinades, salads, stews and fish.

• Fresh herbs are best added at the end of the cooking process (bay leaves, which are often used in soups and stews, are the exception). Adding them too early dilutes their flavorful essence. For example, add fresh rosemary to roasted potatoes in the last 10 minutes of roasting. • Use herbs instead of salt to reduce sodium consumption. With all the extra flavor of herbs, the salt won’t be missed. • In creating herb combinations, balance a robust herb with a mild one until you discover which herbs you like best together.

DILL The mild warm flavor of baby dill complements meat, fish, poultry, vegetable entrees and salads.

THYME One of the most used herbs, thyme boasts a mild lemon and mint flavor. Use it with pork loin, veal and poultry dishes, vegetables and rice, Employees package fresh-cut herbs for retail sales.

and in tomato sauce. IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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I O W A N S H AV E

AISLE

I nsight s By Kelly Visser

T H E I O WA

F O O D & FA M I LY PROJECT’S ANNUAL CONSUMER SURVEY SHOWS T H AT G R O C E R Y SHOPPERS A R E FA N S O F FA R M E R S A N D M I ST R U ST FOOD MARKETING.

I

f you spend a little time on social media or perusing flashy magazine ads, it seems that grocery shoppers are falling victim to trends and fads, ready to pull out their pocketbooks for catchy marketing and little substance. But according to the Iowa Food & Family Project’s (Iowa FFP) latest Consumer Pulse Survey, that doesn’t hold true for Iowans. Survey results show grocery shoppers across the state are growing savvier to misleading food marketing. These shoppers trust farmers to grow and raise food with care and are hesitant to let buzzworthy trends dictate their buying decisions. Now in its eighth year,

the survey gauges grocery shopping habits, food label influence and attitudes toward agriculture. Year-overyear findings not only give a pulse on perceptions but also help shape Iowa FFP content, events and activities. The November 2019 survey had 597 responses and 307 were engaged with Iowa FFP as monthly Fresh Pickings eNewsletter subscribers. Respondents’ age groups, income levels, education levels and geographic regions closely follow the state’s population, resulting in a 4% margin of error. Blue Compass, a digital marketing agency in West Des Moines, conducted the survey analysis from data collected through Dynata’s business-to-consumer panel.

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2 01 9 C O N S U M E R P U L S E S U R V E Y F I N D I N G S

% 83

OF SHOPPERS FIND FOOD MARKETING MISLEADING

Q UA LIT Y & P R I CE TO P T H E L I S T A S T H E M O S T I M P O R TA N T F O O D P U R C H A S I N G FA C TO R S

3%

of food purchasers shop for groceries online

“ W H E N I T C O M E S TO “If you have a basic

B U Y I N G LO C A L , I O F T E N

understanding

THINK ABOUT FRUITS

of food, you can intuitively choose products. People already know what

A N D V E G E TA B L E S . I ’ D R AT H E R B U Y A T O M AT O F R O M A

they want, what they

LO C A L FA M I LY

trust or have used

BECAUSE IT

before. You’re not

SEEMS SAFER

going to compare

A N D VA L U A B L E

labels each time you shop.” NANCY MACKLIN, URBANDALE *

FOR OUR C O M M U N I T Y. ” NATALIE HOOVER, ANKENY *

THE PURCHASE INFLUENCE OF F R O N T- O F - P A C K A G E M A R K E T I N G HAS DROPPED FROM 32% IN 2 0 1 6 TO 1 9 % TO D AY

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“I’M CONCERNED ABOUT FOOD MARKETING. IT’S UNCLEAR WHAT THE PARAMETERS MAY BE. A LOT OF THE WORDS USED TO MARKET FOOD MAY OR MAY NOT BE TRUE, IT’S REALLY OPEN TO INDIVIDUAL INTERPRETATION.” SHIRLEY MACLEOD, ANKENY *


“I’M ALWAYS THINKING ABOUT THE OVERALL IMPACT OF MY FOOD CHOICES ON THE ENVIRONMENT. EVERYTHING FROM PRODUCT PACKAGING TO THE WATER OR NATURAL RESOURCES USED TO GROW FEED FOR ANIMALS.” ROBIN DOTY, HUXLEY *

% 78

MORE THAN 75% OF FOOD-MINDED CONSUMERS give farmers an excellent or good rating for producing safe foods, contributing to the local economy and raising healthy animals with care

“ I A P P R E C I AT E T H AT FA R M E R S D E L I C AT E LY BALANCE PRODUCING F O O D W I T H C A R E AT A REASONABLE PRICE.” MARIAN POULSON, MINGO *

56% think about how food was grown and raised, down from 68% in 2016

OF SHOPPERS ARE

S AT I S F I E D W I T H I O WA A G R I C U LT U R E

7 IN 10 AGREE THEY’RE KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT

IOWA FA R MING Iowa FFP is all about encouraging two-way conversations on today’s food and farm system. We’d love to hear your reaction to these findings. Do any of the responses surprise you? What grocery trends are you adopting? Do you think about how food was grown and raised? Visit iowafoodandfamily.com/contact to let us know what you think! *Comments made during a focus group held in February. The discussion covered questions in the Consumer Pulse Survey, seeking direct feedback from 12 Iowa grocery shoppers who are familiar with Iowa FFP.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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Tantalizing Plan a tasty road trip to savor the stories behind Iowa’s famous sandwich By Darcy Dougherty Maulsby

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|

Photos by Joseph L. Murphy


Orders of pork tenderloin sandwiches leave the kitchen window for patrons at Three C’s Diner in Corning.

I

f Iowa had a state sandwich, it could be the breaded pork tenderloin. You can find these celebrated delicacies at the crossroads of big-city restaurants and small-town cafés. When ordering, you don’t even need to specify you want the pork sandwich. Ask for a tenderloin, and it’s understood.

pork tenderloins where they live and crave a taste of home.”

“When people think of Iowa, we want them to think of pork,” says Kelsey Sutter, marketing and program director for the Iowa Pork Producers Association (Iowa Pork). “We receive so many requests through our social media channels from former Iowans who can’t find breaded

Breaded pork tenderloins are an “I state” phenomenon, appearing on menus mainly in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana – truly a Midwest treasure that’s virtually unknown in the rest of the country. While Indiana claims to have invented the breaded pork tenderloin in 1904, Iowa has perfected it.

Nothing showcases this taste of Iowa more prominently than Iowa Pork’s Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin in Iowa Contest, which debuted in 2003. In 2019, Iowa Pork received 5,390 nominations for 470 different establishments during the spring nomination period.

Perhaps this was inevitable because Iowa is the No. 1 porkproducing state in America, where cooks take high-quality pork seriously. SECRETS TO BREADED PERFECTION Forget frozen pork patties dropped into a fryer. In crowning the state’s best breaded pork tenderloin, the contest specifically states: We’re talking about handpounded, tenderized center-cut pork loin that’s blanketed in a custom bread crumb mixture or dipped in a savory batter and fried to golden perfection. It all starts with the right pork cut.

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Tenderloin lovers can crisscross the state’s highways and byways to find the iconic sandwhich.

“The breaded sandwich is not made from the tenderloin cut; it’s made from the loin,” Sutter points out. “While the dark, tender meat of the tenderloin cut works great for dishes like pork medallions, the loin works best for breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches. “Don’t pound it too thin, and don’t overcook it,” Sutter says, highlighting the simple secrets to delicious tenderloins. “Also, if all you taste is breading when you bite into the sandwich, that’s not what we’re looking for in our contest. A great tenderloin should elevate the flavor of pork.” Perhaps no one has invested more time in perfecting the breaded pork tenderloin than Chuck Cox, who has been cooking up his version of hog heaven since the 1980s. “Ours are 6-ounce tenderloins with less breading and more focus on the pork, so when you bite into the sandwich, it’s thick and juicy,” says Cox, who grew

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up eating great tenderloins at a Davenport drive-in and has worked in the food service business for 36 years. For decades, Cox owned and operated TC’s Point After, a popular restaurant in DeWitt. He now runs Chuckies Tenderloins. Cox and his crew haul their trailers to the Jones County Fair in Monticello, the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines and to major sporting events across the country where they serve up their Iowa-style breaded pork tenderloins. “I’ve been taking our trailer to Major League Baseball’s spring training events for 16 years,” says Cox, who also feeds the crowds at Iowa State University football games, National Hot Rod Association drag races in Dallas, the Arizona Balloon Classic in Phoenix and other high-profile events. “When I hand out samples, people take one bite and say, ‘Oh my gosh,’ and they’re hooked.”

There are certain things a great breaded pork tenderloin is not, Cox emphasizes. “We make ours differently than some restaurants. We use a center-cut, boneless pork loin, and use fresh – not frozen – pork. Fresh is always better, no matter what you’re eating, he says. “The key is pounding it to a perfect size, never too thin, with just the right amount of breading. A sandwich that’s 12 or 14 inches in diameter is a fritter, not a tenderloin.” In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has specific guidelines regarding the ratio of breading to meat to qualify a sandwich as a breaded tenderloin rather than a fritter, notes Cox, whose sandwiches have 23-25% breading. Cox’s famous tenderloins remain a favorite at CC’s Supper Club, which his son, Todd, operates at the Springbrook Country Club in DeWitt.


Create Your Own Trail

Missy and Steve Sanson, Three C’s Diner

Three C’s Diner

Iowa Pork created an Iowa Tenderloin Trail to promote pork and

Southwest Iowa earned

we won the award,”

bragging rights when

Steve says. Each pork

Three C’s Diner in

slice is approximately

Corning won the 2018

2½ - 3-inches thick

Best Breaded Pork

before it goes through

Tenderloin contest.

a meat tenderizer.

“A great breaded

Each tenderloin is then

tenderloin was one of

egg-dipped and hand-

the things we wanted

breaded in a mixture of

to be known for,”

flour and secret spices

says Steve Sanson, a

before being fried and

Creston native who has

served. Onsite maps of

owned the diner with

Iowa and the U.S. reveal

his wife, Missy, since

just how far guests

2012. After buying pork

have traveled to enjoy

along the Tenderloin Trail or

loins by the 10-pound

a tenderloin at Three

venture out on your own, Iowa

package, the Sansons

C’s Diner in Corning,

cut the meat by hand

which is also the

into 8-ounce portions.

birthplace of comedian

“We were going

Johnny Carson. “When

through two cases

former Iowans return

of pork loin after we

home, the first thing

opened, we were going

they want is a breaded

through 14 cases of

pork tenderloin,”

pork a week right after

Steve says.

tourism across Iowa, including the state’s rural areas. Based on the popularity of the destinations along the initial Tenderloin Trail, they plan to launch a new version this year.

C O R N I N G

Whether you choose a route

offers an endless selection of this favorite sandwich. These are a few stops you should include in your next tenderloin-inspired road trip!

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Jeff Lawrence, Brick Street Market & Café

Brick Street Market & Café B O N D U R A N T 32

While Brick Street has

made to order,” says

served on a choice of

only been open since

Jeff Lawrence, café

wheat, white or onion

2014, the café quickly

manager. It all begins

buns that are baked

made a name for

with high-quality

fresh at Brick Street’s

itself in the tenderloin

pork from the meat

bakery. Whole or half

world, earning second-

counter at Brick Street’s

tenderloin sandwiches

place honors in the

grocery store, which is

are available, along with

2014 Best Breaded

connected to the café.

breaded pork tenderloin

Pork Tenderloin in

“When you bite into a

strips (no bun) served

Iowa contest. “Our

tenderloin, you want it

with barbecue sauce,

tenderloins are hand-

to taste meaty,” notes

honey mustard or

cut, hand-tenderized,

Lawrence, who adds

ranch dressing dipping

hand-breaded and

that the sandwiches are

sauces.

| FRESH PICKINGS MAGAZINE


Classic Iowa Pork

B A L L T O W N

Sandwich • 1 cup all-purpose flour • 1 cup cornstarch • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper • 2 eggs

Breitbach’s Country Dining

Tenderloins are a

fifth generation of

menu favorite at

his family to run the

Breitbach’s, which

restaurant, which also

opened in 1852 and

serves as a location

has been owned by

for the Iowa Caucuses.

Mike Breitbach’s family

“They said it was

since 1861. At the

the best tenderloin

popular destination

they’d ever eaten.”

for locals and travelers

Breitbach’s won the

passing by on the

2012 Best Breaded

Great River Road, each

Pork Tenderloin in

tenderloin is hand-

Iowa contest and is

cut and pounded.

also an America’s

“We just had a couple

Classics winner from

from the Chicago area

the James Beard

who heard about us

Foundation, a lifetime

drive out just to try

achievement award for

our tenderloins,” says

the restaurant industry

Breitbach, who is the

and an elite honor.

• 3 tablespoons milk • 1 sleeve Chicken in a Biskit crackers, crushed • 1 cup panko bread crumbs • 4 boneless pork loin chops • 1 quart peanut or vegetable oil • 4 large sandwich or Kaiser rolls, split and buttered • Dill pickles, ketchup, mustard, thinly sliced sweet onions

Combine flour, cornstarch, seasoned salt and pepper in a shallow baking dish. Remove and reserve 2 tablespoons of this mixture. In a second shallow baking dish, whisk eggs and milk together until well-blended. In a third dish, combine crushed crackers and panko, plus the reserved flour/ cornstarch mixture. Butterfly each pork chop and pound between sheets of plastic wrap with a meat mallet to ¼-inch thick.

To coat, first dredge each piece of pork on both sides in seasoned flour, shaking off any excess. Dip into the egg mixture to coat both sides, then dredge in the crumb mixture, pressing gently to coat both sides evenly. Transfer the pork to a clean plate and repeat the process with the remaining pork. Allow the pork to rest for 20 minutes to give the breading time to adhere to the meat. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet heat the oil to 350 degrees F. Fry the breaded pork until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. The pork is cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. Transfer to paper towellined plate. In a skillet, toast the buns over medium-high heat. Serve the pork loin on buns with condiments of choice.

Nutrition per serving: 791 Calories, 26g Total Fat, 188mg Cholesterol, 1,788mg Sodium, 86g Carbohydrate, 3g Fiber, 51g Protein Servings: 4 Source: Cristen Clark

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A U B U R N FA M I LY BLENDS COFFEE BUSINESS W I T H FA R M I N G

By Darcy Dougherty Maulsby | Photos by Joseph L. Murphy

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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I

f you’re one of those people whose motto is “life begins after coffee,” you know not all coffee is created equal. Everything that happens before the pour – from the bean selection to the roast, can affect the taste and quality of a cup of joe. None of that used to matter to Ellen Frank, though. “I was never a coffee drinker, until I got my hands on really good coffee,” says Ellen, who owns Little Green Truck Coffee in Auburn and farms with her husband, Jeff, in Sac County. The revelation came through a cup of Guatemalan coffee at Mill City Roasters in Minneapolis, in 2015. “It was packed with so many rich, nutty, wonderful flavors,” says Ellen, whose husband has long been a coffee aficionado. “I’ll never forget it.”

That cup inspired the Franks to purchase a coffee roaster, which they set up in their 1909 barn west of Auburn. What started as a hobby in 2015, with some sales at the Lake City farmers’ market, expanded into Little Green Truck Coffee, a coffee shop on the south edge of Auburn, population 309. The shop is open to the public during certain hours each week, plus it’s now the headquarters for the family’s coffee roasting enterprise. Ellen roasts coffee beans from 15 different countries. On any given day, the roaster might be filled with a mild Brazilian or Guatemalan; rich, lively Ethiopian or Kenyan; or even an earthy Sumatra, which is one of their best sellers. “I don’t like to roast the beans too dark,” she explains, noting that it takes about 15 minutes to roast a

4-pound batch. “The darker you go, the more sugar you burn off and the smokier the flavor becomes.” Ellen prefers to highlight the distinctive flavor of each coffee, rather than adding flavors to the coffee. She supplies her coffee products through her shop and to 17 coffee shops, gift shops and grocery stores in western and central Iowa, including Lenox, Lake City, Carroll, Sac City, Clarion, Norwalk and other communities. As she fine-tunes her roasting process, sometimes roasting 24 batches in a row, Ellen remains focused on continuous improvement. “I experiment by making small adjustments to the temperature and air flow,” she says. “I keep trying to make each batch better than the last one.”

Ellen and Jeff Frank own Little Green Truck Coffee in Auburn.

On any given day, Ellen roasts coffee beans from 15 different countries. 36

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Jeff Frank prepares for planting season.

Grounds for Continuous Improvement A focus on continuous improvement also drives the Frank family’s management of their Century Farm, which dates back to 1914. “I’ve been farming full time for more than 40 years, so I know this land,” says Jeff, a corn and soybean grower who serves as a

director with the Iowa Soybean Association. “I’m always ready to get back into the field after a long winter.” Preparations for a new growing season begin long before Jeff pulls the planter out of his machine shed in the spring. “We start planning for the next year’s crop before we harvest the current year’s crop,” Jeff says. He grows corn on 50% of his acres and soybeans on the other half.

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When springtime arrives, Jeff monitors soil temperatures and keeps a close eye on the weather forecast to determine the right time to plant.

Preparing for Planting Each season, farmers like the Franks prepare for planting by first planning. This includes: Selecting the proper seed genetics. Getting the new crop off to a good start means matching the right corn hybrids and soybean varieties to each acre. Some of the Franks’ land, for example, is susceptible to nematodes (microscopic organisms that can rob the crop’s yield potential). The Franks invest in seed treatments applied directly to the seed to help protect seedlings from nematodes and disease while enhancing the establishment of healthy crops. “Using crop protection products in the form of seed treatments also means we can limit our use of insecticides and other chemicals,” Jeff says.

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Developing a precision fertilizer strategy. Instead of blanketing each field with the same amount of fertilizer, Jeff uses variable rate fertilizer application to apply key nutrients only where they are needed, in the proper amounts. “We test the nutrient content of the soil to determine our strategy,” he says. Working with trusted professionals. Since 2013, Jeff has worked with SciMax Solutions, a division of West Bend-based MaxYield Cooperative, to write the prescriptions for his variablerate fertilizer applications. These prescriptions, which are based on soil tests from his fields and harvest data from his acres, tell the computerized systems on his farm equipment where to apply specific amounts of fertilizer. “Jeff is a progressive grower who knows you can’t manage what you can’t measure,” says Peter Bixel, SciMax

Solutions’ team leader. “He’s always open to learning and trying something new to see if he can maximize his yields while being a good steward of the land.” Learning from other growers. Meeting with other growers is another important step, Jeff says. “It’s important to surround yourself with other ag professionals who are looking for ways to improve.”

It’s Grow Time When springtime arrives, Jeff monitors soil temperatures and keeps a close eye on the weather forecast to determine the right time to plant. Corn, for example, will germinate when the soil temperature reaches 50 degrees or higher. “Farming is like planting a garden,” he says. “You don’t want tender plants out there when it’s too cold.”


coffee beans, attention

FEEL GOOD A BO U T YO U R C H O IC E .

to detail makes the

Coffee is a low-calorie

difference between

beverage that can also

success and sub-par

offer health benefits.

results. Want to enjoy

Studies have shown

the best cup of coffee

that coffee may

available? Ellen Frank, a

help protect against

Sac County farmer and

Parkinson’s disease,

owner of Little Green

Type 2 diabetes and liver

Truck Coffee in Auburn,

disease, including liver

offers these tips:

cancer, according to

Whether you’re raising soybeans or roasting

Gardening analogies help the Franks explain their farming practices to nonfarmers. In August 2019, the couple welcomed the Iowa Food & Family Project’s Expedition Farm Country to their farm. This two-day event invites 50 participants to tour farms, meet farm families and have honest conversations about modern agriculture. Guests also had the chance to get an up-close look at the farm equipment the Franks use to plant and harvest their crops. “It’s always good to talk to consumers who want to learn more about agriculture,” Jeff says. “Farmers have a great story to share.” When sharing with consumers, Ellen, who grew up on a farm near Lake View, often explains how she helps run the combine during harvest. “The thrill of grain harvest is very different from what I do the rest of the year,” she says. “I love being out under the big, beautiful, Iowa sky.”

G E T TO K NOW A CO F F E E R OASTE R . A skilled roaster can share a lot of coffee knowledge, she says. “Cupping coffee

the Mayo Clinic. Coffee also appears to improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of depression.

different wines. There are

SAVO R TH E E X PE R IE NC E .

a variety of wonderful

Ellen recommends

flavors to enjoy.”

drinking coffee from

is very much like trying

BE WA R E O F BITTE R . “No coffee should have a bitter taste,” Ellen says. “If that happens, the coffee was either made from poor-quality beans, the beans were roasted improperly or the beans were too finely ground.”

a stoneware mug, not a paper cup. Skip the travel mug, too, if possible, she says. “I encourage people to take the time to relax and really enjoy their cup of coffee. It’s a whole sensory experience and truly can help keep you grounded.”

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Soybeans HIT A HOME RUN

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T H E I O WA C U B S B O A ST A N I M P R E S S I V E L I N E U P O F A L L - STA R S OY P R O D U C T S

By Ann Thelen

T

he crack of a bat hitting a fastball. The irresistible salty aroma of fresh popcorn, warm peanuts and iconic hot dogs. The commanding voice proclaiming, “Strike, you’re out!”

|

Photos by Joseph L. Murphy

surprising duo of farm fields and baseball fields have teamed up to bring home a win.

While the start of baseball season may be delayed, few things beat sitting in a ballpark, watching the hometown team play on a warm, sunny day.

“It’s easy to underestimate the impact of soy-based products until you start looking for them. But once you do, it’s amazing,” says Clayton Grandquist, ticket manager for the Iowa Cubs. “It’s a testament to how much our day-today lives rely on Iowa’s farmers.”

The Iowa Cubs unite fans of all ages to savor the sweet thrills of stolen bases and no-hitters and fastballs. From the top rows of Principal Park to the dugout to the outfield wall, the team has a big-league advantage at the ballpark – soybean farmers. This

SOY’S IN THE LINEUP One of the most direct ways fans experience soy products is at the concession stands. From April to September each year, the 11,500seat stadium fills with baseball enthusiasts, students, businesses

and families. They’re not only hungry for a home team win – they’re hungry for traditional game-day concessions. And soybean farmers have a hand in the tasty foods fans crave. High oleic soybean oil is used for frying favorites, such as pork tenderloins, French fries, chicken tenders, funnel cakes and more. “When fans come to the ballpark, they often are looking for a special food treat – something they don’t have every day that is part of the game-day experience,” Grandquist says. “It’s not every day people are eating funnel cakes. But when the kids order a plate, we want it to be done well.”

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HIGH OLEIC SOYBEAN OIL IS USED FOR FRYING FAVORITES, SUCH AS PORK TENDERLOINS, FRENCH FRIES, CHICKEN TENDERS, FUNNEL CAKES AND MORE.

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Grown exclusively in the U.S., high oleic soybean oil checks all the boxes for being more efficient and less expensive than other oils. Plus, with its neutral flavor it has become a go-to oil at the ballpark. “High oleic soybean oil is one of the latest innovations from the U.S. soybean industry, which invests in research to develop soybean varieties with improved characteristics,” explains April Hemmes, a soybean and corn farmer from Hampton. She is also a director for the Iowa Soybean Association and the United Soybean Board (USB). “Finding new uses for soybean products is a win-win for consumers and Iowa’s farmers who rely on strong markets for the beans they grow.” Linda Funk, executive director of

The Soyfoods Council, also has high praise for the investment of soybean checkoff dollars to develop high oleic oil. At the top of the list of benefits is its hearthealthy profile. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of a qualified health claim for oils high in oleic acid, including high oleic soybean oil, and their relationship to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease when replacing oils higher in saturated fats. “Compared to many conventional vegetable oils, high oleic soybean oil contains lower saturated fat and three times the amount of beneficial monounsaturated fatty acids, which benefit heart health when consumed in moderation,” Funk says.


While the Iowa Cubs play 70 home games per season, fans can enjoy the benefits of high oleic soybean oil year-round at the Cub Club. The on-site restaurant is open daily and features a grand slam of delicious farm-raised proteins on its menu, including eggs, beef, pork, turkey and dairy. SOY TOUCHES ALL THE BASES When sitting in the stands, fans have a panoramic view of soy-based products. From the seats ­— which use soy-based plastics and adhesives ­­— to the outfield wall, soy is everywhere. Soy-based adhesives are waterbased systems formulated with natural soy flour and a proprietary crosslinking resin. Even the outfield wall, which is laminated plywood, is soy-based. Thanks to an investment by USB and a partnership with Columbia Forest Products, the outfield’s PureBond® Hardwood Plywood is a sustainable and unique decorative plywood paneling made with soybeans. U.S. soy is

now inside 100 million panels of PureBond, which benefits thousands of customers, woodworking employees and U.S. soybean farmers.

Plywood

The padding behind home plate and on the outfield wall, which is essential for keeping players safe during game play, also contains soy-based materials.

is a sustainable, formaldehyde-

“Most of our outside painted elements, such as the foul poles and the markings along the top of the wall are painted with an oil-based paint with a soy component,” Grandquist says. “These paints are long-lasting and are known for dependability and withstanding the elements.” He adds, “Even the things we use day-to-day, such as the office carpets, have soy incorporated, one way or another. It’s an important ingredient at our ballpark.”

PureBond® Hardwood Plywood

free decorative plywood paneling made with soybeans. An estimated 100 million panels of PureBond are in use today.

Frying Oil High oleic soybean oil offers among the longest fry life of any edible oil, features an improved fat profile and provides a neutral flavor allowing the food to be the star of the show.

From the ball field to the farm field, soybeans and baseball are clearing all the bases, game after game!

Root for the home team! Visit

iowafoodandfamily.com/

Paint Many paint manufacturers,

magazine/icubs for a four pack of

such as Sherwin-Williams and Rust-

tickets and a $50 team shop gift card.

Oleum, are using soy oil to replace hazardous petroleum products that can be found in conventional paint.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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aisle insights

G R O W TOG E T H E R P L A N T A G A R D E N T H I S S P R I N G A N D H A R V E ST T H E M A N Y B E N E F I TS I T Y I E L D S By Aaron Putze, APR

G

ardening was a major interruption growing up on our family farm near West Bend.

Aaron Putze, APR, serves as Sr. Dir., Information and Education for the Iowa Soybean Association. He was raised on a farm near West Bend and lives in Waukee with his wife Crystal and children Garrett, Grant and Jaelyn.

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| FRESH PICKINGS MAGAZINE

Despite our best intentions, tending to the garden was a chore that always got squeezed in-between the more important tasks of life on a farm – the ones that truly paid the rent, like growing soybeans, corn, oats and hay and raising pigs and cattle. Those tasks were the headliners, followed by yardwork and housework. Then came the garden. Make no mistake, its low ranking on the chores-that-needdoing depth chart in no way minimized its importance. That was obvious from the land area our gardens consumed. That’s right. Like most farms in our neck of the woods, we had two. The first was directly behind the farmhouse, with adequate land area to produce enough vegetables to make a Ruby Tuesday buffet jealous. The second was on the south edge of

the building site. It offered melons, squash, pumpkins and sweet corn ample room to stretch their arms and legs. Planting, weeding, spraying, picking, occasionally watering the garden and keeping rodents at bay were typically done at the crack of dawn, after supper or on Sundays – which, come to think of it, was supposed to be a day of rest! Thinking back, perhaps my apathy for gardening was because it was a chore that needed done when my siblings and I were most tired, or just wanted to go fishing or host a neighborhood softball game. Fast forward roughly 35 years. Today, gardening is something I absolutely treasure. I invest in seed, fertilizer, pavers, topsoil, compost, fencing, water and trellises – plus a good chunk of time – to grow tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, potatoes, lettuce, beets and sweet corn. No longer on the farm, space limitations require maximizing every square inch of soil.


And as often as possible, I involve my children. That’s easier said than done given their many activities and my selfish impulse to use the garden as a physical and mental escape. Yet, whenever they lend a hand, I’m reminded how incredibly rewarding it is to get dirt under our fingernails. Gardening tasks are numerous and varied: cutting seed potatoes into thirds for planting, watering planters, digging shallow trenches and delicately depositing seeds, and positioning cages and trellises so plants can climb. Despite our best intentions, gardening doesn’t always go according to plan. In fact, growing things can be downright exasperating. Bugs are relentless. Mold and disease can overpower. Heavy rains, wind and hail do damage. Weeds always demand the right of way. And rabbits, squirrels, striped gophers and June beetles demand their share. Welcome to gardening, which, come to think of it, is a lot like life as a farmer just on a smaller scale. And that’s why gardening is so worthwhile, especially for our children.

Most children will never experience farm life. But gardening is a close second when conveying important life lessons. Growing and harvesting food takes commitment, patience, problem-solving, communications and work ethic. It assigns value to time and effort. It provides a stark reality check that food indeed comes from soil and toil (not the refrigerator, drive-thru window or grocery store). And it teaches us to be caretakers of all living things, that we’re never really in charge and that farmers deserve our eternal respect and gratitude. More than that, gardening is a reminder that rewards accompany tasks worth doing. Throughout the year, we savor the fruits (and vegetables!) of our labor when gathered around the kitchen table. There’s nothing like a fresh garden salad, savory sweet corn, cooked beets, steamed green beans or cucumber relish during the summer. Or, when fall and winter arrive, homemade chili is extra

special because it includes the tomatoes we harvested and stored before the first freeze arrived. I’m convinced the world would be a much better place if more families gardened. If that sounds overly simplistic and naïve, don’t take my word for it. Grab a shovel and seed and get growing this spring. Then, in no time flat, be prepared to harvest the bountiful benefits and blessings – not to mention great food – it offers all year long!

Get growing this spring with the help of your neighborhood Earl May Nursery & Garden Center! Visit iowafoodandfamily.com/

magazine/garden to win a $50 Earl May gift card.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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