Fresh Pickings Magazine | Fall 2021

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FALL 2021

VISIT IOWA’S OLDEST CITY

GATHER AND SAVOR THE SEASON

HARVESTING RENEWABLE ENERGY


Nicely done, beef. You provide the benefits of a protein bar. Without tasting like one.

Nothing packs a protein punch like a slice of prime perfection. Browse recipes, cuts and cooking tips for this protein like no other at BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.


Welcome IN THE FALL 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 BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE IOWA FOOD & FAMILY PROJECT. WE ARE AN INITIATIVE THAT INVITES 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 NET WORK 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 5.


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Features

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SIGNS OF THE TIMES Painted ads on

HARVESTING RENEWABLE ENERGY

THE TAILGATING TRADITION

DUBUQUE: WHERE IOWA STARTED

buildings, known

Wind, solar and

Whether at a farm

Rich history,

now as ghost

cash crops provide

field or football field,

stunning views and

signs, reflect

farmers with

delicious food is the

culinary excellence

artistry from a

sustainable solutions

center of tailgating

charm visitors to the

bygone era.

for renewable energy.

traditions.

state’s oldest city.

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In Every Issue

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EDITOR’S NOTE: SIMPLE BUT MEANINGFUL

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FAMILY TABLE: ITALIAN SAUSAGE PIZZA BITES

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GARDEN TIPS: FEED, PLANT AND MULCH

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POINT OF INTEREST: FISHBACK & STEPHENSON CIDER HOUSE

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FRESH PICKED: IMPORTANCE OF AGRICULTURE EDUCATION

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BUILDING A BET TER BEAN A partnership

IOWA’S HOMEGROWN FUELS

is helping Iowa

Take to the roads

farmers grow the

this time of year,

best soybeans

and you’ll see fields

possible for

and skies of home-

innovative uses.

grown energy.

ON THE COVER: Sara and Jared Preston along with their kids Nora and Maggie are farmers near Swea City.

FALL 2021

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ISSUE NO. 11

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CORN GROWS OUR FOOD, OUR FAMILIES & OUR STATE.


BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE IOWA FOOD & FAMILY PROJECT

FRESH PICKINGS MAGAZINE EDITOR LYDIA ZERBY PHOTOGRAPHER JOCLYN BUSHMAN DESIGNER 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.

SARA PRESTON CommonGround 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 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 Growers Association, Iowa Egg Council, Iowa

Fresh Pickings is published four times a year by: Iowa Soybean Association, 1255 SW Prairie Trail Parkway, Ankeny, Iowa 50023 For advertising information, complete the form at iowafoodandfamily.com/magazine/feedback.

Healthy Iowa and Earl May for the financial

Advertising space reservations must be made through the above form. 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 Cooperative, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, Live

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Challenging all Iowans to improve their well-being through purposeful engagement.

LiveHealthyIowa.org info@livehealthyiowa.org 888.777.8881 10 Wellness | FRESH PICKINGS Challenge MAGAZINE • Live Healthy Iowa 5K • Strut Your Pup Challenge • Burst Your Thirst Challenge 6 Week The Next Step Challenge • Go the Distance May • LHI Kids Track Championships • Fall Fitness Day


editor’s note

Simple but Meaningful One of my favorite parts of being a mother is seeing new experiences through my children’s eyes. A couple of years ago, we invited our extended family to go trick-or-treating. What started as a simple experience for my two kids and nephew turned into one of the nights my 5-year-old daughter is most looking forward to this fall. Connecting with neighbors in our community and teaching the kids to say, “Thank you!” along with reminding them to just take one piece of candy, was more fun than any of us could’ve imagined.

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raditions are inherited, established or customary patterns of thoughts, actions or behaviors. These cherished beliefs and experiences passed down from generation to generation connect us to those who came before us. Each family has its own traditions, from family vacations to attending a football game. Traditions don’t have to be elaborate to be special. When I was young, our family had the tradition of trekking to the local Christmas tree farm, picking out the perfect tree and watching my dad cut it down with a handsaw. Feelings of anticipation began just after Thanksgiving as I knew we would soon be making this annual trip. The tree farm also was home to several reindeer you could feed snacks to, which was the cherry on top for this trip each year. As I look back on traditions our family and friends celebrate, experiences and food are often key components. Sharing an experience or a meal creates connection, conversation and laughter.

As I think of traditions Iowa farmers experience during this time of year, I think of harvest, tractor meals and long hours of fieldwork to reap the rewards of their hard work. The tenacity Iowa farmers are known for is evident in their dedication to growing and raising healthy and nutritious food. As we gather around dinner tables this season, we can all be proud of the contributions Iowa farmers make to not only the U.S. but around the world. When you get together with family and friends this holiday season, consider what new traditions you could begin. It’s never too late to start, and they can be simple. Maybe it’s painting pumpkins with the grandkids, taking a trip to a local apple orchard and then turning those juicy fruits into a pie or sending holiday cards to friends and family. You never know, what starts as “just” a simple experience could become a cherished ritual year after year. Enjoy the isue,

Submit a letter to the editor! Share how a story in Fresh Pickings magazine has inspired you to act, explore or try something new. If your letter is published, you’ll receive a $25 Hy-Vee gift card. iowafoodandfamily.com/magazine/letters

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family table

Fall Back into Comfort Foods C R E AT I V I T Y W I N S T H E D AY F O R TA I L G AT E S AND FARM MEALS By Cristen Clark

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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.

utumn is the perfect time to fall back into the comfort food routine. I adore slow-cooked suppers on a crisp evening, but to be completely honest, those idyllic nights are few and far between. Harvest hits quickly after my kids head back to school and doesn’t let up until my dad’s birthday in November.

meatballs with different flavor combinations, anything pop-able and fruity sherbet punches that are meant for the kids but always get my vote.

Fall months call for satisfying recipes that can be easily reheated and served on-the-go. Harvest meals aren’t just deli sandwiches, hamburgers or hot dogs. Across Iowa, farm families serve up creative wraps, portable stews and bite-sized pop-able creations during the much-anticipated corn and soybean harvest. After weeks spent eating lunch and supper on the run in a tractor, I love it when there’s a new and exciting recipe waiting in my lunchbox or cooler.

To change this recipe a bit, replace the Italian sausage with a combination of pizza-style meats like pepperoni or Canadian bacon. To make a breakfast-style bite, swap Italian sausage with regular breakfast sausage or diced ham, omit the Italian seasoning and mix in pepper jack or cheddar cheese instead of mozzarella to wake up your taste buds in the morning.

If a recipe can pull double duty on a tailgating spread, you can bet I’m doubling the batch. Weekend football games keep us entertained in the fall. When harvest is over, or if we get rained out from a day of work, and there is a college football game to watch on television, we love to put out a big spread. The centerpiece of these get-togethers is the food. I enjoy a good football game, but I also love trying different foods at a tailgate or watch party. Some of my favorite tailgate buffet dishes are warmed or chilled dips,

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When it comes to flavor-packed popability, Italian Sausage Pizza Bites fit the bill. Plus, they are customizable and can accommodate an array of flavors.

This recipe freezes well, and there are a couple of different ways to do it. To freeze the unbaked bites, prepare the recipe up until the bake. Scoop balls of dough onto an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, the dull side of foil facing up. Freeze dough balls until completely frozen. Remove from freezer and place frozen dough balls into a zip-close freezer bag. To keep freezer burn to a minimum, press as much air out of the bag as possible before freezing. The baked bites can also be frozen the same way. Frozen baked bites can be reheated in the microwave for 2 minutes. For frozen unbaked dough balls, add 20 minutes to the total baking time.


Italian Sausage Pizza Bites • 1 pound Italian sausage (pork, beef or turkey)

• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

• 1/2 cup sweet yellow onion, chopped f inely

• 1/2 cup pepperoni pieces, chopped

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• Marinara sauce or basil pesto for dipping

• 1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder • 2 teaspoons pizza seasoning or Italian seasoning • 3 large eggs, beaten • 2 cups shredded mozzarella or shredded provolone cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add sausage and cook for 5 minutes or until halfway browned. Add onion and continue cooking until browned, drain if needed. Return to heat, add garlic and bell pepper. Cook 1 additional minute.

Photo courtesy of Kelsey Byrnes, Dance Around the Kitchen.

To a large mixing bowl, add sausage mixture, cream cheese, flour, baking powder, pizza seasoning and eggs. Stir until combined. Fold in mozzarella, Parmesan and pepperoni. Chill dough for 30 minutes to an hour. Scoop dough balls with a regular-sized cookie scoop onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 18-20 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm with marinara sauce or basil pesto. Makes 3 dozen bites.

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Always Be Growing In every season, stay connected with tips and inspirational projects f rom your local Earl May Garden Center at earlmay.com.


garden tips

It’s Time to Feed, Plant and Mulch Follow these tips to prepare your landscape for winter weather By Ann Thelen

As the temperatures start to dip in Iowa, it’s the perfect time to get your lawn and landscape ready for nature’s winter slumber. The experts at Earl May Nursery & Garden Center offer these f ive tips to beautify your property while protecting trees, shrubs and turf f rom winter’s harsh elements.

Plant Now for WarmWeather Beauty. Fall

refers to the injury of living

winter burn. Mulch plants at a

cells inside the tree’s outer

two- to three-inch depth.

is the ideal time to plant

bark and usually results in

trees, shrubs and perennials.

discoloration and cracking of

Planting now is easier on

the bark. Sunscald will typically

the plants as they set roots

happen in late winter on the

in the fall. They will be more

southwest side of the trunk and

established by next spring and

is caused by the fluctuations

summer and will be easier to

in day-to-night temperatures.

maintain through Iowa’s hot

Tree wrap can reduce these

summer. Protect trees and

temperature fluctuations.

shrubs f rom deer and rabbits

Red Maples are especially

by using fencing or animal

vulnerable to sunscald.

repellents.

Wrap Young Trees. All young trees without

Add More Mulch. If mulch around your landscape has settled or

Feed the Turf. Apply lawn food at about the time of your last mowing. The winterizing process is essential as the turf is storing foods for next year. Turf experts say this is the most important time to fertilize a lawn.

Protect Against Harsh Elements. Once temperatures drop below f reezing, avoid walking

washed away during the year,

or driving on f rozen lawns to

wrapped during the winter

reapply it in the fall. Mulch

prevent damage to the turf.

months. True bark is the

acts as insulation, protecting

Avoid using ice melt high in

traditional corky-looking bark.

plants f rom f rost heave and

sodium chloride (salt). This

Young trees lack this natural

extreme temperatures. It also

can cause damage to lawns

protection and are susceptible

helps evergreens conserve soil

and plantings where snow and

to injury f rom animals and

moisture as extended periods

ice are allowed to pile or f rom

especially sunscald. Sunscald

of f rozen soil will lead to severe

melting runoff.

“true” bark should be

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point of interest

GOLDEN HOUR S I P, G A T H E R A N D S AV O R T H E S E A S O N AT F I S H B A C K & S T E P H E N S O N C I D E R H O U S E By Haley Banwart

Signature hand-formed patties are made with locally raised beef.

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Clint Stephenson, Hopi James (pictured), Cole Fishback and Annalisa Thompson opened their award-winning cidery and burger restaurant in 2014.

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risp air. Clear skies. Bursts of brilliant foliage. Fall reminds us that with each season of change, opportunity follows. That’s the mentality Fishback & Stephenson Cider House friends and co-founders – Clint Stephenson, Hopi James, Cole Fishback and Annalisa Thompson – have embraced since opening their award-winning cidery and burger restaurant in 2014. Today, the stunning timber-framed taproom sits on a hill overlooking 33 acres of rolling land outside of Fairfield. The eatery was first established in town after the coowners completely gutted and renovated a former barbershop to turn their vision of a pub-styled restaurant into a reality.

Started with Cider Inspiration for the cider house stemmed from a love of hard cider and a passion for bringing people together through shared culinary experiences. “Our partner Clint started an orchard in remembrance of a friend who played an influential role in his upbringing and used it as a community space for others to plant memorial trees,” explains Fishback & Stephenson Co-Founder Hopi James. “The four of us spent a summer traveling in Europe, and our interest in hard cider grew to the point where we began experimenting with making our own.” To start, the friends handpicked apples from the area and used an

old-fashioned, hand-crank press to brew small batches in Clint’s kitchen. As they perfected the craft, the homemade spirits became popular among friends at gatherings and dinner parties – so much so – the foursome decided to open a burger shack featuring their locally crafted cider.

A Unique Partnership While the hard cider initially took center stage, it wasn’t the only must-have on the menu. Before the grand opening, the co-founders had also developed a unique partnership with Tony Adrian, a local farmer, to serve mouthwatering, high-quality hamburgers.

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The timber-f ramed taproom opened in 2018.

“Clint and I grew up together and have been friends since elementary school,” Adrian says. “We kept in touch through the years, and when he moved back to town and later opened the Cidery with Hopi, Cole and Annalisa, he approached me with the idea to buy and serve beef sourced from our family farm.” “At first, I was skeptical of how we would make the arrangement work, but I knew it would be a good thing to do for the community, and I wanted to help a buddy out.” Clint and Tony decided to grind cuts from the whole cow to create a tasty, premium product. The pair also found a creative way to reuse a by-product from the cider production.

The full-scale cidery is near Fairf ield.

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“I had heard of Wisconsin producers feeding cranberry mash to their cattle,” Adrian explains. “So I analyzed the content of the cider residue for protein and energy values and determined I could feed it as a ration to my cows and calves.”

“It’s been pretty humbling to be part of something that brings the community together and see it all come full circle.”

Award-Winners Within a year of opening, the Cider House took top honors in the state when their signature hand-formed patties made with locally raised beef were named Iowa’s Best Burger in 2015. As the business grew, the dynamic team expanded the restaurant’s seating and temporarily put cidermaking on hold as they juggled roles as waiters and waitresses, cooks and bartenders, and managers and marketers. The ultimate goal, however, was to construct a full-scale cidery on a scenic plot located just outside of Fairfield. As Clint, Hopi, Cole and Annalisa's hard cider began to gain recognition among distributors, the friends decided to close the restaurant and build their dream taproom.


Designed with a tasting room and event facilities, the timber-framed taproom was completed in the summer of 2018. The timber was logged from Livingston Timber in Jefferson County and milled in the cidery’s parking lot. The focus on pressing, fermenting, aging and packaging hard cider from the American Midwest paid off. Fishback & Stephenson won Iowa Producer of the Year in 2020 and 2021 in the New York International Cider Competition, taking home awards for their Iowa Strangler Aronia berry cider, pink watermeloninspired First Crush, and green apple original, Coyote Verde.

Embracing Change Although the cider makers never intended to reopen their restaurant, COVID-19 disrupted their plans when it caused an aluminum

shortage and halted Fishback & Stephenson’s canning production. “We started selling cider growlers to-go and pivoted back to a full-time restaurant,” shares James. “Luckily, we kept the original Cider House menu and learned to make do with a kitchen that wasn’t originally outfitted for full food service.” Today, Fishback & Stephenson continues to sell their famous burgers and a curated menu of farm-to-table fare along with a wide selection of ciders, cider cocktails and Iowa craft beers. It’s an atmosphere James describes as both classy and casual – a gathering place where guests can feel just as at home in their heels as their Carhartt’s – making it the perfect destination to sit back, relax and soak in the golden autumn glow.

T H E AT M O S P H E R E I S B O T H C L A S S Y A N D C A S U A L W H E R E G U E S T S C A N F E E L J U S T A S AT H O M E I N T H E I R HEELS AS THEIR CARHART T’S.

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Signs A faded International Harvester Co. Farm Equipment sign in downtown Council Bluffs symbolizes the building’s legacy.

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of the Times G H O S T S I G N S H I N T AT I O WA H I S TO RY Photos and article by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby

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Nancy Bennett (left) and Lorena and Ross Blount discuss the larger-than-life ghost sign in Allerton.

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llerton is one of those places you don’t end up in by accident, but don’t underestimate the importance of this Wayne County community. Located in south-central Iowa, about 10 miles north of the Missouri border, this small town (population 500) has played a significant role in the revival of an art form that had faded away decades ago. The first clue of this legacy is a large, painted Coca-Cola advertisement on the south side of the Old Time Soda Fountain at the corner of Central Avenue and Maple Street. It’s flanked by another painted sign that reads “Dedicated to the People of Allerton and the Iowa Letterheads.” “I started noticing ads like the CocaCola sign when I was hired to paint over the old advertising and put a different company’s ad over the old one,” says Nancy Bennett of Centerville, a former Allerton resident and artist who worked on the Coca-Cola ad and Letterhead sign nearly 30 years ago.

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Bennett was a member of the Letterheads, which formed in the 1970s to preserve sign design principles and techniques that were no longer being taught or valued by modern sign shops. These techniques, including brush lettering and pictorial work, were common in the the late 1900s into the early 20th century, when brick walls in downtown business districts provided a ready canvas for painted advertisements.

Artistry Endures the Test of Time While many of these painted ads have completely vanished, thanks to weather or bulldozers, some of these “ghost signs” endure in towns and cities across Iowa and beyond. Hidden in plain sight, these ghost signs reflect artistry from a bygone era. “I remember hearing people talk about the old-time sign painters who traveled from town to town to put

advertising on walls,” Bennett says. Dubbed “Walldogs,” those hardworking sign painters were a rugged, resourceful lot. Bennett understands determination and resourcefulness. While she and her husband Danny farmed in the Allerton area early in their marriage, they needed options – and additional income – to survive the 1980s Farm Crisis. They drove to Ankeny two nights each week throughout 1982 and 1983 to Des Moines Area Community College. Bennett, who had enjoyed art classes in high school, took lettering classes, while Danny studied business. “Lettering focuses on the things that make letters beautiful,” says Bennett, who leveraged her new skills by running a T-shirt shop and painting signs. “Then, you take things a step further and embellish letters with drop shadows and other artistic details.”


The Council Bluffs Grape Growers Association, which became the f irst large-scale co-op of its kind, formed in 1893.

This sign was discovered when the adjacent building was taken down in Ackley.

This artistry can be applied in many forms, from small projects to wall murals. In the summer of 1993, Bennett and other community leaders organized a gathering of 75 sign painters from across the country to restore Allerton’s vintage Coca-Cola sign and add other murals and artistic touches around town. They became known as the modern-day “Walldogs.” “Nancy and the Walldogs offered Allerton a gift that really lifted this town,” says Ross Blount, who volunteers with his wife Lorena at the Old Time Soda Fountain, which serves malts, shakes and more on Saturday evenings in the summer. “They helped build social capital.”

Preserving the Writing on the Wall Ghost signs reveal compelling insights into Iowa’s economic and social development. Consider the historic Harvester buildings near downtown Council Bluffs. These two large,

This ghost sign in downtown West Bend promoted work clothes.

brick buildings, which housed farm equipment more than a century ago, have been transformed into artist lofts and are key components of a new arts and culture center. “We love that these buildings are still here after all this time and are glad we could help repurpose them,” says Chris Jensen, a designer with Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture in Omaha. The four-story Harvester Artist Lofts property houses 36 units in a repurposed warehouse built in 1888. Ghost signs are visible on the corner of the building at 10th Avenue and South Main Street, where “Binders,” “Mowers,” “Buggies” and “Farm Implements” were painted in white, with the words arranged vertically from the first floor to the third floor. “Old photographs show painted signage on this building by 1898,” Jensen says. Faded, white block letters promoting the International Harvester Company also span the width of the four-story

building next to the Harvester Artist Lofts. “Around 1915, International Harvester owned this entire campus,” Jensen says. “A lot of the farm equipment that International Harvester made in Chicago was shipped to this transfer house in Council Bluffs, where it was distributed to implement dealers around Iowa and other states.” In recent years, the International Harvester building (known as Harvester II) became part of a new $22 million arts and culture center. Pottawattamie Arts, Culture and Entertainment oversaw the construction of this facility. “I’m a fan of historic preservation, and there’s nothing more sustainable than repurposing an old building,” says Todd Moeller, a partner with Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture. “I used to think maybe we should repaint the ghost signs, but I like to leave them intact. So much of the history of the building and the community is in that paint.” IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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H A RV E ST I N G R E N E WA B L E E N E R G Y: HOW SOLAR, WIND AND SOYBEANS POWER IOWA By Darcy Dougherty Maulsby

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t’s amazing how often the wind blows at Jason Russell’s farm, which is located on a high ridge near Monticello.

Instead of viewing the wind as a nuisance, Russell decided to harness this power in 2011 with a 50-kilowatt wind turbine located at one of his hog barns.

“The turbine produces about two-thirds to three-fourths of our farm’s electric power,” says Russell, who has received the American Soybean Association’s Conservation Legacy award for his dedication to environmental stewardship. “This renewable energy worked so well that we installed solar panels at our other hog barn in 2014. The solar energy complements the wind power, because there’s plenty of solar power in the summer when the wind doesn’t blow as much.”

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CAN BIODIESEL MAKE SENSE FOR YOU? Many people rely on at least one diesel engine in their business or home, whether they have a diesel pickup truck or a generator. Did you know you have more options than ever when it comes to buying soy-based biodiesel? Many petroleum retailers now make biodiesel available at local filling stations. Biodiesel blends of 20% and below work in any diesel engine, without the need for modifications, according to the National Biodiesel Board. If the blend has been properly treated by the petroleum company, it will work year-round, even in cold climates. B20 also provides similar horsepower, torque and mileage as diesel.

Jason Russell is a sixth-generation farmer harnessing the power of renewable energy.

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This renewable energy helps power Russell Brothers, LLC hog operation, which includes two, 7,200-head, wean-to-finish barns where young pigs grow to market weight. “Our hog barn consumes about 200,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, compared to 14,000 kilowatt hours that an average home consumes in a year,” says Russell, a sixth-generation farmer who also raises cattle and grows corn, soybeans and chickpeas with his wife Sarah and their family in Linn County. “With wind and solar energy, I don’t have an electric bill most months on my farm.” Wind, solar and cash crops like soybeans (soybean oil is used to make biodiesel) can provide farmers with sustainable solutions for renewable energy. Iowa is

a national leader in renewable energy, notes Ray Gaesser, a corn and soybean farmer from Corning who chairs the Iowa Conservative Energy Forum. “Iowa’s early diversification of our energy portfolio has kept energy rates below the national average and provided new revenue for Iowa communities. Wind and sun are free resources that can help power our electric needs,” he says. Clean energy’s benefits extend beyond the farm, adds Gaesser, who wrote a guest editorial in the Cedar Rapids Gazette on this topic in the summer of 2021. “From construction jobs boosting local economies to property tax revenues for schools and infrastructure projects, renewable energy will help Linn County achieve its lofty environmental goals.”


I O WA I S T H E N O . 1 PRODUCER OF BIODIESEL IN AMERICA. Biodiesel Powers Trucking Industry

CAN BIODIESEL REDUCE MY CANCER RISK? Yes! Using pure biodiesel can reduce cancer risks by 94%, notes the U.S. Department of Energy in its report “Biodiesel – Clean, Green Diesel Fuel.” Using B20, a blend of 20% biodiesel, will reduce that risk by as much as 27%.

Biodiesel offers another form of renewable, homegrown energy that both farmers and nonfarmers across Iowa rely on. Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources, including soybean oil, biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning fuel that can be used in diesel-powered vehicles like trucks and tractors. “Iowa is the No. 1 producer of biodiesel in America,” says Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board and senior director of market development for the Iowa Soybean Association.

Iowa boasts 11 biodiesel plants that produce a total of 400 million gallons of biodiesel each year. Things weren’t always this way, though. The growth of Iowa’s biodiesel industry grew out of the challenging years of the 1980s Farm Crisis. “By the late 1980s, soybean production in the Midwest had grown a lot over the past few decades,” Kimberley says. “While the soybean meal went into livestock feed, there was so much soybean oil on the market that farmers were only getting pennies on the dollar for the oil.” IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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Grant Kimberley is executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board and farmer f rom Maxwell. (Photo courtesy of Joseph L. Murphy)

Entrepreneurs pointed out that the German inventor Rudolf Diesel had used peanut oil years before to power his diesel engine, which he invented in the 1890s. Why couldn’t another biobased material like soy oil be processed into fuel? By 1992, the group that would become the National Biodiesel Board had formed and began promoting soy oil as an option for making diesel fuel. By 1998, American biodiesel plants were producing roughly 500,000 gallons of soy biodiesel a year, Kimberley says. Within a few years, Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley helped pass

the first biodiesel tax credit at the federal level. In 2007, the updated Renewable Fuel Standard (known as RFS2) carved out a place for 1 billion gallons of biodiesel a year in an effort to move the U.S. toward greater energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “The RFS is still in effect,” Kimberley says. “Today, nearly 3 billion gallons of biodiesel are produced in America per year. More than 50% of that fuel is still made from soy oil.” Roughly one-third of all the soybean oil produced in America goes into biomassbased diesel fuel. “There are many benefits of soy-based

DOES BIODIESEL REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS? Yes! Each year, soybeans that produce oils used for making biodiesel draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as the crop builds plant stems, leaves, seeds (which contain the oil) and roots. In addition, clean-burning biodiesel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 56% to 86%, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

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biodiesel,” Kimberley says. Compared to regular diesel, soy biodiesel burns cleaner, which reduces particulate matter in the air. Studies have shown this can reduce people’s risk of cancer by reducing air toxins and cancercausing compounds. The trucking industry has become one of the biggest users of soy biodiesel in Iowa. “Approximately 61.5% of soybased diesel with a blend of 11% soy biodiesel or higher is used by the over-the-road trucking industry,” Kimberley says. Off-road markets, from farms to construction companies, also provide another key market for soy biodiesel. In addition, the CyRide bus service in Ames

and the Iowa Department of Transportation also use soy biodiesel. “Iowa has a good track record of producing high-quality biodiesel that serves a wide range of customers,” Kimberley says.

DOES

Renewable energy in all its forms, from biodiesel to wind to solar, is an investment in Iowa’s future, Gaesser adds. “It makes us energy-independent, saves Iowans money and creates opportunities for generations to come.”

Yes! Compared to

Russell says federal and state incentives helped lower his risk of investing in wind and solar energy, which are paying off for his farm. “Renewable energy is one more step that keeps our family focused on the future.”

according to the U.S.

BIODIESEL CUT AIR POLLUTION? petroleum diesel, soybased biodiesel reduces nearly all forms of air pollution. In fact, biodiesel produces 78% less carbon dioxide than diesel fuel,

Department of Energy.

WHERE CAN I FIND MORE I N FO R M AT I O N

R E N E WA B L E E N E R G Y IN ALL FORMS IS AN INVESTMENT IN I O WA’ S F U T U R E .

ABOUT BIODIESEL IN IOWA? Visit www.iowabiodiesel.org for the latest biodiesel news and helpful links.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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Caeden, Olivia and Cooper Bakker.

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THE

Tailgating TRADITION

W H E T H E R AT A FA R M F I E L D O R F O OT B A L L F I E L D , F O O D BRINGS FAMILIES AND FRIENDS TOGETHER By Ann Thelen

W

hen combines roll through fields across Iowa, the tailgates of farm trucks turn into tables and chairs for family mealtime. Dinners prepared and transported in casserole dishes or slow cookers signal a brief pause in the day’s harvest to warm up with a favorite home-cooked dish. Families bring the spread to the farmer and relish in what could be described as the original form of tailgating. Mom and dad catch up with the kids’ daily activities while the sun sets on another day of reaping the season’s hard-earned reward.

On weekends off the farm, friends and families gather to tailgate and support the hometown team or alma mater by serving up new recipes, playing games and ribbing each other about who has the best tailgating spread. Laughter echoes across parking lots while the smell of eggs and bacon, smoked pork ribs and juicy burgers wafts through the crisp outdoor air. Whether at a farm field or football field, tailgating takes on many forms during Iowa’s fall season. With food as the centerpiece, the fellowship and camaraderie extend into the winter season for

bowl games and championships and repeat when planters signal spring has arrived for Iowa’s farmers. It’s a tradition that stretches across generations and creates memories for a lifetime.

Balancing Harvest with Family and Football The fall season is the busiest time of year for Jarrod and Shari Bakker, fourth-generation farmers who live near Dike. Beyond growing corn and soybeans and finishing pigs, the couple owns and operates Bakker Brothers Genetics along with Jarrod's brother Jordan and his wife Jess.

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Jarrod and Shari Bakker, pictured with their kids, are fourth-generation farmers.

Brothers Genetics along with Jarrod's brother Jordan and his wife Jessi. Bakker Brothers Genetics features sows bred specifically for doing competitive junior livestock projects, such as 4-H and FFA, and seed stock that can be used to make better pigs for generations to come. Off the farm, Shari works full time for Grundy County Extension and owns a candle business while Jarrod is in sales for Fast Genetics.

Tailgating is an annual Bakker family tradition.

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With the kids in school and activities and harvest looming on the horizon, the family always finds time to gather in Ames for Iowa State University (ISU) football games. For the Bakker family – from Jarrod’s parents and his aunts and

uncles to the next generation of young kids – being die-hard Cyclone fans has long been a way of life. “On game days, we shut the combines down and head to Ames,” explains Jarrod, who previously served on the Iowa Pork Producers Association (Iowa Pork) board of directors. “It might seem unusual for farmers to do this, but it’s always worked out for us.” He adds, “Dad has seven siblings, and all of them have kids and five of them live in the area. The entire Bakker family gets together for tailgates in the parking lot surrounding Jack Trice Stadium. With about half of the family being farmers, many of us bring our home-raised pork.”


With 30 to 40 people (or more!) at every tailgate, pulled pork sandwiches, pork chops-on-a-stick, pork burgers or sausage and egg breakfast burritos are fan favorites for the family.

Agriculture Surrounds the Season Beyond the pride Jarrod and Shari feel as ISU alumni, they appreciate the strong connection to agriculture that surrounds the game day field. “When you look around the stadium, you see all the different agricultural sponsors, and you can tell who the farmers are in the stands by the seed corn caps or coats they are wearing,” Jarrod adds. “Agriculture has its footprints everywhere, from the clean water stations to the pork that’s the center of the plate at many tailgates.” Like many Iowa farm families, advocating for agriculture and farmers’ commitment to sustainability is a priority for the Bakkers. “It’s always been important to us to help advocate for

the swine industry and agriculture in general. We worked on the swine teaching farm together in college, and we knew when we got married that we wanted to raise our kids in the livestock and ag industry,” Shari explains. “I grew up on a hog farm in southwest Iowa, so it was important to me to continue to be very involved in the day-to-day operations.” During the week, the original form of tailgating is on full display at the farm. Working from before the sun is up until well after dark, meals are enjoyed from the combine cab or the back end of the truck. It’s a fullcircle process of responsibly growing soybeans and corn that converts into highquality feed for livestock, and then creating healthy protein options that bring families and friends together around dinner tables and celebrations. From farm fields to football fields and everything in between, nutritious food raised by Iowa’s farm families scores a winning combination.

Breakfast POCKETS

increments, stirring after each until eggs are cooked through.

• 5 eggs • ¼ cup cottage cheese • ¼ teaspoon salt • ¼ teaspoon pepper • 1 – 10-ounce tube ref rigerated thin pizza crust • 9 pre-cooked sausage patties • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese • 1 egg yolk • 1 teaspoon water Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Win a $100 gift basket of cooking-inspired essentials, including pork certif icates, a thermometer, spices and more! Visit iowafoodandfamily.com/ magazine/tailgating and enter to win.

In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together 5 eggs, cottage cheese, salt and pepper. Microwave for 1 minute on high, then stir with a rubber spatula. Microwave in 30-second

Unroll pizza crust and shape it into a large square. Use a pizza cutter to cut the crust into 9 even squares (3 columns and 3 rows). Place a sausage patty in the center of each square, some scrambled eggs and shredded cheese on top. Fold the corners of the crust into the center and pinch to secure. Place on prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, use a fork to mix egg yolk and water. Brush over breakfast pockets. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until pockets are golden brown; enjoy warm. Source: Iowa Pork Producers Association, Des Moines, Iowa.

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C H RI S W I L L I A M S ’ 3 TIPS FOR

Smoking Meat 1. Buy a high-quality temperature gauge. Most people who have smoked meats know this, but for a novice like me, learning to slow down the temperature and ref rain f rom constantly looking at the meat was a game

Chris Williams, publisher of Cyclone Fanatic, with his daughter, Cami. (Photo courtesy of Chris Williams)

changer.

Fanatic

2. Be creative. I love to experiment with seasonings and rubs. Everyone can cook a pork

A B O U T A G , FO O T BA L L A N D FO O D

loin, but no two will be alike because you can each put your spin on

Chris Williams is known on and

game days, fans come f rom

it. My family loves Asian

off the f ield as the passionate

all different areas of the state

foods, so I tried a variety

talk show radio host, podcaster

– some f rom rural areas and

and publisher of Cyclone

others f rom cities. We all have

and it’s amazing.

Fanatic, an online community

different backgrounds, but on

3. Let it rest. I

for fans of the Iowa State

a Saturday with tailgating and

Cyclones. He’s also passionate

watching football, whether

didn’t understand the

about agriculture and helping

you’re putting ribs or burgers

importance of this step

to tell its positive story to

on the grill, it brings everybody

until a well-known

f riends, families and listeners.

together.’’

Several years ago, Iowa Pork

He adds, “There’s a wonderful

teamed up with Williams to

food smell in the air, no matter

share that football Saturdays

where you’re at around the

reabsorbs the juices

aren’t just about the pigskin;

stadium, it all ties together.”

and doesn’t become

they are also about the pork.

overcooked. When my

Fans were encouraged to show

father-in-law recently

off their tailgating spreads

told me that I made the

featuring pork for a chance to

of Szechuan seasonings,

restaurant owner told me to let the meat f inish in the foil. The meat

best ribs he’s ever had,

30

be crowned winners of a weekly

For Williams, the past year of social distancing gave him the opportunity to convert f rom cooking favorite meats on a gas grill to a smoker. He embraced

wow, that was an amazing

Pigskin Challenge.

feeling!

“Iowa State is such an ag-driven

local producers he’s met over

university, and we're all really

the years and turn his passion

proud of it,” Williams says. “On

for agriculture into a hobby.

| FRESH PICKINGS MAGAZINE

the opportunity to support the


Cuban Pork TENDERLOIN

• 11/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed • 1/4 cup orange juice, f resh • 1/4 cup grapef ruit juice, f resh • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped • 1 teaspoon cumin • 1 teaspoon dried oregano • 2 cloves garlic, f inely chopped • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes Using a thin knife, trim silver skin f rom tenderloin. Mix juices, cilantro, cumin, oregano, garlic, salt and red pepper in gallon-sized zip-top plastic bag. Add pork, close, and ref rigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.

Prepare outdoor grill for direct medium-hot grilling. For a gas grill, preheat grill on high. Adjust temperature to 400 degrees F. For a charcoal grill, build f ire and let burn until coals are covered with white ash. Spread coals and let burn for 15-20 minutes. Lightly oil cooking grate. Remove pork f rom marinade, drain briefly, but do not scrape off solids. Place on grill and cover grill. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned and instant-read thermometer inserted in center of pork reads 145 degrees F, about 20-27 minutes. Transfer to carving board and let stand 3-5 minutes. Cut on slight diagonal. Source: National Pork Board, Des Moines, Iowa

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Dubuque: Where Iowa Started

The Cathedral of St. Raphael. The parish is the oldest congregation of any Christian denomination in Iowa.

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A statue of Dubuque’s namesake is in the Hotel Julien Dubuque.

Fenelon Place Elevator, the world’s shortest, steepest scenic railway.

Brazen Open Kitchen is in the Historic Millwork District.

Rich history, stunning views and culinary excellence charm visitors to the state’s oldest city By Ann Thelen

L

ocated along the mighty Mississippi River, Dubuque is known as the place “Where Iowa Started.” With its founding more than a decade before Iowa became a state, Dubuque and the county with its same name are rich in significance with more spots on the National Register of Historic Places than any other location in Iowa. Abundant natural beauty is the canvas for this region, intertwining its agricultural heritage with tourism and hands-on exploration. It’s a place where vast limestone bluffs flank the world’s fourth longest river. It’s a destination carved out by the river’s influence, where stunning views, culinary excellence and

revitalized regions charm visitors. It’s an outdoor lover’s paradise every month of the year.

Anchored by Agriculture and the Mississippi River “What I appreciate most about the Dubuque area is the diversity of what people can see and do,” says Keith Rahe, president and CEO, Travel Dubuque. “The world-famous Mississippi River runs right outside our door, and throughout every season, the Upper Mississippi River Valley is absolutely gorgeous.” The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium has become a major destination for people not

only in the Midwest but also the entire nation and world. In the western part of the county, the Field of Dreams with its ball diamond carved out of a cornfield showcases Iowa’s roots in agriculture. Dubuque leaders are proud of the role agriculture plays in both large and small communities in the region. Whether it’s a restaurant, brewpub, quilt shop or museum, they’re all woven together by agriculture. Farmers still bring grain into the elevators, and the storefronts lining Main Streets continue to flourish, thanks largely to agriculture and the role of the Mississippi River.

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Fresh eggs are always on the menu at Convivium.

The Mississippi River is a working river, with approximately 60% of exported grain in the U.S. moving along the majestic waters. Although the Mississippi River has long been used for transportation, navigation has been forced to accommodate its whims – deep-flowing but turbulent in times of flooding; placid but shallow to the point of non-navigability in times of drought. Locks and dams help solve these challenges by creating a series of steps for river tows and other boats to climb or descend as they travel upstream or downstream. The General Zebulon Pike Lock and Dam No. 11, located between Dubuque and rural Grant County, Wisconsin, keeps traffic flowing on the Upper Mississippi River. It was opened to navigation in 1937 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Leslie Shalabi owns Convivium with her husband.

Connecting People Through Food and Experiences Nestled within this region’s scenery, culture and artistry, Dubuque is home to awardwinning restaurants. With historic and newer establishments, entrepreneurs embrace the opportunity food provides as the ultimate connector. Breitbach’s Country Dining

Opened in 1852 by a federal permit issued from U.S. President Millard Fillmore, Breitbach’s is Iowa’s oldest food and drinking establishment. Jacob Breitbach, great-great-grandfather of the present owner, purchased the business in 1862, and six generations of the Breitbach family have owned it since. Everything is made from scratch, earning the restaurant a prestigious James Beard America’s Classics Award. People travel from miles around for

Neighborhood production gardens yield f resh produce for Convivium’s restaurant.

the fried chicken, pork tenderloin sandwiches and homemade pies, coupled with the amazing views across the river valley. Convivium Urban Farmstead

In the North End Neighborhood of Dubuque, Convivium Urban Farmstead is thriving. In Latin, convivium means feast, a word that sparked the owners’ idea of creating a place for people to come together and celebrate around food. After leaving successful corporate careers in insurance and marketing, Convivium co-founders Mike Muench and Leslie Shalabi bought a 1920s-era greenhouse complex in 2013. The husbandand-wife team have transformed the historic property into an urban educational farm, focusing on gardening education, cooking, food preservation, beekeeping and woodworking.

Nestled within this region’s scenery, culture and artistry, Dubuque is home to award-winning restaurants.

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“Convivium’s mission is to create a community around food,” Shalabi explains. “Every activity, event and interaction at Convivium is designed to foster connections that are pleasant, enjoyable and engaging.” Neighbors donate backyard space for the couple to transform the land into food-producing gardens. The 13,000-squarefoot production gardens yield fresh produce for Convivium’s restaurant, while yellow-colored common beds throughout the neighborhood feature fresh vegetables for people to harvest and take for free. From breakfast quiche, bowls and sandwiches to lunchtime burgers, paninis and pulled pork sandwiches, the restaurant helps adults and kids connect

with the origins of food. During the COVID-19 shutdown, the restaurant created free casseroles for community residents in need. “We started transforming our healthy greens and proteinbased ingredients into about 100 casseroles each week,” Shalabi says. “Thanks to grants and donations, we’ve continued the program and now give away 200 homemade casseroles every week. This type of food is needed, and the program will remain a part of our mission.”

The lobby in Hotel Julien Dubuque.

Brazen Open Kitchen

In Dubuque’s up-and-coming Historic Millwork District, Brazen Open Kitchen is passionate about providing its patrons with a comfortable, stylish and exciting experience.

A meal being prepared at Brazen. (Photo Credit: Gigantic Design Co.)

(Photo Credit: Gigantic Design Co.) Chef Kevin Scharpf of Brazen was named the 2019 Iowa Restaurant Association's Top Chef of the Year. (Photo Credit: Gigantic Design Co.)

Enjoy a getaway to Hotel Julien Dubuque! Visit iowafoodandfamily.com/magazine/ dubuque to win a $100 hotel gift certif icate plus a $50 ethanol gift card.

At B r a z e n , C h e f K e v i n S c h a r p f c r a f t s t h o u g h t f u l ly u n i q u e p l at es r e l e va n t a n y w h e r e i n t h e c u l i n a ry wo r l d a n d ac c es s i b l e to l o c a l s i n Dubuque. He transforms ordinary i t e m s i n to e x t r ao r d i n a r y c u l i n a r y a r t, s t r i v i n g to g i v e f o o d to u c h es o f s u r p r i s e a n d e xc i t e m e n t.

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Chef Kevin Scharpf prides himself on creating an authentic, progressive, yet approachable menu. One that highlights the seasonally fresh ingredients available in the Midwest with classic and modern techniques alike. “We deeply care about offering complete hospitality from greeting our guests through the service, food, thank you and goodbye,” explains Scharpf, who competed on Season 16 of Bravo’s ‘Top Chef’ and was awarded the 2019 Iowa Restaurant Association’s Chef of the Year. “We follow a simple philosophy of loving what we’re doing and doing it the best we can. This approach goes into sourcing and preparation, and then, ultimately, into every service every night.” Six years since creating Brazen, Scharpf has remained steadfast in his mission – to craft thoughtfully unique plates relevant anywhere in

the culinary world and accessible to locals in Dubuque. He transforms ordinary items into extraordinary culinary art, striving to give food touches of surprise and excitement. “We recently added covered cornbread to our menu. Instead of a traditional approach of serving it with butter, we deliver it smothered with creole crab gravy, pickled mustard seed, celery leaf and herb butter. It’s almost like a cornbread custard,” Scharpf explains. “We want the food to be done in a way that people think, ‘How in the world did they come up with this? It’s incredible.’” Brazen’s success is a testament to how food can connect people to experiences and have a positive impact. “It’s such a gorgeous, foodrich area. We’re proud to be part of a movement that helps create food as a destination and harnessing an approach that keeps people coming back again and again,” he adds.

A b u n da n t n at u r a l b e a u t y i s t h e c a n va s f o r t h i s r e g io n , i n t e r t w i n i n g i t s a g r i c u lt u r a l h e r i ta g e w i t h to u r i s m a n d h a n d s - o n e x p l o r at io n . W h e t h e r i t ’ s a D u b u q u e - a r e a r es ta u r a n t, b r e w p u b , q u i lt s h o p o r m u s e u m , t h e y ’ r e a l l wov e n to g e t h e r by a g r i c u lt u r e .

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A couple enjoys a meal at Brazen Open Kitchen. Many area restaurants contribute to Dubuque being a food-rich area.


Destinations Along the Mississippi River » Hotel Julien Dubuque began as the Waples House in 1839. This old “Julien Hotel” survived a f ire, hosted famous guests, such as Abraham Lincoln, Buffalo Bill and Mark Twain, and gained notoriety thanks to gangster Al Capone. Now more than 180 years later, after a $33 million interior renovation and exterior restoration, Hotel Julien has redef ined elegance by blending its rich history with modern luxury and style.

» St. Luke’s United Methodist Church

is home

to the f ifth largest collection of Tiffany Windows in the U.S.

» The Fenelon Place Elevator is the world’s shortest, steepest scenic railway, 296 feet in length, elevating passengers 189 feet f rom Fourth Street

The Mississippi River is the world’s fourth longest river.

to Fenelon Place. Visitors experience a magnif icent view of the historic Dubuque business district, the Mississippi River and three states.

»

With 1,437 acres of history and nature, the

Mines of Spain is a family favorite. The Woodland Walk or Julien Dubuque Monument are quick visits, or the area offers many miles of hiking for a full day of explorations. The all-season Heritage Trail offers 26 miles of scenic adventure.

»

The 164-acre

Eagle Point Park overlooks the

Mississippi River and is a perfect stop to see fall foliage. Eagle watchers often flock to Dubuque in the winter, and one of the best places to spot a bald eagle in the winter is near

»

The

Lock and Dam No. 11.

American Lady Yacht features public cruises

on the Mississippi River along the banks of Dubuque

The Mississippi Riverwalk is part of the 44-mile Heritage Trail and runs along the Mississippi in the Port of Dubuque.

with lunch, happy hour and sunset dinner cruises.

»

The

Mississippi Riverwalk offers views with easy

access. Located next to the Smithsonian-aff iliated

National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, this pathway winds along the river and faces the beautiful bluffs that surround it.

The Mississippi River i s a wo r k i n g r i v e r , w i t h a p p r ox i m at e ly 60% of exported grain in the U.S. m ov i n g a l o n g t h e m a j es t i c wat e r s .

»

The holiday season is a magical time in Dubuque,

including seeing the twinkling lights of the

Reflections in the Park drive-thru display. »

Dubuque’s terrain naturally lends itself to skiing and

snowboarding as the winter months roll around. With

Sundown Mountain Resort is a great way to get outside and explore the 21 ski runs and two terrain parks, natural beauty.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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BUILDING

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A BETTER BEAN SOYBEAN RESEARCH CENTER BENEFITS RURAL, URBAN IOWANS By Darcy Dougherty Maulsby

B

ehold the humble soybean. While this protein-packed powerhouse is used in livestock feed, soy turns up in so much more, from soyfoods to sandals to asphalt. The Iowa Soybean Research Center (ISRC) at Iowa State University (ISU) is helping Iowa farmers grow the best soybeans possible for a variety of traditional and innovative uses. “Many of our research ideas come from farmers,” says Greg Tylka, director of the ISRC and a professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at ISU. “Supporting the next generation of soybean research means we aren’t afraid to fund projects that are a little higher risk.” Soybeans grown in Iowa are processed for their oil and for soymeal, and both components offer interesting opportunities for research. “Soybeans are used primarily for livestock feed to

produce pork, poultry and seafood that contribute to a healthy, nutritious food supply for people,” says Ed Anderson, senior director of research for the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), which works closely with the ISRC. “Soybeans have a lot of other uses, as well. We’re excited to work with the ISRC to help Iowa farmers produce abundant, high-quality soybeans more sustainably.” Soybeans are essential to Iowa’s economy. “We want to highlight how soy’s impact reaches far beyond the farm,” Tylka says. That’s why the ISRC hosted SoyFest 2021, a one-day, festival-style event on ISU’s central campus in late August to show how soy products are part of everyday life, from soybased crayons to foods cooked in soy oil to soy-based ink printed in newspapers. “On Amazon.com you can even buy OKABASHI flip-flop

sandals, which are made with a soybased plastic,” Tylka adds. Soy products also turn up in some unexpected places. Consider ISU’s BioCentury Research Farm between Ames and Boone, where the parking lot is paved with asphalt containing a soy-based biopolymer. The Asphalt Paving Association of Iowa, ISA and ISU researchers have worked together to create this unique polymer using high-oleic soybean oil, which offers more stability compared to other biobased oils. Since there are more than 4 million miles of paved roads in the U.S. that require significant upkeep, this innovative polymer can create big opportunities for soybean farmers, notes the United Soybean Board. “Using a renewable resource like soybean oil also reduces our dependence on petroleum products,” Tylka adds.

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Growing a Public-Private Partnership

help fund soybean research and promotion efforts.

so we can work together more effectively.”

Supporting cutting-edge research requires strong public-private partnerships. The ISRC stemmed from an idea developed by ISA, which has funded millions of dollars of soybean-related research since the group was formed in 1964.

“Public-private partnerships like this help us use all these financial resources more efficiently,” says Suzanne Shirbroun, an ISRC Industry Advisory Council member who farms with her family in Clayton County in northeast Iowa.

The ISRC is a public-private partnership funded through ISU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, as well as thousands of dollars contributed annually by 11 industry partners and soybean checkoff dollars supplied through ISA. Farmers pay into the soybean checkoff each time they sell soybeans, and the proceeds

The ISRC also helps balance farmers’ needs for practical research with future-focused projects. “We understand that not all ISU researchers come from Iowa or have an ag background,” Shirbroun notes. “Sometimes they don’t always understand farmers’ specific needs. The ISRC Industry Advisory Council opens the lines of communication

Many of the ISRC’s research projects help growers produce higherquality, high-yielding soybeans. “Mother Nature throws something different at us each year,” says Shirbroun, a sixth-generation farmer who has been raising corn and soybeans with her husband Joe for 22 years. “Controlling soybean diseases like sudden death syndrome or insect pests such as the orange gall midge isn’t glamourous, but it’s essential to our business.” Since the ISRC formed in 2014, ISU scientists, farmers and ag industry partners have been working together to study soybean biology, plant

Suzanne Shirbroun is an ISRC Industry Advisory Council member who farms with her family in northeast Iowa.

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SOY PRODUCTS

SOY-BASED A S P H A LT

Greg Tylka is director of the ISRC and a professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at ISU. ISRC works to support the next generation of soybean research. (Photo courtesy of Joseph L. Murphy)

breeding, economics, precision agriculture, pest management and more. “It’s great to have a wide variety of industry partners come together,” says Shirbroun, who notes that partners range from Iowa seed companies to international cropprotection companies. “You can bounce ideas off each other, ask questions and build on these ideas.” This is a non-traditional approach for many private companies. “The ISRC isn’t a bricks-and-mortar building, and this isn’t proprietary research that’s exclusive to one company,” says ISA’s Anderson, who is also the executive director of the

19 % SOY-BASED C R AYO N S

34

P ROT E I N : % (essential & nonessential amino acids) S O LU B L E C A R B O H Y D R AT E S :

9%

I N S O LU B L E C A R B O H Y D R AT E S :

MEAL

TODAY’S AVERAGE SOYBEAN SEED COMPOSITION

OIL:

21%

(fiber)

ASH:

4%

(minerals)

M O I S T U R E : 13%

OKABASHI FLIP-FLOP SANDALS

North Central Soybean Research Program. “It’s research that includes ISU Extension and teaching to benefit the entire soy industry.” Current research has focused on the soil microbiome (the microorganisms in a particular environment), and how these microbes influence rooting patterns in soybeans. These rooting patterns affect plants’ ability to take up water and stay healthy. “The ISRC remains focused on leveraging funds and listening to farmers’ needs to help advance Iowa’s soybean industry,” Tylka says. “Our research is for the common good.”

SOY-BASED INK

SOY OIL

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A BRIGHTER, CLEANER FUTURE HARNESSING THE BENEFITS OF SEED, SUN, SOIL A N D WAT E R F O R I O WA By Aaron Putze, APR

I

’m no chemist or engineer, but there are three things I know about energy: we need it, we need more of it and it needs to be more environmentally friendly. Like most issues vexing the planet today, farmers and agriculturalists have a big role to play in helping solve them. Whether it’s electricity for cars, blenders or iPhones; fuel for airplanes or airboats; oil for big rigs or small engines; or heat to warm buildings in New York City, farmers can provide. Take to the roads this time of year and you’ll see that home-grown energy we need in its raw form.

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Harvesting Homegrown Energy

locally produced fuel on the pumps at your favorite convenient store.

Iowa farmers are harvesting large quantities of soybeans and corn (more than 500 million bushels of soybeans and 2 billion bushels of corn – or roughly 13% and 20% of the nation’s total, respectively). These important crops, grown with natural solar power, are converted into feed for livestock, food for humans and yes, cleanburning fuel.

Energy derived from soybeans is lesser known by consumers. That’s because over-the-road cars and SUVs don’t burn it. Yet, its use is exploding in a host of other applications that will have a huge impact.

Ethanol, a co-product of corn processing, is extremely well-known. Iowans have been fueling up with this home-grown energy for decades. You’ve likely seen the stickers promoting this

A good share of all soybeans grown in Iowa are exported to far-off destinations, such as China. The remainder are processed locally at facilities in Iowa Falls, Mason City and

First, a bit about the soybean. Iowa ranks second nationally in the production of the legume.


Aaron Putze, APR, serves as Sr. Director of Information & 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. (Photo courtesy of Joseph L. Murphy)

Eagle Grove, to name just a few. The co-products of soybeans are meal and oil. The meal (roughly 80% of the soybean) is high in protein and an ideal ingredient for pig, chicken, turkey and fish feed. Soy is also a vital ingredient for human food.

Biodiesel is the most sustainable liquid fuel currently available. It reduces lifecycle greenhouse gases by up to 86%. Burning biodiesel also lowers particulate matter by 47% in older diesel engines and reduces smog.

Taking a Bite Out of Emissions Then there’s the oil. Once a backseat driver in creating soybean demand and profitability, oil now has two hands firmly on the wheel.

These benefits combined with a plentiful supply of soybeans readily available combine to make Iowa the nation’s leading producer of biodiesel, with more than 400 million gallons annually.

Why? Because Americans are demanding locally sourced, cleaner-burning fuel that takes a bite out of carbon emissions. While electric vehicles may be part of a long-term solution (just 2% of overthe-road vehicles in California are electric), biodiesel and renewable diesel (made from a variety of oils, including vegetable, tallow and animal fats) can reduce CO2 emissions now.

These numbers are on the rise as commercial fleets, public transit and the nation’s aviation industry demand more cleaner-burning fuel. Biodiesel and renewable diesel markets accounted for almost 2 billion gallons of demand in 2013. Last year, those totals rocketed to nearly 3 billion. Demand is up 4.9% in 2021, exceeding 2020’s growth of 4.1%. And the increase last year occurred

despite a nearly 8% decrease in U.S. diesel consumption. Given these numbers, new biodiesel processing facilities are already under construction (Shell Rock) and in the works (Alta). In addition to benefiting the environment, biodiesel production is good for the economy and farmers. In 2020, biodiesel contributed almost $600 million in gross domestic product and $254 million in household income while generating about 4,500 jobs in Iowa. Biodiesel demand also accounts for 13% of the net market value of soybeans or $1.69 per bushel when the price farmers are paid for their soybeans hit $13. There’s a lot of momentum in the world of renewables. By combining seed, sun, soil and water, Iowa farmers will seize it to the benefit of our economy and environment.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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fresh picked

The Importance of Agriculture Ed ucation TEACHING ABOUT WHERE FOOD COMES FROM AND THE OPPORTUNITIES YET TO COME By Sara Preston

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Sara Preston is a sixthgeneration farmer who raises cattle and grows corn and soybeans. She is an active member of CommonGround Iowa and is an educator with North Central Iowa Ag in the Classroom. She grew up in the agriculture industry with a foundation in the 4-H and FFA Youth Leadership programs. Sara lives near Swea City with her husband Jared and children Nora and Maggie.

ello! I am so excited to be this year’s author of Fresh Picked. I’m looking forward to sharing information about important topics in agriculture and details about our family farm. I am a sixth-generation farmer where being around animals or in a corn field brings joy to my heart. I am also a mom, wife, daughter, volunteer and educator. My passion for agriculture has never wavered. Because I grew up on a farm, I had the privilege of always knowing where my food comes from and even had the honor of being a dairy princess in my high school years. As a dairy princess, I traveled around my home state of Minnesota promoting dairy products and talking about how farmers care for their cows. To me, that was part of life, with programs like 4-H and FFA igniting a fire and passion for agriculture that continues to grow. My enthusiasm for agriculture led to my current role as

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a classroom educator for North Central Iowa Ag in the Classroom. I teach preschool through eighth graders about agriculture. Lessons include everything from knowing the difference between pigs and cows to making ethanol. This instruction continues to expand into different schools and counties as community members see the importance and impact these ag education lessons have on students. I truly believe everyone should know where their food comes from and what it takes to get it from the farm to the table. As a farmer, I want people to know and understand how well their food is taken care of, whether it is a soybean plant or a beef animal, we care about everything we do. We care about the kernel of corn when it is planted in the ground and the calf that was born in the middle of a snowstorm that has around-theclock care to ensure it is warm and healthy. We put a lot of thought and a whole lot of heart into everything we do.


By learning about agriculture and farming practices, consumers can separate fact from fiction. As an informed consumer, when information is shared on social media, in an article or as part of a movie, you know the facts behind agriculture and can distinguish whether what you’re seeing is accurate or just hype. You might be thinking, “There is no way my child will be a farmer, so they don’t really need to learn about agriculture.” Agriculture is so much more than just farmers. As the world's population increases, agriculture is going to have to grow with it to feed, clothe and provide essential infrastructure. Does your child like technology? What about building things?

Do they enjoy cooking? Are they a good problem-solver? One out of five jobs in Iowa is tied to agriculture. There is a place and interest for everyone with an estimated more than 58,000 agriculture-related jobs coming available each year as we get closer to the year 2050. Agriculture is a huge opportunity for today’s youth, and ag programs are critical in both rural and urban schools. Agriculture education programs used to be common across the state, but with school funding issues, agriculture is often the first program to be eliminated. I invite you to encourage your school boards, superintendents and school staff to tie agriculture into the curriculum. Agriculture can be incorporated into all subjects, including math, science, social

studies and reading. In addition, Ag in the Classroom programs are available statewide. To find out more about the programs in your area, simply reach out to your county Farm Bureau or the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation. Agriculture plays an important role in our lives from those of us who work hard to feed the growing population, to those who are consuming a steak or driving a vehicle fueled with E85. Agriculture has many opportunities coming our way. The key to being able to see and find these opportunities is by providing agriculture education in our schools, communities and at home. The future of agriculture is bright and has a place for everyone.

I truly believe everyone should know where their food comes from and what it takes to get it from the farm to the table.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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Iowa Soybean Association, 1255 SW Prairie Trail Parkway, Ankeny, Iowa 50023

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