Fresh Pickings Magazine | Winter 2021

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COZY UP WITH A BOWL OF TUSCAN SAUSAGE SOUP DIVE INTO AN INNOVATIVE IOWA FISH FARM EXPLORE ARTS AND AGRICULTURE IN CLEAR LAKE & MASON CITY


I RON is C

L A C I RIT

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that meat, including beef, be introduced as an early solid food in an infant’s diet, since proper nutrition during this critical time sets the stage for continued development and lifelong health.

• Infants and toddlers need iron, zinc and protein to support brain health and optimal cognitive development

• Complementary foods are a critical supplement to breast milk • Introduce iron rich foods early • 1-2 ounces of meat (Beef) supplies most needs of IRON, Zinc, and B12 in infants

Scan for feeding tips


WELCOME IN THE WINTER 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 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.


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BRAIDED WITH LOVE

F E AT U R E S

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AQUACULTURE MAKES A SPLASH

SWEET TRADITIONS

West Bend-based

Iowa innovation

For generations,

ARTS, ARCHITECTURE & AGRICULTURE

Butter Braid®

inspires options for

a northwest

Mason City and

pastries layer

homegrown seafood,

Iowa family has been

Clear Lake are cultural

innovation with

fed with high-quality

harvesting sap to

destinations that hit all

fundraising to create

soybean meal.

produce maple candy

the right notes.

sweet success.

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and syrup.


I N E V E RY ISSUE

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EDITOR’S NOTE: TO DO: COMMUNITY

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FAMILY TABLE: TUSCAN SAUSAGE SOUP

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WELLNESS TIPS: EMBRACE RESILIENCE

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POINT OF INTEREST: NEW DAY DAIRY GUESTBARN

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FRESH PICKED: FARM LIFE IN THE WINTER

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AISLE INSIGHTS: CREATURES OF COMFORT

WHATEVER THE WEATHER

BEEFING UP BUYING OPTIONS

Iowa’s state

A new directory connects

ON THE COVER:

climatologist sheds light

consumers with Iowa

A warm bowl of Tuscan Sausage Soup

on the ways weather,

beef producers and

cools on the counter. Find the recipe

food and farming are

meat lockers to purchase

on Page 7. Photo courtesy of Kelsey

closely linked.

products in bulk.

Byrnes, Dance Around the Kitchen.

WINTER 2021

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ISSUE NO. 8

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 WRITERS AARON PUTZE, APR LAUREN HOUSKA

CONTRIBUTORS ANN THELEN Thelen Public Relations CRISTEN CLARK Food & Swine HALEY BANWART Farm Roots & Chore Boots DARCY DOUGHERTY MAULSBY Darcy Maulsby & Co. AMY NELSON 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 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 Growers Association, Iowa Egg Council, Iowa Turkey Federation, Farm Credit Services of America, Cargill, Corteva Agriscience, Key Cooperative, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds and Live Healthy Iowa for the financial investment that makes this publication possible.

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Fresh Pickings is published four times a year by: Iowa Soybean Association, 1255 SW Prairie Trail Parkway, Ankeny, Iowa 50023 For advertising information, please contact kvisser@iasoybeans.com 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. Comments: iowafoodandfamily.com/magazine/feedback


editor’s note

TO-DO: COMMUNITY Nine months into a global pandemic marked with grief, frustration, uncertainty and many indescribable emotions, it’s easy to turn sideways on our goals and lose sight of the bigger picture.

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am a list person. Weekly lists, daily lists, project lists, long-term lists scrawled in inky black pen with underlines, subheads and bullets. Whether it is for work or home if something is on my list, I will move mountains to make it happen. My list-making got out of hand this fall. I was home in a world of social distancing with a newborn baby, trying to live in the moment yet feed my need for productivity. I was adding tiny tasks and silly things to toil over, crossing off lines but still feeling aimless. I finally had a realization – thanks in large part to my husband Adam – that some items on my list weren’t moving me toward anything worthwhile. Sure, I could repaint the bathroom door or organize the junk drawer but busying myself with a list of distractions isn’t worth my precious time.

Something that has inspired me to pause and re-center is adding a “community” section to my to-do list. It sounds forced, but this cue has helped me spend my time in a more fulfilling way. It’s a literal reminder to write an online review for a small business, donate to a local charity, chat with a neighbor or send a note to a friend. I’m a work in progress but finding new ways to connect with my community has helped me remember my bigger picture through this isolating time. I’m inspired by the countless examples of farmers putting community at the top of their to-do lists. Iowa farmers are eager to serve their communities through efforts like donating to food pantries or fundraising for student scholarships. And this inspiration rings true for many others, as the recent Iowa Food & Family Project Consumer Pulse Survey shows that 86% of Iowa grocery shoppers give farmers excellent or good ratings for “contributing to the community and local economy.” In this issue of Fresh Pickings, you’ll see how Iowans – farmers, business owners, restauranteurs, leaders and volunteers – are finding their bigger picture through an unwavering commitment to their communities. Enjoy the issue,

We want to hear how your community has stepped up and shined during these challenging times. Submit a reflection at iowafoodandfamily.com/magazine/community and you’ll be entered to win a $100 Hy-Vee gift card.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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family table

TUSCAN SAUSAGE SOUP A D D L A Y E R S O F F L AV O R W I T H T H I S S AV O R Y D I S H

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.

rowing up, we weren’t served a lot of soup because my mom preferred fixing other meals. The soup of her youth consisted of a can of this or that, stretched thin with water as there were eight kids in her family. When I was a toddler, I had surgery at the children’s hospital in Des Moines. Coming out of surgery, I was as hungry as ever, and when given a chance to eat, I was served chicken noodle soup. My mom said I loved it so much that I tipped the bowl up to my mouth to finish every last drop. I still love soup and serve it a couple of times a week to my family in the winter months. When I became serious about cooking, I was working at WHO Radio. During my lunch hour, I watched chefs and television personalities on their shows. There was always a common thread in each of the episodes – building flavors to improve recipes. Luckily, developing flavors in soups and stews is an easy way to learn, and this skill will help make other recipes in your arsenal even better. Consider these tips for building flavors in any recipe: Fat is flavor: Depending on the

cuisine you are serving, the fat used to sauté recipe components can lend a familiar flavor to the final dish. I like to use olive oil in Italian

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soup or Greek pasta and butter for anything uniquely Midwestern. Lard adds a deep, rich flavor as a base for enchiladas. Add color: Say “so long” to veggies

that are wimpy and lack color. When sautéing vegetables for a dish, turn up the heat to add a little color. Cooking with high heat for a shorter amount of time leaves tender-crisp vegetables with a hint of color. When cooking ground meats like pork, beef or turkey, crank up the heat to add color to the meat. When cooking ground meat with a low fat content, add a pat of butter to moisten the cooking environment. Doing this will add a rich flavor due to the dairy solids in the butter that will also nicely brown the outside of the meat. Put on the finishing touches:

Topping a dish with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, a dollop of sour cream, a splash of balsamic vinegar or a crunchy garnish elevates the dish’s flavor and texture. When serving soup, consider a crusty sourdough loaf on the side for dipping. This Tuscan Sausage Soup recipe is one of my favorites and incorporates Italian sausage, bacon, mushrooms and heavy cream for richness and sundried tomatoes and kale for acidity and brightness.


Tuscan Sausage Soup

Photo courtesy of Kelsey Byrnes, Dance Around the Kitchen.

Soup

Garnishes

• 1 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage

• Parmesan cheese, grated

while stirring occasionally, an

• Additional bacon, cooked, chopped

is f ragrant and tender. Add

• 1 sweet yellow onion, chopped • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms sliced to 1/8-inch thick • 4 strips bacon, cooked, chopped • 4 cloves garlic, chopped • 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped • 6 cups chicken stock • 1 bunch kale, leaves only, chopped • 1/2 cup heavy cream or whole milk • Salt and black pepper to taste

• Fresh basil leaves, julienned • Fresh parsley, chopped

and sundried tomatoes. Cook, additional 2 minutes until garlic chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add kale and continue to boil for 2 minutes or until kale is tender. Remove pot f rom

In a stock pot, brown sausage for 5 minutes, add onion and mushrooms. Cook over mediumhigh heat for an additional 5-8 minutes or until sausage is browned and vegetables are tender. Add bacon, garlic

heat, add heavy cream and stir to incorporate. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper, and garnish with cheese, bacon and additional f resh Italian herbs like basil or parsley. Serve alongside a loaf of crusty sourdough bread.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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wellness tips

WELLNESS TIPS: EMBRACE RESILIENCE L I V E H E A LT H Y I O W A O F F E R S 5 T I P S T O S T R E N G T H E N Y O U R W E L L - B E I N G

By Ann Thelen

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f 2020 had a one-word description, it might have been unprecedented or pivot. It was difficult for many to avoid the feelings of anxiety and uncertainty having an impact on overall well-being.

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A fresh start can be motivating and energizing or overwhelming and exhausting. In 2021, take a positive approach by embracing a oneword philosophy for personal and professional situations – resilience.

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Live Healthy Iowa shares five tips to strengthen your resiliency.

family, f riends and co-workers is vital. Stay engaged through phone calls, participate in virtual activities or volunteer at socially distanced events. Build a network of people you can conf ide in and trust.

Take Care of Yourself. Be mindful of your own needs

Although the new year looks a bit different from normal times, it is still an opportunity to clear the slate, set goals and embrace new habits.

When you have resilience, you harness an inner strength to adapt to difficult situations. Resilience can help you see past the challenging times, manage stress, find enjoyment in life and express gratitude.

Stay Connected. Maintaining social connections with

and feelings. Eat a healthy diet, choosing nutrient-rich foods. Exercise daily and get enough sleep. Practice stress management and relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation or prayer.

Believe in Your Abilities. Having conf idence to cope with stress can play an essential role in resilience. Believing in your ability to respond to a crisis or challenge is empowering.

Embrace Change. Flexibility is essential. When you’re

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more adaptable, you’ll be better equipped to respond to diff icult situations. Resilient people use these events as an opportunity to branch out in new directions. While some people may feel paralyzed by abrupt changes, highly resilient individuals adapt and thrive.

Become a Problem-Solver. Research suggests

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that people who come up with potential solutions to a problem can better handle the situation. When you encounter a new challenge, make a list of some of the ways the problem could be lessened or solved.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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point of interest

BE OUR

Guest By Haley Banwart Photos by Joseph L. Murphy

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isitors staying at the family’s farm, but it took some New Day Dairy GuestBarn time before all of the pieces fell don’t need to count sheep to into place,” says Lynn, a selfBy Haley Banwart | Photos by Joseph L. Murphy pass the time. Instead, they can proclaimed city-turned-farm girl. go cow gazing while enjoying a Inspiration for the GuestBarn one-of-a-kind bed and breakfast stemmed from enriching experience on a working dairy experiences Dan and Lynn farm near Clarksville. shared while traveling across the Iowa dairy farmers Dan and Lynn U.S. and living overseas early in Bolin opened the GuestBarn in their married life. January 2020. Equipped with a “Traveling broadened our full kitchen, dining space and perspective of how other people three bedrooms, the unique live,” she says. “We wanted farm stay features a loft with to bring that same sense of 24/7 access to two large windows discovery to our farm and build overlooking 120 cows. an authentic space for those “The GuestBarn has always who may not come from an been a part of the vision for our agricultural background.”

Warm living spaces inside the New Day Dairy GuestBarn.

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Beyond the Barn Upon arrival, guests are given a guided farm tour where they can interact with the cows and meet Rita, the Bolin’s state-of-the-art robotic milking machine.

The breakfast is complete with coffee, bagels paired with cream cheese sourced from Prairie Farms – the co-op where milk from New Day Dairy is delivered – and handmade Dutch letter pastries prepared by a neighboring dairy farmer.

For those seeking a more hands-on agricultural experience, the Bolins created a “Be a Dairy Farmer Challenge,” which includes a more in-depth tour of the farm and opportunities to milk a cow by hand, bottle feed a baby calf and take a tractor ride.

Throughout the modern rooms, which are decorated in colorful dairy-themed décor, guests will also find fun amenities, such as soap made with cow’s milk and local souvenirs to remember their stay.

“Our dairy farmer challenge has been a popular activity with guests who want to get their hands dirty and go beyond our introductory and farewell tours,” says Lynn.

All Visitors Welcome

Delightful Dairy Treats and Amenities

“The most rewarding part of the experience has been meeting new people, learning their stories and seeing the excitement on their faces as they immerse themselves in new adventures on our farm,” Lynn says.

Back in the GuestBarn, visitors can customize their stay with a root beer float party, supplies to make their own ice cream or a continental breakfast.

Since opening the GuestBarn, the Bolins have welcomed couples and families from the East Coast, Midwest and several Iowans.

Dan Bolin gives a handful of feed to a calf. Guests can learn about modern dairy farming and get up close and personal with the cows. IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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Braided WITH LOVE

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Butter Braid ® pastries layer innovation with fundraising to create sweet success By Ann Thelen | Photos courtesy of Country Maid, Inc.

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nveloped between the layers of Butter Braid® pastries’ airy dough are the life-changing opportunities these delicacies help fund. For three decades, millions of children, communities and causes have relied on these Iowa-made, butter-rich pastries to make dreams come true. Butter Braid pastries have a reputation for quality and service that fundraising groups and customers have come to depend on and love. Since 1991, West Bend-based Country Maid, Inc. and their flagship product – Butter Braid pastries – have helped raise more than $267 million for thousands of great causes nationwide.

Innovation Born out of the Farm Crisis “Country Maid is a true entrepreneurial story that started from humble beginnings,” explains Ashley Akridge, the company’s marketing manager. “It came from a need and our founders, Ken and Marlene Banwart, finding a way to support their family.”

St raw berr y & C ream Ch ee se

Tough times often spur innovation, which was the case in this community of approximately 800 people. Located in two counties – Kossuth and Palo Alto – West Bend is in the center of vast and highly productive Iowa farmland. During the late-1980s, the Banwarts had been farming for more than a decade and were blessed with six children. Then, the farm crisis hit. Like many families in a similar situation, it was tough to make ends meet.

Marlene tells the story of Ken finding a part-time job selling office equipment to supplement the farm income. It wasn’t enough. So, the couple also began selling produce at the local farmers’ market. Noticing that baked goods were popular, Marlene started offering her homemade braided pastries. At the time, these Danishinspired desserts were made using plain pastry dough without any filling. It didn’t matter; they were mouthwateringly delicious. Each day of a farmers’ market, she would be up early to make and bake the pastries, leading to short nights and long days. Ken had the idea of pre-making and freezing the pastries. The pastries were taken out of the freezer to rise overnight and then baked the morning of an event. It was a single process shift that would dynamically change the future. As awareness grew of the fabulous pastries, orders increased. Within six months of Ken leaving his sales job to focus on the pastry business, the couple was delivering Butter Braid pastries to 50 stores in Iowa. From creating the signature item in their kitchen to eventually converting their garage into a production facility, the Banwarts purchased a renovated building in West Bend. Several expansions later, it’s still home to Country Maid, the official name the Banwarts gave to their pastryproducing company in 1991. Since 2002, in keeping with the company’s mission of “Helping Others Help Themselves,” Butter Braid pastries have been exclusively available through fundraising programs.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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Ca ra m el Pa s tr y R o ll

How It’s Made “We say each pastry is braided with love because it truly is,” Akridge explains. “We are all like family at Country Maid, and the company puts its people before anything else.” The fascination with Butter Braid pastries has drawn global fanfare. Appearing on Discovery Channel’s hit program “How It’s Made” and “Manufacturing Marvels” with FOX Business News has fed curiosity about how a frozen pastry can have made-from-scratch freshness and deliciousness in every bite.

Country Maid’s facilities are Safe Quality Food certified, ensuring its products meet international food safety and quality standards.

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Each Butter Braid pastry includes yeast, granulated sugar, pastry flour, eggs and water, with several ingredients sourced from Iowa companies. Unlike a dense bread, Butter Braid pastries contain 12 layers of light, airy dough

and 100% real butter. Along the assembly line, automated machines cut slits in the dough sheets, and workers hand-braid every pastry. After assembly, which includes inserting a fruit filling, herbs or cheeses, the braids head to a freezer set at 23 degrees F below zero where they revolve on carousels for 45 minutes. This gradual freezing process preserves the yeast. Then, in kitchens across the country, families thaw, rise and bake a pastry that tastes like grandma made it. Country Maid’s mantra is to be a hub of innovation, encouraging its 70 employees to connect across departments with flexibility and create products with a wow effect. New products go through extensive market research, focus groups, and tests for food stability, shelf life, taste and baking.


Making Fundraising Dreams Come True “Because Butter Braid pastries are only sold through fundraisers, the company relies on strong partnerships with its dealers,” says Lynn Bouska, fundraising sales and business manager. All dealers support and respect the pillars of achievement, which are the cornerstones of Country Maid – faith, integrity, attitude, discipline, relationships, growth and balance. “We spend a lot of time with our dealers through interviews and working on business plans to launch and grow their business. Our sales approach is

streamlined and offers a high level of service. And, of course, dealers take Butter Braid pastry samples on every sales call.”

based on a desire to help one another.

In 2019, the company introduced an online store that has been extremely helpful during COVID-19. Kids can send their fundraising link to family and friends, allowing buyers to purchase online. Country Maid has created multiple programs, such as a no-contact/online fundraising program and some dealers are testing a ship-tohome program. Fundraising is a competitive market, and Country Maid understands that people buy

“It comes down to focusing on a niche, and buyers like knowing who their purchase is helping. Whether it’s for a student raising money for new band uniforms or going on an educational trip to Washington, D.C., the fundraising is all about helping others achieve a goal,” Bouska says. For 30 years, Country Maid has focused on several core strengths – its employees, dealer network and shared foundation of faith. Bouska adds, “We are so proud to help dreams come true through fundraising.”

The largest Butter Braid pastry dealer in the nation is in Iowa. Cinnamon and Strawberry & Cream Cheese Butter Braid pastries are this region’s favorite flavors.

Fo u r C h e e se & He rb

Editor’s Note: Ken Banwart passed away in October 2020, and his legacy will live on through the millions of lives the company has impacted. The Iowa Food & Family Project extends its condolences to the Banwart family, Country Maid team and West Bend community.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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I O W A A Q U A C U LT U R E MAKES A

Splash Joe Sweeney is the CEO of Eagle’s Catch in Ellsworth.

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Photo courtesy of Eagle’s Catch.

I O WA I N N OVAT I O N I N S P I R E S H O M E G RO W N S E A FO O D

By Darcy Dougherty Maulsby

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f you’re a seafood fan, do you know where the fish or shrimp on your dinner plate came from? The answer might surprise you. “The U.S. imports approximately 91% of all the seafood consumed in this country,” says Joe Sweeney, CEO of Eagle’s Catch, a fish farm that produces tilapia in Ellsworth. It’s a stark contrast to the local food movement and American-raised products that fill grocery store shelves and meat cases.

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Photos by Joseph L. Murphy

Beyond relying on imports, an even bigger challenge is looming in terms of supply. Nearly half of people around the globe depend on fish as a key source of protein in their diet. Global demand for fish protein is projected to grow through 2030. “It’s estimated that the seafood industry will need to increase production by 44% to meet this demand,” says Chuck White, an Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) director who farms near Spencer and serves on the Soy Aquaculture Alliance (SAA).

Global seafood supplies are being depleted, however. About two-thirds of the world’s seafood is overfished, according to the SAA, which connects the U.S. soybean industry and domestic aquaculture. Overfishing is also curbing supplies of fish meal, which is often used for aquaculture feed. “Overfishing means additional seafood will need to come from aquaculture,” Sweeney says. “That also impacts feed sources.” IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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State-of-the-art facilities like Eagle's Catch in Ellsworth could soon be dotting the Iowa landscape as consumers turn to commercially raised aquaculture.

As the seafood industry looks for alternatives, Iowa is becoming part of the solution. Iowa soybeans processed into soymeal for aquaculture feed can play a key role in supporting a more sustainable seafood supply. “About 50% of seafood produced worldwide today is farmed,” says Tom Adam, an ISA director who farms near Harper and serves on the SAA. “This percentage is growing, which is good news for soybean farmers.” Protein-rich soymeal can provide a nutritious feed option for farmed seafood. Seafood raised in commercial aquaculture operations offers other advantages that translate into higher food quality and more eco-friendly food production.

Protein-rich soymeal provides a nutritious feed option for fish.

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“Increased commercial seafood production takes the pressure off wild species that are being

overfished,” White says. “The water quality in a commercial setting can also be managed to support a healthier environment. This creates a better product for people who eat seafood.”

Feeding a Growing Industry The time is right for Iowa soybean farmers to maximize new aquaculture opportunities. “There’s a need to feed various aquatic animals using ingredients that are sustainable, cost-efficient and appropriate for specific species,” says Joe Morris, Ph.D., an Iowa State University professor of natural resource ecology and management. “There’s strong potential for use of soymeal for aquaculture feeds.” Sweeney understands this well. “There are a lot of concerns


about fish meal. That’s why we want to move away from it in the next five years and use more soymeal, distillers dried grains (a co-product of ethanol production) and other products of Midwest agriculture.” Sustainable, safe feed options are important to Eagle’s Catch, which broke ground in 2017 and sells live tilapia to Asian food stores in Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, Dallas, Nashville and beyond. The right feed ingredients become even more important as the fish farm explores raising other species, including red snapper

and barramundi, a type of Asian sea bass. Protein-packed soymeal can be used to develop feeds for specific species within the aquaculture industry, adds Morris, who also serves as the director of the North Central Regional Aquaculture Center. “Soymeal is readily available for feed manufacturers, and it can result in more shelfstable feed products, according to some fish nutritionists. It also produces fewer effluents (liquid waste discharged into the water) than fish meal after it’s consumed,” he explains.

Aquaculture at home and abroad fits well with soybean farming, White says. “Soy protein is a renewable resource with abundant supplies. It’s a safe, proven, economical option to help produce high-quality seafood.”

Researching Superior Soy Products While soymeal’s nutritional profile is highly compatible with seafood production, research is underway at universities and private companies to develop soybean varieties tailored to the specific needs of the aquaculture industry.

IOWA SOYBEANS PROCESSED INTO SOYMEAL FOR A Q U A C U LT U R E F E E D C A N P L A Y A K E Y R O L E I N S U P P O R T I N G A M O R E S U S TA I N A B L E S E A F O O D S U P P LY .

Chuck White, a soybean farmer from Spencer, is a member of the Soy Aquaculture Alliance, which is dedicated to expanding the use of U.S.-grown soybeans in domestic aquaculture diets.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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Photo courtesy of Eagle’s Catch.

W H E N E AG L E ’ S C ATC H I S I N F U L L P RO D U C T I O N , T H E C O M PA N Y WILL FEED 60,000 BUSHELS OF SOYBEANS PER YEAR.

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This includes higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is common in fish meal and tends to be higher in wild-caught seafood, compared to farm-raised seafood. “We need to keep doing research to come up with the right soy-based rations for specific fish,” says Adam.

“We feed pigs a 12-15% protein feed ration,” says Adam. “Catfish, however, need 34% protein.”

Part of this research revolves around the protein content in soymeal. While soymeal typically contains 44-48% protein, scientists are studying ways to boost this to 70%. Supplying the right levels of protein is important for the health of any livestock species, including seafood.

Not only does soymeal offer a low-cost, healthy alternative to fish meal, but there’s also no difference in the rate of gain compared to fish meal-based feed rations, White says. Rate of gain determines how efficiently livestock – including aquatic creatures – utilize feed to reach market weight.

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Catfish love soy, he adds. “They can eat 50% of their ration from soymeal. Other fish species like salmon also need a lot of protein.”

“Our fish are really efficient at energy conversion,” Sweeney says. “It takes about nine months to grow a tilapia from half a gram to a market weight of roughly 700 grams, which is 1.5 pounds.” While Eagle’s Catch has been purchasing fish feed from Louisiana, the company is talking with feed manufacturers in Iowa to purchase more locally grown feed. “Along with the nutritional component, the feed has to float, so that’s a big consideration,” Sweeney says. “We’re excited about using more Iowa products.”


When Eagle’s Catch is in full production, the company will feed 60,000 bushels of soybeans per year. “Iowa agriculture is No. 1 or near the top in so many areas, from pork and egg production to corn and soybean production,” Sweeney says. “We want to help bring world-class opportunities to aquaculture, too.”

While the seafood industry will probably never create as big of a market for soymeal as pig and cattle production do, it’s still a good growth area, Adam says. “It can help Iowa farmers continue to tap into domestic and export markets for their products.”

Aquaculture has a strong future in Iowa, as long as smart business decisions are made along the way, Morris says.

Aquaculture markets might not be limited only to seafood production. “Although the first idea is to produce fish for the consumer market, there are markets related to bait, farm-pond management and ornamental ponds,” Morris says.

“People want more homegrown food, so there are a lot of opportunities for U.S.-raised seafood and shrimp,” adds White, who notes that off-shore fish farms in the U.S. can raise marine species like bluefin tuna. “This is great for soybean producers, who can provide the soymeal for the feed.”

Eagle’s Catch is showing what’s possible in the aquaculture industry. “We’re excited to continue growing aquaculture’s footprint here in Iowa and the Midwest,” Sweeney says. “This creates a lot of opportunities for consumers and farmers of all kinds, including soybean growers.”

Homegrown Soy, Seafood Make a Splash

Eagle's Catch currently raises tilapia and is exploring other species to raise at its Ellsworth location.

Tilapia is a flaky white f ish with a mild flavor that can be baked, grilled or pan f ried and seasoned with paprika, thyme, lemon pepper or cayenne pepper. It can be purchased f resh f rom the f ish counter at most grocery stores or individually wrapped as f rozen f illets in the f reezer section. IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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SWEET TRADI TIONS A N O R T H W E S T I O W A FA M I LY H A R V E S T S S A P TO PRODUCE MAPLE CANDY AND SYRUP

By Joseph L. Murphy

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The clap of hooves echo through the tree-covered bluffs near Castalia as horse-drawn wagons transport volunteers through a f resh blanket of snow. Helping hands move sap f rom bucket to bucket collecting the raw, time-tested commodity. The overnight f reeze and thaw cycles of early March are a telltale sign that it is syrup time again. For hundreds of years, the Green family and their descendants have collected and boiled sap to prepare nature’s sweet candy and syrup.

Steel buckets line maple trees in the bluffs surrounding Castalia. The Green family has been collecting sap using old-fashioned horsepower and making syrup much the same way for 169 years.

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“The fluctuation in temperature is what makes the sap run,” Dale Green says. “We’re catching the sap as it runs up and down the tree.” Green and his daughter Jeni (Green) Melcher are the most recent generations to make sugar, also known as maple candy, and syrup with the help of other family members, friends and volunteers.

Above: Jeni (Green) Melcher makes maple candy while others monitor syrup progress. Below: Meghan Palmer pours sap into the collection wagon.

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Not much has changed since syrup was first made in the maple-tree-lined hills and hallows of northeast Iowa. Horse teams pulling a large covered tank collect sap from 1,100 spiles (taps) each year. The tanks are emptied into two underground 1,250-gallon cisterns, where sap is drawn by gravity to the evaporator.

Greens’ Sugar Bush is the family’s tradition of turning sap into sweet gold. Started in 1851, their operation is one of the state’s longest-running businesses.

The evaporator is fueled by wood and stoked by volunteers. It heats syrup to 7 degrees above the boiling point of water, releasing water in the form of steam. Stainless steel pans sit on an arch above an intense fire, and as the water evaporates, the sap thickens.

“We are as old-fashioned and traditional as you can get,” Green says. “We cook sap over a wood fire and make sugar from a hand-hammered copper pot that is more than 60 years old.”

“We have limestone-based soils here, so we use a filter press to remove the lime,” Melcher says. “It doesn’t hurt anything, but if it isn’t filtered, it will settle to the bottom of the bottle.”


Hall Everman drives the horse team.

The family’s tradition of turning sap into sweet gold started in 1851, making their operation one of the state's longest-running businesses.

It takes roughly 43-45 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. “Making syrup is watching a lot of thermometers and knowing when to stop before it boils over,” Melcher says. “At the beginning of the season, you have nice light syrup. The color and the taste of the syrup will change throughout the season.” Sap gathering usually lasts four to six weeks, depending on the weather. Throughout the season, the Greens and volunteers gather buckets 5-25 times, depending on the freeze and thaw cycles. “We only sell the sugar during the season because we don't put any preservatives in it. But we sell our syrup year-round at our farm in Castalia,” Melcher explains.

The Greens also own Spring Valley Farms, a commercial seed stock cattle business. Through the family-owned company, they sell Angus and Simmental bulls along with herd sires. Since 1991, the family has hosted Maple Festival Days to thank their customers and friends. Visitors can enjoy a pancake and sausage meal, free wagon rides through the timber and tours of the syrupmaking process. “Maple Festival Days started as a way to say thank you for our livestock business,” Green says. “Now the festival is open to everyone. Every year at the event, we feed 1,200 people from six different states.”

The Green family has been making maple candy and syrup for hundreds of years.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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By Ann Thelen |

Photos by Joseph L. Murphy

color the wind kite festival

Photo courtesy of Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce.

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music man museum

Mason City and Clear Lake are d e s t i n at i o n s t h at h i t a l l t h e right notes Imagine a place where you can f ind the imprints of Frank Lloyd Wright and Meredith Willson. A community that is home to the f irst-ever Grammy Music Award and the creator of the puppets f rom “The Sound of Music.” A place so rich in design that Condé Nast Traveller has twice named it one of the “World’s Best Cities for Architecture,” alongside the likes of Paris, Dubai, Miami and Istanbul. It’s all in Mason City, a gem in Cerro Gordo County in north-central Iowa. Dream about sandy beaches around a 3,600-acre recreational lake and a ballroom that has hosted the biggest music names in the business, such as REO Speedwagon, Lynryd Skynyrd, Martina McBride, ZZ Top and Roy Orbison. Picture yourself at an annual Winter Dance Party celebrating the lives of three rock ‘n’ roll legends. It’s all in neighboring Clear Lake, an equally treasured spot. Together, Mason City and Clear Lake – separated by a mere 10 miles – are focal points of artistry and architecture united with history and tourism in an area that hits all the right notes. Add incredible restaurants and worldleading agricultural companies, and

the surf ballroom

you’ve arrived at the doorsteps of a magnif icent Iowa region.

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Arts, Architecture and Tourism “As a community, we focus on our authentic cultural heritage, which has blossomed into creative ideas and leading people to embrace this area as a cool place,” explains Robin Anderson, president and CEO, Mason City Area Chamber of Commerce. “We are building our brand as a destination for architectural tourism. We are painting murals on the backs of buildings, which serve as the f ront door to downtown f rom almost every direction.” These murals are geometric designs in the spirit of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The effort recently expanded with the community’s “That’s a

»

Wrap” project to cover utility boxes in what looks like stained glass art but is the same material companies use to create car wraps for advertising. “It’s hard to deny the benef its of living in a community built around a lake,” says Stacy Doughan, CEO, Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce. “We live in what appear to be small towns, but when you look at what there is to do in both communities, it’s like living in a metro area. People come for the lake, music and arts, and f ind hiking, biking, boating and beaches. We have something

mural in mason city

to offer in every season.”

frank lloyd wright-inspired stained glass

Robin Anderson, Mason City Chamber of commerce

frank lloyd wright house

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Explore Mason City's treasured Prairie School A r c h i t ec t u r a l h e r i ta g e i n a wa l k i n g to u r . S e e t h e l a r g es t g r o u p i n g o f h o m es o n a u n i f i e d s i t e , e n d i n g at a h o m e d es i g n e d by F r a n k L l oy d W r i g h t i n 1 9 0 8 , h i s f i r s t i n Iowa .


of Points t Interes » Music Man Museum and Music Man Square The f irst Grammy ever awarded was presented to Mason City’s own Meredith Willson, best known for writing the 1957 hit Broadway musical, The Music Man. The Music Man Square features an

historic park inn

indoor 1912 streetscape with an ice cream parlor and gift shop in designs recreated f rom the Warner Bros. motion picture of the same name.

» Historic Park Inn The Fertile Market o f f e r s v i n ta g e , o n e o f - a - k i n d c u r at e d items, including a n t i q u es , l o c a l g o o d s , a n d v i n ta g e a n d n e w c l ot h i n g w i t h a beautiful view of the Winnebago river.

The last remaining Frank Lloyd Wright-designed and built hotel in the world, the Historic Park Inn is an internationally renowned architectural marvel, rich in exposed wood, stained glass windows and skylights. The Historic Park Inn Hotel and City Bank Building was Wright’s f irst Iowa commission and his only non-residential project in the Hawkeye State. Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, this Prairie Style property underwent a $20 million renovation in 2011.

the fertile market

» Historic Surf Ballroom & Museum The Surf Ballroom is a Historic Rock ‘n’ Roll Landmark associated with “The Day the Music Died.” Early rock and roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson gave their last performances at the Surf in 1959 before dying in a plane crash. Each February since 1979, the Surf Ballroom hosts a Winter Dance Party tribute show to honor the three stars’ lives and legacies.

» Color the Wind Kite Festival For two decades, a dazzling array of kites, banners and ground displays have danced around a f rozen Clear Lake during the Color the Wind Kite Festival. Longtime organizers Larry and Kay Day retired in 2020, however, the festival will go on in 2022 thanks to the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.

» Charles H. MacNider Art Museum One of Mason City’s most revered treasures is the collection of more than 500 marionettes and puppets created by America’s premier puppet master and Mason City native Bil Baird. The museum contains some of the most recognized marionettes in the world, including The Lonely

Music Man Square

Goatherd, which was featured in the Academy Award-winning f ilm, “The Sound of Music.”

Photo courtesy of Mason City Chamber of Commerce.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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y Culinar ts h g i l e D » Northwestern Steakhouse This 100-year-old restaurant specializes in using top-quality Iowa beef to create Greek-style broiled steaks that melt in your mouth. Inside, old wooden booths, early movie posters and photographs give a nod to history. Most of the recipes still harken back to Tony Papouchis, a Greek immigrant and original restaurant founder.

» 1910 Grille Located in the Historic Park Inn Hotel, the 1910 Grille combines the vintage appeal of early Prairie School design with a modern flair for cuisine. The restaurant sources many of its ingredients f rom local farms and growers in Iowa. In the lower level, the 1910 Lounge is a place where patrons enjoy a beverage, relax or shoot a game of stick on the 100-year-old billiards table.

Vicki Sukup, K & B Emporium

» Suzie Q Café One of fewer than 20 surviving “Valentine” style diners in the U.S., the Suzie Q Café is a nostalgic spot to enjoy lunch. This quaint little diner car was brought to Mason City in 1948. Enjoy classics such as a burger, f ries and a malt or try the Cheezy Weezy.

» Pastime Gardens For 65 years, Pastime Gardens has served up authentic, homemade Mexican meals. Locals and visitors enthusiastically endorse the tagline, “Taco Heaven of the Midwest.” Elvis pictures, Mexican art, an old telephone booth, and vintage tables and

K & B Emporium | Anna’s Ballroom

chairs add to this restaurant’s charm, best known for its homemade chips, salsa and hot sauce.

» K & B Emporium | Anna’s Ballroom The K & B Emporium in Clear Lake offers healthy grab-and-go options in the café, including daily specials, smoothies and baked goods. Plus, the café offers a clothing boutique, retail wine cellar, and local artist and vintage treasures. On the

the Landing bar & Grill

second floor, Anna’s Ballroom uses ROK Service, an interactive dining experience, where a hot stone is taken to tables for guests to sizzle and sear hand-

Photo by Ashton Boles.

chosen proteins to perfection.

» THE LANDING BAR & GRILL M a s o n C i t y i s h o m e to a s c u l p t u r e to u r , w h i c h b e g i n s d ow n tow n a n d l o o p s t h r o u g h t h e c u lt u r a l c r es c e n t. C i t i z e n s a n d b u s i n es s es h av e p u r c h a s e d s o m e o f t h e s c u l p t u r es , w h i c h a d d s to t h e i n t e r es t o f t h e to u r .

The Landing is a large lakef ront bar and grill with perfect views of Clear Lake. With great food and a breezy atmosphere, it’s a popular destination for live music, burgers and seafood. While the restaurant’s hours vary seasonally, takeout is always a perfect option when staying on property at the Lakeside Inn, the only hotel on the shores of Clear Lake.

Photo courtesy of Mason City Chamber of Commerce.

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The Central Gardens o f N o r t h Iowa a r e a be auti f ul p ublic ga r d e n a n d g r e e n s pac e locate d o n 2 . 7 ac r es n e a r d ow n tow n C l e a r L a k e .

Photo courtesy of Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce.

e r u t l u c i Agr re e H s w Gro Cerro Gordo County is home to approximately 760 farms covering nearly

K & B Emporium | Anna’s Ballroom

320,000 acres of farmland, where soybeans and corn are grown. The county is also home to leading national and global agricultural and food companies. Ag Processing Inc. is the largest cooperative soybean processing company in the world and a leading supplier of soybean meal and ref ined vegetable oils. One of the company’s 10 soybean processing plants is in Mason City. POET Bioref ining produces 56 million gallons of ethanol annually and employs approximately 40 people. Smithf ield Foods makes packaged meats and turkey products sold under the Armour, Butterball, Eckrich and LunchMakers brands at its Mason City plant.

Bill and Ann Papouchis, northwestern steakhouse

Cargill’s innovative cooked egg facility in Mason City produces ref rigerated liquid pasteurized eggs, pre-cooked f rozen entrees and pre-cooked f rozen scrambled eggs. Hoover’s Hatchery hatches and sells more than 100 chicken breeds to customers. Their chicken varieties include breeds suitable as egg layers or as broilers. Kraft Heinz plant in Mason City – the only place in the world where ready-to-serve Jell-O

northwestern steakhouse

northwestern steakhouse

and Jell-O pudding snacks are made. IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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WHAT

Justin Glisan, Ph.D., is the state climatologist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

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EVER THE WEATHER P A S S I O N F O R W E A T H E R A N D A G R I C U LT U R E M E R G E I N T H E S TAT E C L I M ATO L O G I S T R O L E

By Lauren Houska |

A

s Iowans, we love to joke about the weather.

As the seasons change, Facebook feeds are filled with memes like: “Welcome to Iowa, where you can experience all four seasons in 24 hours.” Stop at any rural Midwest gas station and the week’s weather – good or bad – will inevitably be worked into the conversation. But for Justin Glisan, Ph.D., state climatologist within the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, weather is much more than casual chitchat or an internet meme – it’s his passion. “I’ve always been interested in weather patterns,” Glisan says. “This is my dream job.”

Photos by Joseph L. Murphy

Glisan is not a meteorologist, so he won’t be on your evening news letting you know to get out your snow boots or ice scraper. Instead, Glisan is a climatologist and examines the longer-term trends that are found in Iowa’s climate. He then provides that data to farmers and agricultural stakeholders. “Farmers use this data to understand trends,” Glisan says. “Matching up what they have seen over the decades with our observations and facts gives us an idea of where Iowa’s climate has been and where it’s moving.” Glisan sat down with the Iowa Food & Family Project to explain why weather plays an essential role in agriculture and how farmers are adapting to weather changes.

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How did climatology become your dream job? When I was a young kid, I remember experiencing several nights of severe storms. It scared me. My dad explained that I could either be scared of storms all my life or learn about them. That’s when I decided I wanted to study weather and became fascinated by it.

Why study Iowa weather? Given the variability of weather we have experienced in the last 100 years and the exciting weather patterns across Iowa, how could you not want to study it? Iowa is in the middle of a country that has varying topography and is flanked by two oceans. This setup brings every type of weather – sometimes all within 48 hours. Iowa is one of the only states with both its east and west borders drawn out by rivers, making flooding a frequent concern.

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What is the difference between weather and climate? Interestingly, I’m only the third person ever to be Iowa’s state climatologist. Each of my predecessors stayed on the job for 30 years. And that 30-year mark is an important timestamp. Climatology uses 30-year weather trends and then compares present-day observations to those trends to calculate highs and lows and precipitation amounts for certain times of the year. A good way to think about it is that climatology is what scientists expect. Weather is what we get on any given day. I often say that weather is what you are wearing today – climate is your entire closet!

Is Iowa’s climate changing? Climate dynamicists are the ones

who study climate change. My role is to provide the data, and then they use a different set of tools to run climate models and track climate changes. I can speak to the history. In the last 30 years, there has been an increase in surface and atmospheric temperatures across the Midwest and the country. A warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, resulting in increased rainfall and snowfall across the U.S. There are also more rainfall events that drop several inches of rain in just a few hours. Iowa is also experiencing a seasonal shift in rainfall, with more rainfall events right around the time farmers want to start fieldwork in the spring and fall – 2018 and 2019 are cases in point. Being in an agriculture-based state, my main interest is helping farmers adapt and flourish to these changing conditions.


FARMING, CLIMATE AND CONSERVATION A change in weather patterns might mean getting more use out of a snowsuit or bathing suit. But for farmers, too much or too little heat or rainfall can determine whether a crop withers or thrives. “Iowa is built for row crops,” Glisan explains. “Iowa’s farmers have been on the land a long time, and they are intuitive and innovative. Sometimes I think they know weather patterns better than anyone.” Glisan says farmers have seen seasonal variations in temperature and precipitation and have adapted, so they have many valuable insights that can help his work. “Farmers truly want to be part of the solution in adjusting to an evolving climate,” he says. “Agricultural conservation practices have a significant impact on that goal.” Iowa farmers are awardwinning conservationists. Mark Schleisman, a farmer from Lake City, received the national Conservation Legacy Award from the American Soybean Association in 2018. He plants cover crops on 2,500 acres of farmland so that when his farm sees an excessive amount of

CONSERVATION PRACTICES

precipitation, the water is slowed down, and nitrates are removed from the water before it enters the Raccoon River. “It’s important to use these practices to preserve the land and the environment for those who are going to be farming after us,” Schleisman explains. “We want to be progressive and not only pass the land on as good as we got it, but maybe better. And I think we can do that.” Schleisman also works with the Iowa Soybean Association to track and improve water quality. He installed a bioreactor and saturated buffer nearly five years ago as part of a water quality improvement project through Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance. Just like Schleisman, farmers across Iowa are putting practices in place to protect the environment as weather patterns change. U.S. Census of Agriculture data from 2012 - 2017 shows cover crop usage has grown approximately 250%. Other practices, including bioreactors, no-till or wetlands, have also expanded and contribute to positive impacts for the farm environment. Iowa’s soil is gold, so keeping it in Iowa's farm fields is essential.

A bioreactor consists of a buried pit f illed with a carbon source, such as wood chips. Water f rom farmland flows through the wood chips and nitrates are removed naturally by microorganisms.

No-till farming is the process of leaving soil and crop residue undisturbed between harvest and planting.

Mark Schleisman, Lake City

Wetlands are shallow, man-made vegetated pools that help f ilter nutrients – especially nitrates – control flooding and provide wildlife habitat.

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Photo courtesy of www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com. Recipe on Page 37.

BEEFING UP BUYING OPTIONS PANDEMIC SPURS INTEREST IN PURCHASING D I R E C T LY F R O M FA R M E R S

By Ann Thelen

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Consumers have a

a familiar clientele –

lot of choices when it

those they knew by

comes to food. From

first name and whose

selecting products

kids were in the same

on the grocery store

schools.

shelves to buying fruits

Mediterranean Beef Meatball Kabobs • 1 pound ground beef (93% lean or leaner) • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs

For generations, farm

• 2 egg whites or 1 whole egg

families have relied on

• 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

hometown meat lockers

• 2 tablespoons water

to process the animals

• 2 teaspoons garlic

to the menu – and

raised on their farms

• 1 teaspoon ground cumin

never-before-seen

to stock their freezers.

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

temporary shutdowns

Friends and neighbors

of restaurants and

enthusiastically jump

processing facilities –

at the opportunity to

and the desire for local

purchase “a quarter” or

food options continues

“a half” from a family

to grow.

they know.

Across Iowa, livestock

Now, many consumers

producers and

around the state are

local meat lockers

eager to support local

are responding to

farmers this same way.

consumers’ curiosity

But, buying a quarter

about how to buy

of beef (approximately

local meat products in

142 pounds of meat at

bulk. Until last year’s

once) or more, can be

pandemic, hometown

both appealing and

lockers and producers

overwhelming for first-

primarily worked with

time buyers.

and vegetables at farmers’ markets, local options are everywhere. Add a global pandemic

• 1/4 teaspoon pepper • 4 flatbreads (such as naan, lavash or pita bread) • Optional toppings: Chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumber, chopped red onion, chopped f resh parsley, Tzatziki sauce Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine ground beef, breadcrumbs, egg whites, parsley, water, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper in large bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Shape into 12, 2-inch meatballs. Thread meatballs onto 4, 10-inch skewers. Place on rack in broiler pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 24 to 27 minutes. Remove meatballs f rom skewers. Serve in flatbreads. Garnish with toppings, as desired. Tip: Cooking times are for f resh or thoroughly thawed ground beef. Ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Color is not a reliable indicator of ground beef doneness. Serves: 4

One 3-ounce ser ving of beef offers 10 essential nutrients, including protein, zinc, iron and B vitamins.

Source: Iowa Beef Industry Council Nutrition per serving: 360 calories, 33 g protein, 13 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 763 mg sodium, 76 mg cholesterol, 26 g carbohydrates, 1.6 g f iber

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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CONNECTING CONSUMERS W I T H FA R M E R S To make the buying experience easier for consumers, the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) launched a local beef directory to connect farmers that sell beef with consumers who want to buy it. The Iowa Local Beef Directory at Photo courtesy of www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com.

iabeef.org also provides educational resources to shoppers through the buying process.

Asian Beef Stir-Fry

“Today’s global challenges have shown us that consumers want to support

• 1 pound boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 1-inch thick • 4 cups assorted f resh vegetables, such as sugar snap peas, broccoli florets, bell peppers and carrot strips • 1 teaspoon minced garlic • 1/2 cup prepared stir-f ry sauce • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper • 2 cups rice, cooked • 2 tablespoons unsalted dryroasted peanuts (optional) Cut beef steak lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/4-inch thick strips. Combine vegetables and 3 tablespoons water in large nonstick skillet. Cover and cook over medium-high

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heat 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove and drain. Heat same pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add half of beef and half of garlic; stir-f ry 1-2 minutes or until outside surface of beef is no longer pink. Remove. Repeat with remaining beef and garlic. Return all beef and vegetables to pan. Add stir-f ry sauce and crushed red pepper; heat through. Serve over rice. Sprinkle with peanuts, if desired.

their local economies,” says Janine Moore, IBIC chairman. “We’ve seen a growing desire by consumers to learn more about how beef is produced and where they can find direct marketing opportunities.” The local beef directory provides resources to help consumers understand what to expect when purchasing the desired amount of beef. The directory includes cut guides, insights into reading

Serves: 4

beef product labels, storage and shelf-

Source: Iowa Beef Industry Council

life recommendations, food safety

Nutrition per serving: 410 calories, 32 g protein, 11 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 783 mg sodium, 70 mg cholesterol, 43 g carbohydrates, 3.2 g f iber

and cooking tips, family-friendly beef recipes and frequently asked Beef Quality Assurance questions.


Jenni and Scott Birker

quality wholesale meat

MEET JENNI & SCOT T BIRKER

operate Birker Cattle

products to many Cedar

Company in Garrison. On

Valley-area restaurants,

this fourth-generation

eateries, schools and service

Birker Cattle Company

commercial Angus farm in

organizations.

east-central Iowa, the family manages a 250-cow herd.

“We offer a variety of bundles and packages to help our

They offer quarters, halves

customers get the types of

and individual beef cuts.

cuts their family enjoys,”

“We are passionate about

Jenni says. “Some families

raising healthy animals and

want more ground beef with

providing our beef to other

a variety of steaks and roasts.

families is a job we take

Others want the sweet

seriously,” Jenni says. “All of

sizzle of an all-steak grilling

the cows and calves are born

package.”

and raised right on our farm.”

With three kids at home,

It takes about one year for a

beef offers mealtime

calf to reach market weight.

flexibility and excellent

The cows summer in grass

nutrition for the Birker

pastures and winter in a

family.

cornfield around the Birker’s home where they are fed

“I love to put a roast in the slow cooker and let it cook

mostly hay and corn silage.

all day,” Jenni says. “When

Scott does daily checks to

it’s done, I turn it into three

ensure the well-being of

meals – a pot roast, shredded

every animal.

beef tacos and a hot beef

The family works with the

sandwich. On other days,

Gilbertville Locker, which is

ground beef is favorite. It's

a state-inspected processing

easy and delicious, seasoned

facility. Since 1959, the locker

simply with salt, pepper

has been delivering high-

and garlic.”

Photo by Joseph L. Murphy.

Selecting Steak Cuts When selecting the cuts from your quarter or half, beef’s great versatility means there are plenty of options for every taste and budget.

CHUCK EYE STEAK

RIBEYE STEAK

TOP SIRLOIN STEAK

T-BONE STEAK

FLAT IRON STEAK

A tender and savory cut. A lowcost option.

Rich, juicy and full-flavored with generous marbling throughout.

Flavorful, versatile and juicy. Great as a steak or cut into kabobs.

Delivers optimal tenderness and satisfying flavor.

Extremely tender, well-marbled and flavorful.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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P R E PA R I N G TO BUY A QUAR T E R OF BEEF

HOW MUCH MEAT IS A QUARTER OF A BEEF? Meat from a typical quarter of beef with a live weight of 1,300 pounds: 7 Ribeye Steaks 6 T-Bone Steaks 3 Sirloin Steaks 3 Sirloin Tip Steaks

One of the benefits

3 Round Steaks

of buying beef in bulk is the ability to select the type of cuts and

6 Roasts (Arm, Chuck, Rump) 35-60 lbs. Ground Beef or Hamburger Patties

amounts of each, ranging from ground beef to roasts to steaks. Most farms require orders to be placed six

plate

months to one year in advance. The farmer or locker can also offer recommendations for selecting beef cuts based on family size and preferred ways to cook beef.

SAFELY STORING BEEF • As soon as the beef is received,

HOW MUCH FREEZER SPACE DO YOU NEED?

1/4

142 =pounds

4.5 cubic feet of chest freezer space or 5.5 cubic feet of upright freezer space

it should be placed in the freezer or refrigerator. • Beef placed in the refrigerator should be used within two to

WHAT COSTS SHOULD YOU EXPECT?

three days to maintain optimum freshness. • The USDA recommends that frozen beef be used within one year of the packing date.

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| FRESH PICKINGS MAGAZINE

The cost of the animal is split between four parties.

+

Each party is responsible for the individual processing costs.

$


MEET LAURA & AARON CUNNINGHAM SkyView Farms Laura and Aaron Cunningham,

our full line of beef cuts plus custom halves and quarters,” Laura explains. “They have specialized in custom meat processing since 2006, and we’ve trusted them processing for our family’s table for nearly 10 years.”

owners of SkyView Farms in

Certified processors like Elma

Nora Springs, raise black Angus

Locker regularly undergo

cattle and farm row crop

stringent health inspections to

acres of corn, rye and alfalfa

maintain their certified status.

to provide food for the herd.

The meat is always kept in

The couple grew up on family

a clean environment and at

farms and received degrees

constant safe temperatures.

in agriculture from Iowa State University and North Iowa Area Community College, fueling a

“For many, the upf ront cost of

Photo courtesy of www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com.

Breakfast Skillet Beef Tacos

ordering beef in bulk can be it's important to remember

• 8 ounces cooked beef steak or roast, chopped

it's a long-term investment

• 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

SkyView Farms follows a

that can save money when

• 4 large eggs, beaten

set of strict brand promises

compared to multiple trips to

to ensure its beef is always

the meat counter.

deep-rooted commitment to work the land and raise cattle.

delicious and high-quality. The commitments include humane animal care, carefully managing resources to protect the environment, and focusing on slow-raised, tender, premium beef.

intimidating,” says Laura. “But

Versatility, tenderness and flavor are the stars of the show for Laura when cooking beef. A round steak, cut into strips, is her go-to-choice for fajitas, while a chuck roast turns one meal into two with

“We partner with Elma Locker

Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches

and Grocery on processing

for leftovers.

• 1 cup f rozen Mexican vegetable blend • 8 small flour tortillas or taco shells (about 6-inch diameter), warmed • Optional toppings: Crumbled queso blanco or shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, chopped f resh cilantro, chopped avocado Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add eggs and vegetables; cook 1 to 3 minutes or until eggs are scrambled and just set, stirring occasionally. Stir in beef steak; cook and stir 1 minute or until beef is just heated through. Evenly divide beef mixture between tortillas; top evenly with cheese and toppings, if desired. Serves: 4 Source: Iowa Beef Industry Council Nutrition per serving: 410 calories, 30 g protein, 15 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 549 mg sodium, 232 mg cholesterol, 37 g carbohydrates, 3.6 g f iber

Photo courtesy of Laura Cunningham.

IOWAFOODANDFAMILY.COM |

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fresh picked

FA R M L I F E I N T H E W I N T E R P E N C I L M E E T S PA P E R D U R I N G T H I S S LO W E R T I M E O N T H E FA R M

By Amy Nelson

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Photos by Joseph L. Murphy

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ou’ve probably heard the phrase “where the rubber meets the road.” When I think of winter on the farm, I think of a similar analogy – it’s where the pencil meets the paper.

Amy Nelson is a fifth-generation farmer who grows soybeans and corn and raises cattle. She is an active member of CommonGround Iowa, the Scott County Farm Bureau Board and the Iowa Soybean Association. She lives near Davenport with her husband Randy and children Jakob and Courtney.

Winter is the slowest time of year on the farm, where most things are tucked in and resting for the upcoming growing season. While these winter days may not seem like farmers are doing much outside, these can be some of the most productive and important days of the year inside the office. It’s the time to do some serious budgeting. To be successful, farmers need to be master budgeters, which takes time to sit down and figure out a detailed, interwoven plan. I go through a series of questions to formulate a budget forecast for the next growing season. What was planted in a field last year? What do I plan to plant next year? What will it cost to plant the seed, fertilize the field, and control insects and weeds? Next, I must

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determine where I plan to store my grain or if I will need to sell it straight out of the field. Then, there is estimating the cost of production time – what are my break-even costs for each bushel of corn and soybeans? With these questions answered and data in hand, I have a target to begin looking at my marketing plan. For farmers, “marketing” means selling the grain – this lingo drives my husband who is a marketing major crazy. I always love it when my kids ask, “Why do we need to do this math work anyway?” I’m never at a loss for farming examples to provide! Winter is also meeting season. This year, I’ll be gathering virtually with other farmers to hear reports from agronomists and state extension members about the last growing season and predictions for the next one. I will also learn about new techniques and technologies others used, which might help me be more productive or efficient on my farm.


When it comes to winter weather, I love stepping out into the crisp morning air and seeing the frost on the trees with a pretty dusting of snow. However, I don’t love winter storms, which make driving conditions difficult, cause activities to be canceled and result in digging out vehicles. For farmers, storms also make for long days of cleaning out barns and caring for livestock, which is always a top priority regardless of the weather conditions. My biggest fear is losing power and having the cattle’s water supply freeze up. Our outdoor waterers are heated by a small electric heater coil inside each unit. When each cow drinks approximately 20 gallons of water per day, and there are 35 cows, it can make for a long day of hauling water or trying to

fix a problem in freezing-cold weather. Some of my favorite childhood memories of snow days on the farm were going back to school and hearing my friends talk about how they slept in and what TV shows they watched. Those days were a different story for me. If there was enough snow that the buses couldn’t run, it also meant there was enough snow that pigs couldn’t get the feed out of their feeders. I got up with my parents, and while dad used the tractor to move snowdrifts and mom used the hand shovel, my assignment was to sit on the ground and scrape out the feeders for the pigs. While the winter days may be short, my family still stays busy. My son practices his offseason sports, mostly football

and baseball, and my daughter goes strong with her dance competitions. Winter is also the best time for our family vacation. We realize this isn’t the traditional summer vacation; however, when I was growing up, my family didn’t even take vacations. Dad never was comfortable leaving the farm even during the slower winter season. My husband and I have decided to make family vacations a priority, at least while our kids are still home. We try to go every other year by saving and planning for a year then going the next one. With the uncertainty of the pandemic, time will tell if our plans hold this year. We have a savings and a wish list of places, and I’m dreaming of a white sandy beach instead of a white snowdrift!

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aisle insights

C R E AT U R E S O F C O M F O R T ANIMALS AND CONSUMERS BENEFIT FROM CARE BEING A PRIORIT Y ON THE FARM By Aaron Putze, APR

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

e are creatures of comfort. Heated bucket seats and steering wheels. Wireless internet paired with Alexa. Netflix and SiriusXM. Keurig coffee makers. Zero-gravity reclining beds. Remote start ignitions.

the dust, wind and cold. The thresher included a heater, air conditioner and AM/FM radio. His buttons nearly popped with the upgrade to his fleet of modest yet functional farm equipment. We all celebrated with him!

The list is endless. Because as creatures of comfort, we’re always searching for things – and ways of doing things – that make our lives more comfortable.

But my dad’s interest in creature comforts extended far beyond his personal well-being. Much of his time and attention focused on caring for his pigs and cattle. He loved being a farmer and always looked for new and better ways to raise his farm animals.

This is hardly a revelation. And it holds true for farmers, too. I will forever remember the summer of 1978 when my dad pulled onto the farmyard driving his “new” Massey Ferguson 300 combine. It was a ‘73 model he discovered during a visit from our farm near West Bend to an implement dealer in Bancroft (rumor is he was offered a deal too good to pass up!). The monstrous machine was a major upgrade to his two-row corn picker. In addition to the bright, orange paint and stepladder to the sky, the harvesting machine sported a cab. For the first time in his 30-plus years of farming, dad would harvest shielded from

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Much like the concept of the cab on his combine, protecting the livestock from the elements was essential for their comfort and well-being. Dad instinctively knew this. He was a farmer. I witnessed this firsthand as a youngster during the few years I remember him raising pigs outdoors. The pasture, located directly south of our farmhouse, was home to dozens of pigs, feed pans and hog huts made from tin and wood and bedded with straw. Each hut was suitable for one grown pig, and during farrowing season, her litter of 8-10 piglets.


While the pigs enjoyed rooting around the pasture under fair skies and comfortable temps, the situation (and their moods) changed as quickly as the weather. It’s no secret that Iowa is prone to wild fluctuations in temperatures and precipitation. We experienced every weather condition possible on our Palo Alto County farm. Rain, heat, fog, sleet, cold, snow and a lot of wind – all could strike without warning (sometimes on the same day!).

farrow. It provided all the creature comforts animals need to thrive. Individual stalls protected piglets from other irritable and protective mothers while heat lamps provided added comfort during the long, cold winters. As piglets matured, feeders and waterers were situated in various locations throughout the cozy barn, allowing them continuous access to nutrition and hydration without ever having to step outside.

Dad did these things because he cared deeply about his animals.

Winters were especially brutal for raising pigs outdoors. Feeding pans overturned, waterers froze solid and gates drifted shut. Feed for the pigs was scattered by the wind or washed away. Bare ground was frozen solid, and wind-driven snow crept into the huts. Sleet peppered your face during chore time. Like their caretakers, the animals grew grouchy dealing with it all. Even worse, piglets that wandered away from their huts and protective warmth of their mothers often perished.

When the last cow left the farm, dad continued to evolve his approach to raising livestock by converting the spacious cattle barn into a facility ideal for raising pigs. He retrofitted the building with large, freeswinging wooden doors that could be raised or lowered depending on the time of year. During summer, they opened wide to optimize airflow through the building. When winter arrived, the doors were lowered, leaving about a three-foot gap between their bottom and the concrete floor. This permitted pigs to come and go as they pleased during the colder months, often roaming outside to feed before returning to the protective, deepbedded interior.

This change offers more creature comforts for the animals and direct benefits for consumers. First, it provides the public with greater confidence and peace of mind knowing that farmers are doing things right for the animals. Second, better animal comfort and care translates to fewer mortalities and higher rates of gain. The combination reduces production costs and the prices consumers pay for beef, pork, eggs, turkey, cheese and milk.

Dad wanted to do better. It began with transitioning from raising pigs largely outdoors to indoors. He designed and built a hog barn adjacent to the pasture for sows to

Some things never change. Fast-forward 40 years, and the same concepts apply, only with more advanced technologies and facilities used by farmers. Guided by a passion for caring for their livestock, most farm families have moved away from outdoor lots for raising pigs, cattle, turkeys and chickens, opting for climate-controlled barns.

As you travel Iowa this winter, know that the farms you pass – and the animals raised there – are benefiting from the same creature comforts that make our lives better off the farm. As it should be.

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