Tag Archives: conventional

Hungry for Truth SD Top Similarities Between Organic and Conventional Farming

Top Similarities Between Organic and Conventional Farming

There are a lot of choices when it comes to food in South Dakota grocery stores and farmers markets. “Low fat,” “gluten free” and “non-GMO” are just a few of the labels companies add to packaging to stand out and appeal to your dietary preferences. While they may be helpful, these labels can also lead people to wonder about the safety and health of foods without labeling claims.

“Organic” is a great example of this because foods grown using organic and conventional practices are equally safe and nutritious, but organic foods receive a little extra attention. That’s because organic farmers go through a certification process that requires them to use some different practices. However, you may be surprised to know that conventional and organic farmers are more alike than you think.

In the past, we’ve explored ways organic farming is different than conventional, so today we’re looking at some of the top similarities.

 

Hungry for Truth SD Top Similarities Between Organic and Conventional Farming

Families own and operate 97 percent of the farms in South Dakota. There are approximately 31,000 farms in the state and about 103 are certified organic. Whether they use organic or conventional methods, there’s almost always a family behind the food you eat.

 

Hungry for Truth SD Top Similarities Between Organic and Conventional Farming

Conventional and organic farmers can both use pesticides to control harmful insects. The difference is that organic farmers can’t use most synthetic substances, while conventional farmers can use any type of pesticide deemed safe by the USDA. No matter what they use, by the time the food reaches grocery store shelves, it’s safe to eat. In fact, a woman could eat 850 servings of apples in a day with no effects from pesticides. See for yourself.

 

Hungry for Truth SD Top Similarities Between Organic and Conventional Farming

Farmers who use conventional and organic methods seek ways to improve their farm practices each year to protect the land for future generations. Environmentally friendly practices like crop rotation, no-till farming and cover crops protect and preserve the land, and aid in improving soil quality. Composting and applying animal manure also fertilize the ground.

 


Organic and conventional farmers who raise animals care about their safety and want to keep them healthy and comfortable. They protect them by providing shelter in barns, making sure they have access to water and feeding them a healthy diet of soybeans, corn and vitamins. Soybeans – grown organically or conventionally – are a favorite protein-packed meal for pigs, chickens, turkeys and cows in South Dakota. Farmers work with veterinarians to treat sick animals. Though organic farmers cannot use antibiotics to treat them like conventional farmers, they can use some vaccines and pain medications.

 

Hungry for Truth SD Top Similarities Between Organic and Conventional Farming

Foods raised organically and conventionally must meet safety standards set by the USDA. South Dakota farmers grow and raise foods that are healthy for your family and theirs. The methods may be different, but safety is a top priority for all family farmers.

 

The next time you’re in the grocery store trying to decide between the organic and conventionally raised strawberries, you can feel confident you’re making a safe and healthy choice no matter which carton you pick. Keep growing your food-shopping knowledge by reading about meaningless food labels and if paying a little more for organic is worth it.

Hungry for Truth Pesticides and Food Safety

The Crop Protection and Food Safety Connection

Curious about how pesticides used on the farm translate to the grocery aisles? We recently talked with weed scientist Dr. David Shaw for answers to the top questions South Dakota soybean farmers are asked at Hungry for Truth events and online.

Dr. Shaw is a distinguished professor and vice president of research and economic development at Mississippi State University. He has served as president of the Weed Science Society of America and chair of a USDA task force that developed a report on herbicide resistance management. He’s also a father who enjoys cooking with his family and cheering on the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

 

Hungry for Truth Pesticides and Food Safety Dr. David Shaw

 

Q: Will the pesticides used on the produce I buy harm me or my family?

 

A: There are a lot of regulatory and safety requirements that must be met before any pesticide can be used. The testing process is rigorous and designed to protect consumers first. Having looked at the science behind the approval process, I can say I have a great deal of confidence in the pesticide requirements from both the EPA and FDA. As a father looking out for my children, I want to be absolutely certain what I’m buying is safe.

 

Hungry for Truth Pesticides and Food Safety

 

Q: Isn’t it possible there are traces of pesticides on the produce I buy?

 

A: Just because a substance is detectable doesn’t necessarily mean it will cause any harm. The exposure limits that are set on pesticides are very conservative and are far lower than the levels that could actually put you in danger.

Have you ever looked into how much produce you’d have to eat to feel the effects of pesticides? Try this calculator. You might be surprised at the results.

 

Hungry for Truth Pesticides and Food Safety

Q: What are farmers doing today to reduce their use of pesticides in the fields?

 

A: Well, farmers use pesticides alongside other pest management practices like crop rotation, cover crops, promotion of beneficial insects and more. Each method is part of a toolkit to safely manage and grow healthy crops. Many farmers take a holistic approach to stopping pests.

 

Hungry for Truth Pesticides and Food Safety Dr. David Shaw

Q: Is organic farming better when it comes to pesticide use?

 

A: I have no argument against organic production, and it does have its own niche. But to be able to produce both the quantity and quality of food necessary to feed our growing population, organic production alone is not enough. I’d encourage folks to go out and spend a bit of time on an organic farm to really understand all the challenges and limitations these farmers face. This means everything from managing insects to maintaining a staff large enough to provide all the hand-weeding required to eliminate pesticide use. It’s a lot of challenging work. To be able to feed all the people in our world, we really need farms of all sizes.

People also have a misconception that organic farmers do not use pesticides. They do, and just like synthetic pesticides, some of these organic pesticides can be toxic if not used correctly. The key with both organic and synthetic pesticides is to use the products correctly according to their labels and then no one’s health will be threatened.

 

Still have questions about pesticides and food safety? Leave them in the comments below and we’ll help you find an answer. Whether you’re wondering how much pesticides farmers apply to South Dakota staple crops like soybeans or if you should worry about eating fresh produce from the grocery store, Hungry for Truth strives to help get you the facts from local farmers who have your family’s health in mind.

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Carrot Seed Kitchen Connects Brookings Community With Local Foods

There’s no doubt that many South Dakota families have questions about how their food is grown and raised. They know what it looks like on grocery store shelves, but aren’t necessarily familiar with where it came from and want to know more. Kirsten Gjesdal, owner of Carrot Seed Kitchen, has witnessed the disconnect firsthand when visitors to her store thought an ornamental pepper plant was a carrot plant.

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“I received the plant as a gift from a friend, who put a carrot seed card into the plant to honor the name of the store,” she said. “I am shocked to see how many people ask if that is actually how carrots grow.”

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The Carrot Seed Connection

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Hungry for Truth helps facilitate genuine connections between South Dakotans and farmers who grow our food, and Kirsten also shares that same passion. She opened Carrot Seed Kitchen two years ago to help people in Brookings connect with what they eat through quality kitchenware. She spent the previous two years working as an event planner and was tired of sitting at a desk planning meals for corporate functions.

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“I wanted to be involved in the community, working one-on-one with cooks and foodies,” Kirsten explained. “I started off selling cooking items, but always dreamed of expanding one day to include food,” she said. “I just wasn’t sure how to do it.”

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Food And Farmers

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After introducing the “Follow Your Food” event series to help customers learn more about how local food is grown and raised, she realized just how passionate the people of Brookings were about connecting with the farmers.

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“Our pizza night event was a crowd favorite. Everyone made their own pizza and chatted with the farmers about what it takes to grow produce,” Kirsten said. She enjoys learning about what happens on today’s farms and sharing that experience with others in the community.

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When she attended our Farm-to-Fork Dinner in June, it was the first time she’d been on a farm with animals. She learned about cow comfort and how they eat a healthy, balanced diet including soybean meal, silage and corn. She also had the opportunity to ask the farmers directly about the processes on their farms.

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“It’s so nice to meet the real, actual farmers who raise the animals. They were so open to talking about what they do and why they do it,” said Kirsten. “Many people don’t think about the connection crops like soybeans have with the food we eat. I had no idea South Dakota farmers harvest about 250 million bushels of soybeans each year! Those soybeans go on to feed chickens that lay eggs, cows that give us milk and cheese and of course bacon and pork chops from pigs.”

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Expanding the Kitchen

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When the opportunity came to buy the space next door and expand Carrot Seed Kitchen to include local foods, she jumped at it. Now the store includes a large area featuring milk, cheeses, butter and ice cream from Stensland Family Farms, as well as local meats and produce from the Dakota Fresh Food Hub.

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She’s already planning for further growth to support other small businesses by adding an incubator kitchen and opening it up to entrepreneurs who need extra cooking space and a place to sell their products. Kirsten hopes Carrot Seed Kitchen can help others succeed.

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“I needed something I could really be proud of that adds value to my life and the lives of others,” she said. “I’m so lucky. I get to help people connect with their food and learn more about where it comes from through my store.”

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Create a farm-to-fork journey in your kitchen by reading these farm stories and making their favorite recipes:

Farmer Paul’s Chicken Kabobs

Growing More With Less on a South Dakota Family Farm + Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

Homemade Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

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Sip + Savor Serves Up Local Foods with Farmers + Make Miner Beer Mac and Cheese

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Hungry for Truth and local farmers hosted more than 60 women business owners from the Sioux Falls community at Prairie Berry East Bank in September for an elegant evening filled with food and conversations. Guests were invited to Sip + Savor beverages from Miner Brewing Co. and Prairie Berry as well as craft beer infused creations such as Miner Brewing Mac and Cheese and cupcakes from Oh My Cupcakes!

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Farmers Morgan Kontz and Jerry Schmitz welcomed everyone and shared stories about their farms, including plans for soybean harvest. Morgan explained how family farms of all sizes contribute to the local food supply and use practices to ensure safe and healthy choices for families.

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“Buying food from local farmers is a great way to support our community,” said Morgan. “Sometimes you’re buying local and you don’t even know it. The beef from my farm is sold in grocery stores, but it doesn’t have a local label.”

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Farmers Jeff Thompson and Dawn Scheier also mingled with guests, answering questions about everything from the safety of GMOs and pesticides, to the truth behind food labels and even the surprising connection between South Dakota soybeans and Whole Foods.

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Prairie Aquatech in Brookings sources soybean meal to create its fish food from South Dakota Soybean Processors in St. Lawrence,” Jeff said. “The fish food is sold to a fish farm in Wisconsin that raises trout for Whole Foods. It’s an unexpected farm-to-fork connection that was fun to share with our guests.”

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Hungry for Truth hosts gatherings like these to help South Dakotans better understand how food is grown and raised on local farms. You can bring the flavor of Sip + Savor to your kitchen with this recipe for Miner Beer Mac and Cheese. We suggest using Dimock Dairy cheese. Get the scoop on how it’s made by reading this. Then let us know how this recipe turns out in the comments below.

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Print Recipe
Miner Beer Mac & Cheese
By Chef Mark of Prairie Berry East Bank
hungry for truth south dakota gmo non gmo organic conventional friend a farmer farming practices quick easy recipe beer mac and cheese miner brewery sioux falls healthy recipes sip and savor event food event planning ideas
Course Main Dish
Servings
people
Ingredients
For the macaroni
  • 1 pound pasta
  • 5 quarts salted water
For the cheese
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 oz Butter
  • 1-1/2 cups Heavy Cream
  • 1 cup Miner Brewing craft beer Recommended: Stout
  • 3 cups shreadded white cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Montery Jack or colby jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Course Main Dish
Servings
people
Ingredients
For the macaroni
  • 1 pound pasta
  • 5 quarts salted water
For the cheese
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 oz Butter
  • 1-1/2 cups Heavy Cream
  • 1 cup Miner Brewing craft beer Recommended: Stout
  • 3 cups shreadded white cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Montery Jack or colby jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
hungry for truth south dakota gmo non gmo organic conventional friend a farmer farming practices quick easy recipe beer mac and cheese miner brewery sioux falls healthy recipes sip and savor event food event planning ideas
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a large pot, place 5 quarts of water and add 2 tablespoons salt. Bring to a boil and add dry pasta. Cook on high, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or until noodles become al dente. Strain and set aside in a large mixing bowl. Lightly oil, if needed, so noodles do not clump together.
  3. To assemble the beer cheese, melt butter on low in a large sauce pot. Using a whisk, add the flour and combine with the melted butter. This is called a roux.
  4. Add the heavy cream to the roux and whisk until the sauce begins to thicken and just reaches a low simmer. This is called a béchamel.
  5. Now add the Miner Beer to the béchamel. This will thin it and create bubbles. Continue to whisk on low until the bubbles are gone and it’s warm.
  6. Add the 3 cups of shredded white cheddar cheese and whisk until the cheese has melted.
  7. Remove from the heat and add all the beer cheese to the cooked noodles. Mix to coat, then add the remaining 1 cup of shredded jack cheese and mix.
  8. Place this into a casserole dish. Mix the panko with the grated Parmesan and spread evenly over the cheesy pasta.
  9. Bake at 325 degrees for about 12 minutes. Enjoy!
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Get to Know the Farmers Behind the Hungry for Truth Billboards

You may be surprised to know that the farmers you see on Hungry for Truth billboards along South Dakota roads aren’t models. They’re real local farmers. Some have farmed their whole lives and others recently discovered a love of the land. All of them are committed to growing safe and healthy food for your family.

We thought we’d take you behind the scenes to learn more about the farms behind those friendly faces and why they’re involved with Hungry for Truth.

Morgan and Jason Kontz

Though she was not a farmer, Morgan met Jason online through farmersonly.com when she was a student at Purdue University in Indiana and he was farming in Colman, South Dakota. After getting to know each other through phone calls and online chats, they finally met in the summer of 2008. Morgan had car trouble on the drive out so she arrived later than expected. Within minutes of meeting Jason for the first time, she also met most of his family at a reunion.

That might’ve scared off some women, but not Morgan. She loved his family and the wide-open spaces for adventure on his farm. Soon, she transferred to South Dakota State University and one year after that first in-person date, they married. Today, they have two children who all work together to grow food on the farm.

“Until I moved to the farm, I had no idea just how much effort goes into making sure the food we grow and the practices we use on the farm are safe,” said Morgan who also blogs about her experiences. “Being involved in Hungry for Truth gives me the opportunity to talk with other moms about how we make safety a top priority for our kids and theirs.”

John and Dane Horter

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John and Dane Horter are a father/son duo who enjoy growing food for South Dakota families near Andover. Dane may be young, but he already knows and loves the ins and outs of farm life. He feeds cows and helps during calving. He rides along in the tractor during planting and in the combine during harvest. He’s even become a budding newscaster, giving crop reports from the field, sharing what he’s learned about the safety of GMO seeds, the latest farm technology and how to care for animals from his dad.

It may seem like a lot of responsibility, but that’s part of being the sixth generation to continue the family legacy. Learning from the past and improving practices for the future are important for feeding their friends and neighbors.

“Hungry for Truth is a way for me to share our farm story,” said John. “Farming today looks much different than when my grandpa farmed, and it’s going to change even more by the time Dane grows up. We want South Dakotans to know how food is grown and raised, and that we make choices every day to become more sustainable so all of our families have a bright future.”

Monica and Mike McCranie

Monica McCranie is another city gal who moved from Denver, Colorado to South Dakota to build a life on the farm with her husband Mike. For more than 30 years, they’ve worked side by side in Claremont to grow soybeans, corn and raise two sons. They are also well-traveled and love learning about agricultural practices in different parts of the world. All this experience translates into confidence in the grocery store when Monica selects foods to feed their family. Understanding labels is key.

“As a consumer and a mom, I understand how confusing it is to look at a label and understand what it does and doesn’t mean,” Monica said. “What is important to know is that, no matter what the label says, whether that food was grown conventionally or organically, whether it’s a GMO or not, it has the same nutritional value.”

Monica and Mike believe there’s a lot of great information to share about food labels and what they mean to help moms make the right choices for their families. Hungry for Truth is one way they can reach across the table and have those conversations.

Get to know more about the farmers who grow and raise your food by reading these stories. Or if you have a question for any of our farmers, let us know.

A Look at High-Tech Animal Care

Keeping South Dakota Waters Clean is Good for Summer Fun and Farming

Let’s Get Growing! Planting Q&A With a Farmer and a Gardener

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Make Family Memories with Country Apple Orchard

If one thing is true about South Dakotans, we love making memories outside with our families. One of our favorite places to visit in the fall is the Country Apple Orchard in Harrisburg. Kevin Kroger, general manager, knows exactly what that’s like since he’s been working at the orchard with his own family for 12 years.

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“All of my eight children pitch in, even my youngest,” said Kevin. Kevin’s stepfather and grandmother are the primary owners, making it a true family affair.

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“The first year was a little sticky, but every year it gets easier,” he said. “We learn more and get better. We know we are investing in success with 100 acres of prime South Dakota farmland.”

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Running a farming business has been a trial-and-error process. Kevin’s family felt that firsthand when they began maintaining their trees. “We were hit with a hard frost right off the bat. It was hardly the optimal season to start with an orchard,” he chuckled. “We almost went without enough apples that season. Now we can’t grow enough of them!”

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That’s great news for Americans everywhere, who eat an average of 55 pounds of apples annually. In addition to pruning their 4,500 trees, the Country Apple Orchard sprays their apples with linseed oil before they blossom to ensure a plentiful harvest of healthy apples for families to pick and enjoy.

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“No one likes biting into an apple with insects in it,” Kevin said. “Like other farmers, we only spray pesticides when the apples need it.”

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While the Kroger family doesn’t have a typical South Dakota farming background, Kevin did walk beans as a child. That means walking through soybean fields and picking weeds for Sioux Falls area farmers. It’s a chore many seasoned farmers remember, but is no longer needed on most farms thanks to technology.

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“I was exposed to hard work in the older days of farming, and I didn’t think I wanted anything to do with it,” Kevin said. “Now, with technology, it’s so much easier and much more enjoyable.”

Today’s farmers use different types of technology, including GPS, drones and computer-generated soil maps to grow healthy food more efficiently. Over the past 30 years, soybean farmers grew 46 percent more soybeans using 35 percent less energy thanks to technology and more sustainable farm practices.

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Being more efficient means farm families might have a little extra time to enjoy an afternoon at the Country Apple Orchard. Kevin and family pack weekdays with school field trips and weekends with festivals. Even Santa takes a break from his work at the North Pole to stop by and say hi before the busy holiday season.

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“In today’s world, it can be really hard to slow things down,” he said. “Here, families go on wagon rides, pick apples and pumpkins, and enjoy delicious local foods. Slowing down to take in the outdoors makes family time more memorable.”

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Cooking together is another way to create memorable moments. Try out one of these recipes with your family this fall.

Snow Day Activities and Grandma’s Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

S’mores Bar + Ice Cream From Stensland Family Farms = A Sweet Celebration

Farmer Recipe: Banana Nut Bread

 

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How to Host an Outdoor Movie Night + Greek Chicken Kabobs

Whether it’s date night at the theater or a cozy family night on the couch, movies have a way of bringing us together. When it’s warm in South Dakota, it can be fun to take the movie magic outdoors and gather under the stars. Here are our tips for planning a night that’s sure to please family and friends.

Hungry for Truth Outdoor Movie Night

 

Easy Essentials

A projector, audio speakers and computer are essential technology. A free projector might be tough to track down, but they are available at most rental companies and easy to purchase. Need a portable screen? No worries. Just hang a white sheet or painter’s drop cloth. You could also skip it and project onto the side of a building if it’s clean and light colored. Don’t forget extension cords.

Sunset Savvy

Pay attention to sunset and plan your festivities accordingly. You want to start the movie when it’s dark, so this could be 9 p.m. or 7:30 p.m., depending on the time of year. Starting later gives you time to host dinner and play yard games. Starting early may mean you can squeeze in two movies; family-friendly first for the kiddos and then one for the adults after they go to bed.

Comfy and Cozy

Keep your audience comfy by providing blankets and pillows for lounging or ask them to bring their own. Hang bistro lights to set the mood, segment food from the theater seating and make sure your guests can see where they’re going. Set out mosquito repellent spray and fire up citronella candles to protect your guests against bugs and other pests.

Snack Stylishly  

The best part of any movie night is the food. Snack stylishly by creating a buffet table out of pallets or cement blocks and plywood. Cover with a cute tablecloth and add a flower centerpiece for a touch of greenery.

When it comes to the menu, keep it simple. Finger foods like kabobs or meats and cheeses paired with crackers work well for flexible dining. A popcorn bar with butter and assorted toppings transforms the traditional snack into a bold, salty or tangy mix. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, a selection of classic movie candies or toasty s’mores are two of our favorites. In fact, we have the perfect recipe for campfire ice cream s’mores.

No matter what’s on the menu, South Dakota soybean farmers have you covered. Pigs, cows, chickens and turkeys love to eat protein-packed soybeans as part of a balanced diet. Healthy animals mean you’re serving up quality milk, eggs, cheese and meats for your guests.

Movie Magic

Select your movie based on your guest list. The classics or a comedy are always a great bet. Depending on who’s there, it might be “Grease,” “8 Seconds” or “The Goonies.” When it comes to kids, you can’t go wrong with anything Pixar or Disney. “Jurassic Park” or “Jaws” might be fun if you’re feeling adventurous, but watch out. Your backyard may never feel the same again.

Now that you have the basics for hosting an outdoor movie night, it’s time to get the invites out and start planning the menu. Here’s a recipe for Green Chicken Souvlaki Kabobs that’s sure to please. See our recipes for more ideas.

Print Recipe
Greek Chicken Souvlaki Kabobs
hungry for truth sd South Dakota farming agriculture gmo non gmo recipes easy chicken kabobs tasty family activities outdoor family activities outdoor movie night how to
Course Main Dish
Servings
Ingredients
The kabobs
  • 4 large chicken breasts
  • 1 Red Onion chopped into large pieces
  • 10 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes
  • kabob skewers
The marinade
  • 3 lemons
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 4 tbsp fresh dill
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
Course Main Dish
Servings
Ingredients
The kabobs
  • 4 large chicken breasts
  • 1 Red Onion chopped into large pieces
  • 10 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes
  • kabob skewers
The marinade
  • 3 lemons
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 4 tbsp fresh dill
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
hungry for truth sd South Dakota farming agriculture gmo non gmo recipes easy chicken kabobs tasty family activities outdoor family activities outdoor movie night how to
Instructions
  1. Cut lemons in half and squeeze juice into medium-sized container.
  2. Mix in olive oil, fresh dill, oregano and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Cube chicken breasts into large chunks for kabobs.
  4. Marinate chicken in lemon and olive oil mixture overnight or for 6-8 hours prior to serving.
  5. If using wooden kabob sticks, soak in water for about one hour prior to assembling kabobs.
  6. Assemble kabobs alternating between chicken, onion and tomatoes.
  7. Grill on medium heat until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 degrees F.
  8. Flip kabobs halfway through grilling. Roughly 4-6 minutes per side. Enjoy!

Get to Know GMOs

Even if you’ve heard a lot of talk about GMOs, you might still wonder why farmers choose to grow them and how they actually help crops. We have three examples showing how GMO technology helps farmers and all of us have a safe and healthy food supply.

Get know GMO Herbicide-tolerant trait in soybeans. Non-browning trait in Arctic Apple.Pest-resistant trait in corn.

Want to know more about the process of creating a GMO? Read all about it here. If you have any questions about why farmers use GMOs, be sure to leave them for us in the comments.

Where do GMOs come from?

We’ve heard many different ideas about GMOs over the years. Some people think they’re some new creation made in a lab, and others say they’re made with chemicals and syringes. We’ve even heard the term “Frankenfood” used to describe GMOs. So just how are GMO crops developed? Read on for a step-by-step guide to the process.

Step One: Identify a Helpful Trait
Plants get directions from their DNA for growth and development. DNA is made up of thousands of genes, so first, researchers look for a gene that delivers a desired trait, like the ability to resist harmful pests. One of the first GMO crops approved for commercial use was made from a naturally occurring soil bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis. The gene produces a protein that kills European corn borer larva, a bug that poses a serious threat to corn plants.

Step Two: Find the Switch
Once they find the right gene, scientists choose specific “switches” or regulators so the genes are expressed in a way researchers want. Senthil says it’s like a lawn sprinkler system that is told when and where to turn on and off.

Step Three: Insert Gene Into Plant
After the switches have been identified, geneticists insert the gene into the plant, often using a machine called a gene gun. There are many methods researchers can use, but the goal is to transport the new gene and deliver it into the cell nucleus.

Step Four: Plant Growth
Once the traits have been inserted and the plant grows, the seeds it produces will contain the new genes. Those seeds are then planted and grown in a specialized greenhouse or in other controlled environments.

Step Five: Obtain Approval
If a new variety shows promise, the plant needs to get USDA, FDA and EPA approval before it can be grown commercially. On average, every GMO plant is tested for 13 years before it is approved for farmers to use. The approval process is rigorous and includes testing on birds, mammals, beneficial insects, fish, frogs and other organisms to ensure the crops are safe and have no adverse effects.

All scientific, peer-reviewed research by independent and government health organizations shows that GMOs are safe for people, animals and the environment, and that GMO foods are just as nutritious as their non-GMO counterparts. You can rest assured that whatever food choice you make, it will be a safe one for you and your family.

There you have it. No Frankenfoods, no syringes, no creations from the lab, just precision plant breeding. What questions do you have about GMOs? Leave them for us in the comments and check out these links for more information:

USDA Biotechnology FAQs
GMOs 101: What you need to know
New Report Supports GMO Safety

New GMO Soybeans Bring Improved Nutrition to Vegetable Oil

When you enjoy a tasty treat like cookies, cakes or crackers, chances are good those foods were cooked with soybean oil. Soybean oil’s neutral taste, abundant supply and nutritional profile make it a great fit for the food industry, and now new GMO soybeans are giving the food industry a more nutritious option with high oleic soybean oil

High oleic soybeans are a GMO crop that deliver oil with lower saturated fat than conventional soybean oil and contribute no trans fats to products. High oleic soybean oil also delivers three times the amount of beneficial monounsaturated fatty acids as regular soybean oil.

Fast facts about high oleic soybean oil.
In the mid-1990s, when trans fat labeling was first required on the Nutrition Facts panel of food products, consumers started to demand healthier choices and companies looked for alternatives. Farmers recognized the need to deliver a better option that consumers and the food industry wanted, and worked with researchers and scientists to develop an innovative option called high oleic soybeans. High oleic soybean oil comes from specialty soybean varieties that have a better balance of healthy fats and don’t require partial hydrogenation.

While high oleic soybean oil is only available for the food industry at the moment, as demand increases and a shift to healthier eating becomes a bigger priority, more and more oil will be available. We all want to eat healthier and to make good food choices. High oleic soybean oil is one example of how GMOs are helping us get there. It’s another example of how biotechnology can have direct benefits to consumers, just like the new Arctic Apples, which are bred to resist browning.

If you’re interested in learning more about high oleic soybean oil, check out www.qualisoy.com for current nutritional information and research. Learn more about high oleic soybean oil from Morgan, in our latest episode of Across the Table.

Gathered Together on the Farm

On the evening of June 23, community leaders and local farmers came together for an enlightening evening on the farm. It was perfect place to learn about your food and its connection to farming. The community came together to share a meal and conversations about food and how it’s raised.

The Thompson Farm in Colton, South Dakota, set the scene for the Farm-to-Fork Dinner where guests talked with farmers about how food makes its way from their farms to the table. They discussed topics like GMOs, pesticides, organic and conventional farming, sustainability and much more. Many guests shared that they left the experience feeling a stronger connection to the people who grow and raise their food.

What would you like to learn about farming? We would be happy to connect you with a local farmer or answer any of your food or farming questions. Just leave us a note in the comments section.

You can learn more about our Farm-to-Fork Dinner here.

The Ultimate Guide to Food Labels

Organic, natural, non-GMO and free range are just some of the terms we commonly see on our food packaging. It can be hard to keep track of all the different food-related terms. Hungry for Truth has put together an easy-to-use guide with definitions of some commonly used terms.

The USDA regulates some of these labels, and each has its own unique set of criteria. However, it’s also important to know that some terms are not regulated or officially defined.

A guide to deciphering popular food labels.

While this guide can be a valuable resource to help make informed decisions at the grocery store, the best advice is not to get too hung up on terms on the front of the package. Instead, flip it over and check out the nutritional facts panel. That’s where the most important information lives. Check out Understanding Nutrition Facts to learn more.

Feel free to share this graphic with your friends to help them understand food labels too. Have you seen any confusing terms that aren’t defined here? Comment below, and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.

New Report Supports GMO Safety

On May 17, 2016, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine published a new report called Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. The report reviewed more than 900 independent articles and research studies about GMOs. Chances are you haven’t had the chance to read through the entire 400-page report, so we broke down exactly what you need to know.

What did the study find?
The mission was to take an objective look at the information around GMO crops and food today. The report examined human health, economic, social and environmental effects. Here’s what they found:

• Currently available GMO crops do not impact human health concerns and critical diseases.
• GMOs are not linked to any negative environmental effects.
• GMO crops yield better because of increased built-in weed and insect resistance. This also means they are a more economical and environmentally conscious option, which is a huge win for farmers and consumers.
• Areas with GMO crops also exhibit increased insect diversity.
• When farmers switched to GMO crops, herbicide use declined initially, but those decreases weren’t sustained over time.
• The committee expects increased pest resistance and more effective nutrient usage in future GMO crops.

What does this mean for me?
This report confirms that food made from GMO ingredients is safe for you to eat and farmers to grow. GMO crops have been grown in the U.S. for more than 20 years and have been rigorously tested, so you can rest assured these crops are just as safe and nutritious as conventional crops.

In fact, 97 percent of soybeans and corn grown in South Dakota are GMOs.

Hungry for Truth supports choice and allowing consumers the ability to buy a variety of products at the grocery store, as well as farmers’ choice of what to plant in their fields.

Interested in learning more?
Check out these additional sources to ensure you know the facts about GMOs.

• Hungry for Truth: How do GMOs Affect the Food I Eat?
• Hungry for Truth: The GMO Approval Process.
• U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Food from Genetically Engineered Plants.
• World Health Organization: Frequently Asked Questions on Genetically Modified Foods.

How do GMOs affect the food I eat?

Do you have concerns about GMO foods? There’s a lot of misinformation out there about which foods are healthy. We asked Charlotte, a local registered dietician, how biotechnology – the process by which GMO plants are bred – affects the food we eat.

Charlotte explained she has feels safe and confident serving her family food produced from biotechnology. The technology only affects the way the food is grown and has no impact on the taste, nutrition or safety of that food. So whether it’s GMO or non-GMO food, you get an equally safe and nutritious product.

GMO foods are regulated by three federal agencies: the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These federal agencies would not allow a crop into the marketplace unless it was safe. GMO crops have been regulated and monitored for more than 20 years, so you can rest assured that biotech crops are a safe option for farmers to grow and for you to include as part of a healthy diet.

More on GMOs:

Have questions for Charlotte or other farmers about GMOs? Leave them below.

Hungry for Truth Celebrates Ag Day

This week marks the 43rd annual National Agriculture Week, a celebration of agriculture’s contributions to the lives of everyday Americans. Today, more than ever, people are making connections between the food on their plates and the farm it came from, wanting to know more about how it was raised and what that means for their families, the environment and the economy.

According to 2015 research by the Center for Food Integrity, 70 percent of U.S. consumers are concerned about the rising cost of food; 62 percent are concerned about food safety; 53 percent are concerned about having enough food to feed the U.S.; and 47 percent are concerned about the humane treatment of farm animals.

What do South Dakotans care about when it comes to food and farming?

In an effort to facilitate genuine connections between South Dakotans and the farmers who grow their food, the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council (SDSRPC) launched the Hungry for Truth initiative a little over a year ago. As part of the group’s goals to quantify the opinions of South Dakotans, SDSRPC leaders contracted with an independent global research organization, Aimpoint Research, to determine what concerns South Dakotans most about food and farming.

What Aimpoint found was enlightening. According to research conducted last spring, when thinking about agriculture, 47 percent of South Dakotans rank healthy food as most important; 21 percent say low-cost food is most important to them; 17 percent were most concerned about protection of the environment; and 10 percent place the most value on animal welfare.

When thinking about the food they eat and the things that concern them the most, 45 percent of South Dakotans cited use of pesticides and chemicals; 22 percent said use of antibiotics and hormones; and 18 percent said use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

“Overall, the concerns of South Dakotans seem on par with national concerns. Knowing this, we want to be there for South Dakotans to answer our neighbors’ questions about farming,” said Marc Reiner, farmer from Tripp and SDSRPC chairman. “That’s precisely why the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council launched Hungry for Truth last year: To open up conversations about food and farming and, we hope, answer the questions our state’s residents have about where their food comes from.”

The Hungry for Truth initiative is to have open and honest conversations between farmers and fellow South Dakotans about food and farming.
Hungry for Truth launched in January 2015 and immediately began connecting with South Dakotans through events, social media and advertising.

“A little more than a year into the effort, the questions and resulting conversations have been extremely enlightening,” Reiner said. Several of the farmers behind Hungry for Truth cited their most memorable conversations.

The cost of organic foods

For Jerry Schmitz, Vermillion farmer and South Dakota Soybean Association president, a conversation with a young mother is one of his most memorable. Schmitz said the woman wanted to feed her kids organic food because she’d heard it was healthier, but that it was too expensive for her to afford. She asked Schmitz how she can make sure her kids are getting the healthiest food possible.

“A young mother approached me with this question, and I explained that all foods in our grocery stores, no matter the growing practice, are safe and healthy,” Schmitz said. “Organic really refers to the way a product is grown, not a product’s health or nutritional value. Whether food is raised organically or conventionally, they both offer the same nutritional value.” According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, organic and conventionally raised foods are equally nutritious.

GMOs – OMG?

According to John Horter, Andover farmer and South Dakota Soybean Association treasurer, everyone is buzzing about GMOs. He said that because most people don’t know exactly what biotechnology is, they are concerned about the safety of GMO foods and crops.

“Biotechnology is simply a more precise way of breeding crops. They are bred for desirable traits like resistance to insects or disease that help farmers like me produce crops with fewer inputs, like pesticides,” said Horter. “As far as their safety, we’ve been growing GMO crops for more than 20 years and not one health issue has ever been reported. On average, these crops go through 13 years of testing by the FDA, USDA and EPA before they are approved for farming. As a father and a fifth-generation farmer, knowing these facts makes me confident that what I’m growing is safe for me and my family.”

Back to the way things were

Schmitz has heard the call, especially from young people, to return to the way things used to be in farming: a small operation, no pesticides or big machinery, with a diversity of livestock and crops. Though this sounds idyllic, he explained that the technology farmers use today makes them more efficient and environmentally friendly than in the past.

“Our ancestors used a plow and cultivators to control weeds that rob moisture and nutrients from crops because that was their only option,” Schmitz said. “Today, science and technology offer farmers lots of different options to choose from, and it’s up to the farmer to choose the best practices based on the soil characteristics of each field they farm. One technology that’s had a huge impact on how I farm is GPS. GPS technology has done more than help give directions around town. Today, I use GPS to map fields into garden-sized plots for soil sampling and fertilization so that each small area receives the exact prescription of nutrients the plants require.”

In 2016, Hungry for Truth will continue the goal of connecting South Dakotans to the farm. Look for Hungry for Truth at the Sioux Empire Fair in August and the Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival in Rapid City this fall, or even on the big screen, with farm trivia before movies at your local theater.

“Year one was about creating awareness of the initiative,” said Schmitz. “We talked to so many South Dakotans. During year two, we’ll use what we heard about what is most important to the people of our state when it comes to food and farming, and dive even deeper into the issues. The great thing about Hungry for Truth is that, as farmers, we get to learn new things as well.”

The conversation continues throughout the year on social media. Look for Hungry for Truth on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

What is sustainability?

For local animal specialist Amanda Eben, farming is all about family. Growing up on a family farm just over the border in Iowa, she was always surrounded by her siblings and helping her parents out with chores. Her parents’ goal, along with many farmers like them, is to keep the farm in the family, which means farming sustainably. It means protecting resources in order to keep their farm in the family for generations to come. We asked Amanda what sustainability means to her, and here is what she had to say.

Research and technology have brought continuous improvements to farming practices so today’s farmers can grow crops using less land and fewer inputs.

“Farmers do many things differently today than they did in past generations,” Amanda said. “When I was younger, we fed our pigs in dirt lots and in wooden A-frames outside. Today, we use a larger enclosed building that allows our animals to be kept safe from diseases and predators, and allows us to monitor their environment to keep them comfortable and happy.”

Have more questions about sustainability? Post them below, and check back for more videos from South Dakota farmers.

What were the biggest food and farming questions of 2015?

Hungry for Truth is celebrating its first birthday! It’s been one year full of food, farming and fun conversations that connected South Dakotans from farm to table. Hungry for Truth is all about answering questions, and we’re thrilled to connect with you and help answer some of your questions. Through these conversations, we’ve also had the chance to learn a lot about what’s important to you when making food choices. As parents, community members and farmers, this interaction is what drives our passion for Hungry for Truth, and we can’t wait to continue connecting in 2016.

To celebrate, we’ve rounded up a few highlights and most frequently asked questions from the past year.

1. I would like to feed my kids organic food because I’ve heard it is healthier, but it is too expensive for me to afford. How can I make sure my kids are getting the healthiest food?

“A young mother approached me with this question, and I explained that all foods in our grocery stores, no matter the growing practice, are safe. Organic really refers to the way a product is grown, not a product’s health or nutritional value. Whether food is raised organically or conventionally, they both offer the same nutritional value,” Jerry Schmitz, a farmer and Hungry for Truth volunteered shared.

2. Are the farming methods that our ancestors used better than what farmers use today?

“Our ancestors used a plow and cultivators to control weeds that rob moisture and nutrients from crops because that was their only option,” Schmitz said. “Today, science and technology offer farmers lots of different options to choose from, and it’s up to the farmer to choose the best practices based on the soil characteristics of each field they farm. One technology that’s had a huge impact on how I farm is GPS. GPS technology has done more than help give directions around town. Today, I use GPS to map fields into garden-sized plots for soil sampling and fertilization so that each small area receives the exact prescription of nutrients the plants require.”

3. Do farmers use hormones when raising livestock, and does that affect the meat I eat?

Tip for the savvy shopper: Added hormones are NOT used in hog or poultry farming, so if you see chicken, turkey or pork labeled “no added hormones,” it’s just a marketing tactic, and you don’t need to pay extra for that label. Farmers can use a naturally occurring, slow-release hormone in cattle if they choose. The use of these hormones is strictly regulated. If used, the hormone is typically put in the ear of an animal, and it is slowly released over that animal’s lifetime. For more insights into this question, we connected with Morgan Kontz who is a beef farmer from South Dakota.

“On our farm, we do choose to use added hormones in our beef cattle because it helps the animals convert their feed into lean muscle more efficiently. But the real question is, what does that mean for us when we’re buying beef at the grocery store?

A 3-ounce serving of beef from a steer that had a hormone implant contains 1.2 nanograms of estrogen while that from a steer with no implant contains 0.9 nanograms. To put that in perspective, one egg contains 252 nanograms of estrogen and an adult woman has around 513,000 nanograms of estrogen naturally occurring in her body.”

Have more questions about food and farming that you’d like to ask a farmer? We’d love to hear from you!

The Ins and Outs of Organic Farming

Here at Hungry for Truth, we receive a lot of questions about organic food and farming. We thought it may be helpful to share some information on how organic is defined. While most of the farmers in South Dakota do not farm organically, Hungry for Truth supports choice and believes there’s a place for all kinds of farming operations.

You may be surprised to find out there are many similarities between organic and nonorganic farming, but there are also some differences too. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates use of the organic label, and we’ve broken down the USDA’s standards for organic farming.

 

1. Preserving natural resources and biodiversity
Organic farmers add compost, animal manure and green manure to give the soil nutrients from natural sources in place of synthetic fertilizers. The plants then absorb these nutrients to produce a healthy crop. Soil conservation is also part of organic farming standards. Many farmers incorporate cover crops, mulches and conservation tillage to maintain the biodiversity of the land.

2. Supporting animal health and welfare
Organic animal health care starts at the beginning with genetics. Farmers select breeds and animals that are healthy and adapted to their environment. From there, prevention is the main strategy for health care. Organic farmers try to prevent disease with a healthy diet, low-stress environment and plenty of exercise to build up strong immune systems in their animals. Organic farmers may use certain approved vaccinations and other preventative measures to try to prevent illness.

When organic livestock get sick, there are no organic-approved treatments for those animals. Farmers usually treat them with antibiotics, just like when people get sick. If an animal receives antibiotics, the meat, milk or eggs from that animal cannot enter the food supply until the medicine has fully passed through its system and then it is marketed as a non-organic product.

3. Providing access to the outdoors for animals
Livestock on organic farms must have access to the outdoors, including shade shelter, clean drinking water and direct sunlight. Grazing animals, like cattle, sheep and goats, need to have access to pasture during the grazing season. The idea is to promote the natural behavior of the animals.

4. Using only approved materials
Many conventional farmers also use the practices listed, but the big difference with organic comes from what you can’t do. To be certified organic, farmers may not use most synthetic fertilizers for soil nutrition, or pesticides for controlling insects, weeds or diseases. Some approved fertilizers and pesticides may be used on organic farms, but many rely on the PAMS method: prevention, avoidance, monitoring and suppression.

5. No genetically modified ingredients
Another restriction for organic farmers is GM ingredients. Organic farms may not plant GM crops, and livestock may not have any feed that includes GM ingredients.

6. Receiving annual on-site inspections
The application process for becoming certified organic is extensive. In fact, land must be in organic production for three years before it can be certified. USDA inspectors visit the farm each year for recertification.

7. Separating organic food from non-organic food
To maintain the organic integrity of the product, organic crops cannot come in contact with unapproved substances like pesticides and fertilizers, and the seeds and foods of organic and non-organic must not mix. All equipment that is used for non-organic products must be thoroughly washed each time before it is used for organic products.

 

As you can see, the difference between organic and non-organic lies in how the crops or animals are raised; there is no nutritional difference in the actual food. We think it’s great there are so many nutritious options out there for every family’s preferences. If you have any questions about organic or other types of farming, we would be happy to help answer them. Check back on our blog for more about how food gets from the farm to your table.