There’s nothing quite as satisfying as digging into a good ol’ fashioned shrimp boil. Veggies, shrimp and andouille sausage swimming in butter and seasonings create a hands-on feast that’s finger licking good. Our One Pan Shrimp Boil recipe brings it all together, giving you all the Cajun feels without the fuss.
The key to this recipe’s authentic flavor comes from andouille sausage, which is smoked pork blended with Creole seasonings. It’s a home-grown favorite with Southern flare. While you may know that the 1.2 million pigs raised in South Dakota annually eat a healthy diet that includes soybeans, you may not realize that shrimp and other fish enjoy soy too! In fact, a South Dakota-based company, Prairie AquaTech, uses soybeans to create protein-dense pellets to feed farm-raised fish.
Who knew soul food on the prairie could taste so good? Watch and learn how to create your own one pan shrimp boil for your next family meal. Scroll for full recipe below.
Curious about other foods that’s are grown and raised in South Dakota? Let’s take a look at a few that may surprise you.
Hungry for Truth is an initiative about food and farming funded by the South Dakota soybean checkoff. The goal is to connect South Dakotans with the farmers who grow and raise their food.
When you imagine a South Dakota farm, you probably think of soybeans, corn and wheat. While row crops comprise most of our state’s agricultural production, South Dakota is home to farmers who safely and sustainably grow and raise some pretty surprising things. For many, sustainability is a priority because farm families want to do the right thing for the environment and improve the land and water for future generations.
At Hungry for Truth, we love connecting families with the farmers who grow and raise their food and digging into the truth behind what happens on today’s farms. Let’s explore some of the unique products that come from farms across our state.
- Fish Food
Soybeans are a great source of protein and amino acids. They’re typically fed to farm animals such as chickens, turkeys, pigs and dairy cows as part of a balanced diet. However, in the last decade they’ve also become popular with farmers who raise fish because they’re a sustainable source of food.
Two South Dakota State professors noticed the opportunity a few years ago and founded Prairie AquaTech, a company in Brookings that transforms soybeans into fish pellets.
“Making fish food out of locally grown crops helps lessen the environmental impact of fish farming, while providing a protein-packed, nutrient-dense fish meal for healthy, tasty fish,” said Dennis Harstad, vice president of operations.
Hops are the ingredient that gives beer its bitter flavor. If you’re a fan of craft brews, you know the taste.
Ryan Heine transitioned from engineer to farmer when he and wife, Michelle Donner, established 6th Meridian Farm near Yankton, South Dakota, in 2014. They grow five acres of crops and process them into pellets for breweries.
Ryan uses his background to grow safe, quality crops. “Growing up on a corn and soybean farm taught me that farming is a science,” said Ryan. “I’m always checking the weather and walking the rows to check for any signs of pests or disease.”
You can taste 6th Meridian hops in select beers at these South Dakota breweries:
- Crow Peak Brewing Co., Spearfish
- Ben’s Brewing, Yankton
- Lost Cabin, Rapid City
- Haycamp Brewing Company, Rapid City
- Remedy Brewing Company, Sioux Falls
There’s nothing sweeter than local honey, according to beekeeper Nic Hogan. This South Dakota native has over 5,000 colonies stretching from Wagner to Vermillion.
His bees travel with him all over the country to pollinate almond groves in California and vegetable fields in Texas. Nic knows that working with farmers is an important part of protecting his bees.
“Bees pollinate approximately 75 percent of the food grown in the United States, so it’s important that we keep them safe,” explained Nic. “Beekeepers can help farmers make key pesticide decisions to protect pollinators like bees.
Wave “hi!” as you pass fields of sunflowers grown by Moriah and Austin Gross while driving through Sully County, the sunflower capital of the United States. The Grosses love to host the public at their fifth-generation family farm for pheasant hunting, sweet corn picking and, of course, sunflower field frolicking.
“I host an annual photoshoot in the sunflower fields for my students,” said Moriah, who teaches music in Onida and Pierre. “Their parents are always happy to see how we care for the land while running our business.”
In addition to sunflowers, the Grosses grow corn and wheat, using sustainable practices like conservation tillage. Conservation tillage is when a farmer leaves corn stalks or other crop residue in the field after harvest, which reduces soil erosion while conserving water and energy.
5. Goat Meat
Goat meat might not be something you regularly put on your table, but this lamb-like meat is a staple in cuisines worldwide. Goats can be raised on relatively little land, making them a sustainable choice for people who may not have access to beef.
Leslie Zubke of Watertown has been raising goats since she was five years old. She regularly cares for more than 20 female goats, or “nannies,” and one male goat, a “billy goat.” Most of the goats she raises are sold at sales barns and transported to grocery stores outside the U.S.
While you might not be adding goat meat to your meal plans soon, it’s a safe bet others are enjoying nutritious goat meat raised on the Midwestern plains. But that’s only if Leslie can catch them.
“They’re Houdinis!” exclaimed Leslie. “They can jump out of their pens and get in a bunch of trouble.”
Do you know a local farmer who grows or raises something unique or unexpected? Let us know in the comments below. Keep your sustainability knowledge growing with these myths and truths.
If you’ve ever helped your kids with their science homework or cared for a plant, you might think that crops just need soil, water and sunlight to survive. While true, it turns out they really thrive with 17 essential elements. Three come from air and water, while the rest are absorbed through the soil.
That’s why fertilizers play such an essential role in farming. They provide the elements needed to grow healthy plants in the field. South Dakota farmers understand the balance and use technology to apply the nutrients in sustainable ways. Let’s explore three of the foundational elements, how they contribute to plant health and what technology farmers use to protect and improve the environment.
Nitrogen is considered the most important element for growing healthy plants. It’s essential to creating protein, helping plants grow and it accounts for 80 percent of the air we breathe. Nitrogen is a big contributor to making food nutritious.
Unlike corn and wheat, soybeans create their own nitrogen. Soybeans and other legume crops have a special ability to transfer nitrogen from the air to the soil. Just like you might use a probiotic to improve your digestion, soybeans work with bacteria in the soil to convert nitrogen into the fuel they need to grow. For crops that can’t create their own, farmers apply nitrogen fertilizer in the form of a liquid, solid or gas.
This element helps plants use and store energy. It also aids in photosynthesis and contributes to normal development. The phosphorus used in most farm fertilizers comes from phosphate rock, but it can also come in a liquid form.
Potassium helps plants resist diseases, activates enzymes and improves its overall quality. It also protects the crop in cold or dry weather and helps to build a strong root system. Potassium is typically applied as a solid.
How do farmers know how much of which nutrients they need to use to grow corn, soybeans and other crops? Through the results of research conducted by scientists at universities and ag businesses. Many farmers work with local experts who help them take soil samples from their fields, analyze the results, recommend products and create digital soil maps.
Farmers load those maps into the software in their tractors and precisely apply the right mix of nutrients per crop, per acre. This helps them minimize waste and fuels a healthy growing season. It also means they’re making continuous improvements on their family farms to do what’s right for the environment. Leaving the land in better condition for future generations.
Who knew farmers had to pay so much attention to chemistry and the environment? Here’s a look at more farm technology that helps John Horter be sustainable in the field.
Being environmentally friendly is an important part of today’s family farms. Thanks to advancements in technology, adoption of conservation tillage and other factors, more than 90 percent of U.S. soybeans are grown sustainably. Most South Dakota families may not realize how much farmers focus on making improvements to care for the land and water, while growing healthy food, because it happens behind the scenes.
Think you know the truth about farms and sustainability? Test your knowledge below with five common myths and the truth behind them.
Myth: Farmers are becoming less sustainable.
Au contraire, farmers are becoming more sustainable. The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance estimates soybean farmers today are growing nearly 50 percent more soybeans now than just 30 years ago with a third of the water and energy and just under half the land. They’ve also cut greenhouse gas production and soil loss by nearly half.
Myth: Only small, organic farms are sustainable.
When it comes to sustainability, size really doesn’t matter. It’s all about making smart choices for the land and water. For example, the tillage that some organic and conventional farmers do to avoid using pesticides and create a good seedbed can disrupt soil health. Reducing tillage is something family farms of all sizes and practices can do to be more environmentally-friendly.
Myth: GMOs are not sustainable.
GMO seeds allow farmers to grow safe crops that are more resistant to certain pests, diseases and environmental conditions than plants grown from traditional seeds. Because GMO crops are better at defending themselves, farmers can use fewer pesticides. The American Council on Science and Health estimates GMO soybeans have helped reduce pesticide use by 37 percent.
Myth: Pesticides are not sustainable.
Pesticides are used by many farmers, organic and conventional alike. When used responsibly, they help protect crops from devastating pests. South Dakota soybean farmers must be educated and certified to mix and apply pesticides. They also use technology and equipment to ensure they’re using just the right amount to get the job done.
Myth: Sustainability is about choosing the environment over people.
Sustainability is all about making the right environmental choices now so families continue to enjoy safe and healthy food in the future. It’s choosing the environment and people. For South Dakota farmers, families are the key reason to protect the land and water for the future.
So how did your knowledge stack up against the facts? Let us know by leaving a comment below. Continue learning how South Dakota farmers go green by reading this story about a farmer near Colton.
Looking for festive activities to make the most of this holiday season? You don’t have to travel out of state. According to our friends at the South Dakota Department of Tourism, there’s plenty to do from Hill City to Sioux Falls to enhance your holidays.
As you drive across the countryside this winter, you may notice many fields are covered with soybean and corn stalks. The farm families who grow two of the state’s top crops didn’t decide to wrap up harvest early. It’s a sustainable practice called “no till” that’s a growing trend to help protect the environment.
Not all soil types are suited for no till, but for those farmers who can use it, no till is a simple but powerful tool. After harvesting the crops, farmers leave the stalks and plant roots in the field. There’s no reason to till since those stalks and roots help keep the soil from blowing around throughout the winter. By spring, the plant material breaks down and feeds the soil so it’s ready to grow another season of healthy crops. This is just one way South Dakota farm families are improving their farm’s sustainability to preserve the land and continue growing quality foods for the future.
A road trip across South Dakota is one of the best ways to witness agriculture in our state. From observing sustainable practices like no till farming to identifying the different types of crops, traveling for the holidays is one way we can all get closer to our food. In case you needed an excuse to plan your next road trip, here are the best holiday activities South Dakota has to offer.
Christmas in the Capital, Pierre. Light up your holidays with a visit to the state capital surrounded by the magic of 90 custom designed Christmas trees. Christmas in the Capital kicked off November 21, but is open daily through December 26.
Holiday Open House, Volga. Experience the joy of the season at Schadé Vineyard’s holiday open house in Volga. Held the first Saturday in December, the event features complimentary wine tasting, food pairings and live music. It’s a perfect place to meet your girlfriends and enjoy some retail therapy in the gift shop.
Frontier Christmas, Lake City. Step into the boots of South Dakota’s pioneers and experience an authentic frontier Christmas at historic Fort Sisseton in Lake City. With make-and-take craft stations, handmade decorations, treats and caroling, your family will create long-lasting memories by reflecting on the past.
Holiday Express, Hill City. Take a ride on the 1880 holiday express train from scenic Hill City all the way to the North Pole. With hot chocolate and a sugar cookie in hand, travel in comfort while listening to a special story. Santa even makes an appearance to deliver gifts to the littlest passengers. Seating is limited so book your tickets soon for this magical ride.
Winter Wonderland, Sioux Falls. Enjoy a sparkling winter wonderland at Falls Park in downtown Sioux Falls. Whether you walk or drive, make plans to climb to the top of the five-story viewing tower for a 360-degree view of 350,000+ lights on 271 trees and 273 light poles. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, book a twilight helicopter flight of the park with Strawbale Winery in Renner.
No matter how you choose to spend your holidays, they’re sure to be memorable if you’re with family and friends. Ever wonder what farmers do during the winter months? Here’s a clue: They aren’t just watching Netflix. Learn more by reading this, then let us know which South Dakota holiday activity is your favorite in the comments below.
Farmers hosted guests from western South Dakota at Prairie Berry Winery in scenic Hill City for the second annual Harvest Social on Thursday, November 2. The warm, bright setting offered farmers and community members an opportunity to escape the chill and engage in conversations about how food is grown and raised on today’s farms and ranches.
Huron farmer Brandon Wipf welcomed the crowd and shared stories about growing soybeans, corn, wheat and hay on his fourth-generation family farm. After attendees enjoyed appetizers, desserts and beverages created exclusively for the social by Prairie Berry Winery and Miner Brewing, farmer Jerry Schmitz from Vermillion also spoke to the crowd.
He explained that, in addition to growing soybeans and corn, he and his wife Sally also care for a variety of fruit trees and keep bees to help with plant pollination. He then showed participants three apples: one came from his farm and two he purchased at a grocery store. The two from the store were different because one was grown organically and one conventionally. He invited attendees to explain three things about the apples.
This sparked a lively discussion about the use of pesticides and GMOs. A few people in the crowd knew that organic and conventional farmers use pesticides but that organic farmers cannot use synthetic pesticides.
“Just because it’s organic doesn’t mean a pesticide wasn’t used,” said Jerry.
He also explained how GMOs are bred to have specific traits that help farmers reduce their use of pesticides and still grow safe and healthy crops for people and animals. Soybeans are one of 10 crops that are genetically modified and approved for use in the U.S.
That led to questions about how farmers prevent pesticide drift, the increased use of precision technology and conservation practices on the farm.
“Everything has to be just right or we don’t spray,” said Jerry. “We don’t go out when it’s windy or the air temperature isn’t right. We mix pesticides with water according to label instructions and add an ingredient that helps them stick to the plants’ leaves. Precision technology in our sprayers also helps us apply just the right amount of pesticide according to label instructions.”
Brandon explained how using precision technology helped him take steps to make his farm more sustainable.
“By measuring every acre of my fields with precision technology, I’m able to decide where to invest most of my time in growing the best crops,” said Brandon. “The land that isn’t as productive can be converted to grass for buffer strips and habitat for pheasants. For me, sustainability is all about growing and raising quality food, while improving lives for families in South Dakota.”
Let us know if you’d like to attend a future Hungry for Truth event or have a question for a farmer by sending a note via this form. Curious to learn more about how GMOs, pesticides and sustainable farm practices contribute to safe and healthy foods? We’ve got you covered with these reads:
It’s harvest time in South Dakota, and our favorite pint-sized crop reporter is back to give us the scoop on what’s happening on the Horter family farm near Andover. An important part of harvesting the crop is transporting it from the field to the local elevator. Today, Dane and John are on location at the elevator waiting in line to sell the soybeans that will become food for animals in South Dakota and around the world. Read about the journey.
Dane is in the driver’s seat sharing a recap of the growing season, how harvest going, what keeps them busy in the winter and brightening our day with a joke. Hint: Watch to the end if you want a chuckle.
We will check back with Dane when he gets out in the combine. In the meantime, you can learn more about how the season started with this crop report from planting season.
The Hungry for Truth crew traveled to Rapid City in September to sponsor the Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival. The sunny Saturday was marked with families from across South Dakota stopping by the Hungry for Truth tent, spinning the ag wheel and answering questions about agriculture for the chance to win a prize, and entering to win an Instant Pot. The lucky winner, Katie Gilbert, happened to be celebrating her birthday.
It was the perfect atmosphere for facilitating conversations between farmers and families about how food is grown and raised. Local soybean farmers Tim Ostrem, Jerry Schmitz and Josh and Kara Kayser enjoyed talking with people about all they do on their farm and answering questions about food safety.
The most challenging question posed to visitors who tried their hand at ag trivia was whether or not there are added hormones in poultry and pork. Many people were shocked to find out these meat products do not include added hormones. The farmers also helped attendees make the soybean connection with the meat they eat. While many South Dakotans don’t eat soybeans, they are an important source of protein in animal feed. Pigs, chickens, turkeys and dairy cows all eat soybeans to grow into the healthy meats we all enjoy.
Jerry also judged the chef competition that featured new pumpkin dishes created by local chefs. In between enjoying bites of the delicious dishes, he shared fun facts about his farm and South Dakota agriculture with the audience. Watch the action!
The Hungry for Truth initiative is all about connecting South Dakotans to the farmers who grow their food, and events like Pumpkin Fest are the perfect setting for these conversations. You can find Hungry for Truth and South Dakota farmers at other family events throughout the year. Here’s what happened at Family Fest.
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!
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
“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.
“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.”
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!”
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.
“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.”
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.
“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.
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.
“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.”
Cooking together is another way to create memorable moments. Try out one of these recipes with your family this fall.
Even with all the fun memories we’ve made this summer, we’re still talking about the fun we had on the farm for the Farm-to-Fork dinner on June 15. It was a great night and the perfect setting to have conversations about how food is grown and raised in South Dakota. What did people talk about? We asked Sioux Falls school board member and mother of three, Cynthia Mickelson, to share a little bit about her experience.
Why did you attend Hungry for Truth’s Farm-to-Fork dinner?
My husband Mark and I received an invitation last year, but were unable to attend. Afterward I checked out Hungry for Truth online and I loved it! The initiative does a great job of proactively communicating with families. We were so excited to be invited again this year.
What kinds of questions or fears do you have about food?
As of now, none, but I used to! The hysteria over GMOs hit when we lived in the suburbs of Chicago and I totally fell for it. I read a lot online and thought I will never feed my family foods made with GMO ingredients. I thought they were some sort of poison. But, after I researched them further and realized that GMOs have been around for more than 20 years, I learned just how safe they are and there was nothing to worry about.
What conversations did you have at the Farm-to-Fork dinner?
One conversation that stood out was with a Yankton farmer who is having issues expanding his family hog facility. He had pushback from people in the community and it’s kept them from growing their business.
Policies and perceptions about growth like this are interesting to my husband and me. We feel strongly about farmers being able to expand their operation if they wish. People think it keeps some big corporate farm from coming to town, when it actually keeps the little family farms from growing. From our interactions with farmers across South Dakota, we know no matter the size of the farm, farmers take care of their animals.
What do you think about the dinner?
The dinner was so nice! The farm was beautiful, the decorations, the food, everything was wonderful. It was even nicer than some weddings I’ve been to! It was also neat to see the diversity in the operations – there were pig farmers, cattle farmers, soybean farmers, everyone! Agriculture across the country, but especially in South Dakota, is so interconnected—pig and cattle farmers rely on soybean farmers to provide quality feed for their animals, and we rely on pig and cattle farmers to raise high quality, safe meat for us to eat. Everyone at dinner had the chance to ask questions and learn about food right from the source. It was the perfect environment for open dialogue, and it was great to see this community become more comfortable with their food and who raises it. I think we can all learn something from farmers. Hopefully I can come again next year!
See what Cynthia and so many others enjoyed about the Farm-to-Fork Dinner with these blogs about past events.
On June 15, urbanites and farmers from across South Dakota gathered on the farm for an evening of conversation and outdoor dining at the second annual Farm-to-Fork dinner. The event was hosted by Hungry for Truth to encourage open discussions about how food is grown and raised on the scenic Bones Hereford Ranch, Hexad Farms and MDM Farms near Parker.
The farm chic décor, cattle and calves in the pasture, historic barn and music by The Hegg Brothers created the perfect backdrop for summer dining. South Dakota blogger and mom Staci Perry noted how the location really set the tone for great conversations.
“You could see the camaraderie among the farmers, and everyone was so excited to share stories about how they grow our food,” said Staci.
Local farmers took time throughout the evening to thank attendees for coming and share their farm stories. They talked about animal care on their farms, why they might choose to grow GMO crops, and improved farm practices that benefit the environment.
“The most important thing on our farm is sustainability,” said Bradee Pazour, a cattle farmer from Pukwana who provided the beef for the appetizers. “My husband and I are raising our two boys on our farm, and one day we hope they may want to continue on the farming legacy. We are truly farming with the future in mind.”
“It’s so nice to meet the real, actual farmers who raise the animals and see the farming processes,” said Kirsten. “It’s important to me to be able to see the farm where the animals are coming from, and these farmers were so open to talking about what they do and why they do it.”
The Farm-to-Fork dinner is just one of the ways Hungry for Truth connects South Dakotans with the people who grow their food. Special thanks to everyone who attended, and to Chef Jeni and Company, The Event Company, Flower Mill and The Sampson House for creating such an elegant and memorable night.
Of course the event wouldn’t be considered “Farm-to-Fork” without featuring some truly delicious local foods. In case you’re wondering what was on the menu, here’s a rundown of some of the tasty local fare:
- Wine from Prairie Berry
- Beer from Miner Brewing Co.
- Artisan cheeses from Dimock Dairy
- Devilled Eggs from Dakota Layers
- Bacon from Greenway Pork
- Honey from Laughing Eyes Apiary
- Individual bread loaves from Breadico
- Beef from Creekstone Farms
- Mini apple and Rhubarb Pies with rhubarb from Chef Jeni’s garden
- Ice Cream from the South Dakota State University Dairy Bar
Don’t worry, if weren’t in attendance at the dinner, you can still find a lot of these local products by simply shopping at your grocery store. Peggy Greenway from Greenway Pork shared that the pork from her farm goes to Costco. If you buy pork at Costco, it very well could have been raised by her! You can also find Dimock Dairy and Dakota Layers at local Hy-Vee stores.
Have you ever met a real South Dakota farmer? Get to know a few of them by reading their stories:
In greater Yankton, South Dakota, a new era of farmer is making headway in the agricultural industry. Young millennial farmers, working on and off the farm, are shaping a new definition of farming. The tactics they use to produce food for families across the state prove to be as efficient and sustainable as their larger counterparts, despite not farming full time.
Nate Hicks and Brandon Wagner are two of the dozens of farmers in southeastern South Dakota who work a day job and then run their family farms on nights and weekends. Despite the long hours, it’s worth it to them. They manage to raise healthy beef cattle and crops with efficient practices on about 1,100 acres, which is a little smaller than an average farm size in South Dakota.
Nate grew up east of Utica, South Dakota, on a cow/calf farm and learned the tricks of the family business from his father. When it came time for college, he told his parents he was more interested in farming, but first pursued a mechanical engineering degree at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. He returned to the farm with his wife Kristen in 2015.
Nate says if he hadn’t left home and earned his degree, he wouldn’t be where he is today. The experience and knowledge gained during college and working off the farm helped him improve practices on the farm, such as fine-tuning an electronic record-keeping process originally created by his mother.
“We raise and record all our cows instead of buying new ones each year,” Nate says. “We use the records to determine which cows are top producers and keep calves from those cows each year. This ultimately provides more efficiency in our production practices, leading to lower prices and better meat quality for consumers.”
Nate’s friend, Brandon, also grew up on a family farm and shares a similar story. After graduating from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion with a teaching degree, he married his wife, Ashely, and returned to work on the farm and teach at Yankton High School. His teaching role expanded to help the school rollout its new FFA program.
When not at school, Brandon spends nights and weekends working alongside his younger brother, father and uncle to run the family farm. One of his duties is monitoring the herd during calving season, which is more efficient thanks to technology.
“We recently installed IP (internet protocol) cameras in our barn for remote monitoring of heifers that are calving,” Brandon says. “This is important because we work jobs off the farm and are multitasking in the evenings. With the cameras, we’re only minutes, or seconds, away if there is a problem.”
Brandon also creates better beef for shoppers. “Our family enrolled in a program with the American Simmental Association, which gives us USDA reports listing information from our previous cows,” he says. “We can tell which ones genetically create more flavorful meat. We can use the reports to get the traits we want so the entire herd produces higher quality beef.”
Brandon and Nate believe sustainability is an important part of any size operation. They use much of the same technology and practices as their full-time counterparts. This includes crop rotation for soil health, variable-rate planting so they don’t waste seed and minimal tillage to reduce soil erosion. The also rotate their grazing cattle so there is about one pair for every four acres of land to minimize their impact throughout the summer.
Nate and Brandon are excited about the potential of millennial and entrepreneurial farmers. They believe that if more young people see the opportunities with operations like theirs, they may decide to give farming a try as well. This gives South Dakota families even more choices when it comes to the food they find in grocery stores and farmers markets.
“I think showing young people how technology affects the industry is one of the most important issues in agriculture today,” says Brandon. “I heard a quote once that really resonated with me. It said, ‘The fastest way to lose money is to do it the way Grandpa did it. The fastest way to lose everything is to forget the way grandpa did it.’”
Read more stories about South Dakota farm families and how they care for the land and animals:
About the Guest Writer
Kristen Hicks, a farmer’s wife and director of marketing and communications at Mount Marty College, moved to Yankton in 2015. In addition to her day job, she helps her husband with his cattle and crop operation, and serves on the board of an entrepreneurial development group called Onward Yankton, and helps businesses with marketing strategies and digital solutions. In her free time, she explores the outdoors with her @southdakotadog, an Aussie-heeler mix named Tucker.
Cattle have been part of Reiner Farms since the family homesteaded land near Tripp, South Dakota, in the 1880s. According to Marc Reiner, who is the fifth generation to run the family business, animal care is a priority and an important part of raising quality meat. As you can imagine, the way Marc cares for his animals today is very different than how his grandfather did. He’s gone high tech, which is especially helpful during calving season.
“It all starts with selecting the right genetics,” says Marc. The Reiners raise Simm-Angus cattle. They choose genetics for good maternal abilities and performance that will produce the lean and high-quality cuts of meat consumers demand.
Just like with humans, preparing for a new, healthy calf begins with the health of the mother. Marc uses an ultrasound machine to verify pregnancy and the stage of pregnancy so he knows when to expect a cow to give birth.
Proper diet and nutrition is important during this time. Marc feeds his cows a balanced blend of hay, silage, and soybean meal made from crops grown on his farm along with vitamin and mineral packets to keep them healthy. He also vaccinates them to prevent major diseases like scour. Vaccinating the mother passes the antibodies along to the calves so they are protected at birth.
Marc not only personally interacts with his cows, he also uses cameras when he’s not around to monitor animal comfort throughout the year. He can watch them from his TV screen, computer and mobile phone. This is especially helpful during calving. As a cow nears the end of its pregnancy, he can bring it closer to the barn and watch for signs of distress. It’s key to have shelter with controlled temperatures for cows to use during bad weather since calving starts in February.
“Cows have great natural instincts and can usually handle giving birth without assistance, but sometimes we have to step in,” says Marc. When that happens, he’s happy to have his family and employees by his side. “Calving can be an intense time. It takes teamwork to keep the newborns safe.”
After a calf is born, the most important things are its first meal and spending time indoors to grow healthy and strong so it can join the herd. Marc continues to monitor its weight, provides a nutritious diet and vaccinates as necessary until it’s time to be harvested. Beef cuts are sold to restaurants and grocery stores for South Dakota families to purchase and enjoy.
For Marc, that cycle of growing food and feeding people is one of the most satisfying things about being a farmer. “We feed our animals the crops we grow on the farm and enjoy eating the meat from the animals we raise.”
Read more about how farmers and livestock specialists use technology to raise healthy animals:
In honor of National Ag Day, we talked with local South Dakota farmers about what they love best about family farms. Did you know that 98 percent of farms in our state are family owned and operated? Your neighbors work hard to make sure the food they raise that ends up on your table is safe and healthy. Check out what they had to say about their favorite parts of farming as a family affair:
“For me, it’s such a privilege to watch my kids grow up on the farm. To see the excitement in their actions and expressions is priceless. My kids will be the sixth generation on our farm, and you can tell their passion for agriculture comes from within. There’s nothing more rewarding than teaching my children what has been passed down to me through the generations and see them grow to appreciate the land that provides for us.” – John Horter, farmer from Andover
“One of the things I love most about being part of a family farm is the interaction with the land and animals. I believe there are no more beautiful pictures than that of calves running in a green, flowing pasture; combines harvesting soybeans from the fields on a brisk, colorful fall day; or a litter of piglets simultaneously nursing from the sow. These “office views” are awe inspiring and make a day on the farm that much sweeter.” – Amanda Eben, livestock specialist who is active on her family farm near Rock Rapids, IA
“From the time our children could talk, they would watch out the window every morning and we would hear “Grandpa’s here!” as they ran out the door to greet him as though they hadn’t seen him in years. Though retired, he has always been protector, teacher, trainer, baby sitter, disciplinarian and confidant. No amount of money could buy that opportunity for our children. The family farm is the only institution I am aware of that can provide that opportunity and solid foundation for life.” – Jerry Schmitz, farmer from Vermillion
“What I enjoy about farming is being able to work alongside my husband every day with our kids playing around us. It’s what I love most about the life that we live.” – Morgan Kontz, farmer from Colman
“No amount of money could equal the pride I feel when my parents and grandparents tell me I’m doing a good job of managing our family farm. It’s a joy to work alongside all the generations of our family. We have so many memories that make me smile when I think about them, like laughing about lessons learned the hard way, our children talking to the animals, and me shouting, “Come boss!” to the cows as I bring them from the pasture to milk, just like my Grandpa. I love remembering the smile on his face as I gave it my first call, and wished he was here to see my kids and me doing the same thing today.” – Todd Hanten, farmer from Goodwin
“I love being a part of a farm passed down through four generations and working to pass it on to the fifth. The best part of it all is passing on my passion for farming to my children.” – Josh Kayser, farmer from Emery
Read more about family farms in South Dakota:
We’re daydreaming of warmer days and our beautiful Farm-to-Fork Dinner from last summer! It was such a fun night connecting the food on our table back to the farm and hearing from local farmers about how they raise their crops and livestock. Today, check out a few more photos from that amazing night and pretend like we’re still enjoying the summer breeze and sunshine. You can see a full recap of the event here and read Sioux Falls blogger Kaylee Koch’s post about her experience at Apple of My Ivy.
P.S. We will host our second annual farm-to-fork dinner again this summer, so be on the lookout for more info this spring!
You may have recently seen soccer moms discussing GMO foods on your TV screen as part of Hungry for Truth’s latest commercial. While two of those moms are actors, one is a local celebrity, South Dakota farmer Bradee Pazour. She found out about the commercial through an old-fashioned casting call and a couple weeks later found herself on set. We sat down with the newest star of the small screen to find out more about her life and what it was like behind the scenes.
HFT: Tell us about you and your farm.
Bradee: I grew up on a farm south of Chamberlain. I always say I was blessed to be a farmer’s daughter, farmer’s wife and now a farmer and farm mom. I married my husband, Joel, in 2010 and moved to his family’s farm south of Pukwana. There we farm alongside his family, growing soybeans, corn and wheat, while raising a cow-calf herd and managing a feedlot operation.
HFT: How did you find out about the opportunity to star in the commercial?
Bradee: My mother-in-law found a blog post for auditions for female farmers across South Dakota and encouraged me to audition. I filled out the form and, a few days later, had a call back. They had me record myself saying a few lines. A couple weeks later, I received a call saying I was their pick.
HFT: As a mom and a farmer, why do you feel it’s important for South Dakotans to know more about where their food comes from?
Bradee: I am concerned about the quality and safety of the food we serve our children, just like any other mom. That’s why, on our farm, we raise our crops and livestock in a safe and sustainable way. I think it’s important that everyone knows our story as farmers. I hope that I can personally help answer any questions South Dakotans have about food and farming.
Because of the great world we live in, we have so many choices when we go to the grocery store. GMO ingredients are just as safe and nutritious as non-GMO ingredients, and I think that’s important for other moms to know. As a farmer and a mom, I want to open up that conversation with people so they’re confident in the choices they make.
HFT: What advice would you give other South Dakota moms who want to learn more about their food?
Bradee: The Hungry for Truth initiative is an awesome program. It has so much information. Follow Hungry for Truth on social media for the latest updates. I would also point them to the website where they can ask questions of real farmers like me and explore everything from food safety and GMOs to pesticides and sustainability.
You can check out Bradee’s commercial here.
Have questions for Bradee about her experiences shooting the commercial? Leave them in the comments.