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.
This Thanksgiving is extra special for South Dakotans. For the first time in history, two South Dakota turkeys will ride – Suburban style – from Huron to Washington, D.C and will be presented to President Trump and his family on behalf of our nation’s turkey farmers.
The National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation is a tradition that began in 1947 with President Truman and has evolved into a well-coordinated annual effort by the National Turkey Federation (NTF). This year, NTF Chairman Jeff Sveen, who is also chairman of the board for Dakota Provisions, chose a farmer from his home state to raise the presidential flock. He attended last year’s event and enjoyed “babysitting” the turkeys in the Willard Hotel before the ceremony.
“It’s such a fun time for the whole country to come together. It’s an amazing honor for South Dakota turkey farmers,” said Jeff, who was integral to establishing Dakota Provisions and jumpstarting the state’s turkey production.
In honor of these special birds traveling to the nation’s capital from South Dakota, we thought it would be fun to explore how healthy turkeys are raised and what it’s like to be part of the presidential flock.
South Dakota Turkey Stats
Today, there are about 50 turkey farms raising about 5 million turkeys each year. Most of them are located in the eastern part of the state near the Dakota Provisions plant, which processes meat for businesses like Panera Bread, Firehouse Subs and many of the Disney properties.
“About 95 percent of turkeys here are raised in Hutterite colonies, which are very similar to most South Dakota farms,” explained Dr. David Zeman, veterinary pathologist and executive director of the South Dakota Poultry Industries Association. “They’re progressive, employ the latest technology and are family owned.”
The birds grow up in large, well-ventilated barns with open floorplans and plenty of access to food and water. In the summer, the sides of the barns open for fresh air and then close in winter to help keep them toasty warm. The facilities also protect them from predators and diseases.
Turkeys are fed a healthy, balanced diet of homegrown crops. According to Dr. Zeman, South Dakota turkeys consume about 3 million bushels of soybeans and 5.4 million bushels of corn each year. That equates to about 30 pounds of soybeans and 60 pounds of corn during the 20 weeks it takes to grow a turkey from a chick to the full-grown weight of roughly 50 pounds.
Thanksgiving Turkeys and Hormones
The turkey slow-roasted in your oven for Thanksgiving is actually different from the birds typically used for deli meat and items at Dakota Provisions. Thanksgiving turkeys are typically 10-20-pound hens (females) instead of 40-50-pound toms (males). Turkeys are so efficient at turning food into protein, the farmers who raise them never use hormones. That means you don’t need to pay extra for the hormone-free claim on the packaging of any poultry item.
The Presidential Flock
So what’s the difference between the turkey you eat and ones raised as part of the presidential flock? Not as much as you may think. They’re fed, sheltered and cared for in many of the same ways.
Two distinct differences are that presidential turkeys live in a small house away from others and are handled regularly so they get used to people and activity. That’s right, the most important quality for a presidential turkey is its ability to keep cool in the spotlight.
According to Jeff, the farmer raising the flock spends a lot of time picking up the birds and training them to stand on tables so they will be comfortable during the press conference and White House ceremony. This hands-on approach helps ensure they’re ready for their close-ups.
So even though presidential turkeys may have more personality, South Dakota farmers know how to raise happy, healthy and nutritious birds for any occasion.
Did you know if you purchase a nationally-branded turkey from the grocery store there’s a chance it’s from a South Dakota farm? That’s because national brands buy from local companies, like Dakota Provisions. Learn more about why eating local may be easier than you think.
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.
Hungry for Truth held its third annual Farm-to-Fork Dinner in June, bringing to life its mission of uniting farmers and consumers around the dinner table to have open conversations about how food is grown and raised. Approximately 180 farmers and South Dakotans gathered at the Country Apple Orchard near Harrisburg for a social hour and meal featuring local food and beverages.
While the emerald orchard trees, luscious pink peonies and rustic wood architecture created a picturesque backdrop, the pinnacle element of the evening was the opportunity to share stories and connect.
“My favorite part of attending the Farm-to-Fork Dinner is the opportunity to hear more about what the farmers do year-round to create healthy food. There’s so much more to farming than just planting a seed and harvesting the crop,” said guest Lexie Frankman. “Plus, it’s a really fun vibe, and the menu is full of fresh, local favorites.”
Sandra Melstad agreed. “As someone who works in public health, I appreciate resources that can help families eat and live healthier lifestyles. Learning more about locally grown, sustainable foods is important to me and the people I serve. Hungry for Truth does a great job of bringing farmers and families together at this event,” she explained.
Dinner began with a welcome from Vermillion farmer Jerry Schmitz. He described his farm and how he grows soybeans, corn, apples and also keeps bees for local honey producers. Other farmers, including Jeff Thompson, Walt Bones and Alan Merril addressed the crowd throughout the meal, explaining how their family farms are becoming more sustainable.
“Our farms have changed to grow and raise food more efficiently but we’re also committed to caring for the soil, water, air and wildlife for future generations,” stated Walt, who gave some specific examples of technology and how it’s helped farmers grow more with less land and resources. “If farmers today used the techniques from the 1950s, we wouldn’t be able to grow enough food to feed approximately 131 million people. That’s equal to the number of people who live in the 9 most populated U.S. states.”
Alan shared how technology has helped him be more efficient with pesticide application and making sure just the right amount is applied to the crop at the right time.
Guest Karla Santi said she appreciates learning more about food and farmer safety when it comes to pesticides. “Pesticides can be useful in protecting crops, but it was good to learn about the growth of biotechnology products compared with pesticides. It’s good to know farmers use technology that helps keep them and our food safe.”
For Karla and other urbanites whose regular connection to the farm is the grocery store or a farmers market, sharing a meal around the table with a local farm family is a special treat.
“Farming is really key to being a South Dakotan. It’s a big part of who we are, and I’m excited to be part of celebrating it,” said Natalie Eisenberg.
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.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth so much more. Here’s a look at the exclusive Hungry for Truth Farm-to-Fork dinner festivities, which brought farmers and community members together during an unforgettable summer evening on the farm. From the local food and the chic décor to great questions and conversations, the evening set the table for sharing stories about South Dakota agriculture.
This video gives you a glimpse at the annual event, which brings real South Dakotans and farmers together to enjoy food that’s grown safely and sustainably on real local farms.
Our next dinner is coming up in June. Stay tuned to find out how you can get an invite to this event from South Dakota soybean farmers. We’ll be sharing news soon with our newsletter subscribers and on social media. Be sure you’re part of our community so you don’t miss out. In the meantime, see photos and read about activities from past events in these blogs.
When Ed Munce started cooking for family events, he had no idea it would eventually turn into a full-time business grilling up some of the best meat in Sioux Falls. The requests started innocently enough. With 11 brothers and sisters, there were plenty of holidays, backyard barbecues and weddings to keep them hopping. By 2001, Ed and his son Matt grew their hobby into a retail store and catering business.
Today Uncle Ed’s is anything but typical. The high-quality food keeps people coming in for more. Each week, 500 to 2,000 people flock to the store buying everything from 40 flavors of brats to Iowa chops, St. Louis ribs, smoked pulled pork and their number #1 seller: rib-eye steaks.
Matt and Ed buy their meat from a USDA-certified vendor in Iowa that sources animals from several U.S. farms. Since South Dakota is fifth in the nation for raising beef cattle and ninth in raising pigs, it’s likely the meat they purchase is raised by local farmers and fed a balanced diet of corn, soybeans vitamins and minerals. Soybeans are especially important to the growth and health of livestock because they provide the protein that builds strong, lean muscle.
Ed and Matt feel comfortable purchasing meat that’s been given a healthy start with soybeans. From there, it’s in their hands to create the foods people crave.
“We’re a unique business because we do most of the processing and crafting ourselves. It’s really a labor of love,” explained Matt. “We are passionate about giving people the very best.”
At Hungry for Truth, we’re all about making sure you have the right intel for food shopping success. We asked Matt to share some tips to help you select the best beef and pork for your next meal. Hint: If you head over to Uncle Ed’s, they’ve already done your homework.
The USDA grades beef using quality standards to determine whether it falls into the prime, choice or select category. All are safe to eat, but prime and choice lead the race in terms of marbling and overall taste. Typically, you find the grade on the package or by asking someone behind the counter. Uncle Ed’s only sells the upper end of choice and prime cuts of beef.
For pork, only the highest grade is sold in stores so expect top quality no matter where you shop.
Age to Perfection
Just like most of us, primal cuts of beef are better with age. Three to four weeks can mean the difference between eating steak that tastes like a piece of shoe leather and beef that melts in your mouth. Look for the packing date to choose cuts with some age that are dark red in color. This is different than the expiration or sell-by date, so if you can’t find it or aren’t sure where to look, talk with the expert behind the meat counter.
Pork is easy since fresh is best. Look for pinkish color and use the sell by date as a guide. You can eat pork one to two days past the sell by date, but freezing is the best way to make it last longer.
Fat is flavor. Marbling refers to the lines of fat running through beef, and it’s key to flavor and tenderness. The best cuts of beef and pork have a mix of marbling and muscle.
Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to learn more about how South Dakota soybean farmers raise the animals that produce your favorite meats:
Music and agriculture are two of Moriah Gross’ great loves. Six years ago, her passions intertwined when she founded Pierre’s first youth orchestra and invited students and their families to her farm for a sunflower-themed photoshoot.
“What makes our orchestra truly unique is that we live in God’s country, and our county [Sully County] is the top sunflower producer in the U.S.,” said Moriah. “It made sense to combine the two in celebration of the beauty that surrounds us in the fields.”
Since then, it’s become an annual tradition. She decides on a marketing theme for the year, invites her students and their families out to the farm for the photoshoot, where the families also pick sweet corn. Moriah and her husband, Austin, a fourth-generation farmer from Onida, feel it’s a great opportunity to answer questions about food and farming.
“Conversations about how we grow food can happen 30 miles away or sitting next to someone at a baseball game. I always look forward to the opportunity,” explained Moriah.
Combines and Violins
Moriah grew up on a family ranch near Mankato, Kansas, growing milo, wheat and sunflowers, and raising Angus cattle. She spent summers with her family custom harvesting wheat for other farmers, traveling from Texas to the Canadian border. She learned how to drive a combine, grain cart and tractor. Her time in the cab and caring for cattle turned out to be helpful for her career as a musician.
“I remember singing with my mom in the combine to bluegrass and country western music,” said Moriah. “Later, my dad added a radio to the barn, so we listened to music during calving season.”
Moriah began playing the violin when she was 7 and joined the orchestra in middle school. By the time she graduated from college, she had mastered the violin, viola, cello, double bass, guitar and piano. With all this experience and a love for wide open spaces, it just made sense to move to Pierre to start The Pierre Youth Orchestra, eventually becoming its executive director. What she didn’t plan on was meeting and marrying Austin.
“I never thought I’d be lucky enough to marry a farmer,” said Moriah. Since Austin’s family regularly opens the farm to youth and hunting groups, Moriah knew he’d welcome the orchestra with open arms.
Questions and Conversations
The annual orchestra photoshoot generates interesting questions about everything from how they grow crops to the equipment they use on the farm. Some families are surprised to find out that most of the sweet corn they grow is GMO.
“We still grow one traditional sweet corn variety for sentimental reasons, but the other five are GMOs,” explained Austin. “It’s fun to explain how each one has been carefully bred to enhance its color or flavor.” GMOs make up 94 percent of the soybean and 89 percent of the corn crops grown in the U.S. They also happen to be two of South Dakota’s top crops.
This year, the orchestra held its first community fundraiser at the Fort Pierre farmers market. Austin and Moriah donated 1,500 ears of sweet corn for the event. Naturally, shoppers asked about different types of sweet corn and if it’s organic.
“People think organic means the corn is healthier in some way. The truth is it doesn’t matter,” said Moriah. “The sweet corn we grow is nutritionally the same as organic and both are safe to eat.”
One day, she hopes to turn the photoshoot into a concert to bring more people to the Pierre and Onida communities to enjoy music on the farm. Until then, she and Austin continue planting seeds of knowledge whenever they can and watching them grow.
If you have questions for Moriah and Austin, share them in the comments below. Love reading stories about South Dakota farm families? Here’s one about Eunice who’s been growing crops and irises on her family farm for nearly 90 years.
Photos Courtesy of Grandpre Photography & Moriah Gross.
For many in Sioux Falls, the average Saturday starts with a cup of coffee and a walk down to the local farmers market around 8 a.m. For local farmer Dale Hebda of Hebda Farms, preparing his stand at the market starts at 5:30 a.m. on Friday morning.
“We start with picking produce and packing it up for Saturday morning,” Dale said. “We usually finish Friday by packing our cooler with our baked goods at 11 p.m.”
Long hours are just part of the job at Hebda Farms, a produce farm in Mission Hills that started off as a 4-H project for Dale’s oldest son, Steven.
“He began with two or three acres that supplied our stand at the little farmers market in Yankton,” he said. “He bought the seed, paid for the water and paid me rent. He really took care of his finances and ran an excellent business.”
In addition to Steven’s efforts and purple ribbons accrued at the county fair, the community also provided the support Hebda Farms needed.
“Our community really came together and rallied around him to support his local business at our farmers market,” Dale said. “With Steven’s proven success and our seven younger children coming into 4-H down the road, we needed to expand our business.”
As luck would have it, a property came up for sale just as the Hebda family considered expansion. They purchased the land and went from two to three acres to 45 acres and have been growing ever since. In addition to adding products and produce to their line, they also began growing soybeans, corn and alfalfa on an annual rotation.
“We rotate crops yearly for weed control, as some weeds are more prevalent in some crops than others,” he said. “Some of the harvested crops are sold, and some are kept to feed the cattle we raise for our family.”
Introducing new products and produce is a regular occurrence for the Hebdas. Dale said they test them for about two to three years to see if they’re viable, then decide if they’ll continue growing them in future seasons. Hebda Farms also now has a commercial kitchen for pickling and canning their 36 varieties of jellies and creating delicious baked goods from scratch.
“We have about six to seven varieties of pies,” said Dale. “Our Latino workers have contributed their family recipes, so we now sell flan and other traditional Mexican foods.”
Even though there are challenges in owning a small businesses and farming, Dale enjoys growing food and connecting with South Dakota families.
“It is a fun time. At the end of the day, I don’t necessarily get satisfaction from the revenue,” he said. “I’m happy when I see happy customers leaving our farm or stand with healthy and fresh food for their families.”
You can visit Dale and the Hebda crew on Saturday and Sunday mornings at Lewis and Clark Lake in Yankton, Saturday mornings in Sioux Falls and by appointment at their farm in Mission Hills.
Farmers markets are a great place to meet with the people who grow your food. If you can’t make it out to a farmers market, ask a question in the comments, or check out our blogs below to learn more about connecting with local farmers:
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:
June may be dairy month, but if you’re anything like us, cheese is a year-round obsession. In South Dakota, Dimock Dairy is known for some of the best handmade blocks, curds and spreads you’ll find anywhere.
The journey for these delicious cheeses starts seven miles northwest of Dimock on Marty Neugebauer’s farm. Marty grows corn and soybeans, and raises beef cattle in addition to operating a dairy. He started selling milk to Dimock Dairy in the 1980s as a junior in high school when he his mother Anita expanded the family farm. When his mother retired in 1998, his brother Darin joined the operation. Marty knows dairy products don’t get any better than what’s right down the road.
Today, his family business is one of four family farms selling milk exclusively to Dimock Dairy. He’s proud to support a local business and enjoys knowing their products get their start on his farm. He claims their butter is the best ever made with the aged cheddar a close second.
Marty gets going every morning at 5:15 a.m. Before bringing the cows in around 6 a.m., he sanitizes the milking equipment and pipes to make sure the milk is clean when it reaches the bulk tank. Keeping things clean is Marty’s number one priority so he can send the best quality product to town.
He brings eight cows into the barn for milking at a time. Each cow goes into the same stall on the same side of the parlor every day. According to Marty, “Cows need routine. If you change anything, they won’t give the same amount of milk. Keeping them comfortable and happy is important to milk production.” He sanitizes the cows before attaching the milkers, which suction right to the cow. The milkers are equipped with a sensor to detect the flow of milk and stop pumping when the milk stops flowing.
Marty says cows have their own unique personalities and pump different amounts of milk. They can provide anywhere from 25 to 50 pounds per session, and it only takes about five to eight minutes to milk each cow. After the milkers shut off, they detach automatically and he disinfects the cows so they’re clean. Within 15 minutes of coming inside, the cows head back outside for the day.
Next, the fresh milk flows into a receiving jar and is pumped through a plate cooler to reduce its temperature by 20 degrees within seconds. It is then collected in a bulk tank where it’s chilled to 38 degrees F until a Dimock Dairy bulk milk truck picks it up.
Marty repeats this process at 4:30 p.m. every day. It takes three hours to sanitize and milk about 90 cows each morning and afternoon. In between milkings, he takes care of his beef cattle, tends to his crops and completes other tasks on the farm. “There’s always something to do,” Marty said.
Cow Comfort and Nutrition
For many dairy farmers like Marty the key to good milk production is keeping cows comfortable, giving them plenty of access to water and feeding them a nutritious diet. While Marty’s cows eat mostly distillers grain made from corn and silage, many dairy farmers in South Dakota also feed theirs soybean meal. Did you know there are approximately 117,000 dairy cows in South Dakota that eat 31,000 tons of soybean meal each year? Good thing soybeans are the state’s second largest crop.
Dimock Dairy Delivery
Every other day, approximately 10,000 pounds of milk leaves Marty’s bulk tank to take on a whole new shape and flavor. We’ll explore how Marty’s milk becomes the delicious cheese at Dimock Dairy in part two of this blog so stay tuned.
What about the gallons of milk you find at the grocery store? Ever wonder how it gets from the farm to the shelf? Read about its journey.
Buying local is a great way to support family farms and businesses, and it’s why so many South Dakotans look for local products when shopping. The great news is you don’t have to look hard to put locally grown food on your table. It’s in the aisles of grocery stores, shelves of downtown shops and stands at farmers markets. No matter where you choose to buy your food, it’s likely you are purchasing a product with local roots.
Marc Reiner is a farmer who grows soybeans, corn, wheat and alfalfa near Tripp. His family has been raising cattle since they homesteaded the land in the 1880s. They also raise pigs.
“Everything we feed our animals is grown on our farm,” says Marc. “The hay, silage, soybean meal and corn is all grown here. My family enjoys eating the meat from the animals we raise and the products we grow.”
Marc’s family sells his crops, pigs and cattle to local grain and meat processors. They transform the soybeans and corn into nutritious animal feed and the animals into choice cuts of beef and pork served in restaurants and sold in grocery stores across South Dakota and the U.S.
Though he doesn’t know where all the food products grown and raised on his farm end up, he knows that farmers throughout the nation no matter the size have the health and safety of consumers in mind.
Dakota Layers is an example of a business serving South Dakotans that purchases feed made from locally grown soybeans. The family-owned operation located north of Flandreau processes and packages 90,000 dozen eggs each day! It purchases 10,000 tons of soybean meal annually to feed its 1.3 million hungry hens. You can purchase their eggs at South Dakota grocery stores. Some local businesses, such as Oh My Cupcakes! in downtown Sioux Falls and Royal River Casino in Flandreau use their eggs for baking and cooking.
So the next time you’re looking for locally grown foods like eggs, pork, beef or chicken, don’t stress if you don’t see a label. There’s a good chance it has a local connection or was grown by a farmer who has your family’s health and safety in mind.
Love learning about local? Milk is another food that has South Dakota roots. Read about its journey farm to shelf.
On November 11, local community leaders, foodies and farmers gathered together at Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City for a Harvest Social. The Hungry for Truth event brought South Dakotans together to share in meaningful conversations about the journey from farm to plate over some delicious foods and local wine.
“It’s a very rewarding experience to talk about food and agriculture with people,” said Colin Nachtigal, farmer from Harrold. “We chatted about simple things like the crops people see while they’re out hunting and which of those crops I grow on my own farm. This kind of thing comes naturally to me, but I love sharing it with others. There is always more work to do on the farm, but it’s worth it for me to take the time to make connections with people about what I do.”
Colin said he had the chance to talk with almost every person in attendance that evening. He said many people were interested to hear more about the family aspect of farming. “The people I visited with were surprised to hear that 97 percent of farms in South Dakota are family owned and operated,” said Colin.
He farms with his father, two uncles, brother and six cousins. Together, they grow soybeans, corn, wheat, milo and grass seed, and run a cow-calf operation. Colin says that, when it comes to making decisions on the farm, they’re always thinking about the future.
“Because we are a family farm, when we make decisions about how to manage things, we think about our children and grandchildren, the future generations who will take over the farm,” said Colin. “For example, we conserve our soil by using minimum tillage and, in some cases, no tillage at all. We do this to reduce soil erosion and to keep nutrients in the soil. Caring for the environment is a top priority for us.”
Do you have questions for Colin about his family farm? Let us know in the comments.
Do you ever wonder how your gallon of milk got to the grocery store? Milk goes through several steps before you can find it on the shelf. It might surprise you that many dairy products start out not far from home. Dairies are in all 50 states so it makes it easier to have locally produced dairy products in your grocery. Even those without a “local” label often start within driving distance of your kitchen. For example, when you pick up a gallon of milk from your local Hy-Vee, it’s likely coming from within a 60-mile radius of Sioux Falls. Let’s take a look into the journey your gallon of milk takes to get to your local grocery.
Before your gallon of milk can be enjoyed, dairy cows must produce the milk. Most dairy cows are milked twice a day. The milk is then cooled in a large storage tank on the farm and, within 24 hours, it is taken to a local processing plant in an insulated truck that keeps it cold. For example, a dairy farm in Garretson may drive their milk 55 miles to a processing facility in Brookings.
After a short road trip, the milk arrives at the local processing plant and is tested for safety. Dairy farmers and milk processing plants want to ensure the milk they deliver and use is safe. Next, the milk goes through a process called pasteurization. Pasteurization kills pathogens with heat and is just another step to ensure the milk is safe for consumption. After pasteurization, milk is packaged and sent 60 miles to grocery stores in Sioux Falls and beyond.
Isn’t it interesting to know that the entire farm-to-shelf trip for a gallon of milk can take only two days and 115 miles? The next time you’re at the store, remember that cows right down the road likely made that milk that is in your shopping cart. Local farmers and processors work to bring that gallon of milk from the farm to your home quickly and safely every day.
Check out this great video about milk’s journey.
Farmers market season is in full swing. That means at least once a week, fresh, in-season food and local farmers are available just a few minutes away. To celebrate National Farmers Market Week, we decided to find out more about this tradition that goes back hundreds of years.
Cody Carper is a 20-year farmers market veteran who also grows corn and soybeans, and raises cattle with his parents in Rutland, South Dakota. He started out growing produce in high school to make money and has stuck with it ever since. We caught up with Cody, as he was in the middle of loading sweet corn, to talk about what it’s like farming for the market and what you might not know about farmers markets in South Dakota.
1. Farmers markets are a great place to connect with local farmers and talk to them about food. Have questions about how food is raised? Head to a local farmers market to find out what farmers do and why they’re passionate about it.
2. Some farmers market farmers do more than grow produce. In addition to growing for the market, Cody grows corn and soybeans on a large scale. He says many visitors to the farmers market have questions about how that affects his food at the market.
“People have a misconception that a bigger scale farm might be worse ,” said Cody. “I put just as much care into farming my acres of corn and soybeans as I do my vegetables. All the other crop farmers I know do too.”
3. Presentation is everything.
“July through September, we are at farmers markets seven days a week,” said Cody. “Every morning, we go to a farmers market. We wash, bunch, box and bag everything. The preparation takes a lot of work. We spend a lot of time making sure everything is presented just right.”
4. Farmers markets are a great place to find in-season foods. Look for fresh beets, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, lettuce, peppers, potatoes, radishes, spinach, tomatoes and zucchini this time of year. Check out everything that’s in season here.
5. Getting food from farm to market is a full-time job. Once farmers get to the market, it’s like a mini vacation.
“We pick every day, all day,” said Cody. “So time at the farmers market? That’s the relaxing time. You can sit back and visit with fellow vendors and shoppers, and see the results of all your hard work.”
6. August 7-13 is National Farmers Market week. There are more than 8,600 farmers markets in the United States and 42 in South Dakota so find a local farmers market. If you’re not able to make it to the market but still want to meet a farmer, leave us a comment and let us know!
Want to learn more about Cody’s produce business? Check out his website. If you have questions for him, leave them in the comments.
The first Hungry for Truth Farm-to-Fork Dinner on June 24 was the perfect night, from the delicious local food to the conversations between South Dakota farmers and their Sioux Falls neighbors. The dinner took Sioux Falls residents outside the city limits to Jeff Thompson’s farm in Colton, South Dakota. Dinner guests enjoyed alfresco dining overlooking the Thompsons’ fields while talking with local farmers, exploring questions about everything from family life on the farm to antibiotic use in livestock.
Monica McCranie, a Claremont farmer involved with Hungry for Truth, was excited to have the chance to talk with other South Dakotans about how she and other local farmers raise crops and livestock.
Monica talked about her passion for farming while greeting dinner guests. She shared the legacy that’s been passed down through generations, drawing herself and others to continue the farming tradition.
“Many people were surprised to learn that so many farms in the state are multigenerational. For me, farming has always been a family affair,” said Monica. “My grandfather was actually one of the farmers who helped establish the first soil conservation district in South Dakota.”
The goal of this event, and the Hungry for Truth initiative as a whole, is to spark conversations between South Dakotans and the farmers who grow their food. South Dakotans learned about how their food gets to their plates and farmers heard what people care about when it comes to food and farming. Those conversations build greater community connections around two things we all have in common: food and family.
“A lot of guests I talked with didn’t know most South Dakota farms are family owned or that farmers always strive to be more sustainable so they can leave the land even better than they found it,” she said. “It was great to have the opportunity to visit with our neighbors about what we do. The setting and food made the whole event wonderful.”
Prepared by Sioux Falls Chef Jeni, the four-course meal featured foods sourced from the same local farmers who sat next to guests that evening. The dinner event ended with ice cream made nearby at South Dakota State University.
If you want to read more about the dinner, check out local blogger Kaylee Koch’s Apple of My Ivy blog. Find out what she loved about the event and her conversation with a Mitchell farmer. Have questions of your own about food and farming? Let us know in the comments, and check out our other blogs to learn more about everything from GMOs to sustainability.
Across the Table is back! For this episode, we’re sharing how to make your favorite cupcake recipes even better with tips – like how to choose the perfect butter and the best way to frost your cupcake – from the one and only Melissa Johnson, our host and the owner of Oh My Cupcakes! in downtown Sioux Falls.
We’re also on location with local farmer Annelies Seffrood of NorSwiss Dairy to learn more about raising healthy dairy cattle and where we get the butter for our delicious cupcakes. Annelies says she gets a lot of questions about hormones in milk. “All foods have naturally occurring hormones in them. They’re in everything we eat,” she explained. “In fact, the head of cabbage you chop up to make coleslaw has more hormones in it than the glass of milk you drink with your meal.”
You can also watch the video HERE to learn more from Melissa and Annelies about dairy products and baking tips. Check back for the next episode when we feature a healthy alternative for summer dinners on the grill and talk to a local dietician about the best ways to prepare and handle food safely.
Thank you to Hy-Vee and Oh My Cupcakes! for their support of Across the Table and the Hungry for Truth initiative.
Farmers gathered with fellow South Dakotans this November for meaningful conversation and delicious local food at the Hungry for Truth Harvest Lunch. Guests learned some surprising facts. Did you know some cows sleep on waterbeds? They also heard stories about the multiple generations of family farmers in South Dakota.
The lunch took place at Prairie Berry East Bank in Sioux Falls. During each course, local farmers shared how they raise healthy crops and livestock on their own family farms. Prairie Berry’s Chef Mark Benedetto also spoke about how the restaurant sources food for its kitchen and the importance of knowing where our food comes from.
Guest Kaylee Koch, a Sioux Falls blogger who writes about her Midwest family adventures at Apple of My Ivy, enjoyed hearing from farmers about how working on the farm is a family business.
“I loved learning how the farms have been passed down from generation to generation and that it truly is a whole family experience. Each member of the family has a specific role. It’s a coalition of hard work that unites to bring the delicious and healthy food to our tables,” Koch said.
Vermillion farmer Jerry Schmitz loved connecting with fellow South Dakotans and answering questions about his family farm and how he raises healthy crops. One question in particular stood out to Jerry: Were 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 that 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.”
Many guests remarked that when shopping in the grocery store or throwing together a quick dinner for the family, the connection between the farms and the farm families who raise our food can sometimes get lost.
“Our farmers are so important, and meeting with these local farmers reminded me not to take the food I eat for granted. Our farmers spend a lot of time, work and love to bring us our meals,” Koch said.
Have your own questions about farming in our state? Share in the comments to get connected with a local farmer. Plus, if you want to see more photos from our event, check out our Facebook photo album.