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.
Bradee Pazour has always been passionate about farming. She grew up on a family farm just outside Chamberlain and married into the farm life. Today, she grows soybeans, corn and wheat alongside her husband, Joel and his family, near Pukwana, South Dakota. They stay busy raising cows and two spunky kiddos on the plains.
Bradee cherishes her role helping Joel manage the day-to-day demands of farm life. “We care tremendously about growing safe food for families and protecting the environment,” she explained.
This includes assisting when she can with planting and controlling early-season weeds that can threaten the health of their crops. Just like many South Dakota farmers, the Pazours take steps to carefully select the types of pesticides to use and apply them safely. The strategy of using just the right amount to get the job done is important to Bradee, who wants to grow healthy plants without sacrificing the safety of her family, neighbors and the environment.
“Weed control is similar whether you live in town or on the farm. For example, many people want to protect their yards from crabgrass. One of the best ways to prevent it is to apply a pre-emergence herbicide in the spring to keep it from ever coming up,” explained Bradee. “It requires strategic pre-planning but translates to healthier plants down the road.”
Applying a pre-emergence herbicide to stop weeds on the Pazour farm means crops don’t have to compete for resources like water, sunlight and nutrients from the soil. Since the tiny seeds are resistant to the herbicides thanks to genetic modification, the plants can put all their energy into growing strong and healthy.
Selecting the right product is just one part of the equation. Farmers like the Pazours also have to attend classes to get certified to apply all types of pesticides. They also learn when to spray and how to mix the product for optimal performance and safety.
“The precision technology in our sprayer allows us to apply the right amount down to the inch across the field,” explained Joel. “The goal is to use pesticides accurately, efficiently and responsibly. It’s just better all the way around.”
Just a few miles north of Sioux Falls lies Lynn Boadwine’s dairy farm. Homesteaded in 1874, Boadwine Farms is home to more than 2,000 dairy cows and 2,000 acres of corn, alfalfa and sorghum. Lynn is the fourth generation to farm this land, along with his employees who keep the family-owned operation running smoothly.
Heidi Zwinger is one of those employees. She’s worked on the farm as a herd manager for 16 years, helping care for the dairy cows and managing the other farmworkers. Heidi, who grew up on a dairy farm, is passionate about producing great milk while taking great care of the animals.
“Even though I’m not the farm owner, I still call it my farm because I take pride in it,” Heidi explained. “I love working with our cows and helping them grow and produce milk. I also love working with my coworkers to make sure we’re doing what’s right for the animals.”
On farms large and small, everyone who works together is passionate about ensuring the animals are well cared for so they can create delicious, high-quality food.
“There are real, passionate people behind large farm operations,” Heidi said. “I’m a member of the Boadwine farm family and so are my coworkers, who are just as dedicated as I am.”
One way Heidi and her coworkers take care of the cows is by feeding them a high-quality diet. Dairy cows need a protein-rich diet to produce delicious, nutritious milk. The cows at Boadwine Farm are fed hay and silage grown right on the farm, supplemented with soybean and corn meal from the local grain elevator. Soybeans are a great source of protein so dairy cows across South Dakota enjoy eating approximately 18,000 tons of soybean meal annually.
“We harvest everything we plant as feed for the cows, so nothing is wasted,” Heidi said. “Our cows eat locally,” she added with a laugh.
After a long day tending to animals, there’s nothing like curling up with a hearty plate of Cheesy Tater Tot Hotdish, an upper Midwest specialty.
“For me, tater tot hotdish is an old standby, something my mom used to make. Every family does it a little differently,” Heidi said. “Ours is simple, made with browned ground beef, green beans, cream of mushroom soup and some cheese to add a little gooiness. You can mix it up by experimenting with different kinds of cheese and seeing what your family likes.”
Dig into Heidi’s cheesy tater tot hotdish! Need another classic dinner option? Try this classic meatloaf.
Though farmers may not be the first people who come to mind when you think of environmentalists, they are focused on making continuous improvements to the soil and water on Earth Day and every day. Leaving their land in better condition for future generations is part of growing healthy and safe food. It’s especially important in South Dakota where 98 percent of farms are still family owned and approximately 2,500 farms have been in the same family for more than 100 years.
In celebration of Earth Day, we’re digging into facts behind how one of our state’s top crops is grown. While soybeans may not be regularly served on your dinner table, they are fed to the pigs, turkeys, chickens and cows many of us love to eat. They can also be transformed into cooking oil and other ingredients like lecithin, which binds together your favorite chocolate treats.
You’ll be happy to know that more than 90 percent of U.S. soybeans are grown sustainably. Over the past 30 years, farmers have adopted precision technology, reduced tillage, rotated crops, planted cover crops and more to grow many crops with less impact on the environment. Let’s look at some of the spectacular stats for soybeans:
These improvements are wins for all of us who enjoy eating healthy and sustainable food on Earth Day and every day. Read the full ag sustainability report for more information.
Want to see farm practices in action? Here are a few stories from local farmers:
Ram Farrell grew up around the world. His dad’s military career took the family everywhere from Hawaii to Panama to North Carolina. When it came time to literally put down roots, the Farrell family knew South Dakota felt like home.
Ram, now a 32-year-old father, is the third generation to farm in South Dakota. He grows soybeans, corn, wheat and cover crops near Parkston with his wife, Ashley, and their one-year-old daughter, Rosalie.
“I’m glad my daughter will have the opportunity to grow up on the farm. So many kids in big cities just don’t know very much about where their food comes from,” said Ram. “I can’t wait to teach her more about ag as she grows up. Maybe we’ll even farm together some day.”
As a young dad, Ram knows how important it is to protect the environment while growing nutritious, safe food to feed families. That’s why he practices precision agriculture. Ram leverages data and technology to determine exactly where to apply fertilizer and pesticides. Resources are applied only where they’re needed to limit waste.
Precision agriculture makes it possible to use a small amount of pesticide – about a coffee cup’s worth diluted in water – to cover an entire acre, which is about the size of a football field. To cover about 70 acres, it takes 18 gallons of pesticides diluted in 1,000 gallons of water.
“Some people think farmers are out here spraying pesticides every day and that’s just not the case,” Ram explained. “Farmers only want to apply as much as they need to grow a healthy crop. It saves money and, more importantly, it helps preserve the land for the next generation.”
In fact, Ram doesn’t apply insecticides to his crop. Insecticides are a type of pesticide that specifically target insects. Instead, he uses GMO seeds equipped with technology to defend against pests. GMO soybeans have reduced pesticide use by 37 percent, according to the American Council on Science and Health.
Ram also practices a form of conservation tillage called “no-till” to keep his soil healthy. After harvest, he leaves corn stalks and wheat stubble in the field. This reduces soil erosion, improves soil quality and conserves water and energy. No-till farming also helps suppress weeds, which means Ram uses less herbicides to grow healthy crops.
“We’re really treating the land the way God intended,” Ram stated. “The soil microbiology and everything happening below the surface, invisible to our eye, helps us grow healthy plants. It’s important for us farmers to understand how everything we do affects our crop and the land.”
Now you know how farmers use pesticides safely and sustainably. Go deeper with this blog post about how farmers apply pesticides.
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.
Thirteen years ago, Rebekah Scott was a young farm wife struggling to make ends meet. In an effort to give Christmas presents on a budget, she leaned on a lifelong passion for sewing and designed handbags as gifts for her family. They loved them and soon her favorite hobby blossomed into a business: Rebekah Scott Designs.
Today, she employs 20 South Dakota women who sew bags, process orders and respond to customer inquiries from her home in Valley Springs. But Rebekah isn’t the only entrepreneur in the family. Her husband, Nick, is a fifth-generation farmer. Together, they grow corn and soybeans, and raise cows and pigs.
“People often don’t think of farmers as entrepreneurs, but they really are,” Rebekah said. “Nick and his dad, Glen, are always trying new seeds and farming techniques in order to grow the best crops while preserving the land for the next generation.”
Doing what is right for the environment is a top priority for the Scotts, who have four children. Continuously improving the land means their kids will have the ability to farm alongside them one day.
Rotating crops is one way they reduce soil erosion and improve soil quality. Growing the same plants on the same land continuously can deplete the soil of certain nutrients. When you rotate crops, you give the soil an opportunity to recover and build up nitrogen through soil-enriching plants like soybeans.
Just like soybeans help support other plants by enriching the soil, Rebekah has made it part of her mission to support and inspire other rural women who want to start or grow businesses. She holds regular workshops and produces a podcast called “The Encourager” to help women develop strategies to manage the demands of work and family.
“Rural women make great entrepreneurs because you have to be creative and resourceful when you’re out here in the country and can’t go to town every time you need something,” Rebekah said. “My mission is to equip them with the tools they need to execute their long to-do lists and achieve their dreams.”
This includes connecting her fellow entrepreneurs with initiatives like Hungry for Truth, which is dedicated to bringing farmers and families around the table to have honest conversations about how food is grown and raised.
Do you have a question for a farmer? Share it in the comments below. Then read about another farm woman who uses cover crops to make her family farm more sustainable.
Eggs are a staple ingredient in so many of our favorite dishes, from protein-packed breakfasts to comforting chocolate chip cookies. South Dakota hens lay almost 700 million eggs a year to fill that spot in our refrigerators, but rarely do we stop to think about how they’re raised.
One farmer who spends a lot of time and energy taking care of those amazing birds is Jason Ramsdell of Dakota Layers in Flandreau. His family-owned farm processes about 1 million eggs every day. Leveraging technology helps the farm be more efficient, which keeps the operation sustainable and boosts the quality of life for his chickens.
For farmers like Jason, sustainability is an important part of doing business. It means continuous improvement and doing what’s right for the environment and the birds he cares for. Many farmers strive to leave the land in better condition than they received it to benefit future generations.
“We make sure nothing is wasted,” said Jason. “We have water lines feeding into each of the barns, so the chickens have just the right amount of water readily available to them. We also feed them out of a trough, so they don’t have the opportunity to waste any of the feed by scattering it on the ground.”
Dakota Layers isn’t the only environmentally friendly egg farm. Since 1960, American egg producers have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 71 percent, used 32 percent less water and about half the amount of feed today as they did back then.
Advances in technology help farmers waste less water and feed, but improvements in the quality of feed have also made a big difference. Today’s chickens are fed protein-rich soybean meal, corn, distiller’s grains and added vitamins and minerals. The eggshell is made out of calcium, so chickens need a diet rich in that nutrient in order to create healthy eggs.
“Anything that’s taken in by the bird is used to produce the eggs,” explained Jason. “Since eggs are one of the best sources of protein out there, layers need a protein- and calcium-rich diet.”
Everything Jason does, from choosing a blend of nutrients to feed his hens to designing barns to house them, is centered around creating healthy, safe food for your family.
“One of the most interesting things many consumers might not pay attention to is how our grandfathers moved hens from a cage-free environment to cages specifically to keep them healthier and to ensure the safety of the eggs,” Jason stated. “Because our hens are in a closed environment, we can keep a closer eye on their health.”
Newer chicken facilities have what’s called “belted high rises” that ensure manure is quickly removed from the cages via a conveyer belt. This improves air quality and reduces the chance of cross-contamination between manure and the eggs.
Laying facilities also have temperature controls to make sure hens are comfortable. Farmers like Jason are constantly checking the temperature of their barns, as well as the air quality and the amount of water and feed available to the chickens to make sure their hens are healthy and happy.
Want to try Dakota Layers eggs? You can pick them up at Hy-Vee or County Fair Foods locations in the eastern part of the state. After you pick up a carton, check out this tasty egg bake recipe to fuel your morning.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While a lot of college students may say taking care of the environment is important to their future, most aren’t as deeply committed to improving the land and water as South Dakota State University student, Cassius Pond. Cassius, who studies agronomy and precision agriculture in Brookings, spends much of his time in the field or classrooms exploring ways to make his parents’ soybean, corn and wheat farm more sustainable.
After Cassius graduates, he’ll be the fifth generation to return to the Pond family farm near Ipswich.
“We’re on the same ground we originally started with. The original homestead is about a mile south of the house where I grew up,” Cassius said. “It’s kind of neat to see where it all started and to carry on that legacy.”
Though he’ll be caring for the same land his great-great-grandfather did, Cassius plans on doing things differently than previous generations. When he went to college, his dad urged him to take classes in precision agriculture to learn all he could about technology so he could bring that knowledge home. The Ponds recognize precision agriculture is here to stay. Almost 43 percent of U.S. soybean farmers are already using precision technology to improve efficiency.
“Technology is getting integrated into every facet of the farm. It lets farmers know more details about their crops, which helps them be precise,” Cassius said. “The computers we have in the planter, for example, allow us to understand how much seed to plant and where. We have a lot more control over where things are going.”
Technology isn’t just useful while planting. It also helps farmers understand exactly how much water, fertilizer and pesticides their crops need to be healthy. This ensures nothing is wasted, which helps protect the land for future generations. The numbers show it’s working. In the past 30 years, U.S. farmers have increased soybean production by 46 percent while using 35 percent less energy.
“Using technology is just second nature to me and my siblings. When we’re working on an ag program or software, it’s easy for us to pick up how the software works,” Cassius said. “As more millennials come into farming, you’re going to see more and more technology on the farm.”
Technology aside, his time at college also taught him that farming is complex and there’s always room for improvement. For many farmers that’s what sustainability is all about: Paying attention to the most basic elements – the soil, water and sun – to leave the environment in better condition for the next generation.
“When I came to South Dakota State, I had no idea there was so much you could learn about dirt!” Cassius said. “I was like, ‘Oh, it’s just dirt; the stuff that covers the ground.’ Now I’m like, ‘No, it’s soil, not dirt.’ I took whole classes on chemistry and soil that made me think, ‘Wow, I never would have thought twice about this.’”
Want to meet another young farmer who is shaking things up in South Dakota? Read this profile of 29-year-old farmer Morgan Holler from Pierpont.
Just like you have choices when it comes to the food you buy in the grocery store, farmers have choices when it comes to the seeds they plant. There’s a reason why many of today’s corn, soybean and even some apple farmers choose to plant genetically modified seeds. They help farmers grow food safely and efficiently.
No matter what farmers choose – GMO or non-GMO – you can feel good knowing the seeds farmers plant to grow your food are safe. Many also have a sustainable story to tell. Let’s explore the technology.
More than 90 percent of all soybeans are genetically modified for herbicide resistance. Herbicides are a type of chemical that protects the soybean plants from weeds. Herbicide-tolerant soybean seeds allow farmers to apply pesticides early in the growing season without damaging the plants. In case you’re wondering, farmers typically mix about one medium coffee cup’s worth of pesticide with water and mist across an acre of land, which is about the size of a football field.
This seed technology also helps keep the soil healthy by reducing the need for tillage. Tilling soil in a field or garden helps keep weeds at bay, but too much can damage the soil. Taking care of soil is an important part of managing a sustainable family farm.
Did you know approximately 45 percent of fruits and vegetables are tossed for damage on their way to the kitchen table? The technology in Arctic® apple seeds helps them resist browning and bruising, which can help us all cut down on food waste. While South Dakota farmers don’t plant these apple seeds yet, the technology is on its way to produce shelves near you.
It’s amazing to think that pre-sliced apples will look and taste yummy days after opening the bag. This is seed technology that brings sustainability from the farm to your table.
We all know the weather in South Dakota is unpredictable. Lack of rain may turn your lawn brown, but for family farmers it can severely damage whole fields of crops. That’s why some corn seeds have built in technology to grow with less water. By tolerating drought conditions, farmers can grow a healthy and safe corn crop that allows them to invest in more sustainable improvements for their farms.
Did you know so much sustainability existed in seeds? Be sure to share what you’ve learned around your dinner table. Find out more about why local farmers choose to plant GMO seeds.
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.
Hungry for Truth is about connecting South Dakota families with the farmers who grow your food. We love taking trips to the farm to show you how farm families care for their crops and animals and encourage conversations. It’s all part of helping you feel confident about the food you eat.
Some of our favorite stories focus on sustainability because being environmentally friendly is so important. Over the past 30 years, soybean farmers across the U.S. have increased soybean production by 46 percent while reducing energy use by 35 percent, soil loss by 47 percent and water use through irrigation by 33 percent. Read the report.
While we address how farms are becoming more sustainable, we don’t often focus on why they care about it. The why is family. Yours and theirs. Everyone thrives when our children have access to safe food and a healthy environment.
Don’t just take our word for it. Hear it straight from these South Dakota farmers.
“It’s important to me to use the best practices for our kids and the families who depend on us for food. Healthy food comes from healthy soils. We can’t deplete our resources if we want our children to continue eating safe and healthy food.”
– Jamie Johnson, farmer from Frankfort
“Sustainability is our number one priority. I’m a fourth-generation farmer, and my son is the fifth. This land is what and who we are. It is our livelihood. Protecting it from chemicals, water and soil erosion: That’s our job, and it’s one we love. As farmers, protecting the environment is our goal because we want to leave the land in better shape for the next generation.”
– Paul Casper, farmer from Lake Preston
“It’s not just better for our land, animals and the people who buy our meat. It’s also a way for our family to keep doing what we love.”
– Kristy Freeland, rancher from Rapid City
“For me, it’s such a privilege to watch my kids grow up on the farm. They are 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
Food isn’t the only reason farmers protect the land and water. Family activities like hunting and fishing are also part of family fun. Here’s one story.
During snowy South Dakota winters, sometimes it just feels good to snuggle in at home with our favorite comfort foods. When blogger and designer Oksana Silchuk needs to take time for herself, she recharges by spending time in the kitchen. Cooking comforting meals, like this Potato Chicken Noodle Soup, takes her back to her Ukrainian roots and fuels cozy days at home with her husband and two toddlers.
Shopping for the ingredients for her Potato Chicken Noodle Soup reminds her of the impact farmers have on her family.
“My appreciation for farmers runs so deep,” Oksana said. “Every time I am at the grocery store, I am reminded that the produce and meat I purchase is there because of their labor and care. It’s humbling.”
That’s one of the reasons why she’s a fan of Hungry for Truth. It’s an opportunity to get to know the farm families behind the food she enjoys. Though she grew up in town, she understands the work that goes into growing crops and raising animals. Her family even raised a few chickens in their backyard.
“I recall feeding them, chasing them, taking care of them and, ultimately, my mom making us delicious meals with them,” said Oksana.
Oksana is thankful that Hungry for Truth gives her the chance to teach her children about how South Dakota farmers care for their animals, crops and the environment. Oksana’s kids even get a chance to learn about how crops like soybeans are used for so many different things like animal feed, cooking oil and even the crayons they color with. Not bad for two Sioux Falls city kids.
Who knows? Her children might get the chance to call themselves farm kids one day.
“I’ve always lived in the city but am a total farm girl at heart,” she said. “I dream of one day owning some livestock and living on a farm.”
Wherever the Silchuk family winds up, they’re sure to have many more cozy days gathered around the table, sharing soup and each other’s company.
“This is the one meal my babes can’t get enough of. They can easily gobble up a few bowls and ask for more,” Oksana said. “Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.”
Snuggle up to Oksana’s soup recipe below. Looking for more comfort food? Try this Crockpot Turkey and Edamame Chili recipe to warm your winter days.
Many South Dakota farmers would say their favorite part of farming is working with their animals. Local farm animals are well-loved by their owners, which shows in the quality of the eggs, milk and meat they create for your family.
Take the happy cows at Marty Neugebauer’s farm, just north of Dimock. Marty’s farm is one of four dairies that provide the milk to make Dimock Dairy’s delicious assortment of cheeses, curds and spreads South Dakotans love.
Marty knows delicious cheese comes from happy, comfortable cows that are fed a healthy diet. Most of South Dakota’s 117,000 dairy cows enjoy a protein-rich diet of soybean meal, 31,000 tons of it each year to be exact. This nutritious feed typically comes from GMO soybeans. Both GMO and conventional crops are nutritionally equal, and planting GMO seeds allows farmers to grow food more sustainably by using less water, fertilizer and pesticides.
Cows aren’t the only animals living the sweet life on South Dakota farms. Jamie and Brian Johnson raise chickens and Angus cattle on their soybean, corn and wheat farm in Frankfort. Chickens eat a diet of soybeans, corn and grains with added vitamins and minerals. This protein- and calcium-rich diet helps them laying healthy eggs for your favorite meals.
Treating animals right means treating the land right, too. Pig farmers Peggy and Brad Greenway keep their pigs comfortable in a high-tech pen that ensures the animals have a constant flow of fresh air and are fed just enough fresh, nutritious feed. These advancements help them use the right amount of water, feed and land to keep their pigs healthy and reduce their environmental footprint. The Greenways aren’t the only pig farmers practicing sustainability. In the last 50 years, pig farmers have reduced their overall carbon footprint by 35 percent.
At the end of the day, farmers appreciate having a best friend with them through it all. The farm wouldn’t be the same without the family dog. Spending time with their favorite pooch makes the work more enjoyable.
Farms just wouldn’t be the same without the animals that give us safe and healthy food. Find out more about how ranchers sustainably care for their cows with a visit to Shawn and Kristy Freeland’s home.
For more than four generations, the Casper family has grown soybeans and corn near Lake Preston. Paul and his wife Korlyn use sustainable practices to take care of their land and water so they can pass it along to their children and grandchildren. This includes safely and responsibly applying pesticides to protect crops.
Certification is key. Like other farmers, Paul must go through training to determine how much and when to apply. You might be surprised to know that the amount of pesticide used on an acre of crops, approximately the size of a football field, is roughly equivalent to a large cup of coffee. By using less, today’s farmers are doing more for the environment.
Hear why taking care of the land is so important to Paul and his family.
Safety is the first step in pesticide application. What are the others? Get the scoop.