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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sweet Corn vs. Field Corn

One of my favorite summer time foods is sweet corn! Nearly every year since I was a little girl my family has had our own sweet corn patch on our farm. Sweet corn is the type of corn people typically grow in their vegetable gardens. It can even be grown year round in some warm weather climates. This type of corn is harvested when the kernels are immature and still in the milk stage, and is used primarily for human consumption. Families all across the world have several different choices when consuming sweet corn. Many may prefer it fresh right off the cob, from a can, or even frozen. It's even the third leading vegetable used for processing following potatoes and tomatoes. Over 700,000 acres of sweet corn are grown in the United States each year for both fresh market and for processing. This statistic makes the U.S. both the leading producer and exporter of sweet corn! 700,000 acres may seem like a lot of corn, but sweet corn production really only accounts for roughly 1% of the corn produced across the country.

If you've taken a drive lately through much of the Midwest, you more than likely may have noticed the many corn fields, often stretching for miles along the highways. Field corn, also known as dent or feed corn, makes up more than 90% of the corn you see growing in the fields. So what makes this corn different than what ends up on my dinner plate? Well, field corn is hard on the outside and starchy on the inside, unlike sweet corn . While most often considered a food for animals, it can be found in many products you use everyday! After the corn is harvested, it is usually stored at a local grain elevator or on a farm's bin site which not only stores the corn, but also dry it to protect the quality of the kernels. From storage, the corn is taken to many different places depending on what it is going to be used for. Some corn is taken to feed mills where it is made into livestock feed. A lot of the corn produced in the U.S. today also goes to ethanol plants so that it can be made into fuel for people to use, plus the corn can also be sent to barges on local rivers where it travels down the rivers to be exported and eventually end up in other countries. The rest of the corn is sent to various processing plants where it can be made into various types of household products. Many of which you might never have thought of. For example, did you know corn was used to make crayons, chips, vitamins, paint, plastic is also used as a food ingredient in the form of corn cereal, corn starch, corn oil and corn syrup!

Next time your on a road trip this summer, ask your friends and family if they know the difference between sweet corn and field corn...

Happy Summer!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Animal Care

Animal care is at the top list of farmers and ranchers. It's pretty intuitive that animals that are treated well perform better and require less maintenance (i.e. veterinary services, extra feed, etc.).

Check out this Animal Care Training website where beef, dairy and equine producers can train their employees on correct animal handling techniques in an online setting. It's pretty neat to see producers being so proactive and taking animal care to the next level by certifying that their employees have received training and comprehended the material. This program is brought to you by the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University.

There are some neat things going on in the beef industry and they should make you feel good about the hamburger or steak on your dinner plate!

My Best,

Tera Rooney

Monday, June 20, 2011

A cattlewoman's trip to the farmer's market

Growing up in Nebraska and attending college in Kansas... and then moving to Washington D.C. presents a study in contrasts. DC is split up into smaller districts within itself and through the magic of Craig's List I managed to accidentally find housing in the "hippy area" of Takoma Park. As you can imagine, there aren't many square-toed boots to be seen and Cinch shirts are unheard of, in fact, Tom's Shoes and tie-dye seems to have replaced them. I live with some really great people who are very, VERY removed from agriculture and they have found my animal science degree a fascination. My land-lady was amazed by how chicken eggs are produced and how fertilization occurs, she was also surprised to know that just because the eggs she buys at the farmer's market on Sundays for 5 dollars a dozen are organic, that doesn't mean the chickens are free-range. I attended the Takoma Farmer's Market yesterday and couldn't help but laugh a bit at the premium prices people were willing to pay for "hormone free" eggs. Nothing is "hormone free" if it comes from any kind of living organism... and additionally hormones are illegal to be fed to chickens (even though they would have zero benefit to growth or productivity). My roommates had told me that pretty much everything in the market was organic and that people were willing to pay the extra money for the perceived health benefits from consuming those foods, but after asking couple vendors I quickly found that only one of them was actually certified organic. For many of the smaller producers it is just too expensive to be certified so they advertise with words like "ecoganic" and "raised in an organic style." Either way, these are small, many times very young farmers who probably could not make it in the DC area using conventional farming methods. They have found an ingenious niche market among the urban, health savvy, green generation and they intend to develop their market share. In an age of incredible competition to maintain oneself on the right side of the bottom line there has been much discussion of Organic vs. Conventional. In reality there is plenty of room for both. There is no way that these small farmers who charge exorbitant prices can begin to feed billions of hungry people, but on a sunny Sunday afternoon they seem to be doing just fine catering to the wants of a specialized group of consumers. Through cooperation and mutual advocating conventional farming practices and organic methods can help to provide a career path for a new generation of agriculturalists interested in feeding the world.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ready for our close up...

Today we are filming for NCBA's Cattlemen to Cattlemen series to showcase our student organization and promote Food For Thought's efforts. Check out the website so you can catch the upcoming episode.

I can't wait to see what airs!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Temple Grandin DVD's

Did you get a copy of this DVD? If you would like one, please e-mail us at

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Behind the Blogger: Jara Settles

Hello there! My name is Jara Settles and I am a recent (2011) graduate of Kansas State University where I earned a B.S. in animal science. In the fall I will attend Washburn University School of Law to pursue a career in agricultural law. I intend to utilize my legal training in conjunction with my agricultural passion to represent the various industries that have made the United States so great. There is no question that our country would not be the world power that it is today without the hard work and sacrifice of generations of American farmers and ranchers across the country.

I grew up in rural Nebraska on a purebred cattle operation and spent most of my life on the end of a halter. After I graduated from high school I moved to Kansas to attend Butler CC to compete on their nationally renowned livestock judging team. After my time at Butler I transferred to KSU where I was active in several agricultural organizations as well as competing on the livestock and horse judging teams.

Now there is no question that my heart is in the beef industry and livestock production in general, but the agricultural world is something like a family, when one part succeeds, we all succeed. It is my hope that my involvement in Food For Thought can even further help this wonderful organization to bridge the gap between consumers and producers.

Misery loves company...

They say if you want to complain about something in agriculture, someone somewhere else has it worse. Now, I'm not going to downplay any devastation across the midwest agriculture belt simply because it's bad no matter where you are it seems. Misery loves company and people really ban together in the face of destruction.

While many residents in the Missouri Valley are dealing with this...
Flooding in an IA corn field.

Doesn't it just about make you sick that so many counties in Kansas are dealing with this?
Contrast of parched land next to an irrigated KS wheat field earlier this spring.

I guess I hope this post makes you stop and think of everyone who is affected by the extreme weather this summer and will be dealing with it on a day to day basis. Many farmers and ranchers are in danger of losing precious ground that has been in production for generations whether it be to a flood or extreme drought. It's going to be a rough summer for many, but agriculturists are pulling their boots on every day and digging their heels in to the ground to hang on for the ride.

I thought these maps were neat, well neat might not be the word to use...

Counties in Kansas affected by severe drought.

Areas in the Missouri River Valley affected by the severe flooding.

Praying for those involved,

Tera Rooney

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happy Flag Day | Let's have a picnic!

There are several holidays this summer that call for the use of this.......
If food is not prepared safely, it might also call for the use of this...

The last thing I would want to happen on a picnic is for yours truly to be spending the day in the port-a-potty. I don't wish that on my WORST enemy! If you are packing up a basket and throwing out a blanket, lets think about some food safety tips first!

Why are picnic foods subject to being hazardous?
  • Handling - picnic foods are often handled a lot, think watermelon and hamburger patties. Handling foods increases the chance of contamination by bacteria.
  • Sitting out - picnic foods are often left out for long periods of time. Warm temperatures in foods that should be kept cold promotes bacterial growth.
Things I didn't know about keeping picnic food safe.
  • Melons - a personal favorite of mine! Cut melons need to be kept cold. Bacteria is commonly found on the rind of watermelons and cantaloupes and when the melon is cut it is often transferred to the tasty part. Melons are not acidic like a lot of other fruits, so there is no back up bacteria killer! By keeping the fruit cold you can greatly reduce the growth of bacteria on your juicy fruit.
  • Mayonnaise - by itself is very acidic and prevents bacterial from growing when warmer temperatures are reached. When mayonnaise is mixed with other foods it is a whole new game. When in doubt, keep mayonnaise products cold!
Want more information?
Happy Flag Day, go have a safe picnic!

Tera Rooney

Monday, June 13, 2011

What goes into your bread?

Want to know what goes into your bread? Straight from the farm, I'm bringing you a combine-driving farmer from Reno County, KS via Food For Thought's first video blog! Check out the video below -

If my video post did not answer all of your questions about wheat harvest in Kansas, please let me know and I would be happy to fill you in!

My best,

Brandon Harder

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

We NEED you!

Hey readers! We need your support as we are a finalist in the Cause Matters 10x Connect grant along with Farm Safety 4 Just Kids. We hope to promote the Upson Lecture Series if we are chosen for the grant and continue to bring big time lecturers like this and this to campus and get the good word about agriculture out to every day consumers of food!

Please go to this site to vote for your favorite organization and support two great organizations that promote agriculture.

Go Ag!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Diary of a Dairy Farmer

In 1944 the US Dairy Industry produced 117 billion pounds of milk from 25.6 million cows.

In 2007, 9.2 million cows produce 186 billion pounds of milk.

If that’s not actively practicing sustainability in an industry for both production and the environment, I don’t know what is!

Congratulations to American Dairy Farmers during Dairy Month!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Thrown Out With the Bathwater

I was astounded to see the figures of a new study released by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology (SIK); their findings suggest that 1/3 of the food produced in the world for human consumption is LOST or WASTED! Working to decrease this loss is definitely critical to the current and future stabilization of global food supply. Click Here to read more.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Want to boost your brainpower? Eat meat!

Or more specifically, beef.  Dr. Mike Moreno, author of The 17-Day Diet: A Doctor's Plan Redesigned for Rapid Results, created a list of must-have brain enhancing foods.  You can read the whole list and article online here.

Number one on the list was BEEF. Beef is high in iron, which improves memory, alertness and attention span. It's also a good source of zinc and protein. For more nutritional facts about beef and how to make it part of a healthy lifestyle check this out.

Other awesome proteins that made the Top 17 were:
#6 - Chicken - High in tyrosine - an amino acid essential for production of the substances epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine which are responsible for alertness.

#9 - Eggs - Boost memory through rich supplies of the B vitamin choline.

#10 - Egg whites - High in protein - help improve alertness and produce norepinephrine.

#13 - PorkBe inspired by pork's wealth of Vitamin B1 that helps facilitate communication among nerve cells.

#16 - Tuna -  Full of omega-3 fatty acids, which help build and maintain myelin that aid in communication among nerve cells.

I've got some more work to do on my thesis, so I think I'm going to load up a plate with beef, pork and chicken and settle in for a night of brainstorming.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The changing faces of the food pyramid...err plate!

You probably all remember this old food pyramid that the USDA used to use to help guide healthy eating decisions...

And then they came out with a sleeker version that added exercise into the game...

And the editors are at it again! The USDA unveiled an even newer version of the food pyramid. Oh wait, what food pyramid?

Check it all out at the new CHOOSEMYPLATE website. Which has now replaced the MYPYRAMID website that used to house the triangular counterpart to this nifty educational tool.

What are your thoughts on the switcharoo?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June is Dairy Month...straight from the Holstein's mouth!

You've all heard the saying, "I heard it straight from the horse's mouth!" Well this is an article that I ran across today and thought what better way to celebrate National Dairy Month than to recognize a hard working, American dairy farming family.

Go check out what this Dickson County farmer has to say about the dairy business and you'll get it straight from the Holstein's mouth this time!


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