Flying Drones and Flaming Peaches Turn Heads on Farm Tour
On a mission to help consumers understand how their food is produced and to dispel food myths, last week Latham Hi-Tech Seeds in cooperation with the Iowa Food & Family Project hosted a series of farm tours across North Iowa. A charter bus filled with people from all walks of life – farmers, life coaches, retired school administrators and even Iowa Games CEO Chuck Long – departed from Ames and traversed the countryside.
Thursday afternoon the group stopped in Alexander where we talked about how our family-owned business produces corn and soybean seed that farmers then plant in the spring. We answered their questions about why it doesn’t pay for farmers to save their own seed and why farmers who save patented seeds get sued. We also worked to define commonly misunderstood foodie terms and to debunk common misperceptions about GMOs. While we played a riveting game of “Fact or Fiction,” the real show stopper that afternoon was Latham® seed stock grower Phil Pitzenberger’s drone demonstration. Phil deployed his drone and talked about how he’s able to make better farming decisions as a result of this “eye in the sky.”
The evening ended with a farm-to-table meal prepared by Chef Brice Peterson of The Clear Lake Supper Club. “Delicious” doesn’t do this meal justice! Honestly, this meal was something out of Bon Appétit magazine!
Strawberry Garden Salad
Tender Spinach, Cilantro-Butter Lettuce, Spring Mix, Ruby Red Berries, Sweet Bermuda Onions, Candied Walnuts, Crumbled Greek Almond Cheese with a Maple-Soy Vinaigrette
Slow Roasted Smoked Pork Chop
Old Fashioned Sage and Feta Dressing, Brandy Glazed Peaches, Sour Cream Mashies and Green Beans Almondine
The table setting – complete with a view of Clear Lake as the sunset – also was something straight out of a magazine photo shoot. Just when you think the evening couldn’t possibly get any better, Chef Brice demonstrated the peach flambé. This flaming concoction of fresh peaches in brandy was served over the most succulent pork chop from Lewright Meats & Deli in Eagle Grove.
The following day was equally impressive. After enjoying another great meal at the Historic Park Inn, the group once again boarded the bus and headed to farm country. Here’s an overview of the farm stops they made:
- Wayne and Ruth Fredericks, Building Soil Health for Generations to Come
- Scott and Julie Neiss, Building on a Foundation of Family Farming
- Dan and Lynn Bolin, Experiencing a Great Day at New Day Dairy
Special thanks to these North Iowa farmers for graciously opening their machine shed or cattle shed doors and giving of their time to talk with consumers. Tours like these that help bridge the gap between producers and consumers and lead to greater understanding. Here are a few excerpts of comments received from participants:
- “I knew nothing about where my food comes from. It’s exciting to see firsthand how farmers are using technology. The Expedition helped me better understand how much farmers really care about what they’re doing and I’m very impressed by that. I only wish 100,000 people could have participated on an expedition like this!”
- “Even though my husband is a farmer, I learned more in those two days than I have in 28 years on the farm.”
- Wow! Thank you so much for the hospitality and the opportunity to go deep on all things Iowa, food and farming – many good facts and lessons, new friends and great memories too. And now the current plan is to get these four children out there, well fed and smartened up! I have marked August 10-20, 2017, in my calendar for the Iowa State Fair!”
If you’d like to get a taste of what these folks experienced on Expedition Farm Country, sit down to a home-cooked meal this weekend! Cristen Clark of Food & Swine shares this recipe with us for the Best Dang Mashed Potatoes, which are similar to the “sour cream mashies” that we enjoyed during the tour.
Real Whipped Potatoes
Photo credit to Joseph L. Murphy / Iowa Soybean Association
One 5 pound bag of potatoes of choice (peeled, chopped into 2″ cubes)
One 8 oz. container of traditional sour cream
One stick of butter
1 cup of AE Whole Milk
1 1/2 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
1/2-1 tsp ground black pepper
Boil potato pieces for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain into large mixing bowl.
Discard water (or use for bread baking). Mash potatoes with potato masher or hand mixer until somewhat smooth.
Once smooth, add sour cream dip, butter, milk, seasoned salt and pepper. Mix only until combined. Serve immediately.
As a side, this recipe will serve 8-10 people.