Farm Fresh Answers

Cultivating conversations about food & farming

Tag: #FridayFive

The Friday Five: Pumpkins!

soybeans, landscape

Looking for the perfect pumpkin for your front step? Or maybe some mums to fill out your fall flower bed? Central Illinois has plenty to offer!

pumpkinsAfter all, when it comes to pumpkins – Illinois is the cream of the crop! Illinois farmers grow 80-85% of the world’s supply of processing pumpkins (used to make canned pumpkin puree & pie filling) and the majority of those are grown right here in the central part of the state.

Check out a few upcoming opportunities to visit the country, experience a little taste of agriculture and maybe pick up a pumpkin:

  1.  Explore local farm history with the 2015 McLean County Barn Tour Sat., Sept. 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. featuring interesting barns, antique farm equipment and more. The self-guided tour and begins at the Chenoa United Methodist Church and is sponsored by McLean County Barn Keepers.
  2. Rader Family Farms opens this weekend (Sept. 12). Located just west of Normal (look for the pumpkin topped silo), Rader’s offers plenty of pumpkins, a corn maze, kid-friendly activities, food & special events throughout the season.
  3. Also this weekend, you can head south for the Route 10 Farm Crawl Sun., Sept. 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with activities at Mariah’s Mums & More, Timberview Alpaca FarmWagon Wheel Pumpkin Farm near Clinton, Illinois.
  4. For more pumpkin treats and festival fun, head to the Pumpkin Capital of the World for the Morton Pumpkin Festival Sept. 16-19, 2015. Sample the savory and the sweet with everything from pumpkin chili to pumpkin donuts & ice cream.
  5. And if apples are what you’re after, check out Country Mist Apple Farm near Heyworth, Curtis Orchard near Champaign or Tanner’s Orchard north of Peoria.

Just remember when you venture out into the country, watch out for farm equipment! Harvest is just beginning for corn & soybeans, so be alert for slow moving vehicles on the roads. Slow down, pass with caution & be safe!

What are your favorite ways to celebrate Fall?

The Friday Five: Bacon & Eggs & Breakfast

soybean field, landscape

Bacon lovers rejoice! The object of your meat affection could be about to get even better. If you want a side of eggs with your bacon, however; it might cost you a little bit more – at least for the time being.

Here’s look at those stories plus a few other breakfast related tidbits fresh picked for this week’s Friday Five:

  1. What’s shakin’ bacon? Researchers at Kansas State University are looking at ways to improve the bacon flavor we love to savor and improve the shelf life of this marvelous meat treat, as reported by Feedstuffs newspaper. By the way, tomorrow is International Bacon Day. So fry up a few strips to celebrate!
  2. Are you scrambling to adjust your breakfast menu since eggs are more expensive? It’s the lingering effects of a deadly flu virus that devastated a large number of chickens (don’t worry it’s not a virus that humans can get). But you may be dishing out more per dozen for awhile, especially after the big breakfast announcement that hit the news this week, as CBS News reports.
  3. Like cheddar cheese on your eggs? Find out what makes cheddar cheese orange in this post from a Michigan dairy farmer on the Food Dialogues website.
  4. How about some fruit salad on the side? Be sure to thank plant breeders for your selection, as today’s fruit varieties are thanks to their efforts over hundreds of years. Check out this fun quiz to test your skills at matching modern fruits (and a few vegetables) with their plant ancestors.
  5. Like milk on your cereal? Share the love. For every share of this ‘Strength in Numbers’ image on with #milkdrive during the month of September the Great American Milk Drive will donate one gallon of milk to Feeding America food banks. Click here to share on Facebook or Twitter.

What’s your favorite breakfast food?

The Friday Five: A Better Look at Beef

2013 soybeans, landscape

Did you know that yesterday (Aug. 27) was #NationalBurgerDay? Thank you, social media for the heads up.

Coincidentally, there’s also a headline grabbing story floating around this week about the safety of ground beef. Let’s take a better look:

  1. From Food Insights, here’s a few facts and myths to explore about the safety of ground beef. Bottom line: bacteria doesn’t care where your beef came from – wash your hands & cook it to the right temperature (160 degrees)!
  2. For another perspective, check out this article from High Plains Journal. The good news: almost all of the bacteria found in the “study” was not the kind that cause serious foodbourne illnesses
  3. Reading past the headlines is important, especially when it comes to blurbs about scientific studies, as pointed out in this LA Times article.
  4. And here’s an article from Business Insider that looks at some potential problems with the ground beef safety “study”.
  5. For some tips on ways to safely store, handle, thaw & cook beef check here.

What’s your favorite way to eat a hamburger?

The Friday Five: Food Labeling

2013 soybeans, landscape

When it comes to food labeling, it seems like there’s a war of words happening…and it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with safety or nutrition.

Here’s a few nuggets on labeling from this week’s news:

  1. Would Almond “Milk” by any other name still taste as sweet? A class action lawsuit in California may determine the fate of the name for this dairy alternative, as reported by The Sacramento Bee.
  2. For the skinny on a second milk tale fresh from Florida, check out this story about whether skim milk without added vitamins can be labeled “milk” from the Washington Post.
  3. If a blueberry can’t be grown from a GMO (genetically modified organism) seed why label it GMO free? This story from the Wall Street Journal looks at why some farmers and food companies are paying the price for labels even when their product isn’t one of the eight crops with commercially available GMO seeds currently on the market.
  4. For another look at the marketing motivation for GMO food labels, check out this story from NPR’s The Salt about the “health halo” driving some companies to label.
  5. And when it comes to gluten free food labels, check out this perspective about how the gluten free fad may negatively affect those with celiac’s disease who truly need to eat gluten free, also from the Wall Street Journal.

For more on food labeling and answers from experts, check out www.bestfoodfacts.org

When you shop what do you look for on the food label?

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