Friday, April 29, 2011

Food for Thought Traveling Exhibit: Bloomington

Indiana Humanities’ Food For Thought traveling exhibit continues its adventure across the state when it makes a stop at Bloomington’s City Hall May 6 – 20. The Center on Aging and Community and the Bloomington Food Policy Council will partner to host the exhibit.

Stop by the exhibit to learn about Hoosier food through the engaging displays, and take part in engaging programs to discover how Bloomington has contributed to Indiana’s food culture.

On May 6, there will be a Senior Expo story tent at the Twin Lakes Sports and Recreation Center, where you can share your own fun, touching or ridiculous food stories with each other. Also on this day, check out showings of food-related videos from Food Flix, an intergenerational filmmaking initiative.

On May 7 and 14, head to the Food For Thought exhibit and pop by the Farmers Market as well.
Also on May 7, anthropologist Anya Peterson Royce will discuss the history and culture of chocolate. Did I mention there will be free samples? (this would make a great early Mother’s Day present!)

On May 16, Food For Thought is bringing a heart-healthy menu of songs and poems all about food, presented by Voces Novae and the Writers Guild, to City Hall.

May 28 is the date for the Intergenerational Picnic, held at Lake Lemon.

Also on the schedule is a discussion about African-American food traditions in Indiana. Stay tuned for details!
Learn more about the Food for Thought traveling exhibit here. And, watch videos from the Story Silo, here.

Indiana’s Family of Farmers is the presenting sponsor of Food for Thought, a two-year Indiana Humanities initiative that encourages Hoosiers to think, read and talk about food.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lovin' Our Pets and Our Pigs

By Sarah Ford of Indiana Pork

At Indiana’s Family of Farmers, we love our pets and our pigs.  Whether our household pet (and we all have at least one good barn dog) or our precious livestock, taking care of the animals entrusted to us is a duty and a privilege. 

That’s why IFOF is a sponsor of the 8th Annual Mutt Strut sponsored by the Humane Society of Indianapolis.  The event, which will be held next Sunday, May 1 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, gives dog lovers the chance to walk around the famous track for a good cause.  All proceeds will go to the Humane Society of Indianapolis – so you can know that Indiana animals will be cared for with the proceeds!

Stop by the IFOF booth and dress up your pup with an IFOF bandana.  All it takes is a $1 donation to the humane society to take one home with you.

In honor of our involvement with the Indy Mutt Strut  (and because we just love all things animals) Indiana’s Family of Farmers is making a special offer.

We are going to donate $250 to your favorite local pet shelter.  All you have to do is reply to this post with your nomination.  Tell us why this shelter is worthy of our donation – of course, cute puppy and kitty pics are always welcome!

So tell us your story (on here, facebook or twitter) and we’ll choose a winner later this week!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Meet An Indiana Farmer: Nathan

From time to time we will share with you our series of recipe cards and the farmer stories behind them. To enlarge the cards or print them, just click on the images.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Taking Care of the Land That Takes Care of Us

Guest Post By Abby of All Around Abby

I feel very fortunate as a grain and livestock farmer, as well as, a member of my family’s retail Crop Protection business, to interact every day, every hour, and every minute with good ole’ Mother Earth!  Honestly, my therapy is putting my hands in the soil; all the stress extends out through my fingers, and I walk away feeling light as a feather!  Often times, “us farmers” like to use the term “stewards.”  Well, to make sure I got this right, I went to Webster’s Online Dictionary and found the definition:  Stewardship:  the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.
This definition strikes an even deeper cord with me.  My husband and I are expecting our first little one this fall.  Stewardship could also be another word for pregnancy.  (If you have ever been pregnant or are a father than you can totally relate to the following).  I tell ya, I have never been so good about drinking all my milk, eating my whole grains, and all of my veggies and fruits.  (I don’t have any trouble eating lean animal protein, meat has always been a favorite for me).  In addition, I monitor about every other detail of my life, from not consuming caffeine to staying away from sweets. I also refrain from heavy lifting and I stay active without overdoing it.  While at times I find it very tedious, and I’d just like to go living my life “willy nilly,” I know that the best chance of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby is to monitor and manage all of the details of my life. 

Farming is no different.  Farmers don’t go about their farms “willy nilly.”  (Please note, I am the only farmer who has ever used the term “willy nilly”).  Careful thought and research, and even more time consuming, tedious management practices get implemented on farms all over Indiana and the United States, so that farmers can produce safe, affordable, and nutritious food.  Another word for farmer could be steward. 

So in honor of Earth Day, I thought I‘d post some pictures of what my family farm does to protect and improve our most precious resources.

Grassed Waterways

While I really don’t like all of this rain we are getting, the pictures of the grassed waterways really help to illustrate why you sometimes see strips of grass meandering through a field.  Grassed waterways are constructed in the low-lying areas of a field.  That way when it rains cats and dogs, the excess water flows through the waterways, which allows for a dramatic reduction of soil erosion.  After all, without soil, farmers wouldn’t be able to grow all of the crops that we do.  Honestly, soil is as important to a farmer as air is to your lungs!  Once soil is eroded, it can never be replaced.

Filter Strips

We installed these filter strips next to ditches and creeks that run through our fields.  This strip of grass provides a buffer to stop soil erosion and ensure that fertilizers and plant pharmaceuticals stay in the field and don’t go into the water.  In addition, both filter strips and grassed waterways provide habitat for birds and other wildlife.  Farmers will not mow these areas until August or after to give the birds time to lay their eggs and raise their young.

Cover Crops

This is a first for our farm this year.  We planted about 150 acres of annual ryegrass immediately after we harvested our soybeans last fall.  The ryegrass provides many important benefits; the roots of the ryegrass grow very deep, several feet in fact, which opens up pathways in the soil which help to improve drainage.  In addition, as the roots and shoots die, they will add important organic matter back to the soil.  We planted the ryegrass on fields that have some slight hills on them.  When we get these big rains, as we have received recently, it will help hold the soil in place while reducing erosion.

On top of all of this, my family believes strongly in no-tilling.  No-tilling is basically not taking any plow out to the field and turning over the soil.  Instead, we leave the crop residue (corn stalks and bean stubble) out on the field after we harvest and then in the spring, plant directly into the field.  No-tilling also helps reduce soil erosion and increases soil porosity.

Cattle Management

As I mentioned earlier, my family also raises beef cattle.  We make sure the cattle are fed a well-rounded diet consisting of corn, a soybean based supplement to add protein to their diet, and many forages such as hay and grass out on the pasture.  Herd health is of prime importance, the veterinarian stops in for routine checks on the herd.  We give vaccination shots just as you do to your children, pregnancy check the cows, and also give them de-wormers in the fall.  As the cows graze on the pastures they digest worms and pick up lice, not a real pleasant thought, but we take care of that problem for them!  Also, if they get sick, we treat them.  Usually, they just need a quick dose of antibiotic.  My family believes strongly in keeping our cows healthy and happy.  After all, it’s just plain disrespectful to the cow or steer to let them go on being sick and ignore them.


The other day, I upgraded my cell phone and entered the world of the iPhone.  Seriously, this phone may be smarter than me.  I still haven’t quite figured out all of the features, but totally love the grocery list app I downloaded, as well as, checking my email whenever I want.  Most people would be surprised with the technology on today’s farms.  Posted are some pictures of our dry fertilizer spreader truck.  This truck has two different bins where I can apply two different fertilizers at the same time.  This means one trip across the field, using less fuel, reducing compaction, and increasing my time.  My husband also pulls soil samples from the fields and writes fertilizer recommendations.  I load up maps of the fields and put fertilizer exactly where it needs it in the field.  That way, every area of the field gets exactly the right amount of fertilizer required, not too much or too little.  The fertilizer rate changes constantly throughout the field.  This also helps reduce cost to the farmer, while maximizing yield. This is just a small example of the technology farmers are using.

My Grandpa always said you really don’t own the land, God just made us the caretakers of it.  My family’s goal is to be the best stewards we can be and to leave the land in better shape than when we received it.  We want to make sure our footprint on this earth is small while we produce food to help feed the World.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

10 Fun and Interesting Easter Recipes

When Indiana's Family of Farmers asked me to come up with some fun and interesting Easter Recipes, I started searching the internet and came across some great ideas out there in the blogosphere!

Below are 10 links I found to be interesting... in no particular order. Some are tried and true traditional dishes while others are great ideas that I wouldn't mind giving a try. 
  1. Disappearing Marshmallows: How to make “Resurrection Buns” for Easter
  2. Bunny Hutch Cupcakes
  3. Easter Ham Recipes
  4. Herb Bake Eggs
  5. Sugar Cookies Revisited – Easter Cookies with Sanding Sugar
  6. Ears or Tails
  7. Armenian Easter Bread
  8. Buttermilk Poppy Seed Citrus Scones
  9. Green Bean Casserole
  10. Favorite Corn Casserole (I hear this is GOODe. ;))
Do you have a favorite recipe? I'd love to hear about it. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

News Release: Indiana's Family of Farmers Celebrate Being Everyday Environmentalists at Earth Day Indiana 2011


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 18, 2011) – Indiana’s Family of Farmers are exhibiting at Earth Day Indiana 2011 on Saturday, April 23, 2011, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at White River State Park at 801 W. Washington St., Indianapolis.

Indiana’s Family of Farmers, a coalition of more than a dozen ag-related organizations, will be among the more than 140 exhibitors at this year’s celebration.

Among the many exhibits on display on behalf of Indiana’s Family of Farmers is an activity your youngsters will not want to miss! Children stopping by the booth will learn how to grow soybeans in CowPots – manure-fiber based seed starter pots that allow for unrestricted root growth – resulting in stronger, healthier plants. You sow the seeds, plant the pots and harvest the crop.

In addition to the kids’ activities, Indiana farmers will sponsor informational booths about the sustainability of Indiana agriculture as well as offer information about Indiana agricultural products. Indiana pork farmers will also be represented in the food booths where Indiana-raised pork will be offered.

For more information about the free Earth Day Indiana 2011event on April 23, visit

For more information about the organizations represented by Indiana’s Family of Farmers, visit


The following are some Fun Facts from Indiana’s Family of Farmers about sustainability and environmental stewardship practices accomplished right here in Indiana:

«  Pork farmers have worked with state and federal regulatory agencies to develop and present environmental workshops for more than 5,000 producers throughout the nation. These cooperative and educational efforts have improved operational efficiency while protecting the environment for future generations.

«  Cattlemen also are recyclers, raising their animals on the abundant source of grains available in this country and then turning the manure into natural fertilizers

«  Between 1987 and 2007, corn farmers have reduced soil loss per bushel of corn by 69 percent and land use per bushel of corn by 37 percent.

«  Soybean farmers are planting crops that are resistant to herbicides. This allows farmers to come close to eliminating plowing on their fields. The resulting environmental benefits include better soil health and conservation, improved water retention, decreased soil erosion and decreased herbicide runoff.

«  Indiana farmers using biotech crops have contributed to the elimination of 379 million pounds of pesticide applications globally.

«  Of the 65,000 dairy farms in America today, most are smaller farms with less than 200 cows. The vast majority of U.S. farms – big and small – are family owned and operated.

«  One benefit of fertilizing the soil with cow manure is to help conserve water. When manure is used as a soil treatment, the water-holding capacity of soil is increased by 20 percent, resulting in reduced groundwater needed to grow crops.

About Indiana’s Family of Farmers
Indiana’s Family of Farmers grows the grains, produce and meat you eat every day.
We believe that quality farming means quality food that is good for you,
your family and the environment.

Food for your family, from our family.
Contact information:
Jeannie Keating, Manager of Media Relations
Indiana State Department of Agriculture

Gardening: How to prep your soil with farm fresh fertilizer

Guest Post By Leah of The Real Farmwives of America and Friends and Beyer Beware.

With the warm weather we have been experiencing in Indiana, you can’t help but want to be outside playing in the dirt. At our house, that is exactly what we have been doing. After I convinced my husband to build me raised beds for our vegetable garden this year, we had to do a fast track to soil prep. Luckily, we still have about 15 dairy heifers at the farm still that provided just what our soil needed. Organic matter and nutrients.

Nothing is better than fresh cow manure for your garden. I know I am a bit biased. We brought over a skid loader scoop full and layered the top soil and manure together.

We let it settle for a week and then hit with our tiller to get all the organic matter incorporated into the top soil. There were quite a few red worms in the manure as well which really helped get the coil aeration going as well.

Now, we are going to wait for the soil to settle another week before planting our spring plants. One thing I feel I have to mention. I am a firm believer of using organic matter and fertilizer that we get from livestock; however I am not going to plant an organic garden. By mid-summer my veggies will be covered with various pests from bugs to worms to disease. Trust me, Sevin Dust will find its way to my plants. I will win the battle over the pest.

As you can see I have some extra top soil and manure left after I filled up my raised beds. No fear though, I have flower boxes to fill later this spring. I just piled up the soil and manure by my compost box.

Do you remember your grandparents or parents having compost piles on the side of the barn when you were little. I always remember seeing lots of grapefruit rinds and eggs shells in my grandparent’s compost pile. Well, mine currently looks like this:

Oranges and egg shells sprinkled with kitty litter and the remnants of last summer’s potted flowers. This is going to be some divine potting soil in the very near future when I get the manure and top soil mixed in with it. Throw in some red worms to speed up the break down cycle and you have happy flowers mid-summer.

Now, the tough question, what to plant???

Friday, April 15, 2011

Envelope Easter Bunny

Hello everyone!  This is Sarah at This Farm Family’s Life.  I was asked to share a kids’ Easter craft with you.  Today we will be making envelope Easter bunnies.

You will need:

1 white envelope
Pink and white construction paper
2 wiggle eyes
Pink pom-pom
Cotton ball
Grey and pink markers

1. Seal the envelope.
2. Cut two large ovals from the white construction paper.(ears)
3. Cut two smaller ovals from the pink construction paper.(ears)
4. Cut two small ovals from the white construction paper. (paws)

To make the ears, glue the pink oval inside the white oval.  Glue them both to the back of the envelope.

Glue the wiggly eyes to the front of the envelope. (If you don’t have wiggly eyes, you can use black and white construction paper.)

Glue the paws at the bottom of the envelope so they hang over about halfway.

Glue the pom-pom nose to the front. (If you don’t have a pink pom-pom, you can color it with a pink marker.)

Glue the cotton ball tail to the back.

Using the pink marker, draw the nose.

Using the grey marker, draw the whiskers and the pads on the paw.

Have fun being crafty!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What do I do with THIS?

In January, I undertook a new challenge. An Iron Chef Challenge. My friend Ott, A. over at A Latte with Ott, A was running an Iron Chef Challenge for all her bloggy friends. And the theme for January was duck! I love duck! I had only cooked it once before, a whole roast duck, and I loved that I had an excuse to try it again!

So I hit the cookbooks, and found a recipe for duck breast that looked yummy. Off to the local grocery store, where there was no duck breast to be found. Only a whole duck.


Okay, so scrap the duck breast recipe, and look for a recipe that used the whole duck. I had done a whole roasted duck before, so I wanted to try something different.

I am a huge Alton Brown fan, and have yet to try a recipe from him that I didn’t like, so I cruised the Food Network website to find an AB recipe I could try. Oh, and did I find one! Mighty Duck! (Who can resist with a name like that?)

The problem? This is not a recipe for a whole duck. This is a recipe for a quartered duck. But I didn’t have a quartered duck… I had a whole duck!

Lucky for me, AB gives detailed directions on how to quarter a whole duck.

Lucky for you, I took pictures while I quartered my duck!

(Although AB says “a chicken is not a duck,” this technique will also work for a chicken, or a turkey, or whatever other kind of poultry you’re trying to quarter. Just substitute your poultry of choice wherever you see the word “duck.”)

Start with a thawed duck (sorry for stating the obvious here, but, hey, you never know!), and assemble the rest of your tools. You will need: a large cutting board, kitchen shears, and a large knife. I also had a cheat sheet. Unwrap your duck, and take out the giblets and the pop up timer (if there is one). Rinse off the duck so it is clean and shiny.

Put the duck on your cutting board, breast side down, and use your kitchen shears to cut off the wings. (Now he just looks sad.)

Pull the big flap of neck skin out of the way. (You can cut it off if you want to.) Using your kitchen shears again, cut through the ribs on either side of the backbone. Start from the neck and work your way back. When you’ve got the backbone free from the ribs and the meat, take it out.

Now put the duck breast side up on your cutting board. You should be able to spread it out so it’s kind of flat.

Again, with the kitchen shears, cut the duck in half, right down the middle of the breast bone. Now you should have two halves of a duck.

Next we need to separate the legs from the breasts. You should be able to see a division between the leg and the breast where there is not much meat. Use your big knife to make a crescent-shaped cut around the top of the leg. (We’re keeping the thigh and the drumstick together here, so don’t worry about separating those two parts.)

Do this step again for the other half, and, voila! Quartered duck! Great job!!

Just in case this didn’t get you quite the information you need, or if you want the details on how “a chicken is not a duck,” Alton Brown has a fantastic video detailing the entire process, with a chicken. Although, really, even if you are an expert in breaking down a chicken, this video is worth watching, for pure entertainment value alone! “Quoth the chicken, ‘fry some more!’”

You gotta love anyone who incorporates great literature into fried chicken! Oh, and the pan-fried chicken recipe is wonderful, too, although it’s just teased in the video. (If you want to skip right to the meat of the matter, the breaking down demonstration starts around 3:50 into the video clip.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Egg Safety

Guest Post By Board of Animal Health’s Janelle Thompson

The parts of an egg that make it so nutritious to eat are also the ideal growing locations for numerous harmful bacteria. Improperly handled or improperly cooked eggs can easily become a source for food-borne illness. By taking few simple steps while handling and cooking eggs, you can keep your family healthy.

Egg safety starts at the grocery store. When purchasing eggs, be sure to open the carton to make sure the shells are not cracked. Although eggs are cleaned before being packaged, bacteria can remain on the egg shell. Cracked eggs have their sanitary “barrier” broken, which could allow bacteria to enter. 

When you get home, immediately place eggs in the refrigerator in their carton.  And, unless the fridge door is rarely opened, eggs should be stored on a shelf in the fridge so they remain at a constant, cool temperature.  Raw eggs will keep in the refrigerator for about 4 to 5 weeks after their pack date.  Hard-boiled eggs can be stored in the fridge up to one week. 

Warmer weather means outdoor pitch-ins and picnics.  While these gatherings can bring much fun, they also bring an increased risk for food-borne illnesses.  Prepared foods containing eggs or egg products should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours.  Food served outdoors in the hot sun should be returned immediately to a cooler.   

Cooking eggs to a proper temperature effectively destroys the harmful bacteria that may be present.  An egg is properly cooked when the egg white is completely set and the yolk begins to thicken, but is not hard. Food items such as scrambled eggs and omelets should be cooked until no liquid remains.   

Another springtime custom, egg decorating for Easter, can pose a significant risk for food-borne illness since the eggs are handled so much. First, be sure to wash your and your kids’ hands thoroughly during the decorating process. If the eggs will not be decorated right after they are cooked, store them in their cartons in the refrigerator. After the eggs have been decorated, place them back in the fridge. If the decorated eggs will be eaten later, be sure to use food coloring or dyes made specifically for food. 

If you are planning on hunting eggs at Easter just use the plastic ones.  You never know what the eggs may come into contact with while they are hidden outside or how long they will sit unrefrigerated.
Bacteria (or BAC®) is sneaking around everywhere and you never know when he might emerge, so practice good egg safety this spring and keep BAC® away.  

BAC® has been so bad about meddling in people’s Easter activities that a website has devoted a whole page to egg safety.  Check out more information from Fight BAC™ here

Eggs are a basic staple to many Hoosiers’ diets, and as long as they are handled and cooked properly they are a great source of nutrition!  For variations on a springtime favorite, deviled eggs, see Kraft Food’s Favorite Topped Deviled Eggs.

Enjoy, and do not forget to use EGG-cellent food safety this spring!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Egg Decorating

Guest Post By Denise of Real Farmwives of America & Friends and Who is the Grown Up?

Beyond the significance of Easter in the Christian calendar, this season is also a fun time for family traditions—like coloring eggs.

My daughters, now 13 and 11, have enjoyed coloring Easter eggs from a very early age.

Side Note: I had a hard time finding a picture of Elaina wearing clothes while coloring eggs! So I had to do a little positioning of the pic of Diana.

I have to admit:  We’re kind of a boring, traditional family when it comes to coloring eggs. Every year we break out the good ol’ Paas egg dying kit to bring a little color into our lives. After all, it’s inexpensive, convenient, easy to clean up and results in lots of pretty eggs (that will be part of lunches for a week or two!).

This year, we’re going to jazz things up a bit and try something different. I got a little inspired during a trip to Europe last year. Take a look at some of the beauties I brought back:

I bought these eggs (and about a dozen others that went to family and friends) while visiting Slovakia last year, when I had the privilege to be part of Class 13 of the Indiana Ag Leadership Program (ALP).

As part of the two-year ALP program, each class takes an international trip to experience the culture and learn first-hand about agriculture in other lands. Our class journeyed to Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

In doing a little pre-trip research, I discovered that the people of that region have a couple of Easter-related traditions tied to their colorful eggs.

In Hungary, on Ducking Day (the Monday after Easter), the boys go from house to house and will sprinkle water or perfume on the girls they like. (This is the modern version of dousing them with a bucket of water like they did in the olden days!) The boy might ask for a kiss or a red egg—which was the positive response from the girl. Apparently, the color of egg she gave back was an indicator of her opinion of the young man.

The Czechs had a similar Easter Monday tradition of the girls giving decorated eggs to the boys. Only the eggs were given after the boys playfully whip the girls on the backs of their legs with pussy willow branches decorated with ribbons. The story goes that the pussy willow is the first to bloom in spring, and the whipping will bestow fertility.

While I’m not expecting any boys to come calling at our house on April 25, I think the girls will have some fun being a little more artistic this year. Although, I’m not sure we’ll be as detailed as the artist was for this egg. The gold-colored petals on the flower and the stripes on the grid are actually small, flattened pieces of a wheat stalk glued on the eggs.

Here’s the plan, in case you haven’t blown eggs before:

  1.  Carefully clean the outside of the uncooked eggs with a damp paper towel. (Because I’m a germ-a-phobe, I, personally, prefer to use a food-safe disinfectant like diluted bleach, since the kids are handling them.)
  2. Gently pierce each end of the egg shell with a clean tack or pin. Use a long pin to break the yolk, or you won’t be able to blow it out. You can use a bulb-style ear-and-nose syringe to blow out the eggs.
  3. After the eggs are empty, rinse them in a bowl of water. Next dip the shells in a bleach-water dilution to prevent anything from getting moldy or smelly.
  4. Once the eggs have air-dried completely, they are ready to paint or dye.
  5. For those of us who hate to see food go to waste, use the egg whites and yolks to make scrambled eggs—provided they haven’t sat out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.
If you have a fun and creative egg decorating idea, or even an egg that inspires you, be sure to share a link or post it on our Facebook page!
Happy Easter!


Friday, April 8, 2011

Last Chance to Qualify for Indiana’s Family of Farmers $2,000 Grants

For Immediate Release
INDIANAPOLIS (April 8, 2011) An April 19 conference call will be the last opportunity for community members and educators to qualify for the $2,000 grants available to them.

To qualify for the grants, which are intended to help improve educational agriculture-related events in Indiana communities, applicants are required to attend an informational session titled "Tips for Success: Telling the Story of Agriculture Through Educational Events" to learn more about the program.

The next and final session, hosted by the Indiana Family of  Farmers (IFOF), will be a conference call meeting at 2:30 p.m EDT on April 19. Those interested must RSVP to receive a call in number for the conference call.

The funds, made possible through the IFOF Ag Resource Committee, may be used by local event organizers to increase participation in educational or outreach events focused on food and fiber, like Ag Day celebrations. Grant applicants may also request monies to make capital improvements (like buying demonstration equipment) or safety upgrades (such as purchasing hand-washing stations).

To RSVP, contact Danica Kirkpatrick at or 765-494-9113 by Friday, April 15.

For more information about the program visit:
About Indiana’s Family of Farmers
Indiana’s Family of Farmers grows the grains, produce and meat you eat every day.
We believe that quality farming means quality food that is good for you, your family and the environment. Food for your family, from our family.