Posts Tagged With: Indiana

Eating Indiana Agriculture (ISDA’s Holiday Gift Guide)

Need a last minute gift idea?  Indiana agriculture comes in many forms and it may be the present you’re looking for to finish

Christmas cupcakes

Christmas cupcakes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

your Christmas shopping. To celebrate the season, I compiled gift ideas from some of the staff here at ISDA.

When it comes to edible gifts, Indiana agriculture has a plethora of options to satisfy the demands of your Christmas list.


Chocolate covered pretzels.  Popcorn.  Beef Jerky.  Salsa.  These are some of my favorite snacks, and just a few of the food items that are produced and/or processed right here in Indiana.  To order snack items for your friends, visit a website like Hoosier Market Place, place your order and pick up at a desired location.


Who doesn’t like sweets around the holidays?  Fortunately, Indiana is home to lots of options in this area.  Some highlights include…

  • Places like 240 Sweets and Not Just Popcorn.  Indiana offers several artisanal products that are guaranteed to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.
  • Maple syrup tapped in Indiana, and definitely worth the purchase.  There’s no better treat than pancake drizzled with real maple syrup.
  • Indiana honey is also the perfect gift for anyone on your list who enjoys cooking, baking and/or a good cuppa.  Use resources like to find Indiana honey for sale near you.

For your table

Practical gifts are (almost) always appreciated.  They offer me special treats for daily life.  If I were making myself a practical Christmas list, here’s what I would request.

  • Community Supported Agriculture Share: Did you know that Indiana is home to more than 30 fruits and vegetables?  A CSA is a program where farmers sell “shares” or baskets of their produce before it is ready for market.  A customer pays a farmer up-front for X amount of products/week throughout the summer.  Between a certain period of time (usually May through September), the customer picks up his/her share of products at a designated location once a week.  What could be a better gift than fresh produce throughout the summer?
  • A Side of a Cow/Hog: Since I was a young girl, my parents have often stocked our freezer with a side of a cow.  Although I have no qualms about buying meat from grocery stores, it’s a treat to have a freezer full of delicious meat in a variety of cuts knowing that your purchase benefited a farmer in or near your community.  Also, buying a whole steer/partial steer can be very affordable per pound if you have the resources to pay for the meat up front.  One Indiana producer estimates it costs about $4.32/lb for all cuts (including steaks and filets). Another option that sounds tasty (but I haven’t tried yet) is purchasing a whole or half of a hog.  As our state is the fifth largest producer of pork in the United States, nothing says Indiana like gifting a pig 🙂

What Indiana food products would you add to this list?

Categories: Informational | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The People of Agriculture (Thanksgiving Series Pt. III)

The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote: “We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.”  To commemorate Thanksgiving, “The (agri)Cultured Foodie” will use the next week and a half to look at the “ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts” that put food on your table.

Farmers. Repairmen.  Crop scientists.  Veterinarians.  Communications specialists.  Engineers.  These are the people that make agriculture possible.  These are the people that help get food from the field to the kitchen.  These are the people we should be thankful tomorrow as we sit down and enjoy a meal with our families.

But who are these men and women that produce our food?

They’re the Beck Family from Indiana who raise crops and own the largest family-owned seed company in the United States.

They’re the Gyrgleski Family from Wisconsin who grow cranberries for Ocean Spray.

They’re the Nilsen Family from California whose turkey operation uses “natural resources to create sustainable energy and eliminate waste.”

I’m thankful for the men and women who have devoted their lives to cultivating and stewarding the earth, and providing food for my family and yours.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Categories: Farming in the 21st Century, The Faces of Modern Agriculture | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

To-do: Enjoy the season

Last week, I shared one of my favorite poems by James Whitcomb Riley, “When the frost is on the punkin.”

I especially enjoy this stanza:

They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere

When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here–

Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,

And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;

But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze

Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days

Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock–

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

Have you had the opportunity to venture into the country and see the beauty of autumn “that no painter has the colorin’ to mock”?

If your answer is no, let me encourage you to go to visit some of Indiana’s agritourism destinations.  Here’s a great resource to help you find places to visit in your area.

As Kevin Baird, an ISDA staff member and owner of Cornucopia Farm, wrote in a recent blog post on ISDA’s conservation blog:

“We are into the home stretch of another crop season on the farm coming down to the wire.  Summer by title is over and fall is here.  The corn and beans are changing rapidly.  It will not be long before harvest is in full swing and then completed.  Fall agritourism venues are getting into full swing also.    Pumpkins are ripe and ready to decorate many homesteads.  There is just something special about fall.”

Photo by Lisa Jamison

Photo by Lisa Jamison

Categories: General, Informational | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harvest is approaching…

The following is an excerpt from “A Friend to the Farmer,” the latest installment of ISDA In-Depth.  To read the complete article, click here.

Photo by: Rothwell

Photo by: Rothwell

Harvest time is quickly approaching as rows of corn and soybeans are slowly drying out across Indiana. Over the next few months, farmers will harvest their crops and haul them to local grain elevators to sell their 2013 bounty.

But like any area of commerce, things can go wrong in Indiana’s grain industry.  Grain may not be accurately weighed going in and out of the elevator, creating a discrepancy between what farmers sell and what they get paid. Or, farmers may sell their grain to an elevator, and the promise of payment may go unfilled.

Since the early 1970s, the Indiana Grain Buyers and Warehouse Licensing Agency (IGBWLA) has worked to ensure that farmers are protected in the grain industry while creating an environment for the industry to be competitive, innovative and efficient. IGBWLA accomplishes  this mission through issuing licenses to grain firms and auditing the licensed firms to ensure integrity and consistency in their business practices.

To read the rest of the article and hear from IGBWLA Director Jerome Hawkins, click here. For more information on IGBWLA, visit ISDA’s website.

Categories: Agriculture in Indiana, From the Field to Your Fork | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Talking with an Indiana Farmer | Part 1

Kip Tom

Kip Tom

Today, I have the privilege of introducing you to Kip Tom.  Kip is the CEO of Tom Farms, a family-owned business located in Northern Indiana.  Tom Farms was established by Everett and Marie Tom in 1952 and is currently one of the largest suppliers of seed corn to Monsanto.

Kip kindly agreed to do an email interview with me discussing sustainability, agriculture in the 21st century, and family business.  Enjoy the first part of the interview today, and check back for the rest of the interview on Thursday.

AM: Obviously, your family’s connection to agriculture is deep and important to you. How does your family’s farming history impact the way you think about the Ag industry?

KT: Our family settled in our community 176 years ago this summer, about seven generations before my children joined the business.  Each of us who have a role in this business must take responsibility to assure that the business continues.

AM: Sound economics and business principles are key components of running an operation that can last for multiple generations.  Why is it important to run a family farm using sound business principles?  How does a sound business model contribute to the overall livelihood of an operation?

KT: Oftentimes financial decisions have been made on the farm in the past with little-to-no due diligence.  A business can only survive through good and challenging times if the financial impact of all decisions is clearly understood prior to making the decision.  It is critical that leaders understand where the income and cost centers are, and how the contribute to the business’s bottom line.

AM: As I listen to the conversation surrounding agriculture, I hear a lot of talk about sustainability.  What does sustainability mean to you? How is an operation like yours sustainable?

KT: Sustainability is a word that can span many conversations, but to our business it means:

  1. Succession of the family business;
  2. Protection of all resources spanning generations; and,
  3. A systems approach to our manufacturing processes.

AM: You’ve spent many years on your family farm, and have also chosen to be actively involved in the national and international discussion about agriculture.  In other words, you have the knowledge and experience of working on the farm while also understanding the various dynamics of national and international Ag concerns.  From your perspective, what are the top three challenges farmers are facing in the 21st century?

(Photo by Roberts)

(Photo by Roberts)

KT: The first challenge I see is a failure to recognize that production agriculture is a manufacturing business and that we need to invest in developing a systems approach to producing the products that we “build” on our farms to feed the growing global demand.  Farm structures will be much different in the future as they are in essence a “biological manufacturing plant” producing food, fiber and energy.  Success in this endeavor will require extensive capital investments, coordinated supply chains, and talented management and staff.

Additionally, education will continue to be the differentiator in the future as it is now.  The successful farm business will need to have qualified leaders in the management positions as well have educated technical staff to operate the complexity of the “manufacturing plant”.

Finally, agricultural advocacy will continue to be a challenge with less connectivity between consumers and the farm.  It is the responsibility of our industry to step up from all levels and engage in local and global discussions.  We also have the responsibility of engaging with policy makers to ensure we are helping the food insecure.

Check back here on Thursday to hear more from Kip!

Categories: Agriculture in Indiana, Farming in the 21st Century, The Faces of Modern Agriculture | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What’s to come on this blog

As I mentioned in my previous post, the Indiana State Fair reminded me of some important agricultural lessons: Farmers feed me, agriculture is more than corn and cows, and people are at the heart of farming and agribusiness. 

And those lessons gave me insight into what to cover on my blog.  I have decided to take the lessons I learned at the Indiana State Fair and focus blog posts around them.

Photo by Beeker.

Photo by Beeker.

My first area of focus on the blog will be “The Faces of Modern Agriculture.”  People are at the heart of farming and agribusiness.  I want to introduce you to the people who comprise the field of agriculture.  In the next few weeks, I’ll feature Kip Tom of Tom Farms.  Kip was recently profiled in “Indianapolis Monthly” and was noted for championing private business and his commitment to family.  In addition to farmers like Kip, I want to talk with ag economists, agronomists, commodity specialists and the next generation of farmers.

I will also feature posts on “Farming in the 21st Century.”  If you watch the news, you know that agriculture is more than corn and cows.  As agriculture has grown more complex over the years, the vocabulary has too.  Words like biotechnology and organic are perfect examples of terms that can be confusing.  What do those words mean for you and your food choices?  That’s the question I want to answer.

“From the Field to Your Fork” will look at the products we grow and produce in Indiana, and show you where they can be found in your daily life.  If you visited Indiana Soybean Alliance’s Glass Barn at the fair, you know that you can find the products of local farmers on the shelves of your grocery stores.  Farmers feed us, and I will show you how they do that.

My friends in the Ag community are fond of sharing this quote from Thomas Jefferson: “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will, in the end, contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness.”  While I would contend there are other disciplines we would be wise to pursue (medicine, humanities, etc…), I do believe that agriculture is one area of life in which everyone should take an intense interest.  What and how we eat shapes who we are as individuals.  So join me in this journey of exploring Indiana Ag and learning about the people and practices that put food on our kitchen tables.

Categories: Agriculture in Indiana, Farming in the 21st Century, From the Field to Your Fork, General, The Faces of Modern Agriculture | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Ag lessons from the Indiana State Fair

For an agricultural communicator, the Indiana State Fair is dream come true. Where else can you find almost a million people in the heart of a major metropolitan area congregating around an event that is in large part all about youth, education and agriculture?

During the 17 days of the Indiana State Fair, I found myself making numerous trips to the fairgrounds to work ISDA’s exhibit, generate content for social media and cover various events. I also had the opportunity to spend two afternoons at the fair with family and friends, enjoying the food and activities as an attendee.

Beef Sundae (photo courtesy of my dad, David).

Beef Sundae (photo courtesy of my dad, David).

Sitting at my desk in Indianapolis, I can easily forget about various aspects of the farm-to-fork continuum. The fair showed me three important facets of agriculture of which I needed to be reminded.

Farmers feed me. Like most fair goers, I had the opportunity to eat a lot of good food. Milkshakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, pork burgers, beef sundaes, ribeye sandwiches, funnel cakes, popcorn and soft pretzels were on my menu at the fair. As I ate classic fair fare, I was reminded that I owe a debt of thanks to the men and women who make it possible for me to eat.

Agriculture is more than corn and cows.  As the industry has advanced over the years, the jobs and needs of farming and agribusiness have evolved. During the fair, I had a chance to hear men and women like Norman McCowan and Marianne Ash. McCowan serves as the president of Bell Aquaculture, the nation’s largest yellow perch aquaculture facility. Ash is an Indiana veterinarian who works for the Indiana Board of Animal Health, planning and coordinating responses to animal health emergencies. People like them remind me that there are numerous components of agriculture that play an important role in safely and sustainably placing food on the kitchen table.

ISF Opening Ceremony_08022013_ISDA (19)

Taken at the Indiana State Fair opening ceremony.

People are at the heart of farming and agribusiness. I had the privilege of helping with the Hoosier Homestead Awards Ceremony, a biannual ISDA event that honors Indiana farms that have been in the same family for over 100 years. The 69 farms honored at the ceremony had stayed in business through World War I, the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and World War II. A handful of the farms have been in the same family since the Civil War era. One of the farms honored has been operating since 1812 (four years before Indiana became a state). Family businesses like these don’t happen by chance. They’re the result of people who faithfully invest in their operations for the sake of their families and communities.

The Indiana State Fair reminded me of the vital role farming and agribusiness play in placing food on the kitchen table. I’m thankful I have a job that offers me the opportunity to continue learning about the products, people, and processes of Indiana agriculture.

Did you attend the Indiana State Fair this year? If so, what did you enjoy most about the event?

Categories: Agriculture in Indiana | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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