GRILLING WEEK: FLAT IRON STEAKS WITH GRILLED CORN AND CUMIN LIME BUTTER

As we officially head into summer, enjoy the recipes of grilling week!  We’ll be featuring opportunities for you to get more delicious pork, beef, and chicken into your diet and sharing some fun facts about livestock farming in Illinois!

Fun Fact: Three out of four American grillers say they grill beef the most often (over chicken or pork)!

Today’s Tip: Preheat your grill 15 to 25 minutes before you start cooking to make sure it reaches the right temperature (and to kill any bacteria). Your grill should be 400-450°F for high, 350-400°F for medium-high, 300-350°F for medium and 250-300°F for low heat. A properly heated grill sears foods on contact, keeps the insides moist, and helps prevent sticking.

Today’s Recipe: Flat Iron Steaks with Grilled Corn and Cumin-Lime Butter

What You’ll Need:

  1. 4 beef Flat Iron Steaks (about 8 ounces each)
  2. 6 ears fresh sweet corn, in husks
  3. 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  4. 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  5. 1 medium poblano pepper
  6. 1 small red finger chili (cayenne) pepper or serrano pepper
  7. Lime wedges
  8. Salt and ground black pepper\

Rub

  1. 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  2. 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  3. 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  4. ½ teaspoon freshly grated lime peel
  5. ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper

What You Do:

  1. Pull back husks from corn, leaving husks attached. Remove and discard corn silk. Bring husks back up around corn; tie in place with kitchen string or strips of corn husk. Soak corn in cold water 30 minutes or up to several hours.
  2. Combine rub ingredients. For Cumin-Lime Butter, combine 2 teaspoons rub mixture, butter and lime juice in small bowl; set aside. Press remaining rub evenly onto beef steaks. Cover and refrigerate steaks 30 minutes.
  3. Remove corn from water. Place on grid over medium, ash-covered coals; grill, covered, 20 to 30 minutes or until tender, turning occasionally. About 15 minutes before corn is done, move ears to outer edge of grid. Place poblano and finger chili pepper in center of grid; grill poblano pepper 10 to 15 minutes and chili pepper 5 minutes or until skins are completely blackened, turning occasionally. Place peppers in food-safe plastic bag; close bag. Set aside.
  4. Place steaks on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 10 to 14 minutes for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness, turning occasionally.
  5. Remove and discard husks from corn. Cover and refrigerate 2 steaks, 2 ears corn and grilled peppers to use in Steak and Grilled Corn Tortillas. Carve remaining 2 steaks into slices. Squeeze lime wedges over beef, as desired. Spread Cumin-Lime Butter over remaining 4 ears corn. Season beef and corn with salt and black pepper, as desired.

To prepare on gas grill, preheat grill according to manufacturer’s directions for medium heat. Place vegetables and steaks on grid as directed above. Grill corn and poblano pepper, covered, 15 to 25 minutes, or until corn is tender and skin of poblano pepper is completely blackened, turning occasionally. Grill finger chili pepper 5 to 10 minutes or until skin is completely blackened, turning occasionally. Grill steaks, covered, 12 to 16 minutes for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness, turning occasionally.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

GRILLING WEEK: HONEY JALAPENO GRILLED PORK CHOPS

As we officially head into summer, enjoy the recipes of grilling week!  We’ll be featuring opportunities for you to get more delicious pork, beef, and chicken into your diet and sharing some fun facts about livestock farming in Illinois!

Fun Fact: Illinois ranks number #4 in the nation in pig farming!  We raise more pigs here than in the other 46 states!

Today’s Tip: The age old debate over whether charcoal or gas grills are best still lives.  Many people prefer the smokier taste of a charcoal grill, but for those of us that are environmentally conscious, a gas grill burns cleaner and is better for air quality.

Today’s Recipe: Honey Jalapeno Grilled Pork Chops

What You’ll Need:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 jalapenos, sliced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 bone-in pork chops

What You Do:

  1. Combine all ingredients (except chops) in a small bowl.
  2. Place chops in a shallow dish with a cover, or in a large zip-top plastic bag, and cover with the marinade. Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours (or as long as overnight).
  3. Grill the marinated chops over direct medium heat until an internal thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 145 to 160 degrees, about 4 to 6 minutes per side.
  4. Transfer cooked chops to a platter and tent with foil. Let meat rest about 5 minutes before serving.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

TOP POSTS OF 2016 #4: 6 THINGS ABOUT FARMING I DIDN’T LEARN IN SCHOOL

[Originally published: February 23, 2016]

We all love our teachers, but looking back there are things we wish somebody had told us. Here are six things about agriculture that I wish were taught in school.

  1. Food is not easy to grow.

farmer in fieldOn TV you always see farmers portrayed as a bunch of uneducated hillbillies, but that is not the case! There is a lot more to growing food than most people realize; farming is a science. Farmers have to be masters of chemistry, agronomy, physics, mathematics, economics, and meteorology. In fact, there are over 70 colleges across the country that offer degrees in Farm Management. Who knew?

  1. Most of the corn we see in the fields isn’t sweet corn.

There are several different types of corn grown in the US, but the main type is field corn, also called dent corn. This corn is used for animal feed and also processed into ethanol, corn syrup, and other products like makeup and plastic. Less than 1% of the corn grown in the US is sweet corn! Check out this math lesson teachers could use to teach students about corn.

  1. Dirt is not the same everywhere you go.

soilHave you ever wondered why Arizona soil is so much redder than the dark black soils we have here in central Illinois? It turns out there is much more to dirt than meets the eye. All soil is made up of a combination of three components: sand, silt, and clay. The way a soil looks, feels, and even how well crops can be grown in it can all be predicted by looking at the age of the soil (some soils are thousands of years old!), mineral composition, topography of the land, and what the native vegetation was. There are even people whose whole job is studying soil!

  1. Hamburgers and milk don’t come from the same place.

eat mor chikinEveryone has seen the Chick-fil-a commercials where the black and white cows are telling you to eat more chicken, but besides being a cute marketing strategy it doesn’t actually make sense. Holsteins, like the Chick-fil-a cow, are one of hundreds of breeds of dairy cattle that are milked to make cheese and ice cream, but very rarely used for meat. A more accurate commercial would have a Black Angus because they are the most common beef breed in the US. These are the cattle that are raised for their meat to be processed into steaks, roasts, and burgers.

  1. Farmers do care about the environment.

The media is always pointing its finger at the agriculture industry for polluting the atmosphere or causing global climate change, but farmers really do care about the environment. In fact, they are affected even more than the rest of us by global climate change. As the climate patterns change over time, new pests invade our fields that they are not equipped to handle. This in turn lowers their yield and actually costs them money!

  1. There are chemicals in your food. Gasp!

Pyridoxine, Natamycin, and Carboxymethylcellulose, oh my! Find out what these chemicals are. Just because something has a long name doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, all food is naturally made out of chemicals called vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. A chemical-free diet would mean that you couldn’t eat anything!

elizabeth brownElizabeth Brown
Purdue University

INTRODUCTION TO AG: WHY IT SHOULD BE A GEN ED COURSE

My junior year of college at Illinois State University, I shared an apartment with four other girls. One of the girls, Cailyn, was an agriculture major from a small town just like myself. The other three girls were non-agriculture majors and were from the Chicago suburbs. Kayla was a history education major, Sarah was a communications major, and Genny was a broadcast journalism major. After living with three girls that didn’t understand how their food is grown, couldn’t unscrew a door hinge or change a car tire, and thought that GMOs would kill them, I wholeheartedly believe that an Introduction to Agriculture class should be a required general education class in college.

We live in an uninformed society today. Because of this, there are all kinds of misconceptions about agriculture that get made. Some of these misconceptions include ideas that farmers inject steroids into their animals, that there are antibiotics in their food, and that all farms are big corporate farms. By having college students take an Introduction to Agriculture class we could help eliminate these misconceptions about agriculture.

12-6-16farmerDo you know what the average age of the US farmer is today? No? That’s okay, you’re not alone! Today in the United States the average farmer is 58 years old. Yes, that’s right, 58 years old! The average retirement age of US citizens is 63. Think about that! Why is this average so high? Because more and more people aren’t returning home to take over the family farm. It’s easier to get a job within the agriculture industry where the stress is much lower and the pay is much higher.

According to the USDA, there are expected to be 60,000 jobs opening annually in the agriculture industry with only 35,000 graduates to fill these jobs. By requiring college level students to take an Introduction to Agriculture class, students would understand all that the agriculture industry has to offer. Jobs such as agriculture accountants, agriculture loan officers, agriculture education teachers, insurance agents, and the list goes on and on. By exposing students to this industry and the job options it offers, this could encourage students to possibly change their major from business to agricultural business or finance to agricultural finance.

12-6-16gmos1One of the biggest problems we face in America is the skepticism that our food is unsafe and that GMOS (genetically modified organisms) are harmful to us. By taking agriculture classes in college, students will see that in America we actually have the safest food supply in the world. They would also learn that it has been proven time and time again that GMOs are safe for human use and consumption. In fact, GMOs have been used for thousands and thousands of years. For example, corn is not a naturally occurring plant and instead was bred from a wild grain called teosinte. This is exactly what we do when we genetically modify plants today. We breed plants for whatever traits we want in plants. These traits include higher yielding plants, drought resistant plants, etc.

12-6-16agriculture-diploma-studentsThe most important reason that I believe college students should take agriculture classes is because they will learn life skills that they may not have been taught at home. Things like being able to change the oil in their car, use a drill to put in a screw, or wire an electric outlet in their home.

Agriculture classes would benefit college students and would help make these students more rounded individuals who would then be able to contribute to making our world a better place.

ellen-young
Ellen Young
Illinois State University

PORK POWER!

Who doesn’t love a good home-cooked meal around the holidays? My favorite things to enjoy with my family are ham and mashed potatoes. Many branches of the agriculture industry in Illinois team up for the holidays to make sure everyone in the state can have pork at their family dinners. This movement is called Pork Power and consists of Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Association of Meat Processors, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Soybean Association, Feeding Illinois working together to gather pork to be donated.

12-5-16-pork-power-lightning-boltThis program was launched in 2008 by the Illinois Pork Producers and has continued to grow every year. The mission statement of the program is “To provide access to pork (vital meat protein) to our neighbors throughout Illinois by partnering with Feeding Illinois.” The 2015 results show that the mission statement is definitely being upheld. A whopping 500,000 pounds of pork was donated just last year. The half-million-pound donation amounted to 2 million meals being served to the people of Illinois.

Other events that support Pork Power are held throughout the year as well. These events include a fundraising meal at the Illinois Department of Agriculture and fun Pork Power t-shirts being sold at the Illinois State Fair. Some of these shirts have the Pork Power logo while others have puns about bacon that never get old!

Interested in donating pork to the cause? A few guidelines and more information on donating to the movement can be found here! Any other questions? Ask in the comments!

amanda-rollinsAmanda Rollins
Illinois State University

FIVE FARMS FACTS THAT INSPIRE GRATITUDE

As I sit down with my family at Thanksgiving this year, I will look around at all the food laid out in front of me. Mom’s mashed potatoes. Grandma’s pumpkin pie. Aunt’s green bean casserole. All prepared with love for us. But how did it get here? With the hard work by the agricultural industry. U.S. Farmers worked to provide the food in front of me and you. As you sit down to eat, here are five farm facts that will inspire both you and me to be more thankful for the food before us.

thanksgiving-family-dinner-clip-art

1) The agricultural industry employs more than 21 million American workers , which is 15 percent of the total U.S. workforce. A lot of people with a lot of family.

2) Today’s American farmer feeds about 155 people worldwide. This is compared to 25.8 people in 1960. How many people are in your family?

cranberries3) A barrel of cranberries weighs 100 pounds, and there are about 450 cranberries in a pound. So how many cranberries are in a gallon of juice? Approximately 4,400 cranberries. Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without cranberries.

4) Illinois is the number 1 pumpkin state where Morton, IL is the Pumpkin capital of the world. This means that Illinois produces more pumpkins than any other state. You can thank them for Grandma’s pumpkin pie.

5) Farmers receive only 16 cents out of every dollar spent on food. The remaining part of the dollar goes towards expenses beyond the farm gate that include costs in production, processing, marketing, transportation, and distribution. This number has fallen in the last 35 years from 31 cents in 1980. Farmers do a lot of work for little return.

Farmers helped put the food before us during one of the biggest meals of the year and every other day of year. Thank a farmer for your food.baseball

 

Bonus: I don’t think anyone doesn’t know who won the World Series this year. The Cubs broke their 108-year losing streak with a World Series Win this year. But did you know that one pound of wool can make 10 miles of yarn? There are 150 yards (450 feet) of wool yarn in a baseball… That’s a 117 baseballs. Thank a sheep for the winning out.

maxley_jaylynnJaylynn Maxley
University of Illinois

NEW REPORT KNOCKS THE STUFFING OUT OF ‘FOOD VS. FUEL’ TURKEYS

Some interesting data on the correlation between increasing amounts of corn used for ethanol and food prices.  You may remember that corn was blamed for the increase in food prices several years ago and the ag industry responded that food prices were much more tied to fuel prices than commodity corn.  

Turns out, we were right.

New Report Knocks the Stuffing out of ‘Food Vs. Fuel’ Turkeys

Millions of Americans preparing for Thanksgiving next week are undoubtedly noticing that dinner will cost less than it did a year ago. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, overall grocery prices are roughly 2% lower than at this time last year, and prices specifically for poultry products — like turkey — are down 1.5% compared to last fall. Meanwhile, the amount of corn used for fuel ethanol is primed to set a new record in 2016, up roughly 3% from last year.

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), which released an independent analysis today on the impact of ethanol on food prices, says the current collision of falling food prices and record ethanol production should end the contrived “food vs. fuel” debate once and for all.

The new statistical analysis, conducted by Informa Economics IEG, retrospectively examined the effect of ethanol expansion on food prices, concluding that “…retail food prices were not impacted in any demonstrable way by expansion of U.S. grain ethanol production under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) over the past decade.” In fact, the study finds that food price inflation has actually slowed during the “ethanol era.”

The analysis shows that growth in food prices slowed cons10% ethanoliderably after passage of the RFS2, with prices for groceries advancing at roughly half the rate seen prior to the program’s adoption. “Prior to the passage of RFS2, food away from home [e.g., restaurants] grew at an average of 3.4%, versus 3.2% for food at home [e.g., groceries]. After RFS2, food away from home grew at 2.6%, versus 1.8% for food at home,” the study found. “The increase in the food [consumer price index] actually decelerated as the usage of corn in ethanol production increased dramatically.”

The study also examines the impact of ethanol on corn prices, and in turn the impact of corn prices on retail food items. While the authors conclude that corn prices were positively impacted by ethanol expansion, higher corn prices did not necessarily translate into higher consumer food prices.  “Statistical analysis shows that the link between corn prices and overall food prices has been weak,” according to the report, adding that changes in food prices are primarily driven by “…the costs of transforming farm products to retail grocery products, along with transportation and distribution at various levels of the supply chain.” The analysis shows that only 19% of consumer spending on food pays for the value of the farm commodities, with the remaining 81% paying for “…post-farm-gate activities (e.g., transportation, processing, marketing).”

Other factors that drive farm commodity and retail food prices were examined, with Informa concluding that core inflationary pressures, weather events (e.g., flooding and droughts), exchange rates, and energy prices all impacted commodity and food prices over the past decade. In fact, from 2009 to 2014, the impact of crude oil prices on consumer food price inflation was nearly nine times greater than the impact of corn prices.

View the analysis here.

HOW GMOs ENTER THE MARKETPLACE

We talk a lot about food and food labels and how we wish all Americans felt comfortable buying all kinds of food (because all of it is safe!), but maybe we haven’t talked enough about how much some of your food is tested and vetted before it gets to you.

Of course we understand that a new car, a new iPhone, or a new medication are tested completely before they are allowed in the marketplace. But did you stop to think that the same rigorous testing procedures apply to … food?

People are nervous about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and that makes sense because we’re all a little worried at first about things we don’t know much about. But this video from Monsanto explains (in 60 seconds!) what a new GMO seed must go through before farmers can actually plant it.

Still have questions?

We’d love to hear from you!! Leave us a note in the comments below!

AG-IFY YOUR HEALTH CLASS LESSON

It’s pretty simple to incorporate another subject into whatever lesson you are teaching. We do it all the time in agriculture education without even thinking about it. For example, in a BSAA (biological science applications in agriculture) class we practice surveying the lay of the land which includes being able to calculate slope, something that is learned in a math class. In an introduction to agriculture class we learn about the dust bowl which was caused in part by poor agricultural practices and without even thinking about it, we are incorporating a history lesson into an agriculture class.

As an agriculture education major who is currently student teaching, this seems like no big deal to me. I incorporate different subject areas into my lessons every single day, but I think it’s pretty rare to see agriculture incorporated into another subject’s lessons. So let’s talk about a recent experience I had that I know would have been one of the best ways to incorporate agriculture into a different classroom setting.

10-17-16organic-labelMy older sister is a high school and junior high health and physical education teacher. At a family dinner recently, she was talking about how she was currently teaching nutrition in her health class and was having students ask questions about whether organic food is better than non-organic and other topics of the such. As soon as she said this, a light clicked on in my head and I realized that would have been a perfect time to incorporate an agriculture-based lesson on teaching students to understand where their food comes from.

To incorporate this into her lesson, she could simply start the class out by getting a basic understanding of the class and what they know and believe. To do this, she could start out by asking students if they know where their food comes from. If the students understand that their food is grown by a farmer and doesn’t just appear in a grocery store, then she could move on to asking if they know how the food is grown or what it takes to grow a plant? 10-17-16my_plate_logoOn the Illinois Ag in the Classroom website there is My Plate activity that shows not only the correct portion sizes of food, but you can also click on each of the portions on the plate and learn how that food is grown and also do some activities with each food group. After explaining to the students how food is grown, she could go into a discussion of asking students who choose to eat organic food and why they choose to do so. She could then proceed to ask students what they believe some of the current buzz words and phrases me. One topic she could discuss is that of Subway’s current promotion of “antibiotic-free meat.” This marketing scheme actually doesn’t even make any sense as it is illegal for farmers to sell any type of meat or animal food product that has any trace of antibiotics. If this is a topic that she feels uncomfortable teaching, she could have students use their devices to go to the Illinois Farm Families where they can learn what all these buzzwords mean, actually meet the people who grow their food, and even personally ask questions to farmers and growers around Illinois.

With all of the co-teaching and diversity within teaching happening right now, don’t forget to try to incorporate in the area that feeds, clothes, and fuels you and your students everyday!

ellen-youngEllen Young
Illinois State University