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Food for Thought & Good Living!

The Iowa Food & Family Project is proud to power the Iowa Games and support Live Healthy Iowa! Join us for conversations about farming and meet the committed people who provide your food at or “Like” us at  You can also sign up for our monthly e-newsletter.

Fun Food & Farming Fact #1

There are 130 family farms in Iowa that raise turkeys and provide 12.1 million pounds of turkey each year! Did you know:

  • Only tom (male) turkeys gobble
  • Hen (female) turkeys make a clicking noise
  • Wild turkeys can fly for short distances up to 55 miles per hour and can run 20 miles per hour
  • Almost half of all turkey eaten is in a sandwich
  • June (not November) is National Turkey Lovers’ Month!

Try this fun Talkin’ Turkey paper folding game.

Fun Food & Farming Fact #2

The soybeans you see in fields as you’re traveling around the state are used for everything from food for animals and people to making crayons! Iowa’s family farmers grow more soybeans than any other state.  Did you know:

  • Edamame is a young, green soybean harvested before it dries
  • Most vegetable oil in the store is made from soybeans
  • Toasted soybeans are a delicious, crunchy snack and are also used to make nut butter that is similar to peanut butter but with less fat
  • Soybeans help make hundreds of products like candles, shampoo, lotion, paint, ink, rubber, fuel, medicines and more!

Fun Food & Farming Fact #3

Cattle are raised in all 99 Iowa counties; there are 26,827 beef cow operations that are family-owned and operated. These family farms are proud to provide delicious, healthy beef for us to enjoy. Did you know:

  • Cattle have four-part stomachs to help digest food like grass and hay
  • A calf weighs around 90 pounds at birth
  • Beef is an excellent source of zinc and a good source for iron which are lacking in many children’s diets
  • The world’s first hamburger chain was White Castle (Wichita, KS, 1921)

Learn a-moo-sing facts inthis activity and try a new family recipe.

Fun Food & Farming Fact #4

Iowa is the top pork producing state and pork is the world’s most widely eaten meat.  Iowa’s farm families that raise hogs are committed to providing safe and nutritious meat while following strict environmental practices and taking excellent care of their hogs. Modern production practices have virtually eliminated many forms of foodborne illness once associated with pork and the USDA has approved the safe serving temperature for whole cuts of pork at a juicy 145 degrees followed by a 3-minute rest time. Did you know:

  • Today’s pork is 31% leaner than 20 years ago; seven common cuts of pork are just as lean as skinless chicken breast
  • On average, each hog sent to market provides 371 servings of meat
  • More than 75,000 pork chops on a stick are served at the Iowa State Fair
  • People at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair enjoyed “red hots”; instead of on a bun, hotdogs were handed out with a pair of white cotton gloves to keep fingers cool!

Check out these fun placemats designed to spark creativity and mealtime conversation.

Fun Food & Farming Fact #5

In the state of Iowa, 1,200 licensed dairy herds produce more than 560 million gallons of milk each year making us the 13th largest producer of milk in the U.S.  Iowa has 25 food facilities that process one or more dairy products. Did you know:

  • The average dairy cow provides 7 gallons of milk each day
  • It takes just 48 hours for milk to travel from the farm to a retail outlet
  • Cows lay down to rest for 12-14 hours a day
  • Some dairies use robotic milking machines for their cows

Read how the Bolin family runs their dairy and uses technology to help take better care of their cows and spend a little more quality time together.

Fun Food & Farming Fact #6

Together, milk, cheese and yogurt provide a unique package of nine essential nutrients, including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin and niacin (niacin equivalents). Beyond building stronger bones, three daily servings of dairy improves overall diet quality and promote good health. Did you know:

  • There are 8 grams of protein in every 8 oz. glass of milk
  • Milk is white because it contains casein, a calcium-rich protein
  • It takes 10 pounds of milk to make 1 pound of cheese
  • Yogurt is a great source for the “good” bacteria your body needs

Visit “Milk Matters” to see why tweens and teens need more calcium than anyone does and how easy it is to meet the requirements.

Fun Food & Farming Fact #7

For farmers, water is a primary concern. They rely on nature to provide an abundance of rain to grow strong, healthy crops, and livestock and poultry need a fresh, clean supply every day to thrive. Water is a precious resource that Iowa’s farmers work very hard to protect — they rely on it as much or more as the rest of us. That’s why farmers have improved water usage over the years. Did you know:

  • Since 1944, every gallon of milk requires 65% less water
  • Since 1959, a pound of pork requires 41% less water
  • Since 1987, every bushel of soybeans uses 20% less water
  • Since 1977, each pound of beef requires 14% less water
  • Almost 24,000 additional tons of soil are staying put on the land and out of Iowa’s rivers, streams and lakes thanks to farming conservation practices — put that amount of soil in dump trucks and it would make a line nearly 8 miles long!

Fun Food & Farming Fact #8

About 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with water, and most of that is the ocean. Only a small portion is freshwater, which is found in rivers, lakes, and streams. We depend on rain to feed those bodies of water and nourish our lawns and crops. Iowa’s farmers have cut water usage over the years, so here are some simple things the rest of us can do!

  • For cold drinks, keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap
  • When washing dishes or brushing teeth, don’t let the water run
  • Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full; this can save up to 1,000 gallons a month
  • Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save up to 150 gallons per month

Fun Food & Farming Fact #9

Iowa’s egg farmers lead the nation in egg production, caring for approximately 60 million laying hens producing nearly 15 billion eggs per year. Eggs are nutrient dense but need to be handled and cooked correctly. Keep eggs freshest in the coldest part of the refrigerator (and that’s not in the door!) and cook until the whites are set and the yolks begin to thicken and are no longer runny. Did you know:

  • Eggs have the same nutritional content no matter the color of the shell
  • Egg protein is very high quality; second only to mother’s milk for human nutrition
  • A chef’s hat is said to have a pleat for each of the many ways you can cook eggs
  • Most eggs are laid between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 a.m.

For more fun egg facts, visit the Incredible Edible Egg website.

Fun Food & Farming Fact #10

Soybeans are used for many things including feed for animals and as ingredients in many industrial items such as adhesives, inks, paint and more. It may surprise you to know that there are hundreds of soy foods in the form of whole soybeans, soybean oil and soybean protein products. The protein found in soy is the only protein equivalent to meat protein! Here are some foods available made from soy:

  • Baby food
  • Noodles
  • Cereals
  • Flour
  • Coffee creamer
  • Soynut butter (like peanut butter)
  • Tofu
  • Soy milk, yogurt and cheese
  • Margarine and oil
  • Mayonnaise and salad dressing
  • Much, much more!

Find out how to make soy salad dressing at home!