One of the best aspects of farming is taking both full responsibility and full pride in whatever happens in my fields.

Illinois Farm Families Blog

Jul 12 2016

Deja Vu

Well, well, well...I'm back.

I have been dealing with some growing and learning pains with my blog.

I thought my story had been told enough.

I figured you had heard enough about food and farming and my family.

I figured all of you and the greater population had formed educated opinions, even though they may differ from mine, and that I could almost close up this shop.

And then, improper labeling strikes again.

In a very honest way. In a very loving and caring manner. In a very incorrect label.

Beef that is hormone free.

Can I talk to you about hormones?

No, men, you don't have to bow out. I'm talking about hormones in food. They are naturally occurring. Just as the mood shifts in this house when a hormonal surge happens (remember there are FIVE girls and ONE mama here? That's six potential walking balls of estrogen. Pray for Joe in about 5-15 years, or 50...either way.), food and animals and humans have these magical chemicals, yes CHEMICALS (natural chemicals, but that's the word used, so again, all you natural friends, deep breaths and keep reading) in them.

Naturally occurring.

No additions.

There have been additional hormones in things, foods, plants, etc., I'm sure. But today, I'm just talking about God-given hormones.

These are things we need not fear. God made them. God gave them to us.

Here's a handy graphic for your viewing pleasure:


Soy flour, beans, peanuts, cabbage: those foods cannot help that they have TONS of naturally occurring hormones.
Cattle, same deal.

Beef will have hormones in it because in order to reproduce, a living thing (aka, a mama cow) must have a balance of hormones.

Science, friends!

While I don't think you should shoot up a bunch of hormones, I do believe that you should not freak out about naturally occurring hormones in your food.

This is something I thought I had made a mark on as far as discussing. This is something that as an advocate, writer, what-have-you, I thought we had made some headway on many folks.

No?

Dang it.

Here's the deal: I believe in science. You do too, even if you're crunching an organic apple or using homemade laundry detergent.

Newsflash: you're reading this on the Internet.

Science again, friends!

But I also believe in our food production, especially if you're checking your sources (meaning, labels and where it's grown, produced, etc.). Be educated, but recognize who your teacher is and what they are looking out for. There are very good people in this world, and then there are ones who are experts in just yelling louder and marketing better than little ol' me who likes to write cute stories about my kids and cows sometimes.

Please believe your growers. Please trust your people who know their animals. Lest I remind you the percentage of family owned farms in our state. It's 97%. As in an A, nearly 100...LOTS OF THEM.

Please question labels, even if they claim to promote health. There are misnomers on both sides, and from the production ag side, I promise you, I will rarely keep quiet. You'll know when something is wrong. I'm the queen of correcting things...righting wrongs...takin' care of business!

So, welcome back to my blog, friends. Does it seem oddly familiar to you as well?


Originally posted on Confessions of a Farm Wife.

Related posts:

Emily Webel
Emily and her husband, Joe, live on a farm with their six children in Farmington, Illinois. Together with Emily's family, they raise crops and cattle and aim to be good stewards of the land. Read more from Emily on her blog, Confessions of a Farm Wife.

Jul 08 2016

Farmers Of Illinois: Katie Pratt

“Our livelihoods, our farms, our businesses are directly linked to the health of our natural resources – on our farm that refers to soil and water. But all the tractor technology in the world won’t save soil or conserve water. So we combine this with no-till and minimum till, cover crops and our new efforts to track soil moisture. All these things come together to give us the best opportunity to improve upon yesterday. No single thing creates success on a farm. Everything is most certainly hitched together.”


Get to know more local farmers in our #FarmersOfIllinois series on Instagram.

Related posts:

Dixon, IL

Katie and her husband, Andy, are seventh generation farmers. Together they raise two adorable farm kids and grow corn, soybeans and seed corn in Illinois. Katie's family still raises pigs, cattle, goats and horses only a few minutes away. Katie was named one of the 2013 Faces of Farming and Ranching by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA). Read more from Katie on her blog, Rural Route 2.

Jul 07 2016

Food Safety Starts on the Farm

How safe is the food you eat?

Actually, don’t answer that. Too broad of a question. Instead, rank these food categories in terms of perceived safety:
  • Dairy
  • Fresh Produce
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fish
  • Pork
  • Poultry
  • Beef

Kind of tough, isn’t it? Bringing safe food to the plates of Americans — and people across the globe for that matter — requires an “all hands on deck” approach. Farmers, food manufacturers, food transporters, grocers, restaurants, and consumers are all part of the process to deliver safe food to tables across the U.S.

Pig farmers are committed to produce the safest, healthiest food possible. We go above and beyond every day to ensure the pork that leaves our farms is the very best, down to the last chop.

How do we do this?

  1. We use management practices consistent with producing safe food. This starts with me and the standards and protocols I implement for my team. There are 25 proud, hard-working employees here at Borgic Farms, and not one of them can succeed if I don’t give them the proper training and resources needed to perform their job correctly. I require all farm employees complete the Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA Plus®) program. This is a comprehensive food safety and animal well-being program that gives employees the proper resources and knowledge to improve farm practices.
  2. We manage the health of the herd to produce safe food. Diseases can find their way onto any farm in many ways — through contact with people or other animals, airborne germs and so on. Biosecurity measures are a key line of defense on pig farms. This can include limiting the number of visitors who enter the facility (and supplying outer clothing to those who do) and requiring employees to shower before entering the animal areas (which is how we do things on Borgic Farms). Shower in, shower out!
  3. We manage technology to produce safe food. When people ask me why we raise our pigs indoors at Borgic Farms, the answer is simple — for animal health and food safety. Housing pigs indoors keeps out predators, parasites, vermin and also reduces the chance of feed and water becoming contaminated.
Basically, everything we do at Borgic Farms is designed to ensure the health and safety of our animals so we can bring safe, nutritious and delicious pork to your plate. There are many variables in the food business. Some we can control, others we cannot. But you can bet your bottom dollar that real pig farmers are doing their part and doing it right.
Pig Farmer from Nokomis, IL
Jul 06 2016

What's Cooking Wednesday: Double Smoky Ribs with Bacon-Bourbon BBQ Sauce

These ribs have a deeply smoked, old-fashioned flavor that goes perfectly with cookout classics like coleslaw, baked beans and corn bread. We'd like to send a shout-out to local Illinois pig farmers like Chris Gould and Jen Sturtevant for bringing us the safe and nutritious pork featured in this recipe!

From our families to yours, enjoy the food on your table.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 POUNDS BONELESS COUNTRY-STYLE PORK RIBS, (8 RIBS), OR PORK BACK RIBS
  • 2 TABLESPOONS SMOKED PAPRIKA
  • 1 TABLESPOON SUGAR
  • 1 TEASPOON ONION POWDER
  • 1 TEASPOON GARLIC POWDER
  • 2 TEASPOON KOSHER SALT
  • 1 TEASPOON BLACK PEPPER
  • 1/4 TEASPOON CAYENNE
  • 2 LARGE HANDFULS APPLE OR HICKORY WOOD CHIPS, SOAKED FOR 1-2 HOURS
Bacon-Bourbon BBQ Sauce
  • 1 TABLESPOON VEGETABLE OIL
  • 2 SLICES BACON, CUT INTO 1-INCH PIECES
  • 1 MEDIUM YELLOW ONION, CHOPPED
  • 2 CLOVES GARLIC, MINCED
  • 1 12-OZ BOTTLE CHILI SAUCE, (1 CUP)
  • 1/2 CUP PEACH PRESERVES
  • 1/3 CUP BOURBON, *
  • 1/3 CUP CIDER VINEGAR
  • 2 TABLESPOONS SPICY BROWN MUSTARD
  • 2 TABLESPOONS WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE
  • 2 TABLESPOONS MOLASSES, (NOT BLACKSTRAP)
  • 1/2 TEASPOON HOT PEPPER SAUCE

INSTRUCTIONS

BBQ Sauce

  1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels, leaving fat in saucepan. Let bacon cool. 
  2. Add onion to saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in chili sauce, peach preserves, bourbon, vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and molasses. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring often, until reduced by about one quarter, 20 to 25 minutes. Finely chop cooled bacon and stir into sauce; add hot pepper sauce. Let cool. Makes about 2 1/2 cups sauce. Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. 
Ribs 
  1. Mix paprika, sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper together in small bowl.Season ribs with paprika mixture.Let ribs stand at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes. 
  2. Prepare an outdoor grill for indirect cooking with medium heat, about 350 degrees F. 
  3. For a gas grill: Use a smoker box or create one using small, shallow aluminum foil pan. Remove cooking grates. Preheat grill on high. Turn one burner off. Place disposable aluminum foil pan over a burner, adding 1 handful of drained chips. Replace grates. 
  4. For a charcoal grill: Place large disposable aluminum foil pan on one side of charcoal grate and fill with 1 quart water. Build fire on opposite side, and let burn until coals are coated with white ash. Spread coals in grill opposite pan and let burn 15-20 minutes (you should be able to hold your hand about 1 inch above the grate for about 3 seconds). Add 1 handful of drained chips to coals. Position cooking grate in grill. 
  5. Lightly oil grill grate. Grill ribs with indirect heat, with the lid closed, for 30 minutes. Add remaining drained chips to box or coals. Grill, with lid closed, turning occasionally, until tender, about 1 hour more. (On a charcoal grill, add more charcoal as needed to maintain temperature, leaving grill lid open for a few minutes to help charcoal ignite.) During the last 15 minutes, brush ribs with some of the sauce, turning every few minutes to glaze. Transfer to platter, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve hot with remaining sauce, if desired. 
Related posts:

Recipe courtesy of:

Jul 01 2016

You won't find a horse and plow on my farm - here's why

Justin Durdan’s Illinois farm is a smart farm. Today, he’s using high-tech tools his great-great-grandfather couldn’t have imagined. Justin, a fifth-generation farmer, grows GMO corn and Non-GMO soybeans with his dad near Lostant, about 100 miles southwest of Chicago. 

Great-great-grandpa’s mind would be blown if he saw my farm today 

Farming has changed a lot since my great-great-grandfather started farming this land more than 100 years ago. Equipment is bigger and smarter. Data-rich information is right at our fingertips, allowing us to understand our fields better than ever. 


But even though the way we farm looks very different today, our goal has always been the same: take care of the land today so it can be enjoyed tomorrow. In short, sustainable. 
 
There’s a lot of talk around the word sustainability today – sustainably farmed, sustainably sourced, sustainably raised. Sustainability is a word that’s hard to define, probably because everyone has their own definition and ways of being more sustainable. As a fifth-generation Illinois farmer, my definition of sustainability is simple: Responsibly grow a successful crop today while protecting the land, water and air for future generations. 

In a lot of ways, technology helps me put this definition into action.

Then vs. now: smart seeds

Circa 1916, farmers had few choices when it came to what they could plant. Seeds came from the previous year’s crops and many wouldn’t even make it out of the ground because they weren’t viable. Add in weeds and pests that try to overtake the plant, and you can see how it was a battle to end up with a crop to harvest. 

In comparison, today we have lots of choices. Multiple seed companies develop seeds with specific traits that will grow best in my central Illinois fields. I can choose who I buy seed from and what kinds of seeds will work best on our farm. For example, if a field has soil that doesn’t retain water as well, I can purchase seed that can tolerate drought. 

Then vs. now: same great topsoil

Now here’s one thing that hasn’t changed, Illinois has some of the best soil in the world. But our rich topsoil is a finite resource that’s vulnerable to erosion, which is why I try to limit as much as possible how much time I spend in my fields. 

Fortunately, today’s tractors have gotten smarter in the field. Similar to cars, modern tractors are held to EPA clean air standards and are more fuel efficient than farm equipment in the past. This results in decreased fuel costs and air emissions. We also use GPS to reduce the times we drive over the same spot in the fields.

Then vs. now: precision

Great-great-grandpa’s most used resource was labor – manual labor that tilled the fields with a horse and plow. Today, my greatest resource is technology and the ability to be precise with everything I do, from planting to the nearest inch to applying only the smallest amounts of chemicals needed. 

Speaking of chemicals, to ensure my crops get off to a healthy start and keep growing through harvest, I need to use fertilizers and pesticides. However, I only use these sparingly, according to government regulations and after being certified to properly apply chemicals. There are two reasons why:
  • I live, eat and drink near my fields, so I want to protect the environment and keep it safe for my family and me – especially the water. 
  • It doesn’t benefit me economically to use more of a chemical or fertilizer than what’s needed because that’s money unnecessarily spent. 
For example, to get my fields ready for planting this spring, we used only three ounces of fertilizer, about three shot glasses full, on an acre – a piece of land about the size of a football field. 

For the remainder of the planting season, here’s where variable rate technology (VRT) comes in. VRT allows me to target the exact areas in my field that may need more fertilizer or that may be susceptible to weeds or insects later in the growing season. It’s precision farming.

As the name says, this is a technology that enables me to vary the rate of application. For instance, if I’m applying a herbicide and I know there are specific areas in my field that aren’t battling the weed I’m spraying for, I can use this technology to reduce or even shut off spraying in those areas. Years ago, dad or granddad would have had to spray the whole field, using more chemicals overall. 

Then vs. now: space-age mapping

Back in the day, farmers would walk the fields and spot check by sight how the crops looked to have an idea what harvest would bring. Again, GPS helps us today. This time it’s to create yield maps – GPS images of the field and the yields that are harvested from each field. Instead of walking the fields, I’m at my computer or tablet analyzing the data that’s collected. I combine this data with the information I get from monitoring soil nutrients to see what worked best and where we can make improvements. 

Then and now: always striving to be better 

Some might say I’m a data-geek, but all this data collection and analysis makes me a better farmer – I can reduce inputs and lower costs. Plus, going into the next growing season with a data-driven game plan helps me minimize my impact on fields and the environment

I’m not sure what great-great-granddad would make of all this technology, but in the end our motivations are the same – a love of this life we call farming and the satisfaction of seeing a crop grow from planting to harvest for a job well done.


Justin Durdan
Illinois Crop Farmer
Jun 29 2016

What's Cooking Wednesday: Hot and Sweet Grilled Cheese

Spice up a classic grilled cheese with peach jalapeño jam. June is National Dairy Month, so we are celebrating with recipes featuring products from our local dairy farmers! Dale and Linda Drendel raise dairy cows with their son, Jeff, on their farm in Hampshire, Ill. Jesse and Mary Faber help Mary's family raise dairy cows on their farm in Pontiac, Ill.

From our families to yours, enjoy the food on your table!

INGREDIENTS


For peach jalapeño jam:
  • 3 tablespoons peach preserves
  • ½ fresh jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped (about 2 teaspoons)
For sandwiches:
  • 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • 4 slices 12-grain bread
  • 2 slices white Cheddar cheese
  • 2 slices Pepper Jack cheese
  • 2 slices smoked Gouda cheese
  • ½ small avocado, thinly sliced

INSTRUCTIONS


  1. For peach jalapeño jam, combine peach preserves and jalapeño in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir mixture constantly until the preserves are melted. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. For sandwiches, preheat a large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Butter one side each of 2 slices of bread. Turn buttered slices over, buttered side down, and spread jam over the second side of each bread slice. On top of jam side of each bread slice, layer 1 slice of white Cheddar cheese, 1 slice of Pepper Jack cheese, half the slices of avocado and 1 slice of smoked Gouda cheese. Spread jam on the 2 remaining slices of bread and place jam side onto the cheese. Spread remainder of butter on bread on top of sandwiches.
  3. Place sandwiches buttered side down in preheated pan. Partially cover with a lid, allowing steam to escape, and cook for 1½ to 2 minutes or until bread is toasted and browned. Flip sandwiches over with a spatula. Partially cover with a lid and cook for an additional 1 ½ to 2 minutes, watching carefully for the bread to brown and the cheese to melt. Remove lid and check for doneness. Remove sandwiches from heat and cut in half. Serve warm.

Related posts:

Recipe courtesy of:

Jun 28 2016

Down and Back

We woke up Wednesday morning to rain. Blessed rain!

But it was 4:30 a.m. and it took me a few minutes to figure out it was also windy and stormy and thundering. Like, really windy. We got up and battened everything down and I basically prayed for the next half hour: “Please don’t blow the corn down.”

By 5:30, it was light but we had no power. We made some executive decisions (command decisions!), since we were both supposed to be in Springfield to help at the Red Angus junior nationals in a couple hours. John would stay home and figure out power (and water and livestock and crops) and I would go on to Springfield. (Plus, I had an interview with the new Illinois State Fair manager…stay tuned for that next week.)

Power was back on by 8:30 and John texted me later: “Went to look at corn. Threw up.”

What he found was corn down everywhere. Badly and thoroughly and consistently, in nearly every corn field we planted.

Prior to this storm, we were, as a friend described, “on the dry side of perfect.” For sure, it had been a great spring. Certainly, we were dry – I was in Kansas last week and it was greener there than here - but corn had only recently begun to suffer and roll in the heat. Overall, it was a good looking crop but as of Wednesday, it was mostly laying on the ground. So bummed.

Then Thursday morning? It was back up. Almost all of it. Redemption! Relief!

It may still be a little tangled at harvest. And for sure, we’re fortunate this happened now, instead of a couple weeks from now when everything will be tassling.

But we’ll take a little redemption after 24 hours of gloom.

And we know it could’ve been worse. While corn from here to three counties north and west was blown down, farms near Pontiac and Seneca lost homes, barns and buildings Wednesday night. Many prayers for those folks as they clean up and rebuild, and many praises that no one was killed or injured. That’s been the theme this spring as tornadoes have popped up across Illinois: damage, but no loss of life. We’ll take that, every day. Corn, barns, houses? They can all be replaced. People, not so much.

Related posts:

Originally posted on My Generation: Prairie Farmer.

Marietta, IL

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise their three children. On their farm, they grow crops and raise cattle with John's parents. Holly is also an associate editor for Prairie Farmer magazine, a publication dedicated to sharing information about farm life and farm business.

Jun 27 2016

Surprised By How My Local Farmers Treat The Environment

A week after my first IL farm tour day my mind is still reeling with everything I learned! I wanted to be a field mom so I could get out and see my food at its source. Assuming I knew at least the basics of how corn was grown, I was most interested to see the cattle and dairy cows being raised by the Martz and Drendel families. My biggest concerns were regarding their daily routine, level of care and learning about hormones and antibiotics used and how they may impact my family.  I definitely learned a lot about the animals, but learned so much more about topics I didn’t even consider. Overall it was a great day to learn and experience a day on a farm—combine and grain cart rides included!


Like many other field moms, I was quite surprised when we arrived at the Larson Farms. We were expecting a farm house and instead got a modern house that functions as an office for a very substantial farming operation.  Within the first few minutes I was struck by how the Martz family uses technology in their farming operation. Mike described using ultrasound to determine the fat/muscle ratio for the cattle.  Lynn later described how they use GPS on the farm machinery to determine how much nitrogen or phosphorous is in the soil, the amount that needs to be added, how much seed to plant where and the yield of each section of field. In both instances the use of assistive technology allows them to be restrained in the use of their resources to keep costs down and reduce their environmental impact.

I was surprised to hear about the environment repeatedly on our farm day. The Mississipi River, run-off, and strategies for nurturing their land were all mentioned multiple times. It was apparent that each family farm valued the land they had, but were also aware that their actions affect others down the road or downstream.  Both families referred to the growing world population and what they personally were doing to try to meet that demand (much of the grain and soybeans in IL and specifically at Larson Farms already goes to China).

Overall it was an amazing, busy day that taught me a ton about the planning and processes that go into making some of my families favorite foods. There is no way to capture all of the day’s events and discussions adequately. I am thankful for family farms like these when we sit down for steaks on the grill and ice cream for dessert!

Related posts:
Fascinated with Fertilizer
Science: The Farmer's AND Consumer's Friend

Amy Hansmann
River Forrest, IL

Amy is one of the Illinois Farm Families 2012 City Moms. Throughout the year she visited Illinois farms to learn more about where food comes from. Following each visit, the City Moms share their thoughts by blogging about what they experience on these farms. Want to learn more? Read Our Story: Chicago Moms Meet Farmers.

Jun 23 2016

Not So Sure About GMOs: An open conversation with Monsanto

GMOs and biotechnology are among the most asked about topics on watchusgrow.org. Recently, a group of IFF City Moms, who have toured Illinois farms and wanted to ask additional questions about Monsanto, were given the opportunity to visit their Biotechnology Research Center. The tour was provided by Illinois Farm Families.

When Illinois Farm Families reached out to the City Moms to offer us a tour of Monsanto’s facilities, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew that it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. There is quite the social media buzz around Monsanto, and I couldn’t wait to check it out for myself. Before I knew it, I was off the plane in St. Louis and heading towards Monsanto’s compound.

Once we were there, things got interesting. The Monsanto employees were more than open to conversations addressing any questions and concerns that we had. And trust me, we had plenty. Honestly, it was a bit of information overload. It really would be next to impossible to sum it all up in a concise blog post. Instead of attempting (and likely failing) to share everything that I learned during our day at Monsanto, I’m going to focus in on an area that I know many people have concerns about: genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Standard molecular breeding involves only DNA from the plant you are trying to change, while genetic modification involves taking DNA from other organisms and using an agrobacterium method to incorporate that into the plant you are trying to change. As a Janice Person, the online engagement director at Monsanto, told us, with GMOs, “we find something in nature that would be awesome to have in this plant, and we find a way to make it happen”. For example, one of the philanthropies that Monsanto is involved with in Sub-Saharan Africa, Water Efficient Maize for Africa, or WEMA, used GMO technology to develop a drought-resistant corn. They took plants that had collapsible roots in times of drought and used their genetics in corn. This way, even in such harsh conditions, the plants are still open to the idea that water is coming, and while they might not be actively growing during these periods, they do not die off like corn typically would in such circumstances. Monsanto is also working on using GMOs to develop a soybean that would produce healthy omega 3s, which would benefit vegans or other people with limited meat and seafood intake.

Monsanto’s facility houses the largest concentration of plant science in the world. Seeing it in person was a bit surreal. We’d walk down hallways made of industrial-looking concrete, open a door, and step into a corn field, or messes of green soy plants. Different rooms are controlled to reproduce the environmental conditions of specific regions. From a hallway in a building in Missouri to a room full of soy growing in the oppressively humid conditions of the Mississippi Delta. The industry is required to do specific studies in order to receive approval for each product that they want to introduce into the market. Monsanto spends years and millions of dollars to get a product through the approval process. Among other things, they are required to prove that there is no significant nutritional difference between the GMOs and conventional produce. Monsanto has faith in the science behind both their product development and the testing for the regulatory process, and they are trusting that science to ensure that they distribute safe, nutritious products.

Monsanto believes that they have the science on their side to prove that GMOs are not a safety issue, but some feel that using GMOs is more of a moral issue. The great thing is that we, as consumers, have options. If you still feel uncomfortable with GMOs, it’s not difficult to avoid them. Right now, there are 8 GMO crops in the market: corn, soybeans, cotton, alfalfa, sugar beets, canola, papaya, and squash. If you see any of those key crops listed on the nutritional label, there is a chance that that product contains GMOs. GMO apples and potatoes were recently approved to be sold commercially, but they are not yet on the market. If you don’t want to consume GMOs at all, buying products labeled “certified organic” is a great option.

If GMOs are an area of concern for you, my suggestion would be to do the research so that you can make an educated decision of your own. In visiting Monsanto, I found that they were very open to discussion, regardless of how many skeptical questions we threw their way. They admit that the biotech industry hasn’t done a great job of communicating about GMOs, and they are trying to change that through open conversation. You can find more information through several on-line sources, including GMOAnswers.com, or you can contact Monsanto directly through their social media profiles like Facebook and Twitter. While I’m still figuring out my own comfort levels regarding GMOs, I appreciate Monsanto letting us come in, see what they are doing, and have an open discussion with them about our concerns.  It was an experience that I’m glad I didn’t pass up.



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Bollingbrook, IL

Ellen is one of the Illinois Farm Families 2015 City Moms. Throughout the year she visits Illinois farms to learn more about where food comes from. Following each visit, the City Moms share their thoughts by blogging about what they experience on these farms. Want to learn more? Read Our Story: Chicago Moms Meet Farmers.

Jun 22 2016

What's Cooking Wednesday: Beef Burrito with Pepper Jack Cheese and Black Beans

Spice up this classic beef burrito by adding warm pepper jack cheese and black beans. June is National Dairy Month, so we are celebrating with recipes featuring products from our local dairy farmers! Dale and Linda Drendel raise dairy cows with their son, Jeff, on their farm in Hampshire, Ill. Jesse and Mary Faber help Mary's family raise dairy cows on their farm in Pontiac, Ill.

From our families to yours, enjoy the food on your table!

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ pound ground beef sirloin
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup chunky salsa, divided
  • 2 cups cooked brown or white rice
  • 6 (9-inch) whole wheat flour tortillas
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (11-ounce) can corn kernels, drained
  • 2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese
  • sliced green onion, including green tops

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In medium non-stick skillet, brown ground beef and garlic over medium heat; (break beef mixture up into smaller chunks with a spoon). Drain fat and stir in ½ cup of the salsa; set aside.
  2. Spread ⅓ cup of rice on center of a tortilla, leaving a ½-inch border. Scatter about 2 tablespoons of beans and 1½ tablespoons of corn over rice. Spread ⅓ cup of the beef mixture and ¼ cup of the cheese over corn. Top with 2 teaspoons of the salsa and a few pieces of green onion. Fold in two opposite edges of tortilla one inch each and roll up. Place, seam side down, on microwave-safe dish.
  3. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Place burritos in a microwave oven and heat 1 minute or until heated through. Serve with remaining salsa.

Related posts:

Recipe courtesy of: