Photos by Gary Fandel.
May is Beef Month in Iowa, and we’re sharing our top five ways to celebrate like a real cowboy or cowgirl. After all, Iowa’s beef industry contributes more than $5.1 billion to the state economy and creates nearly 40,000 direct and indirectly related jobs. So pass the steak sauce and dig into these fun May Beef Month ideas:
1. Enjoy Iowa’s Best Burger. The Coon Bowl III, a bowling alley in Coon Rapids, was named the 2012 winner of Iowa’s Best Burger Contest by the Iowa Beef Industry Council. The Coon Bowl III uses an 80/20 blend of ground chuck, one of the most popular blends for tasty burgers. Customers can ask for any extras, whether that’s “running the burger through a garden” by requesting lettuce and tomato or adding cheese, bacon or mushrooms as toppings.
2. Join Team Beef. Do you plan to run a 5K, half-marathon or marathon event, or bike the RAGBRAI route this summer? Then become a member of Team Beef, a group of Iowa athletes who promote the benefits of consuming lean, nutrient-rich beef in boosting their performance. Team Beef members participate in popular events, such as the Dam to Dam race in Des Moines. They also receive a free Team Beef T-shirt to wear on race day. To sign up, visit http://www.iabeef.org/teambeef.aspx.
3. Try a new beef dish. Break out of the suppertime rut with creative, easy beef recipes. A few new favorites:
– Steakhouse pizza, http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/09/steakhouse-pizza/
– Steak carne asada tacos, http://picky-palate.com/2011/05/02/restaurant-style-carne-asada-soft-tacos-with-guacamole-and-corn/
– French onion soup sliders, http://iowagirleats.com/2012/05/02/stuffed-french-onion-soup-sliders/
4. Know your cuts of beef. One of best ways to save money on groceries is to take advantage of sales at the meat counter. Learn more about the different beef cuts and how to cook them with the Interactive Beef Case (http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/meatcase.aspx).
5. Get educated. Ever wonder about the difference between corn-fed and grass-fed beef. What about beef safety? Here’s where to find answers from the experts:
– Grass-fed vs. corn-fed, http://www.bestfoodfacts.org/main/food_for_thought/0/30
– Cow-chow, an interactive game exploring what cows eat, http://www.explorebeef.org/cowchow.aspx
– Safe handling tips for cooking beef, http://www.iabeef.org/SafeHandling.aspx
Written by Teresa Bjork
Teresa is a features Writer for the Iowa Farm Bureau.
Before the ride, my only experience with RAGBRAI was reading about it in the paper. But as a life-long Iowan, I figured I might as well see what all the hoopla was about.
And boy, am I glad I did! In just the 15 miles I rode along the RAGBRAI route, I saw the best of rural Iowa and agriculture on display.
I seriously was overwhelmed by the hospitality of the farmers along the way. I stopped at one scenic farm that offered free use of the restroom in the barn, a welcome alternative to the dreaded porta-potty lines.
A couple days earlier, I was invited to visit the Farmers Feed Us stop along the RAGBRAI route north of Kimballtown. Audubon County Farm Bureau member Greg Hansen opened up his farm to the more than 10,000 cyclists riding RAGBRAI this year.
Located on the top of a steep hill, his farm became a popular stop along the RAGBRAI route. Cyclists sought shade under the grain bins, and a few walked over to the feedlot to see the Hereford cattle.
Audubon and Shelby County Farm Bureau members greeted the RAGBRAI riders with free beef samples from the Iowa Beef Industry Council. They also handed out free ag-themed bike spoke cards designed by Iowa illustrator Brian Duffy.
Farmers from across the state joined together in the Farmers Feed Us effort, which aimed to educate RAGBRAI riders about Iowa agriculture and show farmers’ commitment to providing safe, nutritious and affordable food.
“It’s important to make sure consumers know what we do as farmers…,” said Cass County Farm Bureau member and livestock farmer Stacie Euken. “RAGBRAI is such a diverse crowd, and with so many different backgrounds, we can reach a lot of people at one time.”
Sue Creager, a RAGBRAI rider from Michigan, said she appreciated the chance to shake hands with a farmer. “It’s good to put a face behind (your food), because all consumers see is a package in the store,” Creager said.
Once again, Iowa farmers made a positive, lasting impression on the RAGBRAI riders. And after enjoying all hospitality and food (pork chops-on-a-stick!), I can’t wait to ride RAGBRAI again.