Fifteen Iowans passionate and curious about food production explored Iowa agriculture firsthand during the Iowa Food & Family Project’s (Iowa FFP) second Food U event Sept. 14.


The tour included visits to Center Grove Orchard in Cambridge, Dave Struthers’ pig farm near Collins and Brick Street Market in Bondurant.


Food U participants met experts in agriculture and food production – whether a horticulturist, lifelong farmer or butcher at a meat counter – and asked open and honest questions about how food is raised and reaches their plate.


“It’s a unique opportunity for those interested in food and wellness to go behind the headlines and web pages and see and experience agriculture first-hand,” said Kelly Visser, communications program coordinator at the Iowa Soybean Association and leads Iowa FFP. “We welcome the interest and encourage additional Iowans to participate in our activities.”


Food U is an exclusive program for Iowa Food & Family Project (Iowa FFP) Champions. Throughout the year, Iowa FFP Champions – individuals who want to take a proactive role in learning more about all things food and farming – are invited to participate in special weekday learning activities. Activities include business and farm tours and meeting with individuals and groups involved in agriculture.


Iowa FFP Champions are volunteer participants representing a variety of industries and occupations including healthcare, food banks, administrative services, engineering, communications and education.


Participants in the September Food U included: Lisa Howard, Cedar Rapids; Lynn Jones, Newton; Carol Kohles, Johnston; Julie Kohles, Johnston; Tracy Leith, Urbandale; Andrea Love, Pleasant Hill; Anita McVey, Boone and Karen Nall, West Des Moines.


Also, Ann Neville, Tipton; Nancy Schade, Walker; Emily Shearer, Des Moines; Ann Thelen, Johnston; Erin Tveter, Urbandale; Christy VanBuskirk, Hedrick; Dixie Walker, Cedar Rapids.


Julie Kohles, an Iowa FFP Champion from Johnston, said every Food U tour is a rich learning experience.


I especially enjoyed learning about pork production from Dave Struthers,” she said referencing the September tour. “Hearing how he spoke about his farm, family and pigs gave me such a positive impression about farmers in Iowa and the way they raise and care for their animals.” said. The Story County farmer recognizes the importance of farmers engaging with consumers.


“Consumers that want to know about how their food is raised need the opportunity to find out,” said Struthers who also grows soybeans and corn. “Farmers are the ones best able to explain what we do. I enjoy educating the public about what happens on my farm and why I do things the way I do.”


Insights from Food U event are shared with the more than 110,000 consumers who subscribe to Iowa FFP’s newsletter and social media channels.


Launched in 2011, the Iowa FFP is supported by more than 35 partners including: Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Beef Industry Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Egg Council, Iowa Turkey Federation, Midwest Dairy Association, Iowa State Fair, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, United Soybean Board, AE Dairy, Casey’s General Store, Pioneer, Farm Credit Services of America, Heart of America Group (including Machine Shed Restaurant), Hy-Vee, Inc., Jethro’s BBQ, Key Cooperative, Live Healthy Iowa, Mercy Medical Center – Des Moines and Earl May Nursery & Garden Center.


For more information about Food U and a complete list of partners, timely features, farm and food news and opportunities to get involved, visit www.iowafoodandfamily.com.