Farmers grow some great pizza

Agriculture awareness begins with an appreciation of the food you eat, in the case of school kids from Ivanhoe, Hendricks and Lake Benton – pizza.

Elementary school children gathered in the Lake Benton School gymnasium on Monday to see presentations of how the meat, cheese, tomato sauce and pasta come from the farm to their table.

“The ‘Farmers grow great pizza’ event is to provide students in the county with an opportunity to learn about agriculture and its involvement in our lives,” said Lake Benton School Principal Ryan Nielsen.

Also included were presentations on the uses of corn and soy, the two biggest crops in the region.

In one corner of the gym, kids gathered around a tub of corn and were invited by Amanda Revier from the Minnesota Farm Bureau to dig through it to find some unexpected corn products.

Buried in the seed were ink cartridges, Styrofoam packing popcorn, clothing samples and paper plates, all non-food corn products.

It’s not just corn that has non-food uses. Jesse and Michelle Weber farm and raise cattle a few miles north of Lake Benton and showed the students how about half of a cow carcass is used for products that aren’t meat, including candles, chewing gum and detergents.

Local farmer Brian Fruechte showed students how to tag a lamb, while his wife Kim helped students make a soybean necklace.

“They put a soybean with a wet cotton ball in this plastic bag,” Kim Fruechte said. “They wear it around their neck to keep it warm, and they should be able to see it double and sprout in size in a few days.”

In another corner, Katie Elvehjem from Hubbard Feeds Inc. introduced students to a Holstein-Jersey mixed-breed calf.

“I’m just talking about dairy products and dairy farms,” Elvehjem said. “With beef herds, people cross breed a lot. With dairy farms people like to stick with one breed. Most in the U.S. are Holsteins.”

And of course, kids can’t learn about pizza without getting hungry.

Kate Johnson, 4-H coordinator, and Community Nutrition Educator Jeanna Possail manned a table laden with pasta, tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni.

“We’re feeding kids a mini-pizza and telling them about each layer of the pizza, the wheat, tomatoes, protein toppings the farmers grew and cheese from dairy,” Possail said. “How it all fits on the plate.”