WHY WOULD ANOTHER COUNTRY WANT U.S. MEAT?

Why would another country want U.S. meat?  Well, it turns out that in many countries, the U.S. is well respected as providing high quality protein.  Some countries, like Mexico, don’t grow enough hogs to provide all the pork their citizens want, so they buy from the U.S. because it’s close, easy, and cheap because of our free trade agreement.

Other countries appreciate our food safety standards.  Or maybe governmental officials from the country have visited our farmers and they like what they see.  The reasons are endless.

U.S. poultry buyers guide

But when another country is interested in buying U.S. poultry or eggs, they might refer to a buyer’s guide, like this one provided by the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council.

The guide helps international customers understand the frozen, uncooked chicken cuts that are available, as well as the processed and specialized products for sale.

Maybe more importantly, the guide also helps the customers understand the safety standards U.S. poultry is subjected to before its allowed to be sold.

“All U.S. chicken meat which is offered for export must be inspected and approved by the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The 90-year-old agency is regarded as a
model for food inspection services worldwide. A USDA inspection stamp indicates that a chicken product was properly processed, has been inspected and is safe to eat. There are three integral layers in FSIS food safety  assurance: manual inspection, HACCP and pathogen reduction.”

Did you realize you live in a country that provides one of the safest food options available worldwide?

SERVE CREAMY CONFETTI CORN FOR THANKSGIVING

Who can’t wait for Thanksgiving and all the food, family and friends you’ll get to enjoy?  Me either!  I’m dreaming of an amazing Thanksgiving feast – and this recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe sounds like the perfect side dish.  I really love the idea of totally amping up the creamed corn!

Today’s Fact:  Corn on the cob was unlikely to have been on the menu for the very first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims and Native Americans, since Indian corn was primarily kept dried by that time of year and used for grinding up into meal.

Today’s Recipe: CREAMY CONFETTI CORN

Photo by Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

What You’ll Need:

  • 8 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 12-ounce packages frozen corn kernels, white or yellow
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion, white, yellow or red
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, light or regular, cubed
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 green onions, green parts finely chopped (white parts discarded)

What You Do:

In a large nonstick skillet, cook the chopped bacon until golden and crisp. Scoop the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate and discard all the bacon grease except for a thin coating on the pan, maybe a teaspoon or so.

Add the corn, onion, and red pepper, and cook over medium heat, stirring every so often, until the vegetables are tender and the corn is heated through, 6-8 minutes. Add the cream cheese and milk, stirring until the cream cheese melts and the mixture is evenly combined.

Stir in the sugar, salt and pepper. Add more salt to taste if needed. Stir in the green onions.

Serve warm topped with the reserved bacon.

This dish can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. Scoop the creamy corn mixture into an oven-safe dish, sprinkle with the bacon and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator. When ready to eat, heat the corn dish in a 325 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until heated through.

SERVE SOUTHWEST CORNBREAD STUFFING FOR THANKSGIVING!

Who can’t wait for Thanksgiving and all the food, family and friends you’ll get to enjoy?  Me either!  I’m dreaming of an amazing Thanksgiving feast – and this recipe from A Spicy Perspective will most certainly be a part of our celebration!

Today’s Fact:  Cornbread is older than our country! Native Americans were using ground maize (corn) as a dietary staple for thousands of years before European explorers arrived on the continent.

Today’s Recipe: SOUTHWEST CORNBREAD STUFFING

cornbread stuffing
photo by A Spicy Perspective

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1 packet Old El Paso “Roasted Tomato” Mexican Cooking Sauce
  • 4.5 ounce can chopped green chilis
  • 3.8 ounce can sliced black olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro + extra for garnish
  • 14 ounce bag dried cornbread stuffing
  • 2 cups shredded “mexican blend” cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper

What You Do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the butter, onion, garlic, celery and chopped bell peppers. Saute and stir for 3-5 minutes, until soft. Then turn off the heat and salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the Old El Paso Mexican Cooking Sauce into the skillet, followed by the green chiles, olives, cilantro, and dried stuffing. Stir to combine. Then toss in the shredded cheese, reserving a handful for the top.

Spray a 9 X 13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Then spoon the cornbread stuffing into the dish. Drizzle the stock over the top of the stuffing, covering the entire dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and a little more cilantro.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden and the cheese has melted. Serve warm.

GMO CROPS: ITS BIGGER THAN YOU

Of course, when you’re researching GMO crops you are most concerned with their safety for your family.  But maybe, their availability is bigger than you, bigger than your family, bigger than all of us.

GMO crops are grown around the world by approximately 18 million farmers, most of them in developing countries.  In total, more than 75 countries import, grow and/or research GMOs.  In 2016, 26 countries planted GMO crops.

GMO crops developing countriesGrowing GMO crops provides significant benefits to farmers around the world.  GMO crops increase their yield and lower their costs to farm.  This makes GMOs an important part of alleviating poverty for millions of poor farmers and farm families around the world (equaling approximately 65 million people total).

PG Economics estimates that farmers in developing countries received $3.45 for each dollar invested in genetically engineered crop seeds in 2015.

Use this guide to learn where GMOs are being grown and reviewed for approval around the world.

WORRIED ABOUT GMO FOODS?

Stop.

There are only 10 genetically modified crops available todayThey are alfalfa, apples, canola, corn (field and sweet), cotton, papaya, potatoes, soybeans, squash and sugar beets.

These crops have been genetically modified to express a positive characteristic that makes the crop easier to manage.  An example of these would be improved insect resistance.

Many of these crops are then used as processed ingredients, like sugar or cornstarch.  The sugar or cornstarch might then be included in food products at your local grocery store.  The only way to eat a GMO directly would be if your store includes varieties of papaya, potatoes, squash, sweet corn or apples in their produce aisle.

The list below identifies the genetic traits expressed and uses of the 10 GMO crops approved in the U.S.

GMOs in the U.S.

Although most of these GMO crops are edited for herbicide tolerance and/or insect resistance, this does not mean that the plant cells actually make herbicides or release chemicals.

Many of these crops produce a protein that is indigestible to insects.  When an insect feasts on the plant, it cannot digest the protein and it dies.  Humans CAN digest this protein, so the genetic mutation has zero impact to humans.

DO INGESTED PESTICIDES POSE CUMULATIVE RISKS?

Last week, we learned that you have to eat 10,072 bowls of Cheerios in one day for the potential glyphosate residue in the cereal to cause a negative impact according to the EPA.  Other states, other countries, and other associations have their own thresholds.

One reader started thinking about those thresholds and wondered, if I ate 10,072 bowls of Cheerios in my LIFETIME, would it cause the same impact?  How can I understand cumulative risks of eating a tiny fraction of risky pesticides each day?

Good question.

Studies have shown that if you do eat any chemical residue after washing your produce, your body does not metabolize it and instead, you excrete the residue in your urine or feces.  You are actually at more risk to eat less fruits and veggies than you are to ingest more chemical residue.

But you don’t have to take our word for it:

DID EWG’S ‘BREAKFAST WITH A DOSE OF ROUNDUP’ SCARE YOU?

Did you happen to hear in the news that a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to a man dying of cancer, which he says was caused by his repeated exposure to large quantities of Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers while working as a school groundskeeper?

Did you perhaps also hear the follow-up information from the Environmental Working Group that trace amounts of Roundup are found in most of 45 samples of products made with conventionally grown oats?

If yes to either of these questions, I’m certain that you’re feeling a bit frightened of your food and wondering what in the world is safe to eat now that all these details have been released.

Fear not!  I present you with: math.

This video is 100% worth watching.  Yes, it has a hefty time requirement, but if you are indeed worried about your food, you simply must take the time to watch it.

Still have questions?  We’d love to attempt to answer in the comments.  Fire away!

MEAT EXPORTS HELP FEED THE WORLD

One of the things that we work on constantly at IL Corn is how to export more commodities to other countries.  This obviously helps farmers because it creates more market opportunities for their products, but also helps other countries that don’t grow or produce enough food to feed all their citizens.

We really enjoy exporting pork, beef, and poultry.  It makes the most sense; sell the corn here in Illinois or at least in the U.S. to another farmer who adds value to the corn by growing beef or pork with it, and then sell that beef or pork to an overseas customer.  This philosophy helps U.S. farmers capture more of the economic opportunity here in the states while still helping to feed the world.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation is one organization that helps us do this.  They have representatives in other countries that understand the culture and food and nutrition demands of the citizens there, and then they help promote U.S. beef and pork in those countries using what they know.

They even work to build demand for the cuts of beef and pork that we don’t use so much of in the U.S. so that we waste less of the animal.  As an example, we love our bacon here in the U.S. so no reason to promote bacon overseas.  Do you know what we love less?  Tongue.  Do you know who likes tongue?  Japan.  It’s a win-win proposition!

Interested in learning more about how we export beef and pork into other countries?  Follow U.S. Meat Export Federation on Facebook!

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHITE MEAT AND DARK MEAT?

There are going to be endless options of poultry this fall — from turkey legs to chicken wings, with the “healthier” options of chicken salad and chicken breast sandwiches. But what’s really the difference between white meat and dark meat?

Really, it comes down to the muscle. Since turkeys and chickens do a whole lot more walking then flying, their legs contain higher levels of myoglobin (an essential protein that carries and stores oxygen in muscle cells) which makes the muscle darker, whereas their wing and breast meat stay white.

For years, folks have “flocked” to white meat assuming it was the healthier cut. However, one ounce of boneless, skinless turkey breast has 46 calories and 1 gram of fat versus 50 calories and 2 grams of fat for an ounce of boneless, skinless thigh. Dark meat actually claims higher levels of iron, zinc, riboflavin, thiamine and vitamins B6 and B12.

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