August 1, 2013 – Ankeny, Iowa – The Soyfoods Council hosted its annual Soyfoods Tour last week. A group of seven consumer-focused writers, including food bloggers and dieticians, participated in a fun-filled itinerary of Iowa soy experiences.
The tour began with a visit to a recently formed tofu plant located in Des Moines and ended the first afternoon at the Meredith Gardens Better Homes and Garden test kitchen. Guests enjoyed the opportunity to relax, partake in a delicious spread of soy recipes, listen to and chat with Better Homes and Gardens’ senior deputy editor, Nancy Hopkins, and tour the spectacular kitchen.
The second day of the tour began with a visit to Iowa State University (ISU) where guests took in an enlightening presentation of the health benefits of soyfoods from Dr. Mark Messina. From there, tour guests were taken to the ISU kitchen labs where they were divided into groups to make their own tofu using herbs, spices and even chocolate.
Lunch with ISU’s dining services director, Nancy Keller, in the immaculate dining hall followed tofu making and an insightful presentation of GMO and non-GMO issues from Dr. Ruth MacDonald wrapped up the visit to ISU.
However, guests were most excited to visit with Iowa soybean farmers, including AJ and Kellie Blair of Dayton. The Blair’s allowed the group to tour their farm, which includes soybean and corn fields, dairy cows and hogs, and even let guests ride in a tractor. They explained the farming process and discussed the issue of GMO and non-GMO on their own farm.
Alexandra Caspero, a tour participant, is a registered dietitian and owner of Delicious Knowledge LLC. She is currently the dietitian for the University of the Pacific and writes freelance articles for nutrition magazines.
“Going from the GMO presentation with Dr. MacDonald to a farm where GMO and non-GMO are a current debate was very enlightening,” said Caspero. “I may not know everything about GMO, but I now know enough to defend and debate against both sides of the argument.”
After a visit to the farm, guests were taken to the beautiful Embassy West where they took in the cozy, relaxed atmosphere and a delectable soy meal. Guests also had a chance to meet with John Schillinger from Schillinger Seeds,soy farmers, Tom Oswald and Dennis Bogaards that afternoon to learn more about soy and the farming process.
The next morning, guests were lavished with a soy breakfast at Gateway Market from chefs George Formaro and Scott Stroud, both from Orchestrate Hospitality. The chefs prepared a mouth-watering biscuits and gravy breakfast entrée using soy.
The tour concluded with a visit to the World Food Prize building. Guests soaked in the beautiful sights and history of the building and enjoyed a soyfoods tasting with the World Food Prize Foundation president, Ambassador Kenneth Quinn.
JL Fields is a certified lifestyle coach, cook and educator.
“I never knew such a place existed,” stated Fields. “More people need to know about this World Food Prize building, this organization, this prize and what people are doing to solve agricultural and hunger problems around the world.”
The Soyfoods Council Executive Director Linda Funk says, “Our guests went home with positive messages about Iowa, soybeans, GMO’s, environmental programs and sustainability, as well as what great and dedicated farmer leaders we have. The guests loved meeting with the farmers, asking them candid questions, having meaningful conversations and receiving straightforward and honest answers. And of course enjoying fabulous soyfoods and soy dishes along the way!