Posted Dec. 6, 2012
Iowa pork producers Aaron and Trish Cook of Winthrop were the featured farmers for “Talkin’ Farming at the Shed” at the Machine Shed Restaurant in Urbandale on Dec. 1.
The Cooks visited with diners and shared how they raise pork on their modern hog farm in Buchanan County.
"I was intrigued by how interested the restaurant guests were in learning about today’s farms,” said Trish. “Consumers want to be able to put a face on the people producing their food and Iowa farmers appreciate the opportunity to tell our story. We are passionate about caring for our animals and producing a quality and economical product for the consumer.”
Trish, Aaron and their children — Holly, 15; Spencer, 13; and Kirby, 9 — raise nearly 30,000 pigs annually. Approximately one-third of the family’s hog herd is marketed to Tyson Fresh Meats in Waterloo. The Cooks also have an on-farm feed mill where they grind, mix and deliver the feed for their pigs.
Their personal experiences made for fruitful conversations.
“There were a lot of great questions asked,” Trish said. “The most often-asked question was ‘How did this year’s drought affect your operation?’ We discussed how the drought impacts all of us, farmers and consumers alike.”
She said diners also asked if the family’s farm is considered a small or a large operation. “We explained that like almost all of Iowa’s farms, ours is a family-owned and operated, diversified farm.”
In addition to visiting with Machine Shed patrons, the family welcomed guests in the lobby andanswered questions about farming from those whotook turns spinning the ‘animal agriculture wheel.’
“The game was a great way to start conversations with diners about modern farming and to get the kids involved,” Trish said.
To commemorate the pork theme, the Machine Shed addeda special pork entrée of cranberry-stuffed pork chops cordon bleu to the menu that night.
Contests and activities, including the chance to win fine cuts of Iowa pork and other prizes, were held throughout the evening.
In addition, a representative of the Marines of Des Moines was on hand throughout the event to collect donations for Toys for Tots. Many restaurant-goers took the opportunity to help a child in need.
“Talkin’ Farming at the Shed” is held periodically throughout the year. Each event showcases a different farmer and commodity.
The event was sponsored by the Iowa Food & Family Project, the Iowa Pork Producers Association and the Machine Shed Restaurant.
The Iowa Food & Family Project was created by the Iowa Soybean Association and is dedicated to inspiring greater awareness, understanding and trust between consumers and farmers through personal engagement and advocacy. It proudly serves as presenting sponsor of the Iowa Games and supporter of Live Healthy Iowa and is backed by more than 30 partners including the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Farm Credit Services of America, Applied Art & Technology, Iowa Grocery Industry Association and Midwest Dairy Association. It’s funded in part by the Soybean Checkoff.