Community, Local foods, Local Resources, Product info

#MilkMonday a win-win for NEIA Food Bank, Hansen’s Dairy

By Jordan Hansen

Hansen’s Dairy has a long-standing relationship with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. Now, with the help of the Farm Bureau, Fareway grocery stores, and customers like you, our partnership is about to grow.

Black Hawk County Farm Bureau board members Brad Jesse and Len Orth spearheaded an initiative to increase donations of milk to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank and improve demand of dairy farmers’ products.

MilkMonday_BlackHawk_HansensThe initiative, called #MilkMonday, will begin on Monday, April 1, and run every Monday through June (National Dairy Month). Fareway grocery shoppers will have the opportunity to round up their total purchase to the nearest dollar to help provide milk to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. Hansen’s Dairy shoppers can also round up their purchase, or they can decide to purchase an extra gallon that will go directly to the Food Bank.

The NEIA Food Bank is located in Waterloo, and serves as a hub for food programs and pantries in a 16-county area: Allamakee, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Cerro Gordo, Chickasaw, Delaware, Fayette, Floyd, Grundy, Hardin, Howard, Mitchell, Poweshiek, Tama and Winneshiek.

All Fareway stores in the 16-county region will be participating. Waterloo Fareway Manager Allen Weimerskirch also reported that the Fareway corporation has decided to match up to the first $2,500 raised in the initiative.

Northeast Iowa Food Bank, #MilkMonday
Representatives from Farm Bureau, Fareway, the Food Bank and I kicked off the #MilkMonday initiative on National Ag Day, March 14, 2019. The Farm Bureau gave an initial donation of $1,000, which comprised funds from Black Hawk, Winneshiek, Allamakee and Tama county Farm Bureaus.

The #MilkMonday program will allow the Food Bank to purchase more milk from our farm, which is already supplying the Food Bank with about 50,000 gallons of milk each year through a combination of sales and donations.

Our relationship with the Food Bank is mutually beneficial, and we see it as an important way to give back to our community.

First, a little background into how it all started.

You need it, we’ve got it

When cows are milked, they naturally produce what’s called “whole” milk. The fat percentage of our whole milk is about 3.5%. The milk can be run through a separator to produce two different products: skim milk, which is our biggest seller; and heavy cream, which is bottled itself and also used to make butter and ice cream. For every 10 gallons of whole milk, it will separate into 1 gallon of cream and 9 gallons of skim milk.

Hansen's Dairy, heavy cream, separator
Cream from the separator flows into the holding tank.

For several years now, the supply and demand of cream and skim coming from our farm has been a little out of balance. We need that cream to make those high-demand (yummy) products, but we’re just left with way too much skim milk than what our customers demand. Sometimes, in order to have enough cream, that skim milk would literally go down the drain.

Enter the Northeast Iowa Food Bank and Barb Prather, executive director, who just happens to live in our town.

“Milk is one of the harder items for us to keep in stock for the people we serve,” Barb said. “And it’s such an important part of daily nutrition, giving young kids as well as adults the essential vitamins and calcium they need.”

We agree. So in July 2016, we formulated a plan where the Food Bank would purchase skim milk from us at a reduced rate, and we would donate more gallons on top of that. We are at about a 3:2 ratio — for every three gallons of milk the Food Bank buys, we donate two gallons. In 2018, we donated nearly 19,000 gallons of skim milk.

skim milk, farm to fork, farm to table, Hansen's Dairy
Skim milk is bottled at Hansen’s Dairy.

This has benefited both of our organizations in several ways:

  • We avoid dumping perfectly good milk down the drain.
  • The Food Bank receives extremely fresh milk — sometimes just bottled at our farm that day — instead of getting close-to-expiration milk that may be cast off from grocery stores.
  • We get paid for most of the milk, while also donating some and taking advantage of the state of Iowa’s Farm to Food Tax Credit.
  • Our delivery team can efficiently drop a lot of milk at one location.
  • The Food Bank has distribution points to share the milk across Northeast Iowa.
Hansen's Dairy delivery truck
Delivery Manager Brent Hansen loads up crates of milk for his next route.

We salute the Farm Bureau members to spearhead this effort to benefit us dairy farmers while getting nutritious food to those who need it.

“As farmers, we have a calling to help feed people and take care of those in our communities,” said Ben Bader, Black Hawk County Farm Bureau president. “And you don’t have to be a farmer to realize being able to pull the whole community together to provide milk to families in need is part of the ‘farm strong’ spirit we all embrace.”

To help bring awareness to the event, grocery shoppers are encouraged to spread the word using #MilkMonday on social media.

Will you “round up” for the Food Bank?

UPDATE: The final tally for #MilkMonday is in — $17,115.42 was raised for the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. The amount raised was more than anyone thought possible, and we cannot thank everyone enough for their support of this wonderful cause!

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Community, Cooking with the Hansens, Local foods

Five Things I Love About Food

By Aaron McNally

Moo Roo Assistant Manager

Working for a family dairy that produces, bottles, and distributes its own high-quality products (and retails other high-quality items as well) has been incredibly inspiring for someone who loves food. Day in and day out, my time spent working with and for the Hansens has given me much opportunity to consider all of the elements that prove food is one of the most important things in a human being’s life. I’ve jotted down five things that immediately came to mind.

 

Dairy foods provide nine essential nutrients and are one of the most affordable sources of nutrition.
Dairy foods provide nine essential nutrients and are one of the most affordable sources of nutrition.

5.) Food is essential. 

Everyone eats, or should. If not … well, I‘d hate to think about it. Almost all of the nutrition the body takes in comes from food. But more than that, what we eat, and how that food is prepared, can substantially influence our mood, the health of our skin, our digestive system, and our heart’s ability to perform its all-important job. Without food, no life. And without good food, no good life.

4.) Food connects us to our region, and our world.

cheesesampling
Hansen’s Dairy sells a variety of high-quality Wisconsin cheeses. Wisconsin is one of the top dairy producing states.

Every segment of these United States (and, indeed, the entire globe) carries with it some regional cuisine. Oftentimes, this cuisine is inspired by what ingredients are readily available. This unites people to their region in the most fundamental way. Whether it’s an Iowan eating an ear of sweet corn during the summer, a resident of New Mexico eating a dish spiced with heirloom green chiles, or someone in Maine enjoying fresh clams, everyone in every region has something that they associate with their geographical identity, whether they realize it or not. Even in the age of widespread global distribution of food, local abundance still characterizes a region’s style.

3.) Traditions are passed down through food. 

Family’s ethnic histories are passed down through dishes that stay in the family, and the smell or flavor of a favorite traditional food ignites emotions in a way that even the arts can not. In addition, learning how to cook is often an activity shared by grandparents and parents with their children and grandchildren. And who hasn’t instantly remembered a deceased relative when they were presented with, say, a certain type of cookie, or some classic casserole. And, like the regional connection that is made by certain available ingredients, regions and neighborhoods are often defined by their particular style of cooking, uniting friends and strangers alike via shared tastes.

2.) Culture is experienced through food. 

People come together over food in a way that they do no with nothing else. Dining with others offers an opportunity to share and communicate even with strangers. Food is always a staple at gatherings, reunions, athletic events, block parties, and awards ceremonies. But beyond the regional elements mentioned above, food can serve as the center of religious rituals and seasonal ceremonies, and can be the binding cement in certain urban environments where diverse residents might otherwise seem at odds with one another. Foodies flock to certain coveted spots, inspired by social media, and saveurs worldwide associate themselves with foreign friends via shared affection for certain culinary hotspots. In every tourism-heavy locale, the sale of food is an economic staple, not only because those travelers need to eat, but because these cultural hubs are in part defined by the variety of cuisine they serve.

1.) Eating involves all five senses.

My personal theory is that this is much of why we have such an emotional connection to foodit’s a wam-bam, all-inclusive sort of thing.

Visually, a chef takes great pains to make sure that an entrée has been properly “plated,” and this arrangement on the plate can sometimes seem like a variety of sculpture. When summer vegetables are in season, a full palette of vivid color can be seen across a table. (And rich, deep, or bright colors are often indicators of a food’s nutritional content.)

People may like or dislike something based on texture alone. When something is browned on top, it means not only a bit of color, but also a crunchy texture. Creaminess, chewiness, toughness, softness … these things can make or break a meal, and a lack of attention to them might prove a poor cook’s lack of technique.

grilling
The aroma and sounds of the grill can easily ignite the appetite.

Aroma triggers immediate memories, instantaneous transport to Grandma’s house or the grade-school cafeteria. But it can also whet the appetite of someone not all that hungry before sitting down at the restaurant and smelling the light smoke wafting off the grill. Maybe I will have something after all.

Meanwhile, sizzles and crunches are omnipresent amongst culinary experiences. And in the preparation and serving of food, there are clangs and clatters of knives, skillets, spatulas, and plates, and the bubbling of beverages being poured into glasses. Add some laughter and chatter, cue a little music (preferably live) and voilà! You’re on your way to a very memorable experience.

Flavor might seem to go without saying, but its connection to mouth-feel, aroma, and the visual and auditory sensations we’ve been discussing makes taste perhaps the most important element of all. Like the five senses, the five major flavors (sweetness, sourness, saltiness, savoriness, and bitterness) span a gamut of psychological possibilities. And the very word “taste” indicates whether or not we might value a certain person’s opiniondo they have it? Have they been paying attention?

***

hansenicecream
Ice cream is one of the delicious dairy products made on the Hansen farm.

Every day, I get to see all of these elements at play in the world of the family dairy, and amidst Iowa’s agriculturally-driven culture. What could be more exciting? If this piece has your taste buds’ attentions piqued, stop by one of our retail stores or consider taking one of our farm tours. Additionally, consider eating at one of the many restaurants that boast an attitude of “Buy Fresh, Buy Local,” or just get out and attend a summer barbecue or church potluck. Or heck, just treat a friend or family member to dinner — homemade or restaurant procured. There’s an inspiring life of food surrounding us, and amidst it an infinity of blessings.

 

 

 

 

Community, Local Resources

NIFFP and Farm to School

This Friday Hansen’s hosted the annual Northern Iowa Food and Farm Partnership (NIFFP) meeting, and their Farm to School event. From 5 to 7 on Friday evening, local residents interested in the NIFFP and Farm to School could come for some good food, conversation, and information.

It was a really fun evening, and everyone learned something. The NIFFP folks shared information about what they’re up to.

Aaron and Neo, the local Food Corps volunteers, shared about their experiences working with kids in Waterloo. Rob and Tammy Faux, from Genuine Faux Farm in Tripoli, told us about their CSA and their farm. The folks from Cedar Falls Blue Zones were also there to get people signed up and share information about their work in the area.

The food was fantastic: Barbecue pork sliders from Pat McCready, yogurt parfaits with vanilla yogurt from Country View Dairy (yes, it’s available in our stores), and marinated veggie skewers with cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, kalamata olives, and Hansen’s cheese curds.

Community, Cooking with the Hansens

Indy Market – So much fun!

This Saturday Eric and I packed up the Hansen’s Suburban and drove out Highway 20 to Independence. We were heading to the Independence Farmer’s Market. Our morning started early – the market starts at 8 am every Saturday and we needed to be there early to get a good spot. Eric set up shop to sell milk, cheese curds, and other products as a vendor in the market.

I, on the other hand, set up shop to do a cooking demonstration! It was a brand-new experience for me, and I was a little anxious, but I had the best time. Joe Olsen, the Market Master, brought his grill, supplies, and delicious tomatoes, basil, peppers, onions, and even a watermelon from his own garden and the Independence school garden. Then we loaded up on veggies, bread, herbs, and even maple syrup from some of the vendors at the market.

I got started right away and whipped up a watermelon and tomato salad while Joe started the coals. I wasn’t sure how the salad would go over with the Market visitors – but everyone loved it! The mix of sweet and tart flavors really went well together (we’ll get a pdf of the recipe up online real soon – stay tuned!).

We were given a couple of loaves of bread by a vendor – a sun-dried tomato ciabatta and a pepperoni pizza loaf. We sliced the bread and grilled the slices to toast them lightly. Then I put together a roasted red pepper bruschetta to serve on the toast. It was a hit!

We grilled zucchini and eggplant slices, too. Toward the end of the grilling we melted Hansen’s cheese curds on the slices – double yum! Also a hit – grilled apple slices and grilled winter squash slices drizzled with maple syrup right before serving.

Joe and I had fun being creative and experimenting with whatever we could get our hands on. I think what made the morning a success was that we weren’t afraid to burn things or try something new. Cooking with veggies really is just a matter of throwing things that you like together and seeing how it all turns out. We’ve put together a little inspiration for you as you think about grilling veggies. I’ll get a link up real soon for that guide.

Thanks Joe!

Written by Disa Cornish

Community, Product info

Buttery Goodness…[Giveaway]

Ok, so today is nowhere near as hot as it’s been lately. But I guarantee that one of these days soon the temp will be back up somewhere ridiculous and we’ll be staring outside from our air conditioned kitchen windows again. So today, because it’s Friday, we’re giving away something to brighten your kitchen…One Hansen’s butter bell!

Image

This butter bell is a unique way to keep your butter fresh on the counter, soft and ready to spread at any moment! So exciting! It’s got our logo on it, too.

To enter, leave a comment with your answer to this question:

What’s your favorite way to beat the heat?

Post your answer by noon on Friday, August 3. One lucky reader will be selected at random. BUT, please note: the winner will need to pick up their butter bell at the Cedar Falls Outlet or the Waterloo Moo Roo, so please keep that in mind when you enter!

Community

Hats Off to You!

That’s right. We’re taking our hats off too you, our customer, for making our open house such a huge success! We had an estimated 350 people out to the farm on Saturday for product sampling and trolley rides. If you weren’t there, here’s what you missed out on!

Customers signing up for our drawing at the welcome table.
Sam helps bring in some brats and hot dogs for sampling.
Customers in line for product sampling.
Products sampled.
The trolley making its way to the farm for a tour.
Kids try their hand at milking our wooden cow!

Thanks again to everyone who stopped by and for making our open house a huge success!

Written by: Christine Schick

Community

All Systems Go For Open House On Saturday

Hansen’s Dairy will be hosting a open house THIS SATURDAY from 10 am to 1 pm at the farm. Come help us celebrate our new tour center with ice cream, product sampling and trolley tours!

WHAT: Open House

WHEN: Saturday, June 30th from 10 am to 1 pm

WHERE: Hansen’s Dairy Farm, 8617 Eldora Rd, Hudson, IA

NOTICE: Despite road closing signs, our farm is still accessible from Hwy 58!

Hope to see you Saturday!

Written by: Christine Schick

Community

2012 Solar Splash at George Wyth Park gets a taste of Hansen’s famous ice cream!

The University of Southhampton team, from the United Kingdom, enjoyed our oatmeal chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches during the Solar Splash today.
We caught up with the UNI Solar Splash team just after they got out of the water for a photo. Don’t worry, they got ice cream too!

 

Written by: Christine Schick

Community

A little thing called…facebook!

We’ve linked the Hansen’s Dairy blog to our facebook page! Our blog posts should appear on our facebook wall when they are posted. Like us on facebook to get regular updates about our blog posts. We’ll cover recipes, nutrition, farm life, local foods, and topics that you all think are important and interesting. Let us know via facebook or blog comments what you’d like us to include in our blog posts – we’d love to hear from you!