Nothing nourishes a body like real food produced by real farm families.

The natural taste, protein and other nutrients in real meat, milk and eggs can’t be replicated by imitations. So grab hold of your fork and knife, and learn about the benefits of digging in to all things real.

NUTRITION

Why eat real meat, milk and eggs? Compared to other foods, they are the best sources of protein, vitamins and nutrients…plus they taste great! Here’s what the experts are saying:


  • Brain health, strong muscles, immune support, weight loss, prevention of muscle loss and energy production are just a few of the many benefits of consuming high-quality protein found in real meat and poultry as part of a healthy diet.
  • Meat, eggs, and dairy are the best natural sources of high quality, complete protein according to Dr. Ruth MacDonald, chair of the Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition at Iowa State University. Meat, eggs, and dairy provide essential amino acids that are simply not present in plants.  
  • Did you know one glass of cow milk provides as much protein as 8 glasses of almond milk?  In this article on Best Food Facts about plant-based milks, Dr. Ann Macrina, Penn State University, explains that all cow’s milk is relatively consistent in protein and mineral content and has more of the building blocks that humans need in their diets vs. plant-based milks. 
  • Meat, eggs, and dairy are natural sources of Vitamin B12 which promotes brain development in children and helps your nervous system function properly. What happens if you don’t get enough B12 in your diet? The National Institutes of Health reports on its website that Vitamin B12 deficiency causes tiredness, weakness, depression, confusion and megaloblastic anemia.
  • Zinc helps your immune system function properly, and red meat and poultry provide the majority of zinc in Americans’ diets. The National Institute of Health reports that during pregnancy, infancy, and childhood, the body needs zinc to grow and develop properly. 


  • Another reason to include meat in your diet is to obtain iron which helps maintain healthy blood and healthy brain development in children. Your body absorbs iron from meat more easily than iron from plant foods. Iron is the most deficient nutrient in the world and it affects about 4-5 million Americans yearly according to Harvard P.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • We all know how essential calcium is for keeping your bones strong throughout your lifetime, but especially during childhood. WebMD reports that dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are the best and most obvious sources of calcium. 
  • Is whole milk healthy? Turns out it is healthier than you realize based on new research reported on Food Network News
  • The Mayo Clinic concludes that meat and poultry can be both a tasty and healthy part of your diet.

Colin Johnson

Cattle Farmer


“With regular oversight from a nutritionist and my local veterinarian – and a little TLC from me – I know my cattle are getting the best care possible, which means nothing but the best in quality and nutritious beef for you,” Colin says.

Beef Up Your Knowledge

Learn more about the nutrition of real meat, milk and eggs by subscribing to The Iowa Dish.

SUSTAINABILITY

For years, farmers have been leading the way in climate-smart farming by promoting soil health, conserving water and efficiently using nutrients as they care for their animals and the land. Here are some important facts to chew on.


  • The U.S. is the world leader in sustainable livestock production. All of agriculture accounts for around 10 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). By contrast, transportation accounts for 28 percent of GHG emissions and electricity accounts for nearly 27 percent. With technology available today, agriculture is on a trajectory to reduce its GHG emissions by 50 percent.
  • In the face of a growing global population, we need ruminant animals to help make more protein, while using fewer natural resources.
  • Livestock and poultry generate more protein for the human food supply than would exist without them because their unique digestive system allows them to convert human-inedible plants into high-quality protein.
  • If all livestock in the U.S. were eliminated and every American followed a vegan diet, U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would only be reduced by 2.6 percent, and global emissions would only be reduced by 0.36 percent. Reducing beef consumption in the U.S. is not a realistic or impactful solution for climate change.

When the question arises of how we are going to feed the world’s 9 billion people in a climate that seems increasingly volatile and extreme, all eyes turn to U.S. agriculture, and rightfully so, writes John Newton, Ph.D., chief economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation. Newton states the answer to this question lies ahead of us, but important lessons can be gleaned from the long-time efforts of farmers to promote soil health, conserve water and efficiently use nutrients.

The Department of Agriculture reports farmers are producing 270% more food, energy, and fiber than they did 70 years ago, while their use of resources like land, fertilizers, chemicals and energy has remained mostly unchanged.

Dr. Frank Mitloehner is a professor and air quality specialist at the University of  California-Davis.  Mitloehner talks about the environmental impact of animal proteins in this podcast Soundbites with registered dietitian Melissa Joy Dobbins.

Beef is a sustainable choice and only accounts for roughly 2% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The dairy industry’s share of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, from farm to consumer, including waste is about 2%.

Erin, a food blogger who calls Colorado home, had an opportunity to visit Iowa farms. She said through numerous farm tours one thing that always comes through is the way the farmers care about what they do and their dedication to leavings things better than they found it.  Whether it is caring about the crops they are growing or the animals they are raising, they really do care, she writes. You can read what she learned about egg farming and sustainability on her blog Dinners, Dishes & Desserts.

Sam McKnight

Hog Farmer


When summer hits Iowa, everyone’s thankful for air conditioning. Sam McKnight says his pigs probably feel the same way. “By keeping my livestock in climate-controlled barns, I can keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter – and protected from predators and disease,” he says. “This way I can monitor their living conditions closely and make sure they receive the care they need.”

Grow your Sustainability IQ

Learn more about the sustainability of agriculture by subscribing to The Iowa Dish.

ANIMAL CARE

Proper animal care is in everyone’s best interests, and livestock farmers have high expectations like you when it comes to the care of their animals. They utilize generations of animal know-how and work closely with veterinarians and nutrition experts to make sure their animals are healthy and receive compassionate care.


In fact, many farmers use long-established standards of care, which have been developed with veterinary guidance and the latest scientific research. You can read about those standards of care for beef, pork, egg, and dairy farmers by clicking the links below.

Tim Graber

Turkey Farmer


Tim loves talking turkey! You can ask him anything you’d like to know about turkey and how he raises his flock because he cares for them like family. “As we grow from children to adults, our needs change and it’s the same with our flock. With automated heating and feeding systems, I know my turkeys are getting the proper care they need at each stage in their life when they need it,” Tim says. “And that’s something to gobble about!”


Food blogger Lauren, who writes Climbing Grier Mountain, had an opportunity to visit one of Iowa’s largest pork producing farms. Lauren wrote, “To say they care about their pigs is an understatement.” Here’s her blog post about the five things I learned from the pork tour.

We know not everyone can do a farm tour like Lauren, but your questions and curiosity are still important. So we’ve rounded-up a few of the questions we think you might have along with links to more information.

Does size of farm or type of facility impact the care livestock and poultry receive? 

Dr. Amy Schmidt from the University of Nebraska addressed that topic in an article for Best Food Facts. “Regardless of the size of the operation, confining animals inside a facility or in a feedlot situation has the advantage of allowing the animals’ caretaker(s) to closely monitor animal health and well-being. Just as providing proper care and nutrition to plants helps them grow and produce to their greatest potential, proper care and nutrition of animals produces the most profitable and highest quality product.”

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

While we can’t answer that question,  the website Best Food Facts addresses questions about the difference between cage-fee and regular eggs.

For additional questions on how farm animals are raised, visit Iowa Farm Animal Care, a first-of-it’s kind network of professionals, veterinarians, animal behavior scientists and farmers committed to proper and humane farm animal care.

Farmers Care: See For Yourself

Animal care is a 24/7/365 job; see how it’s done by subscribing to The Iowa Dish.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Are you hungry for more? Real farmers are dedicated and passionate about producing real food for your nourishment. So if you want to learn more, we’re serving it right here. Dig in!