Iowa State Fair Connects Farmers And Consumers

Iowa State Fair Connects Farmers And Consumers

Giant sand sculpture at 2014 Iowa State Fair brings the story of food and farming to life.

The relationship between farmers and consumers is being showcased at the Iowa State Fair this year. A gigantic sculpture, created from more than 50 tons of sand, tells the "story of food and farming" to thousands of visitors to the 2014 fair, which ends August 17 after a 10-day run. The Iowa Soybean Association and other farm and food groups that make up the Iowa Food & Family Project are sponsoring the sculpture.

Located in the Varied Industries Building, the artwork was commissioned by the Iowa Food & Family Project. It depicts a farm at the very top. Then your eyes journey down to see livestock and crops, then a grocery store and a McDonald's restaurant.

JUMBO SCULPTURE: Sand takes the shape of corn, soybeans and farm animals, with the word "IOWA" etched in. The exhibit dishes up fresh and fun information about quality food and the farm families who grow it.

"What Farmers Grow Makes Iowa Go!"
The Iowa Food & Family Project's exhibit is called "What Farmers Grow Makes Iowa Go!" and it appeals to people of all ages. In addition to the sand sculpture, other events and contests engage fairgoers at the exhibit. Children participating in a coloring and illustration activity receive a coupon for a free McDonald's ice cream cone. Fairgoers are invited to join in by taking photos of activities and of the sculpture and by participating in social media conversations at #foodnfamilies.

At a press conference unveiling the exhibit a few days prior to the opening of the 2014 Iowa State Fair, sponsors explained it's purpose. "It is important for today's farmers to tell their story and tell consumers where and how their food is produced," says Aaron Putze, Iowa Food & Family Project coordinator and communications director for the Iowa Soybean Association.

TELLING THE STORY: The 50-ton sand sculpture is the start of a campaign to help consumers become better informed about where their food comes from and how it is produced. More activities will be announced this fall.

Partnership with McDonald's helps tell story
McDonald's and the Iowa Food & Family Project are partnering to dish up fresh and fun information about farming. "People have sincere questions about how food is grown and raised and that's a good thing," says Putze. "Farmers and foodservice providers like McDonald's welcome the interest and they value the opportunity to be part of the conversation through continuous dialogue and personalized experiences."

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The Iowa Food & Family Project and McDonalds will announce additional activities this fall. The partnership began August 4 with the media meeting at the giant sculpture prior to the start of the State Fair on August 7. More than 100 McDonald's locations in Iowa are featuring in-store merchandise celebrating the continuous improvement of Iowa's farmers and their dedication to growing wholesome food for everyone, says Dave Roberts, owner-operator of six McDonald's restaurants in Des Moines, Grimes, Creston and Osceola.

"McDonald's meticulously sources its suppliers, partnering with farmers to help us meet and exceed the restaurant industry's highest standards," he says. "Teaming up with Iowa Food & Family takes that relationship to the next level with increased transparency about the journey that brings delicious food from the farm to the McDonald's dining experience."

Farmers share a commitment to wholesome foods
As a leading U.S. foodservice provider, McDonald's serves a variety of wholesome foods made from quality ingredients grown by farmers to more than 25 million customers every day, notes Putze. An important part of that experience includes offering consumers opportunities to engage in conversations about how food is grown, prepared and served.

There are 143 McDonald's locations in Iowa employing 8,646 people. In 2013 McDonald's sourced more than 96 million pounds of pork, 1.2 billion eggs, nearly 72 million pounds of corn and more than 5 million pounds of cheese—for a total value of $230 million in Iowa. And in 2012 McDonald's purchased food ingredients that amounted to more than 21 million pounds of soybeans and 97,000 pounds of flour from Iowa farmers.

About the Iowa Food & Family Project: The Iowa Food & Family Project champions the continuous improvement of Iowa's farm families in producing food efficiently and in taking care of natural resources and the environment. It invites Iowans to become better acquainted with the dedicated farmers who grow food for people, and for consumers to become better informed and more trusting in how food is grown. The Iowa Food & Family Project involves nearly 40 dedicated partners and is the presenting sponsor of the Iowa Games and supporter of Live Healthy Iowa. Join in the conversation via Twitter (@foodnfamilies) and on Facebook (Facebook.com/foodnfamilies).

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About McDonald's: McDonald's USA is the leading foodservice provider in the USA, serving more than 25 million customers each day. Approximately 90% of McDonald's 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by local businessmen and women. Customers can now log online for free at any of the 11,500 participating Wi-Fi enabled McDonald's U.S. restaurants. For more information visit www.mcdonalds.com or follow on Twitter (@McDonalds) and Facebook (Facebook.com/McDonalds) for updates on the business, promotions and products.

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