BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (August 26, 2021) – On Thursday, August 12, the Illinois Soybean Association, stakeholders in the food industry and non-governmental associations gathered around the table at LaTerra Partners in Waterman, Illinois for an on-the-farm dinner event to discuss sustainable soybean production.
“We hosted the Gather Around the Table dinner event because we believe that Illinois soybean farmers share the same commitment as food industry stakeholders to provide consumers sustainably grown food ingredients, being good stewards of our land, and reducing our environmental impact,” said Rachel Peabody, Director of Communications for the Illinois Soybean Association. “We wanted to get to know our stakeholders better and learn about their current efforts in meeting consumer demands for sustainable products or supporting the environment.”
The event included a four-course soy-centric meal and a walking tour to learn about soybean production directly from Illinois farmers. Topics for discussion included the wide uses of soybeans (from tofu, soy sauce and edamame to renewable fuels and high-quality animal feed), why land stewardship is important to farmers, soil erosion prevention tactics, water use reduction and quality, biodiesel made from soybeans, and renewable energy use. Guests were also invited to discuss their organization’s consumer demands for sustainable products with the hope that the Illinois Soybean Association can lend a hand in helping them meet those demands.
Hoosier Steaks Owner Ashlie Miller shared about how soybeans have always been a part of her life and how her sustainable-focused business depends on soy.
“Our farm is a third-generation family farm, so we realize the great responsibility we have as temporary caretakers of the land,” said Miller. “Sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. As we raise two farm girls, we realize that they too may take over the farm and Hoosier Steaks one day, so keeping good practices in place is not only important for the present but for their future as well.”
Jenny Yang, owner of Phoenix Bean Tofu demonstrated the versatility and different forms of tofu and spoke about how she relies on local, sustainably grown Illinois soybeans to produce high-quality tofu.
“Illinois is the largest soybean-growing state in the United States. It is so easy to get soybeans grown only 45-minutes, one hour or two hours away,” said Yang. “Buying soybeans locally reduces the carbon footprint of our products. Illinois-grown soybeans are basically in our backyard, so it just makes sense to use them.”
Throughout the event, food industry stakeholders also had the opportunity to engage directly with Illinois soybean farmers to discuss and ask questions about sustainable production practices.
“Sharing insights with my peers in the industry and meeting the farmers who grow the ingredients in the food we’re eating is vital to fostering sustainable agriculture practices,” said Katya Hantel of Conagra Brands. “It was energizing to see the steps Illinois soybean farmers are taking to responsibly manage the resources within the broader U.S. soy supply chain we source from.”
Food industry stakeholder attendees also noted that they enjoyed learning more about soybean production in Illinois while attending the event.
“The ‘Gather Around the Table’ event was a wonderful opportunity to gain insight into Illinois’ soybean production and all that it offers as the number one producer of soybeans,” said MeLissa Tate of Ferrara. “There are so many great companies like ours in the state of Illinois and it was fantastic to spend the afternoon with them discussing sustainability.”
For more information about Soy from Illinois, visit www.ilsoy.org.
About the Illinois Soybean Association
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff program represents more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development and utilization efforts to increase demand for and use of Illinois soybeans. ISA programs are designed to uphold the interests of Illinois soybean producers through promotion, advocacy, and education with the vision of becoming a market leader in sustainable soybean production and profitability. For more information, visit the website www.ilsoy.org.
Director of Communications
Illinois Soybean Association
Rhea + Kaiser
Tel: (630) 955-2514