Jim Jensen, Field Specialist-Farm Management, Southeast Area
Obesity has now replaced heart disease as the number one cause of death in the United States. The eating habits of Americans continue to promote both overeating and eating the wrong type of foods. New federal labeling laws are requiring more information concerning the health attributes of food and that the information be posted on the food container tables. The area of trans fatty acids in food has received a lot of attention recently as cities and states attempt to regulate their use. Some large fast food chains are presently indicating that they are switching to a more healthy type of oil, while others say they cannot find an appropriate alternative.
Iowa State University plant breeders have developed soybean varieties that contain characteristics that could play a big part in improving the health attributes of the foods Americans eat. The Extension staff has been working on the adoption of these new varieties by producers. Extension has also been working on helping create markets that use these new varieties. The main Extension effort has been through working with a couple of producer groups that are growing and marketing the new soybeans.
Response to the new healthy oil has been slow. It is a huge project to introduce new products to the market and an even larger project to get people to change the ingredients in a product that they are presently selling. The effort not only takes a lot of time but also takes a lot of money. Some of the large companies are now promoting the concept of the new healthier oils and are paying producers decent premiums to grow them. The local farmer groups are making progress on increasing the acreage devoted to the new soybeans and the markets using the product are increasing. With some large fast food chains and cities getting a lot of press concerning their switch to more healthy oils, the demand for the product is presently outstripping the supply. This should eventually result in extensive increases in acres of the product being grown.
120 Farm and Business Management
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June 13, 2008
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