Having open conversations about food and farming with South Dakotans and the farmers who grow it is what we do. In fact, that’s what Hungry for Truth is all about. We had an exciting opportunity to connect Maddie Peschong, a local Sioux Falls brand photographer and coach, with Todd Hanten, a South Dakota farmer operating near Goodwin, SD to chat about sustainability, cattle, crops and what a day on the farm looks like post-planting season. Below, Maddie is sharing her perspective of her recent South Dakota farm visit.
I’ve grown up in South Dakota and have family members who are farmers. I spent summers riding four-wheelers on gravel roads, climbing old grain silos, and playing with barn cats. Even still, what I know about farming is very little! As I’ve gotten older, I have a deeper appreciation for all that goes into getting food on the table. It was so eye-opening to spend a day with Todd Hanten in Goodwin, SD to see all that goes into South Dakota farming.
Todd’s family has lived and farmed on the same homestead for over 100 years. Now, he’s the head of the operation with his wife, Monica. Todd stressed during our visit that their marriage is a partnership on and off the farm, as Monica does the bookkeeping as well as feeds all their workers every day (and I complain about having to make a meal for my family of 5!).
When I arrived on the Hanten farm, Todd said he’d be taking us along to check on the cattle and then taking us around the farm to check different crops. We started with the cattle, who were just about to be fed when we got there. Each cattle gets 30 lbs. of feed a day, dropped off in the morning. That sounded like so much food to me! Todd’s farm has a lot of black Angus cattle and a few Holsteins. Holstein cattle are black and white dairy cattle, so it was easy to tell them apart from the Angus, which were black.
Todd usually checks the cattle after they get their feed because if any cattle don’t come up to the fence to eat, it’s a sign that something is wrong. In that case, Todd would take that cattle aside and treat it. I was surprised to learn that most of this is done on the farm, by Todd and his employees. They’re able to do vet work on site.
After the cattle were fed, we went to check crops. Before we headed out to the fields, we helped hitch Todd’s combine, which I got to drive! I’d never been inside a combine before, let alone drive one. It sits up super high, and could easily make you dizzy if you aren’t a fan of heights. Todd said that his combine only gets up to about 30 mph, so you can see how something like planting or harvesting a field a few miles away could take a lot of time just in transportation! This definitely gave me a new level of appreciation for the combines I see on my daily drives as they likely have a lot of work ahead of them!
We drove out to soybean and corn fields next. The corn was about knee high right before the 4th of July – right on track. We talked about the different uses for corn and soybeans, and Todd told me about a new product called high oleic acid. This is an oil made from soybeans that is high in monounsaturated fats or good cholesterol. In the past, companies have used trans fats to keep packaged foods shelf stable, but we now know these fats aren’t the healthiest. High oleic soybean oil is an alternative that’s high in unsaturated fat, low in saturated fat, and has no trans fat.
One of the most interesting conversations I had with Todd during our time together was about farming and the role it plays in global issues, like sustainability, health, and environmental safety. Todd is passionate about his work and wants to do everything in his power to use it in making the world better. He has a dedicated piece of land that he plants and maintains which is registered with the Conservation Reserve Program to be a bee habitat for the next 15 years. He also limits antibiotics in his cattle, unless a dose is necessary for their health, and uses GMO crops to reduce the use of pesticides and chemicals. Todd is a farmer, but a husband and father first, and made the point that his family eats this food too, so of course he wants it to be safe and healthy for them.
Knowing farmers like Todd have such a key role in our food supply, I feel so taken care of and safe with this closer look at where my food comes from. I’m so thankful for Todd and other farmers for the work they do to keep us thriving!
To learn more about Maddie connect with her via: