Raised on a family farm? Check.
Environmentally friendly? Check.
Ultimately, the Iowa Best Burger contest is all about taste. Iowans can nominate their favorite restaurant, and the ten restaurants with the most nominations are then visited by secret judges, who determine the winner.
But this year's winner offers consumers more than just a great eating experience. The burgers at the Smokin' Hereford, in Storm Lake, Iowa are made from local beef, raised on a nearby farm operated by Seth and Etta Smith. The farm has been in the family for many generations, and this year, the Best Burger award is not their only honor.
Seth and Etta, along with Seth's father, Lynn, were recently named the Iowa Cattlemen's Association's Environmental Stewardship Award Winners.
The Smiths' farm stands out because of the voluntary improvements made over the years. Located on the banks of the Upper Raccoon River, in a drainage district targeted by the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit, conservation is crucial on their farm. And the Smiths realized that long before the lawsuit. Conservation tillage, one component of raising corn and soybeans that decreases erosion and nutrient loss, was implemented on the farm in the 1970s. Cover crops have been used for almost a decade, and highly erodible land has been converted to pasture, holding nutrients and soil in place and protecting water quality.
As outstanding as they may be, the Smiths and the Smokin' Hereford are not the only source of great tasting beef raised on a sustainable family farm. About 97% of beef farms in the US are family farms, and those farms have increased sustainability by 5% in just 6 years, from 2005 - 2011.
So this May Beef Month, make the trip to Storm Lake to sample the 2017 Iowa's Best Burger, stop by your local restaurant, or enjoy some great tasting beef at home! You can't go wrong with any of those options!