Is there anyone who doesn't like going to their state fair?
I enjoy every part of it from the pig poop on my shoes to the mustard stains on my shirt. But for the first time this year at the Minnesota State Fair I saw a change in how food vendors were hawking their fried cuisines on a stick. They were actually posting signs that read “no trans fats” to advertise their deep fried cheese curds and corn dogs. More than 30 concessionaires displayed those signs.
So when you're deep frying a Snickers bar and jamming it onto a stick, does it really matter what kind of oil you're using? Apparently, it does.
In fact, this year the Indiana State Fair required all vendors to use trans fat-free cooking oil. And as you recall, New York City banned the use of trans fats last December, followed by Philadelphia in February. Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald's have also phased out the fat.
Trans fat, according to the FDA, is made when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil, a process called hydrogenation, which increases shelf life and flavor stability. However, trans fats can raise the low-density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol, levels that increase your risk of coronary heart disease.
For farmers, continued bans on trans fats mean potential for many more acres of low-linolenic soybeans. Low-lins are low in linolenic acid, which is an unsaturated fatty acid that causes food to become stale or rancid. Most soybean varieties contain 7% linolenic acid; low-lins contain about 1%, a level that doesn't require hydrogenation for flavor and shelf stability.
In 2005, U.S. farmers planted 154,000 acres of low-lins; in 2006 it hit 730,000 acres and in 2007 a whopping 1.9 million acres, according to Qualisoy. And for 2008, some industry experts estimate you'll plant 3-3.5 million acres.
The ban on trans fats doesn't appear to be losing steam. If even fairgoers who'll eat anything on a stick are paying attention, you'd better, too.
Who Do You Trust?
We'd like to know. Who do you rely on for trustworthy farming advice? Do you call on an independent crop consultant, a university expert, another farmer or a farm management consultant to improve your bottom line?
If you have relied on someone consistently as a mentor to help you be more profitable or to help provide clarity in making farm management decisions, please tell us their name, how they've helped you and how we can contact them (and you). Who knows, they may end up being recognized in a future issue of this magazine.
Please send your nominations via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Editor, The Corn And Soybean Digest, 7900 International Drive, Ste. 300,Minneapolis, MN 55425.