There’s More to Pizza Than the Tosser

On Monday I noticed it was #NationalPizzaDay, after seeing the hashtag on Twitter, naturally I felt like I HAD to have pizza. St Louis has a unique style of pizza that is somewhat growing on me. It is as thin as it can possibly be, some people call it a cracker crust. They also use a weird processed cheese called provel . The first time I had St Louis pizza I was up here looking at apartments to live in and Imo’s was recommended to me. I was warned that tourist typically didn’t like St Louis pizza, but I thought “it’s pizza how bad can it be?” I was so wrong, it was terrible. In fact, I went back when I moved here to see if it was as terrible as I remembered! Its growing on me the more I eat it. Anyways, after work on my way to a ladies Bible study I stopped at one of St Louis’ most popular pizza joints, Dewey’s Pizza. Dewey’s is not like your typical St Louis pizza. It is what I would consider thin crust, but not by St Louis standards. I enjoyed a pizza consisting of tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, Canadian bacon and pepperoni. Dewey's pizza Dewey’s has a large window that allows patrons to get a glimpse into the kitchen and see the pizza artists at work. I love watching them toss the dough and sprinkle cheese and toss the toppings on to the pizza like dice on the table. As I stood at the window gazing at the pizza making performance I couldn’t help but think about all of the things that went into the pizza before it ever got to the kitchen.

Window at Dewey's Pizza- Source: Brain Jail http://maximumbrainjail.blogspot.com/2013/06/third-times-charm.html

Window at Dewey’s Pizza- Source: Brain Jail http://maximumbrainjail.blogspot.com/2013/06/third-times-charm.html

hard red winter wheat

Wheat is one of the few crops that can be grown in almost any state in the US

Just think there are a couple of essentials when it comes to having that slice of cheesy deliciousness. -Crust- Crust excites me because this is one thing I can contribute to your pizza since I grow wheat. Most pizza crusts are made from hard red spring wheat or hard red winter wheat (which is what I grow). Winter wheat is planted in the fall as soon as the previous crop is harvested, it grows a little bit and looks just like pretty green grass in little rows. It stays pretty short throughout the winter and then has a growth spurt once spring comes.  Winter wheat in North Alabama is harvested mid-June through early July. It is harvested with a combine and then ground into flour which is how it ends up in your pizza crust.

In my opinion a good tomato sauce can make our break a pizza. A few months ago I went to south Florida and had the opportunity to visit a vegetable research site. There I had the opportunity to learn from people who have devoted their entire career to making sure we have yummy vegetables (including tomatoes)!

Tomatoes are America’s most popular vegetable. The states that produce the most fresh market tomatoes (the ones you buy at the grocery store or farmers market) are

  1. California
  2. Florida
  3. Virginia
  4. Georgia

The states that grow the most processing tomatoes (ones for pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, salsa etc.) are probably not what you’d expect:

  1. California
  2. Indiana
  3. Ohio
  4. Michigan

You might not have ever thought about it, but did you realize that different types of tomatoes are best used for different cooking/eating purposes?

If you’re wanting to use tomatoes for :

  • Slices: If you want a nice, big, thin slice of tomato for your sandwich or hamburger, you want to grow large slicing tomatoes. These are what you think of when you hear tomatoes (pictured below).tomatoes felda
  • Kabobs: When grilling the small cherry, or grape tomatoes work well. They are super easy to put on a skewer. Can you imagine trying to slice a big tomato and put it on a stick?
  • Sauces: If you plan to make your own sauce you can use any kind of tomato, but the juiciness we love in a salad tomato means a watery sauce. This is why you use paste tomatoes (such as Romas) so you can have a thick and hearty sauce.

tomatoes felda canning

Cheese is another essential to any good pizza. When I get the hankering for pizza I think it is typically the bubbly cheesy goodness I’m craving. We have dairy farmers from across the United States who help provide us with the milk that gives us the dairy products we love like cheese, ice cream, yogurt, milk, butter etc.

pizza cheese

Dairy cows produce about 6 1/2 gallons of milk each day (which equals out to about 55 pounds of milk. It takes more cows to produce milk for Pizza Hut’s cheese (about 170,000 cows) than there are people living in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Dairy farming is no easy job, I have a lot of respect for my ag friends who are dairy farmers. They have to be up early and rarely get to leave the farm for very long because cows have to be milked 2-3 times a day. Without their hard work we wouldn’t have all the things we enjoy made from cow’s milk.

Last but not least is the toppings. There are so many pizza toppings, I can’t cover them all, but my pizza consisted of two toppings (pepperoni and Canadian Bacon) both of which are pork products!

pepperoni

Are you surprised that pepperoni is America’s favorite pizza topping?

Pig farmers provide us with some very tasty foods. Pizza toppings like sausage, bacon, ham and Canadian bacon wouldn’t be possible without them! Did you also know that pigs serve some important purposes other than for food? Pigs are very valuable in the medical field. There are over 40 pharmaceuticals and medicines that come from pigs. Heart valves from pigs can be used as replacements in humans. Before the use of biotechnology most insulin that diabetics used was made from pancreas tissue from pigs.  Not only can’t we appreciate the food that farmers who raise pigs can provide, but their pigs may also have saved the life of someone you know.

deweys

It is pretty easy for me to stop in a restaurant and sit down or pick up a pizza, but by the time I finished by pizza at Dewey’s my mind was churning about all the people that were responsible for getting this pizza to my table. From the farmers, truck drivers, chefs and wait staff, it takes a lot of people to get that pizza for dinner (even if it is Little Cesar’s Hot and Ready)

If you’re interested in following along with some of the folks who were responsible for the growing of these pieces of pizza here are a few suggestions. (There are many more and I’d be happy to find you more if interested)

Wheat: Jenny Rohrich at Prairie Californian has recently had a good series about wheat and just has a lovely blog in general. Jenny is the daughter of a California butcher and recently moved to North Dakota and married a sunflower farmer.

Tomatoes: Jenny Schmidt at The Foodie Farmer is a farmer and RD. They grow tomatoes, grapes, soybeans and barley on their farm not too far out of Washington DC.

Dairy: Carrie Mess over at Dairy Carrie does a great job of explaining what dairy farming is like and why dairy farmers do things the way they do. She works with her family on their 100 cow dairy.

Will Gilmer of Gilmer Dairy Farm you should follow on all things social, especially Twitter and Youtube. He is tweeting and vining all day long so you can really see what goes on in the life of a dairyman. My personal favorite video of Will’s? Water and Poo

#RealPigFarming: Heather Hill at 3 Kids and Lots of Pigs lives on a hog, corn and soybean farm in Indiana.

Val Plagge at Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids blogs from her farm in Iowa about raising all of those things.

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