Maybe it’s because I used to read the back of cereal boxes as a kid, but nowadays I study food labels like I’m preparing for a pop quiz.

Perhaps you have noticed, too, that food packaging often features a QR code. When I scan the square QR code on my phone, I can find more information that doesn’t fit on the food label.

For example, I once discovered a QR code printed on a carton of strawberries. It linked me to a video of a California farm where the strawberries were grown.

To help make informed choices, we want transparency about where our food is grown and how it is produced. And farmers are listening to our concerns.

Farmers understand their obligation to meet the growing demand for healthy, wholesome food while also preserving our natural resources.

That’s why you can now find YouTube videos or websites, like “Real farmers. Real food. Real meat,” that give virtual tours of farms and food processing facilities.

In the near future, we will have access to new technologies – like augmented reality and blockchain traceability – that can provide consumers with even more transparency about their food from farm to plate.

And with this expanded information, we can feel confident that the food we buy for our families is safe, nutritious and sustainably produced.

In this issue of the Iowa Dish, we will share how new technology, including gene editing, has the potential to provide healthier foods and to help farmers use less water, land and other resources.  

And now that we are in the autumn season of pumpkin spice everything, we visit an Iowa pumpkin farm and discover what are the most in-demand varieties of pumpkins in 2023. (Hint: Barbie pink pumpkins are on-trend this Halloween.)

Plus, if you’re hosting a Friendsgiving feast or holiday gathering this year, be sure to check out our refresher on at-home food safety basics, featuring tips from an Iowa State University expert.

One piece of food safety advice that was new to me: Be sure to ask holiday guests if they have any food allergies.

As we enter the season of thankfulness, let’s send prayers and best wishes to farm families for a safe harvest season.

We’re so fortunate in Iowa and the rural Midwest to get a windshield view of farmers at work during all four seasons. It’s the ultimate in transparency.

Teresa Bjork
Editor, The Iowa Dish

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