After living in our Dallas County home for three years now, it finally happened. My husband Craig and I ripped up our entire master bathroom.

The pinkish tile, the greenish vanity, the shower that’s falling apart—all gone to make the space our own. So far, it has taken a lot of muscle and patience, but the whole picture of our renovations would not be possible without agriculture.

The plywood used to repair sections of our subfloor is made of thin layers of wood bonded together by glue, a livestock by-product. (Oh, and when Craig cut his finger removing old tile, the bandage we used contained a collagen-based adhesive from cattle.) Corn by-products are used in the drywall we’re using to patch holes in the ceiling and also in the varnish I’ll use to stain our wood trim.

The paint to take our walls from a splotchy lime color to a grayish-blue gets its glossiness from the bone fat of pigs and cattle, and my paint brush contains hair from each. Soybeans are even being used to make the toilet seat we’ll replace.

When all is said and done, we will also fill our renovated space with everyday hygiene and health products made from Iowa-grown commodities like shampoo which contains glycerin, a substance derived from cattle that helps hair retain moisture. Our cupboards will hold aspirin, a product bonded together by corn starch, and vitamins in easy-to-swallow capsules made from the gelatin of pigs. Soap, my cosmetics, mouthwash, shaving cream, deodorant, perfume—the list goes on and on of products that exist because of agriculture.

We all know agriculture is critical for our food supply and even supports fuel and fiber, but it’s amazing to think of how many products we use each day that are made possible from the commodities Iowa farmers grow and raise. 

The ingenuity of those involved in growing crops or raising animals, to those finding new uses for them, show a great respect and appreciation for agriculture in that nothing goes to waste. It also shows us, no matter our lifestyles or food preferences, Iowa farmers are making those choices possible.  

By Caitlyn Lamm. Caitlyn is Iowa Farm Bureau's public relations specialist.