The last time you attended a Cardinals or Royals game, chances are you didn’t think about agriculture. But did you know that baseball – the sport widely considered America’s favorite pastime – wouldn’t exist without agriculture?
Farmers and ranchers provide materials for nearly every aspect of baseball. Uniforms are made from cotton, while gloves and mitts are made from natural cowhide and leather. Baseballs contain wool, rubber or cork, and horsehide or cowhide. Bats are made from solid ash or maple wood.
Let’s not forget agriculture’s obvious relation to baseball, the iconic snacks. Popcorn, Cracker Jacks, hot dogs and peanuts all come from farmers.
Fancy Farm Popcorn
Here in Missouri, Fancy Farm Popcorn has been growing, packaging and selling popcorn since 1987. Located in southeast Missouri near Bernie, Fancy Farm Popcorn sells millions of pounds of popcorn each year to food service distributors nationwide, and that popcorn often ends up in concession stands at sporting events.
“I enjoy my job because it serves a purpose – we provide people with a popular snack food that everybody likes, and that’s a blessing,” says Sandy Tanner, co-owner of Fancy Farm Popcorn. “We have wonderful employees who are very proud of our product.” Tanner’s son, Zack, grows the majority of bulk popcorn that Fancy Farm processes. The company also contracts with other popcorn growers in southeast Missouri.
Their popcorn crop is harvested each August for use the following year.
“It’s not poppable right away,” Tanner says. “Each kernel has a drop of moisture inside, which explodes when it is heated, causing it to pop. The ideal moisture content of the kernels is 14 percent.” Once cured – or dried – the kernels are cleaned, conditioned, polished and graded according to size. Then it’s packaged and sold in all sizes, from a .75-ounce package up to a 12.5-pound bag.
Farmland Hot Dogs
Kansas City-based Farmland Foods supplies hot dogs for the Kansas City Royals, thanks to their longstanding hometown partnership.
“Farmland is the official pork of the Kansas City Royals, Kansas City Chiefs, Mizzou Athletics and the Sprint Center,” says Taylor Davis, public relations and events coordinator for Smithfield Foods, which owns Farmland. “Our plant produces about 6 million pounds of Farmland retail hot dogs and about 16 million pounds of Farmland bulk hot dogs every year.”
With its Midwest roots, Farmland is a familiar brand to many Missourians.
“People really appreciate the brand and are favorable to it because they have grown up eating it,” Davis says.
Rhoades Family Farms in Lucerne raises hogs for Premium Standard Farm, which is a provider for Farmland. Ed Rhoades says he and his son, James, take pride in the quality of their hogs.
“We’re raising healthy, well-cared for hogs that produce America’s finest hot dogs for America’s favorite pastime,” says Rhoades. “Whenever any of my family goes to a game, we know that we’re getting a good, healthy product.”