Grilled Corn Salad with Tarragon


This delicious Grilled Corn Salad with Tarragon recipe will enhance any summertime main dish with its refreshing crunch and zip! Best complimented by our cedar-planked salmon or your favorite grilled chicken recipe. Scroll down for instructions and enjoy 🙂

Want to dig deeper into this recipe to learn how foods like these are a part of our bigger food system? We’ve got something for everyone!

Grilled Corn Salad with Tarragon Recipe

Serves 4


  • 8 ears of corn cleaned
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ C. chopped red onion
  • 3 tbls. minced tarragon
  • Juice of one lime
  • 4 tbls. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt


  • While your grill heats up, mix lime juice, olive oil and salt together
  • Brush corn with mixture
  • Grill corn turning often until some parts are blackened for a total of 4 minutes
  • Set corn aside to cool
  • Once cool, cut kernels from the cob and place in a large bowl. Add tomatoes, onions and tarragon. Dress with dressing listed below.

Dressing (optional):

  • 1/3 C. olive oil
  • Juice of one half lemon
  • 1 tbl. honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix honey and lemon juice and then emulsify with olive oil. Pour over corn salad and gently
toss. Chill an hour before serving.

Hungry for more knowledge? Click on the posts below to sate your curiosity about where our food comes from. And click here for more of our tried-and-true recipes. Bon appetit!

5 Nutrients Meat Has that Plants Don’t

Meat is a natural source of many vitamins, minerals, and amino acids and has specific protein compounds fundamental to overall health. Let’s investigate what nutrients meat has that plants lack.

5. Vitamin B12

The B12 vitamin is almost exclusively found in animal foods, including fish, meat, and eggs.

B12 is crucial to maintain a healthy body. It helps develop red blood cells and helps keep our cells healthy. It also supports and maintains nerve and brain function. B12 increases our energy levels by preventing megaloblastic anemia, which makes people tired and weak.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the average daily recommended amount of B12 for adults is 2.4 micrograms. It’s also important to note that plant foods do not naturally contain any vitamin B12 unless they’re fortified, making it difficult to achieve the recommended daily value on a plant-only diet.

4. Vitamin D

Vitamin D comes in two forms – D2 in plants and D3 in animal foods – and both are important. In our bodies, vitamin D, in both its forms, promotes calcium absorption, helps bone growth and cell growth, reduces inflammation, and works to maintain proper immune function. And, although both forms of vitamin D are vital, a vitamin D3 deficiency has been linked increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis.

If you want to increase your vitamin D3 intake, the best sources are fatty fish and egg yolks.

3. DHA

DHA, otherwise known as Docosahexaenoic is an omega-3 fatty acid that’s essential for brain function.

DHA is vital for infant brain development, as well as maintenance and normal brain function for adults. Deficiencies in DHA have been linked to cognitive decline and increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s, cancer, and depression. One study found that a low-fat diet with less DHA increased women’s plasma triglycerides, and the severity of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The best source of DHA is in fatty fish, but there are algal oil supplements you can take if you are following a plant-based diet.

2. Complete Proteins

There are two types of proteins – complete and incomplete – and they differ based on their amino acid profile.

There are over 20 types of amino acids and nine essential amino acids. Complete proteins contain all nine, while incomplete proteins lack at least one amino acid. Because our bodies can’t make these crucial amino acids, they must come from our diet.

Animal-based foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy, are all sources of complete proteins. Plant-based foods, like fruits and veggies, seeds, nuts, and grains, lack one or more essential amino acids, making them incomplete proteins and not a good sole source of protein in your diet.

However, you don’t necessarily have to eat meat to get your amino acids, but you do have to be strategic. You can mix and match incomplete proteins to create a complete one. For example, when consumed together, rice and beans create a complete protein. So do peanut butter and whole wheat bread. Below is a chart to help guide you on what foods contain certain amino acids and what they lack.

1. Digestive properties

Plant and animal proteins are different because they contain different set of amino acids. But they also differ in digestive processes. Animal-based proteins are more nutritionally efficient than plant-based since they are absorbed into the body more quickly.

It takes the body 36 to 72 hours to properly break down protein into its amino acids where they can be absorbed. Since plant proteins have to link up with other foods that contain the amino acid they lack, digestion and absorption take much longer than animal proteins. How fast a protein is absorbed directly affects our metabolism. Plants’ lack of essential amino acids, specifically branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), provide a lower anabolic effect, meaning lower digestibility.

How Do Wildfires Affect Ag?

Wildfires run wild

This summer, many of us have experienced the hazy orange skies and smelly air. It has affected people all throughout the United States and even over in Europe. It’s all too clear for anyone to see and smell: more frequent and more extreme wildfires – fires that consume thousands upon thousands of acres of forests, grasslands and even farming areas, all the while pumping colossal amounts of potentially noxious gases and particulates into the atmosphere.

We have seen it almost daily in video reports of more than 800 active wildfires across Canada and others across large swatches of the United States, notably the Southwest. Most recently, we’ve witnessed the horror of fires in Maui. High temperatures push the gas and ash from fires higher and higher into the atmosphere, allowing jet stream winds to sweep pollutants literally thousands of miles.

Reports of hazy, orange-tinted skies and complaints of sneezing, itchy eyes and difficulty breathing spread across the upper tier of the United States, all the way to the East Coast. As a result, New York City this summer earned the dubious distinction of having the worst air quality in the entire world.

How bad is it?

The numbers associated with today’s wildfires are mind-numbing.

  • Over 5,000 Canadian wildfires so far this year involve all 10 provinces and three territories, covering over 12 million hectares (30 million acres). 52 new fires were reported in a single day (July 31).
  • In the United States, the number of fires and acreage involved trail the Canadian figures but remain substantial, nonetheless. The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reports major fires burning across nine U.S. states, involving 1.1 million acres. The fires in Maui have burned over 2,100 acres alone.
  • The U.S. Forest Service spends up to half its $3 billion budget fighting wildfires. NIFC estimates that the U.S. government spent over $35.5 billion fighting fires covering nearly 7.6 million acres in 2022. The sad part of all this destruction is that 85% of fires are started by humans either by unattended campfires, debris burns that got out of control, including those started by smoldering cigarettes, and arson.
  • The economic costs of wildfires are estimated to range from $71.1 billion to $347.8 billion annually, including direct losses of $63.5 billion to $285 billion.
  • Between 2000 to 2019, more than 400 Wildland Fire Fighters died fighting wildfires.
  • Wildfires are increasing well beyond North America. Major fires this year have occurred in Greece, Portugal, Corfu, France, Italy, Chile, Kazakhstan, China and beyond.  It’s not surprising to hear United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guiterres say we have passed into an “era of global boiling.”
  • The number of U.S. citizens exposed to unhealthy levels of wildfire pollutants for at least one day per year has increased 27-fold in the past decade, with an estimated 25 million Americans breathing potentially toxic air from fires.

Such dramatic statistics may obscure the central questions created for Dirt to Dinner by the proliferation of wildfires.

  • How much of a threat are these wildfires to our personal health and the environment, especially our soil?
  • What if any effect will these wildfires have on our food, in terms of its quality, availability or cost?

What’s the danger to human and animal health from all this?

The loss of forest, grasslands and agricultural land from wildfires is undoubtedly cause for concern.  But if you really want to worry, focus instead on the pollutants created by these enormous conflagrations.

Wildfire smoke is a devil’s brew of harmful ingredients – carbon monoxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, water vapor and various particulate matters. As fires burn, these substances rise in the air, driven upward by heat, finding prevailing winds aloft capable of carrying them thousands of miles.

The fine particles in wildfire smoke irritate the respiratory system, causing wheezing, coughing and difficulty in breathing.  The ability to fight off bacteria and viruses in the lungs may be compromised. Extended exposure can lead to serious respiratory and cardiological problems. Health risks increase, even in healthy people.

For the elderly or very young, pregnant women or the infirm, the consequences can be much worse – and even deadly. (A chart of the overall health effects can be found here.)

The chief culprits in this health threat are polluting particles known as PM2.5 – particles generally 2.5 microns in diameter, or smaller.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates these PM2.5 particles may make up as much as 90 percent of the total mass of particles emitted from wildfires.  Their small size enables them to pass through the normal air filtrations systems of the human body and find their way to the lungs and cause damage to both the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

The scientific community continues to explore the question of the relationship between exposure and lasting health damage.

But whether a short-term problem or a long-term health issue, PM2.5 particles are cause for genuine concern.

(At D2D, we wrote about how you can mitigate the harmful effects of wildfire smoke in your lungs with a nutrient-dense diet.)

What about farming and the environment?

Air pollutants are nothing new. Many of the same pollutants from wildfires are common to any industrialized society, from manufacturing to power generation and beyond.  The creation of the EPA on January 9, 1970, was a milestone in the regulatory oversight of noxious pollutants arising from human activity.

Wildfires, however, are not easily subject to regulatory constraints. The prospect of more frequent and more intense wildfires worries many environmentalists, with some openly asking if we are entering a new era of air pollution from wildfires that erases many of the hard-won air quality gains since the 1970s. And as air quality declines, human and animal health risks rise. Overall, ecologically minded climate observers say, wildfires add to pressures to enforce stringent air-quality guidelines and battle the climate change that fuels wildfires.

Life-long farmers at the front lines of the wildfire battles seem to acknowledge the environmental aspects of the wildfires and the likelihood we will see such events increase in frequency.  But for now, they tend to shrug off their lasting effects on agricultural productivity, or our overall food supply.  They also make it clear that we shouldn’t allow any sole focus on the role of climate change in the current situation to become a smokescreen for other important issues.

What our experts have to say…

Jay Walter of Greenridge Farming in Oregon worries the public clamor over wildfires might “fuel a bigger fire of misperception” about the effect of fire on our food system.  Wildfires are nothing new for producers, especially in the drier, less humid production areas like the Pacific Northwest, Montana and even Kansas, he observes.

“We’ve had bad fires in two of the past five years here in the Pacific Northwest,” he notes. “I haven’t seen any evidence that particulates have had any real effect on our crops… there’s no loss in quality.  Maybe yields drop a little, but not enough to worry me.”  (Certain special crops – such as the grapes used to create the superb area wines – may be vulnerable to the heat and its effects.)

On the other hand, smoky, hazy conditions also may diffuse or otherwise block sunlight from reaching plants, according to Dave Cameron, who operates C6 Agri Farms in Omaha, Nebraska.  “That limits the heat units that crops need to mature, with maybe minimal effect on yield. But I haven’t seen evidence that it limits them enough to cause any serious problems.”

Don Wysocki, extension soil scientist at Oregon State University and past regional director of the Soil and Water Conservation Society, largely agrees with Walter and Cameron:

“Fires tend to occur more in forested lands and grasslands used for grazing far more than crop areas,” Wysocki observes.

“They happen where the physical conditions are right – the temperature, moisture conditions, wind conditions, plus fuel load. If a fire becomes too intense, the high heat can affect the soil, but by and large such occurrences in row-crop situations are comparatively rare.”

“The big Yellowstone fire years ago burned the organic material out of the soil,” he notes, and created hydrophobicity. That means the soil became so compacted it actually repelled water and lacked the organic material needed to absorb water.  “It took years for the vegetation to regenerate and restore vitality to the soil,” he said. “But it just doesn’t happen in agriculture. The intensity and duration of the fire just isn’t there.”

Walter and Cameron also say the effects of wildfires on farm animals appear to be minimal and often depends upon the proximity to an actual fire.  Heat and the pollutants within smoke can have the same pernicious effects on farm animals as they have on humans, they acknowledge.  But by and large, unless the animals are in close and sustained proximity to a fire, the effects aren’t too severe and don’t last long. Farmers and ranchers take the health and well-being of their animals seriously and will do whatever they can to assure their protection from real harm.

Cameron adds the often-overlooked effect of wildfires on animal habitat.  Fires push out wildlife and can contribute to a change to the overall ecosystem.  Dealing with that can become yet another matter for smart farm management.

What about the effect on ag labor?

Farming and ranching are labor-intensive activities. Crops such as potatoes, onions and other fruits and vegetables are especially dependent upon human workers, not just machines and technology.

Imagine running eight potato-harvesting lines of 60 workers each at harvest, explains Walter. Now imagine working a 12- or 14-hour shift in high temperatures and smoky conditions, when it’s tough to catch your breath and you are losing fluids rapidly.  Even increasing the number and length of rest breaks doesn’t make it easy.  Now multiply that situation across all sorts of the fruit, vegetable and other crops grown the areas most vulnerable to the effects of wildfires.

The problem isn’t unique to the Pacific Northwest or other locales adjacent to major fires. When AirNow, a coalition of U.S. government agencies, daily reports air-quality indices and shows “unhealthy“ and “seriously unhealthy air” across widespread parts of  the United States, it may well be time to heed Walter’s advice and shift more attention to the human dimension of the wildfire problem. (See an AirNow report here.)

One of the largest effects of wildfires on agriculture may be the added complications they create in finding the volume of workers needed to make the system function. Labor already has become of the biggest challenges to our food system. Wildfires may add fuel to that kind of fire, too. And working forced to sit out until the smoke clears
could lead to a loss of harvest in a localized crop.

Are these wildfires at all preventable?

Cameron acknowledges the widespread concern that climate change may be fueling more wildfires. Based upon his decades of experience in farming and farm management, he adds another important element to the causal mix that makes the explanation for more wildfires a bit more complicated than just climate change.

“The people are the story,” says Walter, “not the crops.”

“I call it the domestication of people,” he says with a laugh. “People are out and about a lot more than before. They like to get out in the country and walk and hike and camp and other things. That’s fine. But it also creates a lot more opportunities for accidents.”  Fires need an ignition source, he points out, like a spark, or lightning, or even a smoldering cigarette or campfire.

Farmers and ranchers in areas susceptible to fires have developed their own management techniques to deal with what they see as just another element of risk that comes with farming. Producers plan and prepare, Wysocki points out. (To better understand how fires spread so quickly, watch this video.)

At harvest, when dry conditions are common, Wysocki notes, producers have water trucks standing by in case of fire. They also band together on “Red Flag” days – high risk days, with warnings of an increased risk of wildfire in the next 12-24 hours.  When the red flag is out, farming communities stand ready to respond to any sign of smoke with combines, tractors and water wagons to keep any outbreak as small and isolated as possible.

All three farming experts agree that wildfires are cause for concern – but not over-reaction, especially about our food.  Spot shortages of certain commodities and food products may occur as a result of proximity to an actual fire, they conclude. But any problems will be situational rather than systemic, as current evidence suggests that wildfires are unlikely to have a substantial impact on our food supply in terms of quality, cost, or long-term damage to natural resources. Any disruptions in the system would likely be temporary and limited to specific food products in areas adjacent to major wildfire zones.

How Bad is RoundUp? Expert explains

Many of us use glyphosate, or RoundUp, as a weed killer on our lawns and in our gardens. This product also has applications in agriculture, forestry, and commercial uses. Despite its efficacy, there are big questions regarding its potentially harmful side effects on the environment and human health.

Thankfully for D2D and our listeners, Dr. Novy takes the time to educate us on how glyphosate works so we can better understand its pros and cons. And he shares some evidence-based examples of when glyphosate can be used as one tool of many in a toolbox for land and crop management, when used judiciously.

Dr. Novy runs the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas, CA, a 37-acre facility with extensive collections of Mediterranean climate plants as well as award-winning children’s gardens. He previously served as an environmental consultant on infrastructure projects in the northeastern United States. Dr. Novy completed his Bachelor of Arts degree at New York University and his doctorate at Rutgers University.

How Much Protein Should We Eat?

protein shake with almonds

A case study in how much protein is enough

Take, for instance, Patrick and Cynthia. Patrick’s day consisted of sitting at his desk at work, working on his computer, and then coming home to relax on his couch with some TV shows. He rarely engages in any physical activity or exercise except for an after-dinner stroll with his wife.

Patrick’s protein needs are usually calculated based on his body weight, which is 195 pounds. His recommended daily protein intake is  0.35g per pound of body weight, which amounts to approximately 70g of protein per day. This amount of protein is enough to meet Patrick’s minimum physiological protein needs and support his lifestyle.

On the other side of the spectrum is an athletic individual named Cynthia. Cynthia is gearing up for a marathon while weightlifting and doing high-intensity intervals as part of her training.

How much protein does Cynthia need each day? Based on her body weight of 154 pounds and intense level of activity, her recommended daily protein intake is about o.73g per lb., which amounts to approximately 112g of protein per day. This is necessary because her body needs more protein to repair and build muscle tissue, support her high-intensity workouts, and recover faster.

Body weight & lifestyle factors

Most of us fall in between Cynthia and Patrick. We exercise between 30-60 minutes a day, and it can range from yoga and walking to lifting weights and high-intensity cardio. Our protein intake depends on our lifestyle and energy needs.

The American College of Sports Medicine indicates that anywhere from 10-35% of the average American’s diet should contain proteins. In terms of bodyweight, this means a recreational athlete weighing 150 pounds should strive for between 75-90 grams per day.

Of course, if you exercise more, you can increase your protein consumption— but you don’t need to overdo it! If you are eating protein with the hopes of building muscle, the quality, quantity, and timing of consumption is more important than the overall amount you eat.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends eating 20-30 grams of complete protein within 2 hours of exercise.

Which protein sources are best?

When eating protein, you want to make sure it is a complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids. Eggs, milk, and lean beef are high-quality proteins that are easily digestible. For instance, one large egg contains around 6 grams of protein.

Turkey, chicken, and fish are also a good source of protein. 3 oz. of chicken or fish contains anywhere from 19-24 grams of protein.

Dairy is another great source of protein: a 5.3 oz container of plain Greek yogurt contains 15 grams of protein. A cup of milk has roughly 8 grams of protein and an ounce of cheese contains 7 grams of protein.

Legumes have protein, too! A cup of lentils contains roughly 16 grams of protein. Including a variety of vegetable protein sources in your diet is also a good strategy to ensure you’re getting a range of nutrients.

But let’s say you are the average athlete, and you weigh 150 pounds and need about 75-90 grams of protein. In one day, if you ate:

  • 1 cup of oatmeal (10g of protein)
  • two eggs (12 g)
  • 6 oz of chicken (42g)
  • ½ cup of lentils (8g)
  • 1 cup of black beans (15g)

…you would have consumed 87 grams of protein.

But honestly, that is a lot of food. Plus, you need to add in more fruits and vegetables and some carbs. So, it is tempting to throw in some protein powder on your oatmeal in the morning or eat a protein bar as an afternoon snack.

What about protein supplements?

Are protein products, like shakes, powders, and bars, part of your daily routine? The protein supplement market has been rapidly expanding, with the industry fueled by factors such as the aging population, fitness trends, growing interests in plant-based protein supplements, and accessibility to e-commerce. There is also a continuous interest in self-care, contributing to the growth of this industry.

The question of whether protein supplements are good for you depends on various factors, including your dietary needs, health status, and lifestyle. Of course, like any change in your diet, it is best to ask your doctor.

However, EatingWell suggests that high-quality, third-party tested protein powders with minimal sugar and no harmful additives can be a healthy choice. As we age, we lose muscle, and boosting our protein intake may help increase strength and lean body mass, especially if you have a restricted diet.

Medical News Today also shares research suggesting that protein supplements significantly improve muscle size and strength in healthy adults who perform resistance-based exercise training.

Protein powder considerations

However, it’s important to consider the quality control of protein supplements. As per a review published on Human Kinetics, safety assessments are crucial, especially given the potential addition of cheaper ingredients to increase total protein content.

According to Harvard Health, protein powder supplements can harbor health risks and are recommended only for certain conditions, such as impaired appetite or wounds. You should make sure that the protein powder is ‘clean’ and does not have unnecessary additives. NIH published a study indicating that some protein powder supplements can have heavy metals.

Lastly, online sales of protein supplements have increased, indicating a shift in how consumers purchase these products. However, this also highlights the need for further education on potential health risks from unregulated protein supplements, as stated in a study on Wiley Online Library.

Can you consume too much protein?

You might not need your morning protein shake as much as you think. Of course, like anything else, too much of a good thing is just…too much.

Cleveland Clinic stresses that aside from bad breath, too much protein can overstress your kidneys causing kidney damage, digestive problems, and dehydration. It is always important to drink enough water to make sure your kidneys function well.

MDPI suggests the following:

“…Instead of adding protein and amino acid supplements to high-protein diets, protein should be preferably received from whole foods, such as fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and cereals, along with fibers and other food components supporting the well-being of both the host and their gut microbiota.

This should be highlighted in the nutritional plans of athletes, sportspeople, as well as more sedentary populations.

Protein supplements can certainly be a healthy addition to your diet, but they’re not for everyone. These supplements are often utilized by athletes and those with specific dietary requirements who may struggle to meet their protein needs through food alone.

So, while protein supplements can be beneficial for some, they should be used wisely and under the guidance of a healthcare or nutritional professional.

Expert Insights on Water Security

Water, water everywhere. But is there enough to drink? 

With oceans and aquifers and ice caps, you would think we have plenty, but just a fraction of that is considered freshwater. Add to that the need for water for household use, for crop production and food processing and a myriad of other uses and situations, and there’s ample reason to worry.

Dr. Fleming sits down with Dirt to Dinner’s Digging In to explain why we need to be concerned, and what’s being done to make sure we have the water security we need. 

Dr. Hubert Fleming is a Senior Advisor at Worley, an American-Australian energy engineering company. Hu has been Sr. Advisor to Morgan Stanley, Loeb Partners, and the World Bank, as well as other investment organizations and the U.S. Department of Energy. He’s formerly Global Head, Water, Anglo American and Global Director at Hatch. Hu holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Cornell and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

We’ll also talk with Fleming about how a more thoughtful and coordinated approach to tackling the subject can work for everyone’s benefit. Take a listen and quench your thirst for knowing more about this important issue facing all of us.