Did you know that on any given day, 1 in 8 Americans will eat pizza! Pepperoni, sausage, pineapple, ham - the toppings for pizza are endless, and sometimes hard to agree on! But one thing we can all agree on? Pizza is delicious! But where does pizza come from? Let's see how pizza is made from farm to plate!
Pizza crust is made from wheat. Farmers plant tiny wheat kernels, or seeds, in the ground using a drill. Wheat looks like fresh new grass when it comes out of the soil. It grows to about 24 inches high. The farmer harvests the wheat and hauls it in trucks or wagons to the grain elevator. From there, it is sold to food companies. There are a lot of steps to make wheat into flour for pizza dough. After the wheat is shipped to a mill, it is cleaned to remove weeds, stems, and other plant material. Then rollers press the kernels to break them into pieces. Finally, the small wheat pieces are shaken onto screens to sift out the bran and germ not used in white flour. Kansas, Washington and Oklahoma are the top producing states of winter wheat which is used to make pizza dough!
Pizza sauce is made from tomatoes. Tomato plants take 75 to 85 days to produce ripe fruit. The seeds are usually started indoors. Then, after the seedlings are four to six weeks old, they are moved outdoors. Placed in gardens or greenhouses, the plants are supported with stakes to keep them from falling to the wet ground. When the tomatoes are ripe, they are carefully packed into boxes and sent to grocery stores. Some tomatoes are sent to canneries where they are processed for sauces or ketchup. Special herbs such as oregano, basil and garlic are added to tomatoes used in pizza sauce to give it a special taste. The top tomato producing states are California, Florida and North Carolina.
Cheese is made from milk. Cheese on pizza often comes from dairy cows, but goats and other mammals also produce milk. Mozzarella is a popular cheese used on pizza! The top cheese producing states are Wisconsin and California.
Want to learn more? Read Extra Cheese Please!
Pepperoni & Sausage
Pepperoni is America’s favorite pizza topping! Pepperoni and sausage meats are made from hogs. The top three hog producing states are Iowa, North Carolina and Minnesota. The animals are fed a special blend of ground corn, soybeans, vitamins, and minerals. The meat from hogs is called pork. It is ground up and special seasonings are added to make sausage, salami, hot dogs, bacon, and pepperoni.
Farmers in the United States plant close to 125,000 acres of onions and produce 6.2 billion pounds a year. The top onion producing areas in the country are Washington, Oregon, California and Idaho. Onion bulbs are raised either from seed or small onion bulbs called “sets”. Onion bulbs grow underground and have long green tops. After they are picked and cleaned, they are either sold at grocery stores or sent to processing plants. At processing plants, they are diced or processed to be put into foods such as spaghetti sauce, barbecue sauce, and pizza. Each person eats about 20 pounds of onions a year.
There are many types of garden peppers. The sweet pepper is the favorite of most Americans. It is a popular pizza topping. Peppers grow on small bushy plants. They are usually eaten in their immature green stage. But, they also taste great after they have fully ripened and turned red or yellow. California and Florida grow the most green peppers.
Mushrooms are a special item in the produce department at the grocery store! Some of the most common types of mushrooms are white, cremini, portobello, oyster, and shiitake.Pennsylvania and California grow the most mushrooms in the U.S. Mushrooms grow in cool,dark places. Mushrooms grow differently because they lack chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the green substance used by plants to make food. Mushrooms live by soaking up nutrients from organic matter in the soil.