Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Making Food Decisions Built on Trust

I remind myself everyday how lucky I am to work for farmers. The world of agriculture is like a family to me, and I have built some very strong relationships within my state and across the nation. The exciting part is that my family continues to grow.

For the past year, I have been witness and huge nurturer of a sprouting seed called CommonGround. Farm moms and women are becoming empowered to talk about life on their farms and how they are working to raise safe, nutritious, ethical and environmentally-responsible food. And for the first time in my career, I am working with young, vibrant ladies who represent all facets of food production!

From Shana Beattie who raises corn, soybeans, alfalfa hay, beef cattle, 8 million pounds of pork and her four children alongside her husband on a 100+ year old farm in Nebraska to Mary Courtney, who raises vegetables for local customers through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in Kentucky. She and her husband bought a new farm and are working to support their two young children with one on the way. Linda grows organic produce and crops to enable a livable return on their small farm and Ashley farms several thousand acres of grain in which her family is able to support 14 families by providing jobs in their community. Did I mention they voluntarily participate in an environmental certification program? The best part is that they all support each other.

Katie (right) and her husband raise turkeys for
Subway. How cool is that?
As a mom of two, I embrace the concept of CommonGround: being able to have a conversation with my peers. I have learned so much by listening to these ladies, and I feel better than ever about making a trip to the grocery store. I also know that I want to support local farmers like the Courtney’s, because I have a connection with them, and I know that getting produce closer to the source tastes better. And… wait for it… I no longer look at organic food as some evil marketing scheme trying to dupe me out of my money. It takes a lot of work to comply with certification standards, and a farmer willing to do that should be paid more for his or her labors.

There is room on my table and in my refrigerator for it all, and I can feel good about what I am feeding my family. I have developed trust in my farmers because they are willing to be open with me about why they choose to grow my food in the manner that they do. They are also willing to listen to my concerns and tell me if they can do better. That is meeting on CommonGround, and I am proud to support the movement.

My plea to my readers is that the next time you hear of a food issue in the news or from a fellow friend who may not get their knowledge first hand, seek out one of these fabulous ladies and just ask. You can find them at Bookmark it! You can also find many of my farmer friend's blogs by clicking on the tab at the top.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Don't Get Frustrated, Get Creative!

It doesn't happen all that often, but my now three-year-old threw a fit this evening because he did not want to eat his dinner. Even though I have fixed taco salad many times before, and he has been more than happy to eat, this time he decided that he did not like the way it looked.

He thought he could get away with just hoarding some corn chips, but I quickly told him that he was not going to eat chips alone. The whining and crying was getting him nowhere, and I finally told him that if he was going to continue, he was not going to sit at the dinner table. The rest of us needed to eat in peace.

After I finished my dinner, I put my thinking cap on and tried something else: a deconstructed taco salad.

Do you want a little bit of cheese? Open up like a little birdy. Down went some cheese.

How about some lettuce? He thought eating big pieces of lettuce was really fun.

Now what about some hamburger? It was turkey burger with black beans, but he was happy with "hamburger." He ate several bites.

I rewarded him with an apple cut up in slices (he never refuses fruit). And then he asked for a couple chips with salsa.

So even though he did not eat taco salad, his belly had taco salad, the dinner that I made for everyone.

Yay, me! Good boy, Lane.
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