Farming is a lot like wearing pants.
Some elevate the ordinary, and others are just ugly.
The same applies to the practices and processes that take our food from farm to table.
Farmers just outside Chicago are growing, raising and harvesting the dairy, meat, and produce we serve our families every day, and through the Illinois Farm Families City Moms (formerly Field Moms) program, are sharing no-holds-barred access to their farms.
Three years ago, I had the opportunity to be part of the year-long flagship program that was just planting seeds in the social media sphere in an effort to answer the questions parents-as-consumers have about real food, GMOs, organics, and technology in farming.
I learned what prime, choice, and select grades mean when it comes to meat (it’s a ranking from highest to lowest); that the Market Day Ranch Steaks we order every month come from a packing plant in Aurora, IL, which includes meat from some of the very cattle I saw firsthand on a farm tour; and that farmers and veterinarians are working to reduce antibiotic use in cattle by focusing on good nutrition and the use of vaccines in comprehensive preconditioning programs before they get big enough for us to eat.
Our group toured a dairy farm, hog farm, cattle farm, and got a front row seat during the corn harvest. In a combine. We saw piglets being born, visited Monsanto, talked to experts in the agricultural field, and heard from generations of family farmers.
As a result, I can make more informed decisions at the grocery store, better understand all things USDA, and share what I’ve learned with other food-curious parents.
Consider learning more about farms by applying to the 2015 City Moms program, and be sure to check out farm tour recaps from current and alumni moms at watchusgrow.org.
Photo credits: IL Farm Families (logo only), DGOE