Christian. BoyMom. Farmer's Wife. Marathon Runner. Ag Professional. Bourbon Lover.
Advocate for all things agriculture and rural.
Advocate for all things agriculture and rural.
Tunis Sheep Hampshires heed
I married into a farming family. And when you marry into a farming family you realize they take some things very seriously. And this family takes gardening, and sweet corn, very, very seriously!
A few years ago I had the privilege of spending the day with my husband’s grandparents and learning about how his Grandma freezes corn – she does dozens and dozens of quarts each year. A few years later my father in law added an office and small kitchen on to his shop – so the corn freezing moved there and now they freeze with assembly line efficiency!
So today that is what they did – they picked, cleaned, boiled, cut and froze corn. The whole family got in the action – from my baby boy who just turned one to great Grandma Mildred and Great Grandpa PD who have been married over sixty years!
The steps (and pictures) we took are below. Enjoy and let me know what your family does differently!
1. Pick or buy the corn. If you are buying to freeze, make sure and ask the folks you buy your corn from. Often they will have a discounted price on multiple dozen and sometimes they will have a special price for "freezer corn". This may be some of the smaller ears (that often taste better!) or some of the corn that had the tops stolen by birds or raccoons and you can just cut those spots off.
2. Shuck the corn. Grandpa and Grandson make a great team for this.
3. Desilk the corn. There is a silk for each kernel on the cob. The silk is what transfers the pollen down to the plant to make the kernel! But, they get stuck in your teeth so its best to get rid of them before you freeze.
The first time I froze corn with Grandma Mildred she showed me how to take a paper towel and rub it up and down the ear to remove most of the silks pretty quickly. It was still quite a process.
This year however we had a MAJOR upgrade in our project. Check out the below images of this electric corn desilker!
4. Check ears for bad spots and remove. Quickly look over the ears and using a sharp knife, remove any areas that have animal damage or undeveloped kernels that you won't want to cut off into your final corn.
5. Place ears into a large pot of boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Keeping the water hot through multiple batches gets tricky!
6. Remove the corn from the boiling water and place immediately into an ice bath. Leave corn in ice water just long enough to cool the ears down to where you can easily handle them.
7. Cut the corn off the cob. Grandpa Paul reminded me to be careful not to cut too deep into the cob or this winter when you go to eat it the corn will taste like cob instead! After you cut the kernels off, scrape up and down the ear to release some additional sugar from the ear.
8. Put the corn into freezer tubs or freezer bags. Make sure and leave some extra room in the containers because they will expand when they freeze.
9. Cover with salt water mixture. Grandma Mildred suggests a teaspoon of salt per quarter of water for the salt water mixture.
10. Put into your freezer and remove sometime this winter when the memory of 100 degree days has long since faded!
Quick Steps to Freezing Corn:
1. Pick or buy corn.
2. Shuck corn.
3. Desilk corn.
4. Check for bad spots and remove.
5. Boil corn for 3-4 minutes.
6. Place corn into ice bath.
7. Cut the corn off cob and scrape sides for extra sugars.
8. Put into containers.
9. Cover with salt water mixture (1 tsp salt/ quart water)
10. Freeze and enjoy!
7/21/2015 4 Comments
He is not "just a farmer"
The boys and I made the trip back home to northern Illinois over the weekend, without my husband who was in the fields still, and someone asked, “Does your husband just farm?”.
I understood the question. The person asking was wondering if that was his full time job or if he had another job. And the person asking was certainly not meaning any offense by the question. But it had me thinking for many of the miles home.
My husband, like any farmer, is not “just” a farmer. He is a well-educated, smart man. And this is not unique to my husband. Most all the successful farmers I know are ridiculously smart. In no way are these people “just” farmers. So here is a list of just some of the roles farmers play every day.
·Laborers: Much of their day is spent doing physical labor. Before I sat down at my desk this morning my husband had physically hauled feed to several hundred animals and picked about 30 dozen ears of sweet corn. A few months ago we participated in a Fitbit challenge and I was blown away when my husband consistently out-stepped me (the runner!).
One day I had an EIGHTEEN mile run. I got up at 4am and purposely ran around town in circles for 18 miles. He out-stepped me that day (they were building fence) by 100 steps. I cried.
·Scientists: They are constantly gathering and analyzing data, testing soils and plants, analyzing those tests to make informed decisions about what the next move will be. This year for instance, my husband has had to monitor the rain fall on each of his fields to try and gage how the nutrient content, soil health and plants will be affected from the large amounts of moisture we have had and determine if there is anything they can do to help their plants.
If you doubt the intelligence of a farmer, check out this guide from North Carolina Department of Ag that is supposed to help a person read a soil test.
·Weathermen: The farmer does not rely on the local news channel for his forecast. Instead, he gets out his smart phone and looks at a dozen different websites, analyzes the radar maps, and makes his best determinations about when to plant, when to mow hay, and when to hold off. These decisions can be the difference between making a profit or not.
People married to farmers do not check the weather either – we simply call our farmer (who is probably more accurate)!
·Chemists: Many farmers have their chemical applicators licenses and are required to study and understand the chemicals they are using. Watching my husband prepare his sprayer is like watching a chemist at work in a lab. He is intimately familiar with the chemicals he is using, their purpose, risks and hazards, and the exact measurements and mixtures he needs to be safe and effective!
·Veterinarians: Livestock farmers simply cannot rely on their local veterinarian all the time. They have to know about medications, dosages, and wound care. It’s not uncommon during calving or lambing season for my husband to have to deliver babies, treat mamma for something and treat babies for something in the middle of the night when no one else is available.
·Buyers: The options available to farmers for seed, chemical, fertilizers, loan products, equipment and more are endless. They have to spend time sorting through all of the data and reviews to make the best decisions for their operations. Unlike popular internet myth, Monsanto does not make a single one of these decisions for the farmer and Monsanto is only one of many choices they have.
·Marketers: Farmers have to market their own grain, hopefully at the right times. They have to make the final determination about what to sell and when. Again, these decisions can mean the difference between being able to make the farm payment or not.
·Lobbyists: Farmers now make up less than 1% of the population. This means each year politicians care less and less about how their legislation affects farmers. Several times a year my husband puts on his suit and tie and heads to our state capital to meet with lawmakers and tell his side of the story.
·Heavy Equipment Operators: So this is probably a given. Most people think of farmers driving their HUGE tractors in the fields. But farmers also have to navigate those giant pieces of equipment down city streets and highways, safely! This is a huge challenge for them during planting and harvest and one of the most stressful things about their job. So always remember to SLOW DOWN when you see farm equipment on the road!
·Mechanics: Farm equipment breaks down. It breaks down in fields that are miles and miles from anywhere. And most farmers can fix most anything and have to, often times in a hurry.
·Men of God: They know there is only a portion of their job they can control and huge portion they cannot. They cannot control the weather, disease, pests, prices and more. So they look up and ask the Good Lord to give them the tools they need to make it another year doing what they love.
Whatever farmers do they always do it well!
I am in Denver this week, surrounded by some of the leading minds in agriculture real estate. I have had some amazing conversations and learned much, some of which I'll try to share!
A fellow appraiser and family farmer in Washinton explained to me how many of the organics are grown in her region of Washinton (state).
You can see on my drawing above that farmers grow conventional plants in an outer area with the organics contained within the middle.
This setup allows for a "barrier" from pests. The conventional products can be treated for pests with highly regulated and tested (and safe) pesticides. The organics in the center then benefit by being surrounded by the treated area.
How would it effect yields and quality of production if growers didn't have such barriers? What would happen to cost?
Are organic farmers often portrayed as more caring? More careful? Does it alter your perception when you realize many of the organics on the market are produced by the same families who are also growing much of the conventional food?
Jackson County, Oregon has passed, and the courts have upheld, a county wide ban on growing GMO’s.
The Farmer’s Daughter does a great job giving an overview of the decision that was upheld on Monday in Oregon.
This is not a ban on the consumption, sale or processing of GMOs. It is only a ban on growing them. It’s obvious why conventional farmers would lose sleep over such a decision, but here are some other people who should be just as angry.
1. Consumers: County by county ban on production practices will negatively impact food choice and food price.
If this single county sets a precedence and farming management decisions are being made in courtrooms by judges, instead of at kitchen tables by farm families, food selection will go down and price will go up.
Consumers, preferably with reliable and fact based information, should have the right to choose which type of farming practices and products they want to support with their purchases. Farmers should then have the right to respond to consumer demand with farming practices that make the most sustainable and economic sense for their farms.
2. Small Business Owners: Any small business owner should be enraged at the government making management decisions for us.
An important and often overlooked fact is that each family farm in your community is a small business. They employ part time and full time workers, they buy and sell thousands of dollars of goods within the local community, they pay taxes, and they donate time and money to local causes.
The Government, without the support of fact or science, determined some farm families to be of more worth than others. They have handed a death sentence to conventional family farms in their county.
3. Supporters of Young Farmers: Young farmers could be wiped out if the government limits their ability to use the latest technology.
Young and beginning farmers face unique challenges compared to their more established counterparts. Our margins are even thinner than our neighbors that have been operating longer. Our debt is greater, our equity is less. We make farming decisions based on long term projections and rely on the ability to use all resources available to us.
If the government removes our ability to farm using the most advanced seed technology available, it would very well bankrupt us. On good years there may not be measurable difference in yield (income). But on bad years? We could suffer a major loss without the assistance of insect protection, drought protection, and more that GMO technology provides.
Go here for an in depth analysis of the cost and income differences of GM and non GM crops.
4. Science Community: In a single ruling, a judge rejected the lifetime work and opinions of scientists who have devoted their careers to studying GMO technology.
There is no more thoroughly tested food on the market today than GMO variety food crops. As explained by Genetic Literacy Project, 89% of scientists believe GMO foods are safe! This judge threw science, fact and reason out the window and instead used emotionally changed anecdotes to make a ruling.
5. And everyone else. It has become cliché to call someone un-American, or un-patriotic when they don’t agree with your principles. But there is something terrifying to me about a group of voters willing to strip away the ability of farm families to make their own management decisions.
It’s even more terrifying the government would make such broad based laws with no science, fact or reason.
Remember, this decision has nothing to do with the actual consumption of GMO's products. This ban only limits the ability of families to chose which production practices are best for their family on their farm.
(Note - there is no safety or nutritional difference in organic and conventional raw products. The difference in organic and conventionally grown products is ONLY in production practices.) Read here for a great analysis on the two.
3/7/2015 33 Comments
Five reasons to feel GOOD (maybe even PROUD) about buying conventionally grown food!
I asked several of my non-farming friends what their main concerns are when grocery shopping. Most of them rattled off a few things about health and safety and then nearly all of them, almost quietly, mentioned cost.
I am here to tell you it’s a GOOD thing to be considerate of cost at the grocery store and I am going to tell you why you can feel good about, or dare I say PROUD, about buying conventionally grown products!
1. Conventionally grown is equally as nutritious and safe as its organic counterparts!!
All foods are rigorously tested for food safety in the USA which is why in the rare case when someone does get sick from food, it still makes headlines. In many countries, a person getting sick from food is not even considered news worthy!
Hundreds of tests have been done and there are no nutritional differences in the two. Organic is a method of producing food, not a label that indicates anything about the safety or nutrition of the product.
(Review one of the studies completed for nutritional differences here: http://www.ilsi.org/FoodBioTech/Publications/10_ILSI2008_CaseStudies_CRFSFS.pdf)
Most all produce can be found with extreme trace amounts of pesticide (yes organic production does allow for the use of over 50 pesticides). There is no notable differences in these trace amounts from organic and conventionally grown making both options SAFE options!
2. Being financially smart is GOOD and IMPORTANT for your family!
I would guess most families are just like mine – living on a budget that most often is pretty tight. When you refuse to pay twice the price for a gallon of milk labeled “antibiotic free” because you know ALL dairy and meat are antibiotic free at the time of consumption, you are telling your family that their financial security is important to you!
I am giving you permission to be financially smart –without guilt – about your buying decisions at the grocery store! Moms especially tend to stress about doing the absolute best for their children. Don't let this be one of the things that adds stress -- because fresh food is always a good choice regardless of how it was produced!
3. You are supporting family farmers, whose livelihood depends on their farms!
People have a tendency to confuse the “organic” label with “local”, “small” or “family”. Yes, a lot of organic is produced that way (some is not). But guess what – nearly all conventionally grown foods are also grown BY FAMILY FARMERS!!
My husband raises conventional grown (yes that means GMO) corn, soybeans, alfalfa hay and of course cattle and sheep. We also eat what we consume. We also feed it to our livestock and children.
When you purchase products that are conventionally grown you are not supporting some scary “agribusiness giant” – you are supporting him. And hundreds of farmers just like him. A majority of which are also small farmers like our family.
4. You are supporting technology that allows a safe, affordable food source worldwide!
GMO technology is the most thoroughly tested product on the market today. In fact, there are over 2000 independent and peer reviewed studies that show the safeness of GMOs for both human and livestock consumption!
(See a discussion on those studies here: http://geneticliteracyproject.org/2013/10/08/with-2000-global-studies-confirming-safety-gm-foods-among-most-analyzed-subject-in-science/)
When you say “Yes!” to conventionally grown products you are supporting further development of this technology that has allowed us to produce more food on fewer resources than ever before!
GMO technology allows us to better care for our land and water. GMO technology allows us to use less chemical and to better negate the risks involved in farming such as drought, flood, pests and disease. GMO technology is keeping food at affordable prices.
5. You are teaching your children to base decisions on logic and fact, not fads and marketing.
Many labels were developed as a means of fetching a premium for a product. Many of these practices have higher costs and higher waste, so marketing the product for a premium is vital to the industry. This marketing is often done by ill means – misleading information, scare tactics and food guilt targeted at food produced by other, more modern means.
Organics is a $35 billion dollar per year business – so do not be fooled. It is a business – one that is not anymore concerned about your wellbeing and health than any other business is.
Trust in fact and science to take comfort in your purchase decisions. Trillions of meals containing GMOs have been consumed and not one case causing human harm has been found.
The World Health Organization, AMA, FDA, European Commission, National Research Center and even the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation all support the safety of GMOs.
(Someone will argue that some other countries do not allow GMOs, which is true. The reason however has nothing to do with science, evidence or any ill effects of GMOs. It is simply because their governments caved to public pressure when the public was scared by the same tactics being used here now).
Not all of us have the luxury of being able to spend limitless dollars on food. Not of all of us think it’s necessary even if we did have the money.
Many of us know that it’s OK, even something we can feel good about, to feed our families with scientifically proven products, that are safe and nutritious and grown by family farmers!
So say no to #FoodGuilt and yes to #FoodFacts!
For more information about all types of farming, please visit some of the following links:
Genetic Literacy Project
Missouri Farmers Care
For information regarding the requirements of organic production please visit here:
10/1/2014 14 Comments
Flip flops and record corn yields
In all my naivety of being a farmer’s wife for only six harvests, I thought this was surely going to be “IT”! This was the year we had been waiting for!
Right? Well then it rained. Which was good at first, for the late beans. And then it kept raining. And raining. Until 5-10 inches has accumulated and bean fields were submerged and I could only see the tassels sticking out from atop the corn.
But the rain went down, and not everything was ruined. There is a faint smell of dog waste in the low areas as the soybeans rot in the fields, but most of the crop was still OK. So now this was going to be “it”!
Harvest started for us on Monday! And husband came home late and confirmed exactly what I thought! A record crop! He had never before raised 200 bushel corn and now this year we might average it! I was planning my tropical vacation….
And while I was picking out flip flops, he reminded me about prices. Prices? Oh yea….prices. Corn was at an all-time low during my tenure as a farmer’s wife and getting lower every day. And because our neighbors (and by neighbors I mean every corn farmer in the continental US) were also looking at record yields, chances are it was only getting cheaper.
Ok, so put away the suitcase. But, I knew when I signed up for this gig that we weren’t in it to get rich. (Or at least he claims I knew that. I don’t recall him telling me that but it must have been in the fine print on the marriage license.)
But still, we were going to have record yields! So even if corn was cheap we were still going to have lots of it and this would off-set low prices and we would still have an awesome, worry free harvest.
And then, this morning over coffee I found out the elevator in town is full. And the facility south of town that our elevator hauls to is nearly full and could be maxed out in as little as five days. And the private grain storage we have won’t be enough for even half of the grain we raise.
Ok, so then what? We wait. For how long? Days with trucks in line at town. Weeks to get the crop out because there is no where to take it.
So harvest will be stretched out and slow. That won’t be so bad, I thought. He will be home for dinner at night. And he will still be relaxed because we have all those beans standing in the field!
Then I found out that corn can sprout….ON THE EAR. And this is a very bad thing. And beans? Yes they will shatter and break onto the ground, where they can no longer be harvested.
I watched my father-in-law punch numbers into his calculator this morning as he estimated how many bushel he could store on what farms, and if he were able to haul some off how much more room he could get. And what if they were still able to rent those bins a friend had saved for them? But no matter how he ran the numbers there just wasn't enough room.
So, lesson learned (again). This isn't "it". This won't be the year all my crazy dreams come true of exotic vacations and an expensive show heifer.
But at the end of the day I still have everything I really need - a good husband, healthy boys, and an extra 15,000 bushel of grain to dump in the backyard and walk through with my flip flops on!
Happy (and SAFE) harvest to everyone!
Amendment 1 will not protect farmers.
You are right Mr Oswald. Amendment 1 will not protect family farmers from corporate farmers (although you haven't convinced me why exactly I need protection from them.) It will also not protect organic farmers from traditional farmers. It will not protect large farmers from small farmers.
Amendment 1 will not protect farmers from drought. Or floods. Or hail. Or bad prices. Amendment 1 will be hard to enforce with the deer population consuming half our bean crop, even if it's easy to see how they are infringing on my right to farm. Amendment 1 will not protect from your neighbors cows trampling your beans. And it will not protect from cold or wind or hot.
There is a whole list of things amendment 1 will not do.
Mr. Oswald, in response to your article in Missouri Farmer Today, I would like to suggest that if you are looking for blanket protection from all of the risks we face in this business, you may have chosen the wrong business.
You see Mr. Oswald, Amendment 1 wasn't designed to protect from these things. It wasn't designed to wage a war between corporate and family farms, or large and small farms.
Amendment 1 was written to protect against a threat you chose to not even address. A threat that is far greater than any of those you tried to scare us with. A threat that will be the biggest challenge agriculture has ever faced.
A threat that we will continue to under-estimate for years more, until it's too late.
I assume the reason you did not address this threat is because your biggest donor, HSUS, is the main perpetrator of it.
Amendment 1 is designed to protect all farmers from unjust, unnecessary and costly legislation. Something HSUS spends over half it's 150 million dollar budget on trying to pass. (I must give credit to the group for the 0.43% of the budget that helped cats and dogs.)
Amendment 1 was written to stop politicians from telling me what seeds to plant, what times I can harvest, who can provide health care to my livestock. It is written to keep the animal extremists, like your donors, from telling us how to do our jobs.
This threat is very, very real in other states. They get it. They wish they would have passed right to farm before it was too late for them.
And this threat will become very real here if we do not stop it on August 5.
If your neighbor sprays your crops, or the commercial farmer wants to take your land, he will have to take it to the courts. (And any simple legal analysis would tell you that his right to farm could not, under any circumstances, trump your right to farm simply because he is larger). The neighbor who sprays your crops will still be liable for it (just like he is now). The corporation wanting to take your land will not be able to do so (just like they can't now).
I would encourage you to start having a conversation about the real issue Mr. Oswald. I would encourage you to stop using scare tactics to encourage a fight among neighbors.
We are all in this together. We all suffer when it's dry, we all suffer when it's too wet. And we will all suffer if we do not tell out of state interest groups to stay out of our farming policy.
Vote YES on amendment 1.
(Written in response to an article that was published in the Missouri Farmer Today by Missouri Farmers Union President, Richard Oswald.) To see the full article visit here: http://www.missourifarmertoday.com/news/opinion/amendment-one-would-not-protect-missouri-family-farms/article_b1335ef6-0134-11e4-be2f-0019bb2963f4.html
7/22/2014 1 Comment
Missouri Vote YES on Amendment 1
There is a lot of misinformation out there about amendment one. To understand it, you must understand why it was written and the challenge that farmers are facing right now.
99% of farms are family owned. Even the controversial "corporate" farms are mostly family owned farms that have incorporated for tax purposes. (For instance if Matt and his Dad Steve decided for tax purposes to become Lambert Farms, Inc). This would not change how they operate or how much care they put into what they do, it would only change the grounds on which they were attacked and how they file their taxes.
It's very difficult for family farms and corporate farms, who operate on extremely thin margins, to spend any money on PR, or public relations. We don't have time, or money, to explain how we care about the environment as much, if not more, than anybody. Or that our animals are cared for better than a lot of human beings. For too many generations we just assumed people knew this. And now we are being blindsided with the fact that there are groups out there profiting from spreading lies.
Groups like HSUS and PETA make the most money when they scare you. They scare you about animal ag, they scare you about production Ag, they scare you about your food. When they tell these lies, you get out your checkbook. The truth isn't scary or sensational, so it doesn't get any of the Internet or media coverage the lies do.
So, why vote yes on amendment one? This amendment protects our right to farm and will not allow these out of state groups to come in here and pass voter initiatives based on lies and false accusations. It will require new regulations to be carefully analyzed for their effect on farmers before being passed. It will protect us because we don't have the millions of dollars to fight the media war.
This amendment does NOT protect corporations over family farms. It does NOT change ownership laws. It does NOT override any local or state ordinances, even for large hog and cattle operations. It does NOT negate any liability on our part to follow these laws, to protect the environment and to protect the food, water and consumer.
Please vote yes on amendment 1 and if you have any questions, please ask.
The less than 1% of people that are involved in production agriculture need your help to be protected from the misinformed masses.
3/26/2014 2 Comments
The necessity of fertilizers
Tonight we went out to see Matt for a bit, because we haven’t seen him much at all the last few weeks. He finally finished up calving heifers, but just in time to start field work!
It has warmed up enough to start the first phase of spring planting, applying anhydrous ammonia. Matt and his Dad apply for their farms as well as custom apply, meaning they are hired to put it on for other farmer’s as well.
Anhydrous ammonia (NH3) is a synthetic form of nitrogen, used in corn and milo production because when we harvest a crop we take nitrogen from the soil that must be replaced. Nitrogen is a naturally occurring chemical that makes up 78% of the earth’s atmosphere.
NH3 (meaning simply its one part nitrogen to three parts hydrogen) is the most cost effective and efficient (therefore the most environmentally friendly) source of synthetic nitrogen. It’s stored in the nurse tanks you often see being pulled slowly down the road by a truck or out in the field behind a tractor. In the tank the anhydrous is in liquid form and kept under high pressure to keep it as a liquid.
The tank is pulled behind a tractor and a combination of high tech computer system and application system work to inject the chemical into the soil about 8-10 inches deep where it comes into contact with moisture and instantly turns into a gas. It is then absorbed into the soil moisture. At this point, there is no difference between the synthetic nitrogen and natural nitrogen.
Corn, a grass, requires nitrogen to grow. Our other most common row crop, soybeans, are a legume and actually generate their own nitrogen.
The internet is full of bloggers who like to tell you that all farmers should switch to use of natural nitrogen (manure) and using synthetic fertilizers are a hazard to our environment.
There is one big problem with that idea – the amount of manure we would need. If we were to replace the 11 million tons of anhydrous used each year with manure, this would require 1 billion more cattle! Even more shocking, those cows would require an estimated 2 billion more acres of land!
We simply cannot meet the world’s corn demand without using synthetic fertilizers. Anhydrous ammonia has the highest efficiency (meaning more of it is absorbed by the plant) than any other source, making it not only the most cost effective option – but the safest option for our soils and health as well!
Farmers are very concerned with applying fertilizer using the best practices to keep cost and waste low, and profits and overall safety high!
2/24/2014 5 Comments
"Local Farmers" may not work.
“Local Farmers”-- what a romantic buzz word. “Locally grown” from “local farmers” must be healthier, safer, and better for the environment than say… a “non-local” farmer?
For obvious reasons, food production typically occurs in rural areas (we need land…and a lot of it to feed the 313.9 million people in this country).
Meet my husband. He lives in Brookfield, MO, a town of about 4500 people, in Linn County, population roughly 12,484. (You read that number right…the entire county population is less than the average town size of the United States at 20,000.)
If we consider the county population to be local that means that my husband is a local farmer to 0.0039% of the population.
He goes to work every day on a family farm. There are no hired hands. It’s his Grandpa, who is 81 years old and still works at least 5 days a week and often 7 days a week during planting and harvest. It’s his father. And it’s him.
They work approximately 2,000 acres of row crop land, about 90 cows and 100 head of sheep. Throw in some hay ground, some custom chemical work, some shop work, and that keeps the three of them busy about 400 days a year.
The trio farms about 2,000 crop acres. Assume half of those are planted to corn on any given year. That equals 1,000 corn acres.
Estimate his yield at 140 bushels of corn per acre, making total production 140,000 bushels. Americans consume 28.4 pounds of corn product, per person, per year. This means each person is consuming roughly half a bushel.
If every one of the “local” consumers purchased their entire needed corn product from my husband – he would have a market for…. 4.6% of his corn or roughly 6500 bushels.
In fact, my husband’s corn production is enough to supply 70,000 people with their average consumption. (Recognize that corn goes into other products, not just for human consumption though.)
So does this mean that my husband (a non-local farmer to most of you) is growing food that is not safe, nutritious or good for the environment? Absolutely not! My husband is like most farmers all over rural America and is constantly educating himself on new farming practices such as cover crop rotations that allow us to use less chemical, less fertilizer and better preserve the soils.
My husband carries his chemical applicator license to be able to safely and responsibly utilize only the chemicals that are absolutely necessary. My husband studies new products, runs test plots, keeps detailed records in order to ensure they are doing everything they can to grow a safe product for his children to consume.
So what? This means that “locally grown” is a nice concept. But it also means that if you want to continue to live where most Americans do, with a Starbucks on every corner, than you have to face the facts that a lot of your food has to be grown by a 28 year old guy with a toddler at home, and baby on the way who also happens to be a “non-local” farmer (to you). Because suburban Chicago doesn’t have the land he needs to grow your food.
And by the way, the concept and math is exactly the same for our beef cattle operation.
Kate Lambert grew up in northern Illinois, not on a farm but active in FFA and showing livestock.
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