3/7/2015 33 Comments
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:
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
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.
“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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