Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Final Farewell

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

Today is the day. After nearly three years, this is my last day in the Kansas Corn & Grain Sorghum office.

It has been a pleasure to work with all our growers and to meet so many genuine folks. Thanks to social media, I’ve been able to connect and learn from farmers across the nation—and world. With the U.S. Grains Council I had the opportunity to travel with corn growers to China for the Spring Corn Tour last May. I learned about Chinese corn production and gained more knowledge about exports.

2011 Spring Crop Tour to China with U.S. Grains Council

One of my favorite projects over the past year has been CommonGround Kansas. I’ve met so many strong and talented women who inspire me. Thanks to each of the volunteers who have been a pleasure to work with.

CommonGround Shared Voices Conference

I’m leaving the communications specialist position with a strong social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, a brand new website (if you haven’t checked it out yet, please do), new logos for the Kansas Corn Growers Association, Kansas Corn Commission, Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers, and branding for Agriland at the Kansas State Fair.

Topeka Farm Show Display

The best compliment I received came from one of our corn growers at Commodity Classic the first year I attended. He asked me to tell him about my family farm back home and was shocked when I informed him that I didn’t grow up on a farm and I didn’t study agriculture in school. I must have blended in well! He asked how I was able to share so much about agriculture though our website and social media platforms and I explained that everything I had learned had come from the research I did or the folks I met.

Wiscombe plants corn near Overbrook, KS

I thank those who answered my e-mails, tweets, and Facebook questions. A special thanks to Pat and Mary Ross and Kirk Wiscombe for letting me visit their farms each time I asked. I greatly appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedules to teach this Iowa girl a few things about Kansas agriculture!

At Ross-Nunemaker Farms in Lawrence, KS

I’m on to new adventures at William Jewell College in Liberty, MO where I’ll be the Communications Manager for the Harriman-Jewell Series. Please continue to keep in touch with me on Facebook and Twitter! It’s been a pleasure getting to know each of you.

Farewell,

DeEtta

Sustainably Feeding the World

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

How can we best feed the word? Alex Avery of the Hudson Institute talks about how to best protect the environment with regards to agriculture on a new episode of Green State TV.

New research shows that the best way to save the biodiversity of Mother Earth is to produce as much as you can on a given acre. Avery states that we need to use synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. Avery goes on to say that “if we had to do it organically, you’re talking about the equivalent manure of 6-8 billion additional cows on the Earth, which is five times more cows than exist on the plant today. When we are already pasturing and grazing 26% of the Earth’s total land area, 500% more cows is going to take up all that is left.”

Alex Avery also speaks about pesticides and herbicides which help growers produce more per acre in a sustainable manner. Today, growers are able to produce more with less soil erosion. Farmers have adopted conservation tillage on millions of acres of land – and continue to expand the use of no-till and minimal till practices. The benefits for the environment are significant. No-tilling means remnants from the previous year’s crop are left untouched. Not only does this improve the soil over time, but it significantly reduces soil run-off during snowmelt or heavy rain.  In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture noted that America’s corn farmers have cut soil erosion 44 percent in two decades by using these innovative conservation methods.

Kirk Wiscombe of Overbrook, KS plants corn

Avery gives credit to a popular herbicide, Atrazine which has been used by corn, sorghum, sugarcane and other produce growers since the 1950s.  Atrazine is the cornerstone of sustainable, low erosion, no-till farming which has revolutionized sustainability in agriculture. Conservation tillage is an option for more farmers today because of technological advances. Corn plants that are resistant to safer herbicides means controlling weeds in a no-till field is more efficient and less harmful to the land and people. Seed that resist insect damage mean fewer insecticides are needed to protect the crop, and that means fewer passes across the field. These technologies are made possible through biotechnology.

With advancements in technology, farmers can continue to produce more food with less soil erosion, less fertilizer, less acreage, less water and less fuel. America’s farmers have a moral obligation to care for Mother Earth and produce food for a growing population.

Additional Resources:

Corn Farmers Coalition

Biotechnol0gy

Conservation

Kudos to Hy-Vee

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

The agricultural industry plays defense time and time again. Food is often a victim of misunderstandings, as most consumers are generations removed from the food source and the process. Food is an entry point to climate change, employment, health, immigration and the economy; making it a pretty easy target.

The most recent misunderstanding: “pink slime” or “lean, finely textured beef”. This controversy over processed food has been all the rage in the media recently.

“The more people are disconnected with their food supply and the sources of their food, the more questions they will have, and we understand that,” said Craig Letch, director of food safety and quality assurance for South Dakota-based Beef Products Inc. But, “We don’t produce ‘pink slime.’ We produce 100 percent quality lean beef. That’s it. That whole thing is a farce. There’s no substance to it.”

Hy-Vee, a Midwestern supermarket chain, ranks among the top 20 supermarket chains and the top 50 private companies in the United States, and for good reason. Hy-Vee’s “helpful smile” is seen in the meat counter aisle this week as they listened to their customers and released this statement yesterday regarding lean, finely textured beef (LFTB).

“Hy-Vee takes great pride in listening to the voices of our customers and offering them outstanding values on the quality products they want to buy. Following our recent decision to stop purchasing ground beef containing Lean Finely Textured Beef, we heard from many customers who asked us to continue carrying this product. They’ve sent us a clear message: They want a choice when it comes to ground beef, and they want to support companies that provide thousands of jobs in our Midwest trade area. In response to this feedback, Hy-Vee has made a decision to offer both kinds of ground beef – both with and without Lean Finely Textured Beef. Both products will be identified so customers can determine for themselves which type of ground beef they want to buy. This transition is underway and will be implemented in our retail stores as quickly as possible. We thank our customers for sharing their views on this issue, and encourage them to continue telling us what we can do to improve their shopping experience at Hy-Vee.”

I believe Hy-Vee deserves to be commended for their service to consumers and not buckling under the media hype. Consumers and “agvocates”, thanks for making your voice heard and asking for what you wanted from the grocery-store chain.

There is no reason for lost jobs and hurt families over something that’s a non-issue. 236 families have temporarily lost at least one income at just the Garden City, KS plant alone. Hy-Vee took a risk and stepped out in support. Let’s show them we have their back. Let them know on Facebook or write Hy-Vee to show your appreciation.

Letters can be sent to:
Hy-Vee, Inc.
Attn: Rose Comer, VP
5820 Westown Parkway
West Des Moines, IA 50266-8223

You can also fill out a comment form here.

Hy-Vee continues to show that consumers come first. Please join me in thanking them.

For more information on LFTB:
Get the Facts on Lean Beef Trimmings

Meat-processing company gets chewed up in ‘pink slime’ uproar

NPR: Why ‘Pink Slime’ Isn’t That Different From Other Meat Products

Pink slime push-back: Someone smarter, or more emotional, than me has to figure this out

Are Vegetarians Happier?

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

Beef and chicken gyro with brussels sprouts and fruit salad

I recently saw an article posted on Facebook from The Huffington Post called “Vegetarian Diet Could Make You Happier and Less Stressed, Study Shows”. I consider myself an optimistic, healthy and happy omnivore, so I decided to take a look.

The article states that embracing a vegetarian diet could make you happier and less stressed because of fatty acids in meat and fish. It states that “diets that include meat and fish are higher in arachidonic acid (AA), an animal source of omega-6 fatty acids. Much of the meat Americans eat today is quite high in AA: The average omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid profile of modern grain-fed meat is 5 times higher than grass-fed meat.”

Shalene McNeill, who has a Ph.D. in human nutrition and is executive director for human nutrition research at the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, acknowledges that “if you feed (cows) grass, you can slightly increase the omega-3 content, but if you look at it in terms of a whole diet, it’s not a significant advantage to human health.”

Though I experience stress (usually self-inflicted), running has become a great outlet for me. Personally, I would become very grumpy (and stressed) without beef, pork and poultry as a regular part of my diet. I think it’s safe to say as a whole, Americans are increasingly overfed yet undernourished so it’s essential that we get the most nutritional value from the food and beverages we enjoy. I enjoy meat. I’m not turning vegetarian.

What are the benefits of consuming meat? Since meat contains a great deal of protein, it repairs and promotes the building of body tissues and produces antibodies that will protect the body from infections, therefore strengthening the immune system. Since meat contains all the essential amino acids, it ranks as one of the best sources of protein.

Meat is rich in iron, zinc and selenium which results in forming hemoglobin that transports oxygen to different parts of your body, tissue formation and metabolism, and breaking down fat in the body. Meat also contains Vitamin A, B and D which promote good vision, stronger teeth and bones as well as support the central nervous system.

What do I think is the biggest benefit of meat consumption? It tastes excellent. Therefore, it keeps this girl happy, healthy and loving life!

Additional Resources:
Kansas Beef Council
Kansas Pork Association
CommonGround
National Cattleman’s Association
National Pork Producers Council

Grocery Store Tips and Saving Money

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

There are a few stores that I can’t seem to exit without spending a great deal of money. Target, Younkers, The Pink Suitcase and the grocery store, just to name a few. While sometimes I can’t control my desire to shop for the most recent fashions, I have learned a few things about grocery shopping.

#1: Don’t go hungry. Seems easy and we’ve all heard this suggestion but we still do it. I am much better off going to the store AFTER I’ve eaten to avoid impulse purchases.

#2. Plan ahead. Planning out your week or at least a few meals and making a list will save you multiple trips to the grocery store. My trips to the store recently got out of control so I’m focusing my efforts on this one!

#3. Take advantage of sales and coupons. Checking out the weekly store ads and stocking up on things that have a long shelf life can save you money. Though I’m not much of a “coupon-er”, “Extreme Couponing” is one of my favorite shows! (If you haven’t seen it- check it out. It’s truly fascinating!)

#4. Don’t be fooled. Organic, natural, and hormone free foods are generally more expensive. You always “get what you pay for” so these foods must be better for you, right? Wrong. There is no nutritional difference between organic food and non-organic (also known as conventional) food.

#5. Feel good about living in the U.S. where we have abundant, affordable, nutritious food at our fingertips. I often wonder if I’m paying too much for food. However, I must say that we’re fortunate in the United States to have to spend only 10% of our income on food, versus 18-25% around the world. Food in our country remains relatively inexpensive and we’re also fortunate to have a wide array of choices.

Are farmers getting rich when I pay more for food at the grocery store? Actually, the U.S. farmer’s share of the retail food dollar has been declining for more than 60 years. In 1950, farmers received more than40 cents for every food dollar that consumers spent in the store. Today, they only receive 19 cents. Transportation, marketing and distribution account for a substantial portion of food prices.

To learn more about food prices, food and farming check out http://www.findourcommonground.com.

Farm Moms for Responsible Antibiotic Use

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

I tend to be somewhat of a health nut. I am in “half marathon training mode” and know that my body needs fresh fruits, veggies, grains, dairy and lean proteins in order to function properly. I can truly feel a difference in my body when I use filling foods as a fuel as opposed to high calorie foods with no nutritional value. (Don’t get me wrong it’s not that I totally avoid those foods, I enjoy them in moderation.)

I worry about the foods that enter my mouth, especially when I don’t know how they were prepared. One thing I don’t have to fear, however, is antibiotics in my meat. An ad from PEW Charitable Trusts was recently distributed at Neodesha school district in southeast Kansas. The heading of the handout (pictured on left) reads “Moms for Antibiotic Awareness” and calls moms and dads to “help end the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in food animal production”.

Like, Teresa in the video below, farmers and ranchers in your community take the judicious use of antibiotics very seriously. Think about it, the food you are putting on your table is the same food that they are putting on theirs. As caretakers, farmers and ranchers are proud to feed your family.


Healthy animals provide healthy food. When your child is ill, you take them to the doctor and if the doctor recommends an antibiotic, you take the prescription and head for the pharmacy. It’s no different when there is a sick animal. For more than 50 years, veterinarians and producers have administered antibiotics to food animals, primarily poultry, swine and cattle, mostly to fight or prevent disease. Antibiotics are given strategically – administered when animals are sick, susceptible or exposed to illness. This reduces the risk of unhealthy animals entering our food supply, according to Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine. Protecting healthy animals helps to protect human health. Many are unaware that we live in a microbial world where bacteria can transfer between animals and people with some causing disease in humans or animals or both.

The meat aisle at my local grocery store.

Should you be worried about antibiotics in the meat you buy for your family?
The FDA does not allow meat to be sold with traces of antibiotics above strict safety limits. The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) performs scheduled, but random, testing of meat nationwide. According to FDA and FSIS regulations, livestock antibiotic use requires specific withdrawal times, or a set number of days that must pass between the last antibiotic treatment and the animal entering the food supply. This ensures the drugs have sufficiently cleared an animal’s system.

Why are antibiotics given to livestock?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), U.S. farmers and ranchers must maintain good animal care, which includes making sure animals are healthy; comfortable; well nourished; safe; able to express the natural behaviors of their species; and not experiencing pain, fear and distress. According to AVMA, banning or severely restricting the use of antimicrobials in animals would negatively impact a veterinarian’s ability to protect animal health and prevent suffering from disease, which can lead to poor care.

In the following video, family farmer and mom, Heidi Vittetoe invites you to uncover antibiotic use on her pork farm. 

Is human health impacted by eating meat from animals given antibiotics?
“The judicious use of all drugs in animals, particularly food-producing animals, is very important. The use of medicated feeds in food-producing animals is evaluated and regulated to prevent harmful effects on both animal and human health,” said Steven D. Vaughn, D.V.M., director of the Office of New Animal Drug Evaluation in FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Looking for more information on antibiotics from farmers? Ask your neighboring farms and ranches or visit http://findourcommonground.com/food-facts/antibiotics/.

Additional Informational Sites:
Responsible Antibiotic Use
CommonGround Kansas

Kansas Livestock Association
Kansas Beef Council 
Kansas Pork Producers
U.S. Poultry & Egg Association
My Plate

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