Posts Tagged ‘CommonGround’

Monsanto: Who are they and what do they want from us?

By: Paige McFarland; Intern

After a trip to Lawrence Kansas last summer I found myself asking who is Monsanto? I was driving out of the Target parking lot where I saw a STOP sign accompanied with the word ‘Monsanto’ underneath. This honestly just confused me at first. I started thinking to myself- they are just seed dealers, right? I looked into the ‘March Against Monsanto’ movement a little more that summer and familiarized myself with the company itself and what their overall mission statement was. Upon doing my research, I asked family and friends who follow me on Facebook one simple question. I said ‘What is one word that comes to mind when you hear Monsanto?’ I got over 30 different answers- that is what you will find in the word collage above. My initial thought was that I would have ag people giving mainly ag responses. I was extremely excited when I got feedback from people with differing opinions. This wordle above has every response, so you can see that there were some differing opinions. I felt like it needed to be addressed- why are there so many different opinions?

After cruising through numerous Anti-Monsanto websites I found the Monsanto mission statement:

“Monsanto employees are 100 percent focused on agriculture – breeding seeds and developing products that help farmers produce more food, feed and fiber while conserving resources like soil and water. As a technology innovator and global leader, we are committed to: assuring the safety and quality of our products; promoting a culture of integrity through our business conduct; and supporting initiatives and organizations with similar aims.” (www.monsanto.com)

Then I came across the site for ‘March Against Monsanto’ where their mission statement says:

“Calling for further scientific research on the health effects of GMOs. Holding Monsanto executives and Monsanto-supporting politicians accountable through direct communication, grassroots journalism, social media, etc. Continuing to inform the public about Monsanto’s secrets. Taking to the streets to show the world and Monsanto that we won’t take these injustices quietly. We will not stand for cronyism. We will not stand for poison. That’s why we March Against Monsanto.” (www.march-against-monsanto.com)

What is the common ground here? What do these two entity’s have in common?

They both want a safe and abundant food source. As foodies, moms, families or food consumers of any type, we want to know what we are eating. I grew up on a small family farm in Eastern Kansas so you could say that I know the struggles of a being part of a small family operated business. On the contrary, I am also a grocery shopper so I know the struggles of choosing what is best for me to eat at the store.

After listening to Robert Fraley, the 2013 World Food Prize winner and also the Chief Technology Officer for Monsanto, I again, stand assured that our food source is safe and nutritious. According Fraley’s talk, biotechnology has been approved in 37 countries. There has been study after study done to ensure the safety of GMO crops not only by the regulatory agencies in the United States, but also to over 40 other countries due to the amount of grain we export.

There are activists who have their strong beliefs and probably can’t be swayed by the truth. However, there are millions of moms, dad, brothers and sisters who hear the anti-GMO message and truly have questions. There are many farmers who use these products who are ready to share their own stories about how and why they use GMO crops. There are many credible scientists who can speak to the safety of GMOs. Let’s open a discussion and create better understanding.

For more information you can visit any of the following sites:

www.findourcommonground.com

www.gmoanswers.com

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

Aunt Velma’s Strong Hands and Warm Heart

By DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

Last week I attended my great-aunt Velma’s funeral. Velma passed away at the age of 87 in my hometown in Southwest Iowa.

After graduating from high school, Velma taught in three one-room country schools, Eureka No. 1, Eureka No. 8 and Jackson No. 6 for six years. She later married a farmer and gave birth to six children.

As I sat through the service last Friday listening to Velma’s children and grandchildren speak, I caught onto something each of them mentioned. Velma was not “just a housewife” but a partner in the family farm. She worked side by side with her husband with all the outside chores and kept records of transactions.

Velma, just like many women in agriculture, was a hard worker on and off the farm. Raising children, cooking meals, cleaning the house, growing crops, caring for animals, keeping records, and tending to the garden were all in a day’s work. When time allowed, she would also squeeze in some of her personal interests such as reading, genealogy, local history and sending cards and letters to family and friends. More often than not, we don’t give credit to the women who represent family farms across the U.S.

If you are not familiar with an initiative called CommonGround, I encourage you to check it out the website. CommonGround is a collaborative effort created by the National Corn Growers Association and the United Soybean Board. It was developed to help develop strong grassroots campaigns that provide farm women with the tools and opportunities to speak directly with the public about farming.

Nebraska and Iowa both launched their CommonGround initiatives at Hy-Vee stores in the city, giving consumers an opportunity to speak one-on-one with the CommonGround spokeswomen. Through this direct, open communication, the shoppers learned the true story about agriculture without media filters while the new spokeswomen developed a better understanding of the concerns facing the 98.5 percent of the U.S. population no longer involved in agriculture.

I am certain that Velma’s passion for the land and putting healthy, bountiful food on the table will live on through many. Women like Velma are truly an asset to American agriculture.