Feb 13, 2012

To eat or not to eat....at a popular chain?

While the short video from a popular burrito chain has been out for a while now, I just watched it today. The video vilifies large farms and encourages viewers to buy from local small farms like ours.

 While I support and advocate for consumer choice when it comes to food, it has become my tag line that “Local is great but bigger is better.” When I say bigger is better I mean it from a global viewpoint. I am thankful for customers who support smaller local growers like my family. We have a niche market to feed a sector of people who can afford to pay a bit higher price for their food. But there are those customers who must watch their dollar more closely and maybe cannot or choose not to buy as much local food. By going to a grocery store to buy meats, dairy, fruits and vegetables, you still support a family farm somewhere. Many people do not realize that 98% of all farms in the U.S. are family farms. Whatever decision you make for your family, I feel very confident in saying either is JUST FINE and even more importantly SAFE.

This time of year, my children love strawberries, berries and fresh vegetables. Our Ohio climate does not support the growth of these year round, but a farmer somewhere is producing this product and I am grateful because my children can have a balanced diet year round. When it comes to animal agriculture, our weather can be very difficult on livestock. Those animals raised inside have a safe and climate controlled home.

This particular chain also encourages people to buy meat that is organic and antibiotic free. My son Parker is prone to ear infections. When he is under the weather I take him to a Dr. If the Dr. says we need to treat this infection, then of course I want to do what is safe and best for my child. We use the proper medication for the correct length of time prescribed by the Dr. I certainly do not want to use medication if my child is not sick. If his body becomes used to it, then when he needs it, the medication will be ineffective.

I think we live in a very clean home but yet sometimes Campbell and Parker get sick. This is the same with animals. We do our best to keep the animals in a clean environment so that they can remain safe and healthy. Antibiotics cost money and producers avoid using any medication unless absolutely necessary. If a medicine needs to be used, there are stringent guidelines for each type of medication that must be followed and documented. I know from personal experience that sometimes animals get sick or injured, and I know my standards of care are very good. It is in the best interest and safety of the animal to treat that infection or illness so that they can continue to thrive and be healthy.

From a logical farming perspective we must continue to advance our farming practices or we will never come close to supplying enough food for our expanding population. There is only so much farm land that can be used to grow our food. We cannot create more farmland so we have be the best stewards of our land and produce the safest and largest amounts of product from what land we do have. Both large and small farms need to work together to feed our ever growing population.

As far as the popular burrito, I will still enjoy a chicken burrito with no beans, sour cream, cheese, lettuce and guacamole every once in a while. I will not be thinking about it being organic or antibiotic free. What I will be thinking is that a farmer worked very hard to produce the grain that the animals ate and another farmer worked equally as hard to raise the animal. So whether large or small, organic or not, local or in another state, if you enjoyed a good meal today thank a farmer.


Anonymous said...

Well said Kristin!

Britt Farms said...

Very well written and couldn't agree more! Thanks so much for sharing! I would like to post this on our blog if that's okay. I will of course credit you and link it back to your blog!

Trinn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trinn said...

I refuse to bad mouth Chipolte's, but I am hurt that they feel so much disrespct for American Farmers. WE WORK VERY HARD TO FEED AND CLOTHE THE WORLD! We take good care of our animals, they are our profit, and we STRIVE to sell everyone the very best we can provide on a large scale. We have made many changes to the way we farm in the last few decades, trying to better our practices while trying to find ways to produce enough food to meet demand. It's not an easy job folks! I really think if the nay sayers could see the WHOLE picture their views might change a bit. Every now and again it wouldn't hurt to give our farmers a pat on the back instead of spit in the face. We practice good farming habits, and we are ALWAYS looking for ways to make things better. It will never be at a point where everyone is 100% happy, but for goodness sakes, why must they bash us so harshly? We are not out there pointing fingers in their faces for their life choices or career paths. We aren't telling them how to do their job, or suggesting unpractical ways for them to do it better. We have better things to do, like focusing on the things that matter most, growing our children, food and fiber and doing it in a way that makes us proud of who we are! It's not perfect, but it works and it works well. I guess we could always go back to the old days with horse drawn plows and good old fashioned back breaking work, but I can PROMISE you, ALOT of people would starve to death, for the simple fact it would be imposible to produce enough food to feed even 40% of our current population, and I'm sorry, but I don't see alot of people in todays world willing to work that hard. With world population growing at such an alarming rate, we farmers will have to find a way to increase production by 70% by 2050 just to meet demand. On less land mind you, with urban growth swollowing up farm ground left and right. We have our work cut out for us, and we don't need them beating us up the whole way. Farmers are your friends! We want the best for you, wouldn't it be nice if they could return the favor, but not making most farmers "bad guys" They personally think they had better options to get their message across. I'm all for providing better products for customers and like you said that comes at a higher cost, but I'm also about doing what needs to happen to bring food to the table at a reasonable price. Thank you Kristin for a well written article! Keep up the good work!

Gothberg Farms said...

Reese Farm & Trinn,
Both excellent points and well said! Most of us are extremely conscious of 'doing the right thing' as we try to feed our local communities & beyond.
Rhonda Gothberg