Posts Tagged With: health

Farmer Perspectives: What “Good” Moms Eat

By Lana Barkman, CommonGround Kansas farmer volunteer

Lana has a master’s degree from K-State. She lives on a farm near Circleville, Kan., with her husband, Caleb, and their daughter. The farm includes chickens, horses, dogs, and cats. In her spare time, Lana competes in barrel racing and judges horse shows.

My daughter is nearly 18 months old right now. It’s the perfect age to remember all the things you were going to do as the “perfect” parent — and it’s been long enough to have broken most of those rules already.

Many of my high parenting standards were all about food. In fact, my goals for healthy eating started before giving birth. As a healthy adult, I was shocked to learn I’d developed gestational diabetes. I meticulously tried to control the problem with strict guidelines on healthy eating: fresh veggies, lean protein, no processed foods, not even grapes, which would cause my blood sugars to spike!

I ate a lot of lean beef, which provided a great source of iron and other essential nutrients. Anemia is another common concern for pregnant women, and lean beef was an excellent option to get the iron and protein I needed.

Growing up around cattle, I was confident in purchasing conventionally grown beef from the grocery store. I knew it was raised responsibly and was safe. Having owned and raised cattle myself, I know firsthand ranchers care for their livestock in the same exacting way I was taking care of my body and growing baby.

 

Milk does a body good

After giving birth, my goals continued into breastfeeding. I was going to breastfeed for at least a year. I knew it was the healthiest option for my child and our family bond. Under no circumstances was I going to give my baby formula.

Well, never say never. I drove myself crazy trying to keep my milk supply up. I tried professional advice and everything else on the Internet too — supplements, pumping, different latches and all the other tricks. None of it worked, and the strain contributed post-partum depression. Eventually, my mom and husband intervened and recommended formula.

In the end, I agreed to supplement. Unsurprisingly, my worst fears were never realized. My daughter and I have a wonderful, special bond. She is in excellent health and didn’t have an ear infection for 14 months. I was able to get more rest, which helped my recovery too. My husband, father and mother were able to take turns feeding her and had their own bonding time.

As a consumer, I was so thankful to have a safe, affordable alternative. In a way, the dairy farmers I personally know helped provide me with this option. Baby formula is commonly made from a combination of nonfat cows’ milk and other ingredients to provide the energy, vitamins and minerals infants need to grow. There are soy-based formulas as well. Guess what? Farmers help contribute to those options too!

 

Future meals

As I prepare meals for my toddler, I am keeping this initial parenting experience in mind. A little flexibility helps, and every family must decide what is best for them. We are fortunate to live in a country where our options are all safe ones. It allows us to focus on our own family’s needs and feel confident that any choice is a good one.

Advertisements
Categories: Conversations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Farmer Perspectives: Going from Vegetarian to Cattle Producer

By Frances Graves, CommonGround Kansas farmer volunteer

Frances and her husband, Kris, raise beef cattle — and their three daughters — in Bartlett, Kansas.

I spent years trading hamburgers for veggie patties, a “morally-conscious” food consumer who sought organic, natural ingredients whenever possible. Growing up in the city, I didn’t really understand how our food was grown. That is, until I left and started raising cattle myself.

Eventually, I began to crave hot dogs at ball games and turkey on Thanksgiving and gave up being a vegetarian, but I still tried to eat as organic and naturally as possible. After my husband and I had our first daughter, we decided to move to rural Kansas and join his family’s farm, a conventionally raised cattle ranch. After the move, I struggled to find the same variety of foods and often drove to nearby cities to shop at specialty stores and bring home coolers full of organic produce and natural meats.

 

Farmers, they are just like us

As I began to meet farmers, I saw people who truly care about the food they feed their own families and the rest of the world. I questioned my own farm’s practices too and became convinced we’re doing the best we can for our animals, our land and our food supply, like most farm families today.

I no longer fear growth implants, GMO foods or cattle that receive an antibiotic if they become sick. All of these technologies serve a purpose, and I believe the farmers who use them do so after thoughtful consideration and for reasons I never understood as an urban consumer.

For example, I used to question growth implants for cattle. Since joining the farm, I’ve learned how these hormones improve sustainability by producing more pounds of food for the same amount of resources. On our farm, an implant also replaces hormones lost when a bull is castrated to fulfill the body’s need for hormones to thrive. Everything we do to our cattle helps keep them healthy and grow to their fullest potential.

My former self was very concerned with excess hormones in food. Now, I understand that almost all the food we eat naturally contains some hormones because plants and animals need those hormones to grow. The implants we give our cattle don’t create an excess and are long gone before the meat is on a plate. In addition to being administered by the watchful eye of multi-generation producers like my family, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration also approves the safety of growth implants.

 

Kindergarten for calves

I once questioned whether conventionally-raised cattle were well cared for during their lives. Our business is what we like to call a “kindergarten” for calves. We take weaned calves and acclimate them to living on grass. We have a stringent vaccination program that helps keep animals healthy. The cattle have a doctor on call, our local veterinarian, in case of illness.

One of our biggest challenges is the change in weather. Kansas is known for its temperature swings. Some days can feel like winter overnight and summer during the day. To help prevent sickness, we check on calves more frequently during these times. We are out every year breaking ice for water in the winter and planting more trees each spring for shade.

We understand that fresh, clean water is critical to animal health. That’s why we actively improve our water systems and ponds with new technology, ensuring our cattle can drink fresh water on demand while protecting the natural environment of our ponds and streams. We’ve even installed gravity pipes to fill waterers so we don’t have to use more water than necessary. It’s a conservation win combined with good cattle handling.

 

Purchasing power

Today, I’m still the family’s main grocery shopper, but I’m happy to serve cheeseburgers with affordable, safe ground beef from the grocery store. When I buy food, I’m more likely to seek products with a “made in the U.S.A.” label over the “organic” label, which can have different standards across the world.

Just like any other business, we want our family farm to grow and thrive. As ranchers, we have the added responsibility of producing a safe and healthy product for our family — and yours. I spent years worrying over the quality of my food. Now, I know farmers everywhere are already sweating those details for you.

Categories: Conversations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flow Yoga on the Farm Benefits Just Food, Connects Farmers and Grocery Shoppers

We kicked off summer with our first-ever Flow Yoga on the Farm on Saturday, June 3, in a gorgeous green pasture just east of Lawrence. The weather was perfect! Thanks to the nearly 70 guests who came together for this beautiful yoga practice and food drive. Together, we raised more than $300 for Just Food and filled an entire barrel with food donations that will benefit community members in need.

After some sweat and savasana in the early summer sun, we enjoyed a fresh brunch with a make-your-own yogurt parfait bar, pastries, juice and milk from Hildebrand Farms Dairy (the farm of CommonGround volunteer Melissa Hildebrand Reed).

We had a blast trying out some new yoga poses with instructor Cherish Wood of Kansas City. We might leave that challenging crow pose to the birds flying over our fields, but we had such fun and walked away with a good sweat. The shade was very welcome after our practice!

Farmer volunteers Frances Graves, Kim Baldwin and LaVell Winsor shared the most commonly asked questions about their farms. If you didn’t get a chance to visit with them after the practice, you can learn more about their farms here. They’re also available to answer questions that might pop up down the road, too. That’s what we’re all here for!

Special thanks to Lowell and Krystale Neitzel and their family for hosting us on their beautiful ranch land. You can learn more about their farm on Facebook. They’re known for their sweet corn, so don’t miss out on that later this summer. Yum!

Our farmer volunteers enjoyed connecting with folks in the Lawrence area and talking about how we raise food on our Kansas farms and ranches. Often, food and farming are divisive topics, but this event was full of positivity and great questions about all shapes and sizes of farms, which is what CommonGround stands for. We’re all about sharing our love for our land and our animals. If you have a question about how farmers and ranchers raise your food, we’re always here to chat so you can feel more confident in your food choices.

Learn more about the national CommonGround program at findourcommonground.com. Don’t forget to like CommonGround Kansas on Facebook and on Instagram at @commongroundks for details on future events.

Categories: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Volunteers answer food questions at KC women’s expo

Just for Her Expo

Volunteers LaVell Winsor and Laura Handke chat with attendees at the Just for Her women’s expo.

One booth stood out amid a sea of exhibitors offering beauty, fashion, home goods and health products at the Just for Her expo in Overland Park, Kan., May 30-June 1. With welcoming smiles and a variety of conversation-starting materials, the farm women of CommonGround Kansas offered a unique opportunity for attendees to ask questions about farming and food.

The annual Just for Her expo is a regional event attracting a diverse population of women. Volunteers LaVell, Laura, Kim, Katie, Lana and Sarah were on hand throughout the weekend to chat with attendees. They answered a variety of questions and conversed with consumers on hot topics such as organic foods, GMO crops, antibiotic use in meat production and family farms.

Do you have questions about how your food is raised? CommonGround volunteers farm in 16 states across the nation, raising fruits, vegetables, grains and livestock. They love sharing how they take care every day to produce safe food for consumers around the globe.

 

 

Categories: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CommonGround volunteers connect with nutrition professionals

CommonGround Kansas volunteers LaVell Winsor and Laura Handke discussed common concerns about GMOs and helped provide clarity to make sense of confusing information.

CommonGround Kansas volunteers LaVell Winsor and Laura Handke discussed common concerns about GMOs and helped provide clarity to make sense of confusing information.

CommonGround volunteers traveled to Manhattan, Kan., in late April to discuss hot topics about food and farming with dietitians and nutrition professionals during the annual meetings of the Kansas Nutrition Council and Kansas Dietetics Association.

During a presentation to Kansas Nutrition Council members Thursday, April 24, volunteers Laura Handke and LaVell Winsor discussed common fears expressed regarding genetically modified organisms and shared facts to help reduce the confusion and help consumers feel more confident in their food choices. About 30 nutrition professionals attended the short breakout session titled “GMOs: To Fear? Or Not?”.

Laura and LaVell shared how selective breeding has been used for 2,000 years and how today’s technology speeds up the process and focuses exactly on the traits desired, instead of a lottery system where the outcome is still left to chance. GMOs more highly regulated than any other methods to introduce traits into crops today, and are subject to rigorous testing from the USDA, FDA and EPA before being cleared for the market. Part of that testing must prove that the GMO food is nutritionally equal to its non-GMO counterpart, or it will not be approved.

Several attendees expressed that they were surprised to learn that only eight GMO crops are available today — corn, soybeans, alfalfa, canola, cotton, sugar beets, squash and papaya — and that there are currently no foods available from GMO animals. Other attendees noted that they were pleased to see an extensive list of credible health and medical associations have studied and deemed GMO foods safe — including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association.

The presentation helped clear up confusing information and better equipped attendees to explain the technology and what it means for our food supply.

On Friday, April 25, volunteers Lana Barkman and Karra James visited with members of the Kansas Dietetics Association during their annual meeting and trade show. Lana and Karra spoke one-on-one with attendees, answering questions on topics such as antibiotics in meat, organic production methods and biotechnology.

Have a question about how your food is grown? Ask a farmer!

 

Categories: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Go Blog Social starts great conversations about food and farming

Go Blog Social

Katie Dosen of To Live for Style chats with Kansas volunteers Laura Handke and LaVell Winsor and CommonGround Missouri coordinator Luella Fischer.

What a weekend! The ladies of CommonGround Kansas and Missouri spent a beautiful, sunny Saturday filled with great conversation with truly lovely people in downtown Kansas City during Go Blog Social. We were so happy that we could help answer attendees’ questions about how we raise crops and livestock on our farms. We were especially excited about the genuine interest that so many of you expressed. The fact that you feel a personal investment in learning how your food is grown is really encouraging! We love to share our stories and convey what it means to be a farmer!

We wanted to give a little blog love to just a few of the fine folks who took time to chat with us! We know missed some! If you stopped by to chat with us and we didn’t get a chance to swap contact info, please shoot us an email at commongroundkansas@gmail.com and we’ll be happy to add your link here.

A special thank you to CommonGround Missouri, who partnered with our CommonGround Kansas ladies for this special event!

 

 

 

 

Categories: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We’re ready to get social!

We're excited to be a sponsor for Go Blog Social in Kansas City!

We’re excited to be a sponsor for Go Blog Social in Kansas City!

Go Blog Social may already be underway in KC today, but we’re getting really excited to meet bloggers and social media mavens at this special event in downtown Kansas City tomorrow, Apr. 5. We’re even more excited that we get to share our sponsorship with our next-door neighbors, CommonGround Missouri, to help answer questions about food and farming.

As farmers and moms, we understand how important it is to have confidence in where your food comes from. That’s why we’re excited to have conversations with some wonderful folks tomorrow about their most pressing questions about their food.

We love sharing the story of our farms and ranches. Most importantly, we are honored to be a part of the fact-finding mission that every consumer should embark upon to learn about how their food is raised. It’s like our teachers told us growing up, doing your homework (and doing your own homework) is important. We couldn’t agree more!

When we find out the real stories behind our food, we can make more informed decisions about what we feed our families.

Attending Go Blog Social? Stop by our booth and say hello! More importantly, bring your questions. Our farm moms will gladly answer them!

 

Categories: Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Food Day “Facts” Aren’t So Factual

Oct. 24 is Food Day, which celebrates healthy, affordable and sustainably produced food. It sounds like a pretty great cause to get behind, right?

As farmers and moms, we support the movement to get Americans to eat healthier and move more. But what really concerns us is pushing out loads of misinformation behind what seems to be fairly noble cause.

Do we agree we should spend less time in the drive-through and more time as a family at the dinner table? Absolutely!

Do we agree that we should strive to eat more balanced diets with fruits and vegetables instead of cartons of greasy fried foods, gooey pastas and sugary desserts? You bet!

But here’s where we simply need to set the record straight:

Food Day urges folks to cut back on “fatty, factory-farmed meats.”

What exactly is a factory farm, anyway? Take a good look around at the 2.2 million U.S. farms. We are hard-working families, not factories. We devote our lives to giving our animals the best care possible, often putting their needs above our own. In any weather and at any time of day, we’re there to ensure our farm animals have the food, water, shelter, space and medical care they need.

We also want our critics to know that cattle spend the majority of their lives in pastures eating grass. When mature, cattle are sold or moved to feedlots where they typically spend 4-6 months. Feedlots allow ranchers to raise beef more efficiently with fewer natural resources like land, feed and water. Feedlot cattle live in fenced areas that give them plenty of food, fresh water and room to move around. Veterinarians, nutritionists and cattlemen work together to look after each animal every day.

And labeling all meats as fatty? Well, that’s just not accurate. In fact, there are 29 cuts of lean beef and six cuts of lean pork that meet the USDA’s guidelines for lean, heart-healthy meats with less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol per serving. The trend of avoiding meat because it’s generally “unhealthy” is simply unfounded. Why can’t we all just adopt the attitude of “everything in moderation,” park a little farther from the store and talk a walk more often?

Food Day advocates say “a meat-heavy diet takes a terrible toll on the environment.”

Farmers are the original environmentalists. For generations, we have cared for the land so we can pass it on to our children and grandchildren. We care about what goes into the soil and the air, and we work tirelessly to do more with less inputs and land every day.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, livestock production accounts for 3.12% of total emissions, far from the claim that cows are worse than cars. In addition, modern farming continues to implement sustainable practices that significantly reduce the amount of fuel and chemicals required for food production. There’s an old saying that “You can’t make any more land.” That’s why we work hard to protect what we have.

Food Day activists “are united by a vision of food that is healthy, affordable, and produced with care for the environment, farm animals, and the people who grow, harvest, and serve it.”

Hey, wait! That sounds a lot like our vision as farmers and ranchers. Like any successful professionals, we want to do our jobs better. We are constantly finding new ways to grow safe, affordable food on less land and with fewer resources. If we didn’t care for our animals and our land, we couldn’t stay in business. And if we can’t stay in the business of growing food and fiber for a booming world population, it won’t be long before we’ll have some very serious issues on a global scale.

We are farmers. We are moms. We commit our lives to producing safe, healthy food — the same food we feed our families. To infer that hard-working American farmers and ranchers aren’t producing food with care? Well, we invite you to look again. That’s what we do, day in and day out.

Have a question about your food? Ask us! We’re always happy to share openly about how we grow crops and raise livestock on our Kansas farms. We’ll never tell you what to eat, we’ll just answer your questions so you can make the most informed choices for your family.

Categories: Conversations, In the News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kids’ Reading List: A Handful of Dirt

My brother and I spent plenty of summer afternoons during out childhood making mud pies and dirt cakes.  Amazon: A Handful of DirtJust before presenting Mom with our creations, we would place the perfect dandelion in the center.

We thought of dirt as a toy, but author Raymond Bial tells a much different story in A Handful of Dirt.

Full color photos compliment informative text as readers, Grades 3-5, are introduced to dirt dwellers of all shapes and sizes. The tiniest protozoans, myriad invertebrates as well as mammals and reptiles whose burrows aerate the earth will change the way the reader looks at one of Earth’s most precious resources.

Even learn how to setup a home compost heap following the author’s instructions.

Thanks to Holly Spangler for compiling this list, which was featured in the March 2012 issue of Farm Futures magazine.

Check out the past selections in the reading list:

Categories: Kids' Reading List | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Kids’ Reading List: Pigs & Pork in the Story of Agriculture

This little piggy went to the market,

Pigs & Pork Book

This little piggy stayed home,

This little piggy had roast beef,

This little piggy had none,

And this little piggy cried wee wee wee all the way home.

This little rhyme my mom used to tell me, and maybe you tell your kids too, was the first thing that came to mind when I began reading the tenth book in our Kid’s Reading List series, Pigs & Pork in the Story of Agriculture. Authors Susan Anderson and JuAnne Buggey talk about pigs and pork from the farm to the grocery store. This book for elementary and middle school students is filled with fun facts, photos and easy to read information.

Did you know each person in the U.S. consumes around 50 pounds of pork per year?  Find our more interesting facts with each turn of the page. Colorful charts, graphs and photographs help the reader understand pork’s role in the agricultural industry.

Thanks to Holly Spangler for compiling this list, which was featured in the March 2012 issue of Farm Futures magazine.

Check out the past selections in the reading list:

Categories: Kids' Reading List | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.