Posts Tagged With: hogs

Campus conversations focus on food & farming

IMG_0724

Volunteers from CommonGround, the Kansas Pork Association and K-State’s Food for Thought organization handed out free bacon and spoke with students and faculty in the Kansas Memorial Union on Apr. 1.

Bacon and buzzwords enticed curious visitors to pause at the University of Kansas on Wednesday, Apr. 1, to learn how Kansas farmers raise their food.

The Kansas Memorial Union lobby hummed with conversation as students, faculty and staff sampled free bacon and posed their questions on modern farming practices to volunteers from Kansas State University’s Food for Thought organization, the Kansas Pork Association and CommonGround Kansas. Some visitors posted their questions publicly to receive a “baconologist” or “baconista” T-shirt from the Kansas Pork Association.

Events connecting food buyers with farmers are becoming more common as interest in food production practices grows. Many consumers find they have more questions than answers.

“We’re faced with more choices than ever, which can be very overwhelming. Our goal is to forge connections where shoppers can feel comfortable asking tough questions of the folks growing their food,” said Shannon Krueger, CommonGround Kansas coordinator. “Everyone deserves to have the information they need to be confident in their food choices.”

Common questions addressed concerns with biotechnology, animal welfare and organic foods. Visitors learned about pig farming while viewing a model barn and received information with links to research on common food concerns.

Connor Needham, sophomore from Dallas, Texas, said making smart food decisions became more challenging once he started college.

“I grew up in a family that emphasized healthy food choices,” he said. “When I’m grocery shopping, I’ll call my mom for advice.”

Many shoppers find it difficult to find trustworthy sources for food information. In an increasingly noisy online space, it can be tedious to decipher which sources are based on sound science. In addition, few consumers personally know a farmer they can ask about production practices.

The widening communication gap requires cooperation from both sides.

“It is vital that farmers create opportunities to connect with consumers and listen to their concerns. It’s equally important that consumers seek out factual information to help guide food choices,” said Jacob Hagenmaier, Food for Thought outreach coordinator.

The event’s sponsoring organizations have a shared mission to connect grocery shoppers with the farmers who grow their food.

Visitors had the opportunity to share their questions publicly and received a "Baconista" or "Baconologist" T-shirt from the Kansas Pork Association. The responses filled two sides of our white board.

Visitors had the opportunity to share their questions publicly and received a “Baconista” or “Baconologist” T-shirt from the Kansas Pork Association. The responses filled two sides of our white board.

“We enjoy connecting with folks who are passionate and want to learn more about their food,” said Jodi Oleen, director of consumer outreach for the Kansas Pork Association. “Partnering with Food for Thought and CommonGround allows us to offer a wide variety of perspectives and information to our visitors.”

Volunteers included, from Food for Thought: Chance Hunley, Riverton; Lindi Bilberry, Garden City; Jacob Hagenmaier, Randolph; Bruce Figger, Hudson; Karly Frederick, Alden; from the Kansas Pork Association: Jodi Oleen, Manhattan; from CommonGround Kansas: Karra James, Clay Center; Laura Handke, Atchison; and Shannon Krueger, Abilene.

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

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

Do Farmers Care About Their Animals?

Cattle

Photo © CommonGround Kansas

Do farmers care about their animals? Absolutely, we do!

But Americans are getting a different story today with a post on Yahoo! titled “8 Cruelest Foods You Eat” from Prevention magazine. The article includes a sufficiently terrifying dose of buzzwords like factory farms, animal abuse, gestation crates and inhumane conditions. As consumers, it’s easy to get swept up in the wave of fear.

In our nation today, most folks are many generations removed from the farm. It’s perfectly natural to be concerned about where your food comes from and how it was raised. Here’s what we want you to know:

As farmers and ranchers, we absolutely agree that the treatment of our food matters.

You might be surprised to learn that we put our animals’ health and safety first. In fact, guests at our recent dinner at the Kansas State Fair were fascinated to hear how our ranching volunteers care for newborn beef calves, even bringing them inside their own homes to stay warm in the cold winter birthing months.

We watch over our livestock and ensure they are comfortable and content. We provide veterinary care when needed. We make sure they have all of the food, water and shelter they need. These animals are our livelihood, and they deserve to be treated with the utmost care and respect. As an example, volunteer Katie Sawyer talks about how they care for their beef cattle in this video.

Simply put, healthy animals are good for business. We are family farms, many of which have been handed down from generation to generation. We simply could not stay in business without providing excellent care for our livestock.

You might be thinking, “Well, that’s nice that you take care of your animals, but what about all those undercover videos? You must be in the minority.”

Actually, quite the contrary. The overwhelming majority of farmers and ranchers practice great care and respect for their animals. As in any industry, there are isolated cases of the “bad apples” … but American agriculture is making great strides every day to help eliminate these outliers. They simply do not represent the industry as a whole, and we are as passionate as you are about creating positive change among these offenders.

Remember, in the media, sensationalism reigns.

Think about how reports of crime and car accidents all too often trump good news happening in our communities. As consumers, we only seem to hear about animal care when an undercover crew exposes mistreatment.

Guess what? Those stories upset us, too! We never want to animals to be mistreated.

Sadly, the media never shares the other side of the story — stories of how we go to great lengths to provide excellent care for our livestock. We’re very proud of the way we care for our animals and very comfortable in talking with folks off-the-farm about how we ensure our animals are healthy and safe.

Do your homework.

Instead of simply taking what you hear in the media at face value, we encourage you to seek out your own information from sources based on research and science, as well as asking the folks who actually raise food. In fact, in the most recent Yahoo! article, we can’t find any citations of even a single farmer being consulted. Perhaps that’s because the facts that truly represent the agriculture industry aren’t nearly as sensational.

If you have a question, just ask. We won’t tell you how to eat or what to eat, and all viewpoints are welcome. You can submit questions via our website or contact one of our volunteers.

Farmers across the nation, including volunteers in the CommonGround program, are eager to talk to consumers about how we raise your food. We want everyone to feel confident in their food choices. Most importantly, we want you to have all the information you need to make educated decisions about how you feed your family.

Categories: In the News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.