Posts Tagged With: safer

Sharing the Story of Food Production

Kansas Farmer MagazineCommonGround Kansas made the news again in February in this article in Kansas Farmer magazine. When we’re not busy chatting about food and farming with folks off-the-farm, we also get excited about talking to other farmers. Why? There’s a growing movement in the agricultural community to be more open and honest about how we grow your food. If we can inspire other farmers to share how food is raised, we can create an even better dialogue about agricultural production where you can ask questions and get sincere answers.

You might be surprised how much farmers really are on the same page as consumers. As an industry, we truly care about the quality and safety of the food we produce. We can all benefit from encouraging ongoing conversation between consumers and farmers.

Read the full article from Kansas Farmer Magazine (PDF).

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CommonGround featured on AG am in Kansas

Check out LaVell Winsor’s interview on CommonGround with Bryan Hallman of AG am in Kansas.

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Heart-Healthy Beef? You Bet!

I Heart BeefFebruary is “I Heart Beef” month, and to celebrate, volunteer LaVell Winsor welcomed Hy-Vee dietitian Amber Groeling as a guest blogger on Growing for Tomorrow. We recently met Amber at our first-ever CommonGround Kansas cooking class at the Topeka Hy-Vee.

“Instead of hearing ‘No red meat!’, you’ll now hear Hy-Vee dietitians encouraging the consumption of lean beef as part of a heart-healthy diet,” Amber says.

Amber shares research that shows how lean beef can be part of a heart-healthy diet, as well as the 29 cuts of lean beef. She also shares a recipe for Skillet Steaks with Sauteed Wild Mushrooms. Yum!

Head on over to LaVell’s blog and check out the savory news!

 

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CommonGround Kansas featured

We were excited to make the front page of one of the recent issues of Grass & Grain newspaper. The article features interviews with volunteers Karra James, LaVell Winsor and Teresa Brandenburg. Check out the article detailing how CommonGround volunteers are helping answer tough questions about food and farming.

Read the full article as a PDF.

Grass & Grain

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Chef + Nutritionist + Farmer = The “Food Jackpot”

Hy-Vee Cooking Class

We had a great time and delicious food at our first-ever cooking class at Topeka Hy-Vee Jan. 29. Thanks to all the guests who attended, and a special thanks to our hosts! From left: CommonGround Kansas volunteer LaVell Winsor, Hy-Vee Topeka Dietitian Amber Groeling, Chef Alli, and Hy-Vee Manhattan Dietitian Karen Hanson.

Food enthusiasts in Topeka hit the “food jackpot” in a recent partnership cooking demonstration including Hy-Vee’s Chef Alli, nutritionist Amber Groeling and CommonGround Kansas volunteers LaVell Winsor and Lori Deyoe. Attendees not only learned tips to create a tasty and nutritious dinner but were also encouraged to bring their top food questions to the class to discuss with the people who grow their food – farmers.

Guests enjoyed appetizers of bruschetta and stuffed mushrooms, followed by Calypso Beef Soup and Spanish Beef Dips with Caramelized Manchego Onions. Dessert was Pecos Bread Pudding with Caramel Pecan Sauce. After the cooking demonstration and dinner, the CommonGround Kansas volunteers answered questions from guests about food and farming.

“The evening was great because it brought every aspect of food together from how it is raised to nutrition and meal preparation”, says LaVell Winsor, a farmer from Grantville, Kan. and CommonGround volunteer. “The most common questions from our audience ranged from hormones and antibiotics in beef to food safety and local and organic foods. The great thing about the CommonGround program is the diversity of farmers. If I don’t raise what someone is asking about, we have a network of more than 70 women on different farms to reach out to for the answers.”

The CommonGround program is currently active in 16 states including Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

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Should I be worried about hormones?

© Eisenhans / PhotoXpress

© Eisenhans / PhotoXpress

There’s a lot of information out there about our food, and it’s creating some real confusion.

For instance, Shape Magazine recently posted an article titled “13 Banned Foods Still Allowed in the U.S.” The article discusses ingredients that are banned in many other developed countries, but are deemed safe by the FDA to be consumed in the United States.

We can definitely understand why that might sound scary. While we can’t speak to some of the other foods on the list, we would like to talk about the misinformation regarding hormones in milk.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) assure families and individuals that we need not worry about hormones in food. For example, 90 percent of hormones are destroyed during pasteurization of milk. The rest of the hormones are broken down during digestion. In fact, there are no differences between milk produced by hormone-treated and untreated cows according to FDA studies.

Agricultural hormone use has been found safe by scientists all over the world. Residue levels of hormones in food have been demonstrated to be safe and well below any level that would have a known effect in humans, according to FDA. In fact, The Center for Veterinary Medicine has confirmed that 1 pound of farmed beef from cattle given a common hormone, estradiol, contains 15,000 times less estradiol than the estrogen produced daily by the average man and 9 million times less than that produced by a pregnant woman.

But, what about chicken? It’s not uncommon to hear how chicken breasts are much larger than they once were. However, that has nothing to do with hormones. In fact, federal regulations don’t allow hormones to be used in poultry production. The same goes for swine. So there is no need to be concerned about added hormones in your chicken and pork. So why are chicken breasts bigger these days? The size of chicken breasts is due to a combination of advancements in genetics, feed and other production practices.

It’s OK to have questions about food and farming, especially when there is a ton of conflicting information. If you ever have questions, we are happy to provide a farmer’s perspective. We’ll never tell you how or what to eat, but we’ll help you gain the information needed to make smart choices about what to feed your family. For more research-based information regarding hormones, check out the food facts page at findourcommonground.com.

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Why Santa (and You) Shouldn’t Fear Milk and Cookies This Christmas

Note: This post comes to us from CommonGround volunteer Beth Chittenden, a dairy farmer in Schodack Landing, NY. 

Beth Chittenden is a dairy farmer in New York.

Beth Chittenden is a dairy farmer in New York.

While it seems like the holidays come earlier and earlier every year, one time-honored tradition always waits until Christmas Eve. Each December 24, just before heading off to bed, millions of children participate in the ritual of leaving cookies and milk for Santa to snack on. As a dairy farmer, my family and I are proud to serve not only Mr. Claus, but millions of American families, with safe and healthy milk. We work hard each and every day to make sure ALL of our consumers, not just the jolly ones, can enjoy milk without any need to worry about safety.

As a farmer and a mom, I know that between Christmas lists and grocery lists, December can be especially tricky to coordinate. And with all of the added labeling and information found on milk products, the dairy aisle can be particularly confusing. This Christmas, I want to give all moms the gift of peace of mind, because they have absolutely nothing to fear at the dairy case. Here are the facts:

  • Hormones occur naturally in farm animals like dairy cows and even some produce, like cabbage. They are present in our food even when animals haven’t been given supplemental hormones – it’s a natural part of life. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says there is no need to worry about hormones in milk.
  • According to the World Health Organization and the FDA, pasteurization destroys 90 percent of hormones in milk and the rest are broken down during digestion. Pasteurization also destroys harmful bacteria that may be present, including salmonella and E. coli.
  • All milk, whether organic or conventional, is strictly tested for antibiotics on the farm and at the processing plant. Any milk that tests positive cannot be sold to the public.
  • No research shows that milk or other dairy products play a role in early puberty. In fact, girls today drink less milk than their mothers did. Some scientists believe that childhood obesity may lead to earlier onset of puberty, according to a report published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Happy Holidays!

Beth Chittenden, Dairy Farmer
Schodack Landing, N.Y.

To learn more about hormones as they relate to milk products, please visit the Food Facts page at findourcommonground.com. As always, please send your questions our way. We’ll be happy to share how we operate our farms.

 

About Beth

Beth Chittenden is highly qualified to teach folks about farming and their food – especially dairy. She grew up on a dairy farm, studied animal husbandry at Cornell University, worked as an animal nutritionist, obtained a Master’s degree in Education, and now helps operate a 600-cow dairy and 2,000-acre farm in Schodack Landing, New York. Beth’s goal is to open a full-time education center at Dutch Hollow Farm to teach students and the public about modern agriculture. Her extensive knowledge of agriculture and education give her the skills to explain modern farming in terms urban neighbors can understand.

Beth knows how important it is to answer tough questions about food because her farm is situated near the cities of New York and Boston. “Many topics such as animal care, biotechnology, and antibiotics are sometimes misunderstood by my city neighbors. But, once I explain how we do our best to raise great food and show them around the farm, my urban friends walk away confident in our abilities and commitment as farmers.”

 

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Life on a Kansas Farm

Ever wondered what it’s like to live and work on a farm?

The America’s Heartland TV program recently featured the Brunkow family from Westmoreland, KS. The show shares the story of daily life on their family farm, from providing constant care for their cattle and sheep herds to salvaging what’s left of their crops in the drought-stricken Great Plains. The show recently aired on RFD-TV.

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Kids’ Reading List: The Beef Princess of Practical County

The Beef Princess of Practical CountyDon’t get too attached, her father warns. But Libby Ryan can’t help herself.

Our fourth book in our Kids’ Reading List series is The Beef Princess of Practical County by Michelle Houts. The novel tells the story of Libby, who chooses two calves to raise to show and sell at the Practical County Fair. Despite her father’s advice, she names her animals Piggy and Mule with hopes of winning the title of grand champion. She doesn’t realize how difficult it will be to auction them off once the fair is over.

At the fair, Libby must face the pressure of competition and the reality that her calves will be sold and harvested for meat. Luckily, her family and friends are there to help.

Readers in grades 4 and up will be touched by this tender story of growing up while learning about the care and respect that beef producers practice daily.

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.

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Guests Enjoy Fine Dining on the Farm at Feast of the Fields

Feast of the Fields

Feast of the Fields guests gather outside to hear about the Mertz family’s work at River Creek Farms. Guests enjoyed a four-course dinner inside the 136-year-old barn.

The sun retreated into the rolling Flint Hills, casting its glow over the historic rock barn at River Creek Farms. In the twilight of the Kansas River valley, guests mingled amid over wine the crisp autumn air. Inside, chef Noah Reagan and staff prepared to put the finishing touches on the first dinner course awaiting guests in the regal 136-year-old structure.

Guests and volunteers of CommonGround Kansas were among the privileged few to experience a world-class dinner on a working farm at Feast of the Fields – Barn Edition on Saturday, Sept. 29. In only its second full year, the event has amassed its share of supporters seeking a unique dining experience and a taste of modern agriculture. The biannual event was started in 2010 by the Mertz family, which raises sheep, cattle and crops at River Creek Farms near Manhattan, KS.

“Everything was so well done, from the flute and violin music by K-State students during the appetizers and wine to the four-course meal,” said volunteer LaVell Winsor. “It was lovely. Each course served with a different wine served by K-State hospitality student volunteers.”

The perfect weather and beautiful lighting in the 100-year-old barn created an elegant atmosphere to enjoy agriculture at its finest, she added.

Feast of the Fields and CommonGround share similar missions. Many Americans underestimate the importance of agriculture in their lives. With the majority of Americans several generations removed from the farm, agriculture has become unfamiliar territory. Most consumers’ only exposure to the industry is via the media, where misinformation can be quickly perpetuated. It can be challenging to sort through the myriad messages littered with hype and hoaxes. Many folks have questions, yet don’t know a farmer to serve as a resource for making informed decisions about the food they eat. That’s where Feast of the Fields and CommonGround unite.

“Today, 98% of farms in America are family operations. We’re a fourth-generation family grain and livestock operation,” said Mary Mertz, event organizer and member of the family farm. “Across our nation, farmers are producing the finest quality and most abundant foods in the world. Many people, however, do not truly understand agriculture and its significance in their lives.”

The Mertz family tells the story using meats, produce and wines from the Flint Hills region of Kansas. Guests come from across the region to enjoy fine dining and a taste of the farm.

“Feast of the Fields highlights farm-fresh foods in a natural setting,” Mertz noted. “It is our goal to provide participants with an authentic culinary adventure that leaves them feeling positive about Kansas farms and foods.”

The barn edition followed the tradition of offering cuisine prepared by an accomplished chef. Noah Reagan, owner and chef at downtown Manhattan’s della Voce, prepared a menu featuring fresh meat and produce from the area (menu at right).

Thanks to Mary Mertz and her family for allowing CommonGround to host our guests at this wonderful event! For more information on Feast of the Fields, please visit http://feastofthefields.yolasite.com or contact Mary directly at marytmertz@gmail.com or (785) 456-9201. Feast of the Fields features two editions each year. The summer event features the same fine dining and entertainment amid a growing corn field. Events sell out quickly, so mark your calendar for the 2013 editions.

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