Ask A Farmer - Food Dialogues

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Ask A Farmer

I know that for so many people, questions about food and where it comes from ranks high on their list. They want to know about farming practices, if anything is used on or IN their food, and how long it takes food to get from the farm to their plate.

Today, we’re “Asking a Farmer” all of these burning questions and more!

Food in this country has become a hot topic, but it definitely shouldn’t be that way. We should all be informed about our food, and if we aren’t, we should be able to find the answers without feeling as if we’re getting the runaround.

Here are common questions I’ve heard people ask when it comes to food and farming, and the answers from cattle rancher and veterinarian, Marybeth Miskovic Feutz and farmer Andrea Turner.

Chickens should run FREE! Why don’t you raise “free-range” chickens?
For us, this is an animal safety issue. Our ducks are free to roam wherever they want during the day, but at night we put them in a coop for their safety. Living in a rural area, there are predators that might decide our birds would make a tasty meal. Even with the birds in the coop at night, we have lost several birds to hawks, coyotes, and even stray dogs. We would rather our birds live long full lives than be killed by a predator.

Authors note: Free-range is a method of farming where the animals, for at least part of the day, can roam freely outdoors, rather than being confined in an enclosure for 24 hours each day.

Do you have a garden outside of your farm? If so, what do YOU plant?
We raise beef cattle and grow hay at our main farm and plant a large garden. We grow sweet corn, green beans, bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow summer squash, cucumbers, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, beets and lots of pumpkins. We usually try a new vegetable every year. Our garden keeps getting bigger! We use it for our personal veggies, and share with our extended family and friends. This summer we will be selling veggies at a roadside stand in town.

How do your children feel about farming?
Our son will be 4 years old this fall. So far, he loves almost every part of working on the farm. His attention span is still pretty short, but he does love to help us. We are hopeful he will see how much we love our farm, and he will grow to love it in the same way.

Do you trust the food you grow?
100%! We eat everything out of our garden, and I have absolutely no concerns feeding it to my young son. We sell our beef calves before they are at their finished weight, but I would not have any concerns eating that beef, either.

When do you go on vacation?
We go on vacation in the spring before the garden is planted, or in the fall/winter after the garden is finished. We line up someone to check on and feed our cows while we are gone, too!

These questions may not cover the entire spectrum of information about the food we eat and the farmers that grow or raise it, but they DO begin the conversation. Hopefully, we will continue the conversations surrounding the food we eat.

To read more from Natasha, check out her blog, Houseful of Nicholes.

Natasha is part of U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance’s Digital Voices Council. All opinions expressed are the writer’s own. Funded by one or more checkoff programs.