Last year, I was able to start an incredible journey on learning about farm practices on my own. Well, at least with a little help from Illinois Farm Families, as they hosted moms from the Chicagoland area on farm tours. It was a year of enlightenment, and a year of hearing LOTS about GMO and non-GMO grown food, or fed livestock. We toured hog farms, and cattle farms, and were even able to see the harvesting of corn with a combine. The entire experience was eye-opening, which is why I would like to encourage you to apply.
Going into the program, I thought that I might be pummeled with information that was one-sided. Thankfully it wasn’t. We met farmers from both sides of the GMO stance, and both were able to present their viewpoints – some were passionate – with great detail so that we as consumers first, could make better informed decisions on choosing our food from the grocery store. For example, learning that chickens that are marked FRESH not FROZEN are most likely gluten-free, because they haven’t been injected with any type of broth prior to freezing. It’s the broth that has components of gluten, which makes marking packages gluten-free a bit extra. I’m not saying that we can eradicate all misinformation with just that one fact, but it was a starting point for me to share. None of my family has a gluten sensitivity, but it was information that I could pass on to the many friends who are sensitive. Some took the information and processed it as needed, some weren’t so sure. However, being in a position to share is what made me feel a bit better.
Another great aspect of the events for the year, was the opportunity to participate in one huge day of giving with the women that I had been hanging out with at least one Saturday out of each month. We volunteered at a local food bank, and I was able to take my oldest son, Nathaniel so that he could see what goes into providing food for families that may not be able to make ends meet for a month or two, or several. How as individuals, we are responsible for the caretaking of other men, women and children. We packed a LOT of food that day. We were cold, our hands were raw from taping boxes. It was magnificent, and I got to spend some time with a reluctant teen for the day. He ended up asking some pretty awesome questions as well, and learning a bit more about the way grocery stores set up their floor plans, and where they get their food from. To this day, he asks pretty interesting questions whenever the stars align and we’re in a grocery store together.
After my experience, I learned several things. All farmers don’t subscribe to the same way of farming. At. All. Lots of farms are family entities. The women and children are involved heavily, sometimes even being the head farmer (we often think of Paw tending to the farm and Maw tending house.) Farms have gone technical. Lots of GPS guided planters to make the most out of the acreage and ensure that no row is overlooked, or planted in twice.
If you would like to learn more, or even apply to be a part of this years city moms touring farms, then I suggest you check out the application HERE and even read some of the blog posts of current and alumni moms (that’s ME) HERE. Deadline to apply is November 15, 2014