Whew! It’s been a whirlwind of traveling for me, and I’m so happy that I finally have some time to sit and share with you all! Last month, I was fortunate enough to travel with USFRA (United States Farmers and Ranchers Association) to Omaha, Nebraska to talk farming practices, and visit a finishing farm. For those of you wondering what a finishing farm is, it’s a farm where farm animals go to hit market weight before they are processed. Yes. To eat. No, I am not going to show you any processing photos, so you don’t have anything to worry about.
This visit was learning more about the food that we seem so enamored about in general, and the practices that go along with getting it to our homes. I definitely did a food tour while in Omaha as well, and the food was just the icing on the cake.
Our tour started with me arriving in Omaha and touring the Old Market area of downtown by myself, because I knew that we wouldn’t have time the second or third day of the time there. If you have a chance, I highly suggest that should you land in Omaha, the FIRST thing you should do is walk downtown and pick from one of the MANY places to eat. I ended up settling on a restaurant called Jams, and enjoyed my lunch alone immensely. I ordered the Agave Shrimp Tostada but BEFORE that, I had the shrimp and lobster bisque that was the soup of the day. So very delicious, with just the right amount of heat to wake up the palate.
I walked a bit downtown (it was hot) for a while, and saw places that I must visit when I come back. The museums alone are worth the drive there. I did stop on a bridge, which for me is a big deal – I’ll explain later, to get a shot of the Missouri River.
Later that evening, we headed Upstream, and had dinner with the entire Digital Voices Council, which is a program through USFRA that partners with farmers, nutritionists, scientist, and urban farmers like me to help quell some of the issues surrounding food facts. Or the lack thereof. Of course, I chose the ribeye – which will be a recurring theme on this trip, and a Shirley Temple in honor of Mr. Houseful. No photo of the ribeye, because it just didn’t make it.
The next morning, we headed out early to the farm of Joan & Steve who run Ruskamp Feedyards, in Dodge, Nebraska. The rain welcomed us along with the farmers, and we started our tour in their home office. I’m always amazed at working farms, because there is SO MUCH to do, and when it’s just the husband/wife team along with five or six farmhands to help out. Joan and Steve raise angus beef and they are very proud of what they do. I do want to do an interview with them both to give a deeper look into what a finishing farm consists of, since this is the last stop for the cattle before being processed out for food for us.
We were shown the process of breaking down the cattle feed, and you see us finding shelter in an earlage silo. The earlage consists of roughage (cob and husks) and concentrate (corn grain). The earlage harvest also leaves stalks and leaves in the field, which helps with not tilling the land over winter, and losing nutrients in the soil (from what I understand.)
Let me tell you something. Cattle are NOSY animals. We approached the field, and they all moved as a unit as close to the gate as they could without coming into direct contact with us. There were a couple that moved closer than the group, and they allowed me to take photos of them. They are beautiful, although they have a lot of mucus coming out of their noses, and mouths – which is normal – so don’t fret. It rained quite a bit while we were on the farm, and because of the downpour, the cattle all moved to one corner of the pen they were in, put their heads down, and weathered. It was fascinating to witness, and now if I’m driving down 57 in the rain, and see cattle doing this, I’ll know why. There were also windbreakers in the corners of all of the pens to help protect from the wind and snow (during the winter months) and help the area stay free of accumulation.
We had lunch at Eat, and I had a burger that I can’t even properly describe. It was so good. Everything is made fresh, so if you stop by, know that there may be a bit of a wait. It’s worth it though.
We came back to the hotel, and were able to rest for a bit before getting ready for dinner at Sullivan’s where I ordered another ribeye, and we listened to USFRA Board Member, Anne Meis as she spoke about what called her into being an agvocate in general. She married a farmer, and is a high school math teacher that uses what free time she has to spread more knowledge about farming practices, and food in general. All in all, it was an interesting discussion, and I loved that she had taken time to stop by all of the blogs of those of us on the Digital Voices Council.
I’ve been sharing my thoughts on the Food Dialogues blog and would love it if you could swing by and check it out. There are so many other talented and educated writers sharing over that way as well. Until next time!