Last week, I was fortunate enough to meet up with CommonGroundKS, a coalition of female farmers in Kansas who help educate the public on farming practices. They presented at our event entitled “Fun, Fearless Food” through GBS Connect. It was an evening of education, fun and lots of delicious food. We were inspired by the CommonGroundKS crew to learn more about farming and the Shining Stars catering company served up the most amazing dinner.
As a midwest girl born and raised, I was shocked by my own lack of knowledge on the Kansas farms right in my own backyard. I personally am interested in food safety and staying a smart shopper, and if you are too, then these tidbits of information should benefit you as they did me. Here’s the scoop on all things farming.
“GMO” stands for “genetically modified organism.” It means science has found a way to genetically modify certain crop’s DNA so as to make it last longer, taste better, and resist better against potential dangers. They are simply more technologically advanced crop hybrids. Tomatoes have been genetically modified to resist frost, corn is now protected from harmful herbicides, and apples have been developed to brown less easily. If you are asking the question “are GMO’s safe to eat?” the answer is overwhelming ‘yes.’ It also has helped other environmental concerns such as soil erosion, which has decreased by 90% since the introduction of GMO’s.
2. What is true about animal welfare?
I have heard so much about the poor treatment of animals in certain farming practices. The last thing I want is to be supporting animal cruelty in the way I shop. According to CommonGround, farmers are constantly exploring new ways to improve the way their animals are raised. The verdict goes back and forth between whether or not it is better to raise your animals in a barn or in its natural environment on the fields, but the fact of the matter is, there are pros and cons to each. Field animals make disease and injury harder to control and housed animals can often limit normal animal behavior.
3. Cage-free eggs: What’s the deal?
There are three different types of chicken houses, each of which, again, have pros and cons. However, most eggs produced today have to follow certain guidelines which guarantee their hens are given ample living space, nutritious food, clean water, and fresh air daily. Cage-free chickens are just as it sounds, however, cage-free hens have higher mortality rates and stress and aggression levels.
4. Pesticides are they as scary as they sound?
It’s a common misconception that there are tons of pesticides floating around in the produce we buy and they are a serious harm to our health—but that’s a lie. In fact, any pesticide on any single piece of produce is well below the limit for safety. The average woman could eat over 500 apples in one day without an effect. And, believe it or not, pesticide use by farmers has decreased by over half since 1998.
5. What’s the deal with hormones in meat and milk?
The hormones used in meat is meant to increase milk production and provide leaner meat. Only a small 15% of hormones given to beef and dairy cows are synthetic—the rest are all natural hormones the cattle produce on their own. The amount of steroid given per cattle is only 200 mg, about the size of one Advil tablet. Think about that next time you have a headache! Another fun fact, don’t spend more money on “hormone-free” pork or chicken. It is actually illegal to inject any hormones in hogs and chicken—it’s just become another gimmick for stealing your money.
Good luck on utilizing your new farmer-friendly knowledge! If you have more questions, feel free to check out CommonGround! And think about serving some delicious food at your next gathering with Shining Stars Catering.