From the Farm to the Grocery Store, We All Have Choices

December 22, 2016

cow and calf

As a farmer, and like all farmers, I make decisions on how to grow crops and raise animals based on a multitude of factors, which include location, facilities, resources, market opportunities, costs, personal preference, etc. And, I want you to know that when it comes to food and food choices, you don’t have to pick a side.

Let’s look at an example from my own farm: I choose not to treat my cattle with growth promotants (hormones). I made this choice because my customers tell me that they want it that way. As a consequence of that choice, my cattle grow a little slower than herds treated with hormones and will require more feed. The cost of that feed is passed along to the consumer, thus my beef is more expensive than the more efficiently raised alternative.

I’m very aware that there are people who can’t afford my beef – and that’s okay. I’m happy there are more affordable beef options available in stores. Beef is a terrific source of necessary protein (not to mention iron and zinc), and it’s great tasting, too! I would never suggest that there’s anything wrong with the less expensive beef that is raised in a different manner. Growth promotants have been used for decades and are completely safe. I personally would not hesitate to buy beef from the grocery store if I did not have my own homegrown supply.

The bottom line is that I have found a market for my beef, while other farmers have a market for less expensive, efficiently raised beef. Yet another farmer might find buyers who are willing to pay extra for the organic label and raise their animals accordingly. We all find what works best for our own farms and customers.

So, for consumers who are struggling with food choices amidst overwhelming labels, adjectives and headline-grabbing, myth-based marketing campaigns, I say pick whatever works best for YOU and know that there’s a farmer at the other end who made choices, too. There’s no wrong answer; we’re all raising food that is safe.

 

Michele Aavang

Michele and her husband, Gary are full-time farmers raising corn, soybeans, alfalfa, wheat and cattle in northern Illinois. Their son has started his own dairy cattle herd recently and they have shifted how they do things on their farm in order to support him and be good stewards of the land.

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