Consider this; one person on a farm tour could make thousands of positive impressions. That’s an excellent ROI compared to dismal milk and pork prices at the farm gate right now! The following is written by a mom, health professional and speaker who experienced her first modern dairy farm tour last week as a part of speaking for a Vita-Plus event – and found an ‘ah-ha’ moment. Read on…
Ever wonder where you milk comes from? I got a chance to find out last week when I visited a dairy farm in Western Wisconsin and met 100 hard working dairy farming women.
Having only the media view of “factory” farming, I was firmly on the organic/free range/family farm side of the argument. I have to say my view has changed – still need more info, but it isn’t as black and white as I thought. I visited a dairy farm with more than 800 cows — which is huge. It is run by a family (2 brothers and their wives) and some hired help (total of 12 people I think). They’d like to have more help, but can’t afford them with the low milk prices.
I had assumed “confined” cows would be unhappy cows, dirty cows, sad — but I was wrong. Over the hour-long tour, our host constantly talked about “cow comfort” from the different types of bedding to how the feed was presented. They invest in various types of fans and misters to keep them cool – they even had motion sensitive back scratching machines for the cows. It was a bit like uncomfortable to watch one cow use it — she seemed to be REALLY enjoying it.
As anyone who has breast fed knows, if the mom is stressed or uncomfortable, the milk doesn’t flow. I hadn’t considered this concept in regard to dairy cows, but it makes sense. From that perspective, it seems ridiculous that a business person would set up a situation where conditions would limit production. No, indeed this farm was all about making the cows happy.
Our host talked about his routine and it was obvious how hard they work – long hours – and they are struggling to make a profit.
With their cute little kids running around it is hard to believe this was what Time Magazine calls a “soulless” operation.
Anyway, here’s what I’ve learned:
- The farmers I met are VERY busy, care deeply, and deserve our respect.
- There’s more to this issue than I ever imagined.
- I don’t know enough yet — it is time to get more information and start really understanding where our food comes from.
I suspect there is more than one right answer and the people who are most qualified to help me understand are the people working hard to produce our food.
So, farmers out there, please help me out!
- What should I know that I don’t?
- What do I think I know, that is just plain wrong?
- What should I be reading?
- Who should I rely on for good, unbiased, information?
I talk all the time about “grow foods” and making healthy choices. It is time for me to really understand what that means. Please make a comment below and help me share the best information with the people I serve. Thanks!
To the busy women I serve, get yourself and your family out to a working farm and see where your food is produced. Become an informed consumer and support the people working hard to put food on your table.
If you’d like to learn more about Eliz, her incredible story of surviving a massive heart attack and why she cares about food, go to her blog. She reaches thousands of people, is in the process of writing a book about food and is heavily involved with the American Heart Association.
One farm visit will pay a thousand times over. Who have you not connected with that could be sharing their positive impressions of agriculture? I know you’re busy, but how do you know your ROI if you don’t make the investment in sharing information about agriculture. Don’t wait until the next nasty Time, Inc. cover or New York Times article – get out there and work to get people to farms now!