From September 22- 24, I loaded a bus full of nutritionists and bloggers and drove from Kansas City to St. Louis and back for the 2nd installment of the Farm Food Tour. (Read about last year’s trip) The Kansas Farm Bureau partnered with Kansas Soybean Association and Kansas Pork Association to organize the trip.
The purpose of the Farm Food Tour is education and experience. To bring bloggers and nutritionists around the people that affect the food we eat (last we it was farmers, this year we toured more biotechnology companies) so that we can ask them all our questions. You can read all our experiences if you search any social media channel with #FarmFoodTour. (The other bloggers are One Krieger Chick, Fashion Plate KC, Whatcha Makin Now, Sugerbee Crafts, and Back To Allen.)
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Kansas Farm Bureau. But I could have chosen to go on the tour and NOT write the post and then not be compensated. So you see, the post is sponsored, not the trip itself. Kansas Farm Bureau wants to encourage the dialogue about agriculture, and I do too. So I chose to write the post.
You know what I love most about these tours? That they listen to the bloggers and nutritionists and plan the next tour based on feedback. The reason we toured more biotech this year is because we asked for that experience.
To save you time from reading a ton, I’m going to give you the highlights of the trip. Where we went, my impressions, and the questions I still have.
Merck Animal Health
What: Merck Animal Health – Producer of pharmaceuticals for animals. (From vaccines in pork/beef to even tick products for dogs and cats)
Impression: My father-in-law is a veterinarian that sells items from Merck. I was already familiar with them. I learned a lot about why they produce medicine for animals.
Questions: Honestly, I don’t have many for Merck. I believe medicinal science is valuable for all animals. I think the proper usage of these medicines is what matters.
(That’s me making light of going into one of the most hated businesses in America)
What: Monsanto Research Center. Maker of GMO seeds for 8 row crops – alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans, sugarbeets and wheat and also squash and papaya.
Impression: Huge. This place is HUGE. Also science. They create all their own machines for all their scientific research. They have a machine that shaves off a teeny part of a soybean or corn seed so they can track the genetics of those seeds and still leave the embryo of the seed alive so the plant can still grow.
Questions: With a company as large as Monsanto, there will always be more questions. Like “what is being done to educate farmers about the benefits of biodiversity?” And “What kind of research is being done to make it so even less and less herbicide is needed?” I appreciated how no matter what question we bloggers threw at them, they didn’t hesitate or act like a politician and skirt around any of the questions. I only wish I had worked harder at researching MORE questions.
And I still have email addresses to my Monsanto experts. If you have issues or questions, I can write up another blog post.
What: The Maschoff’s run one of the largest family-run pork productions in North America. So if we had any questions at all about what people call “factory pork farming” I could ask them!
My Impression: When they said we were going to a pork producer’s office, I imagined someone’s home. Not a beautiful but still very large office building in Illinois. Something I learned from this visit was: they feed their pigs the best they can (they produce their own feed) and treat them the best they can because healthy, happy pigs produce the best meat. (I learned way more than this, but again, I want to save it for another blog post. So ask me questions!)
My Questions: Honestly, I don’t have many for them. But I want to know if you have any.
Central Missouri Meats & Sausage
What: We toured Central Missouri Meats & Sausage – basically, they are butchers. But they are very soon going to be a restaurant, deli, and butcher all in one.
Impression: Yay! If I had any questions about meat in animals raised different ways, he was the guy to ask! I was so impressed with his vast knowledge. They test every single animal independently – in addition to federal and state testing they have to comply with. (They test for disease and also antibiotic residue among tons more). They also produce their own sausage, bacon, and other meat products.
Questions: Well, he answered almost all of them. Basically, even if an animal is given an antibiotic sometime in their lifespan, they have to have ZERO residue by the time they reach him. This is a federal regulation, but he tests for it too. He also said that animals raised in barns are calmer when they get to him and animals that are calm don’t release stress hormones that can decrease meat quality.
We also ate at some fantastic places too! But I am running out of time and out of room in this post. Basically, my head is full of science and now I want to continue the conversation about food production and farming.
The more we talk about it, the more we learn, the faster we can improve. And this is something farmers, seed producers and butchers and consumers can all agree on.
Now that you glanced at my little trip, do you have any questions? I would love to do a follow up post – but I want to write about something you care to read. If you could ask one of the people above any one thing, what would it be?