“Do you want to understand what the label on your food really means? You’re not alone. Visiting a local farm can really give you some insight on how your food gets from farm to table.”
This article originally posted here, on WatchUsGrow.org by Illinois Farm Families.
I’m a millennial mom, one of 9 million other moms born between 1978-1994 who have been widely covered in research and, therefore, genius marketing ploys. I’ve seen and been a part of a plethora of market research that has tried to convince me of one thing or another when it comes to our food and nutrition choices. But, also characteristic of millennials, I’m voraciously independent and committed to getting my own facts.
Enter “City Mom” and “Illinois Farm Families.” IFF has invited moms from the Chicagoland area to visit a variety of farms for a behind-the-scene look at how our food is grown. I first heard about this unique opportunity from a good friend and “City Mom” alumnae, who suggested I apply when I was complaining about all the new trends, advice, research, and information that always seems to come my way.
As a mom of four small, energetic, adorable, crazy and exhausting children, it’s hard to know what is right and who to believe when it comes to food choices. There is the dreaded “mom guilt,” the crazy documentaries on Netflix, and let’s not forget that my computer seems to magically pop-up with advertisements from my most recent Google search. I often find myself questioning the motives and people around me. “City Moms” is a perfect way for me to have a first hand experience with those who grow and provide my family with food.
When I was one of the lucky moms selected to be a part of this program, I was thrilled and couldn’t wait for the tours to begin. I planned on asking the hard questions and showing how informed and concerned I am about what they are doing to our food. I must admit that my view on Illinois farms was a perspective of “big, bad, corporate, Monsanto-run farms.” And I’ll also admit I wasn’t sure the farmers would like my protective momma bear approach. Regardless, I was a mom on a mission – a mission to go in and see for myself.
Our first tour was at a local Mariano’s grocery store where we learned how they source their produce, meat, and seafood. We had a chance to meet some of the farmers, ask some difficult questions to a registered nutritionist, and spend some time talking with other moms. We all had lots questions about the food we buy and what we put on the table for our families. Jodi, the registered dietitian, offered a lot of insight on food labels and opened my eyes to marketing ploys and all the advertisement that goes into it. Don’t worry; I’ll fill you in on those in my next post.
All in all, I left with a few new and different thoughts that were quite unexpected:
1. 97% of Illinois farms are FAMILY run farms. Yes, read that again: Family run farms. They are not corporate EVIL factory farms contrary to what the media and Facebook posts have led me to believe. They are families like my own: families trying to make a living, families working hard, families who have been portrayed in such a negative way. Their story is not like the documentaries on Netflix. They are normal, and normal does not make for good TV.
2. As I drove home, it occurred to me that the farmers and their families are no different than I am. They are normal moms just like me. Moms who want to make good decisions and choices for their kids and grandkids. They are motivated and just as concerned as I am about putting nutritious and healthy food on the table. Sure some farms have the title of being a “corporation,” but it’s for tax purposes like my brother-in-law and his small business. They are still a family run farm that is working hard to provide.
In all honesty, while I can say I’ve now met some local farmers, I still have not yet been on an actual Illinois family farm. I also still have a lot of questions and concerns, but I do feel like my eyes have been opened to a new side of things, and a perspective I’m excited to see in person. I’m excited to go with in with my eyes wide open.