My job is to support farmers – but it seems that a growing portion of that job has to do with helping non-farmers understand what they need to know and what to know instead of actually helping farmers.

In case you made it a New Year’s Resolution to get in touch with your food, check out this list. Instead of eating only organic in 2016 or “detoxing” once a month (which, by the way, is crap. There is no such thing as “detoxing.”), do something on this list. Do three or four somethings. Do the entire list. Each of these is an actual, legitimate, scientific way that you can learn more about your food.

  • Eat only what is in season in your area for two weeks.  You will have a better appreciation for the food industry when you start adding the variety back to your diet!
  • Find one new fruit or veggie you’ve never tried in the grocery store.  Buy it, taste it, and research where it is grown.
  • Visit a local farm.  Actually speak to someone and ask any questions you think of.
  • grow a garden

  • Grow a garden with your family this summer and supply some of your own food in 2016.
  • Tour Monsanto.  This is a brilliant company doing good things – and if you doubt that, all the more reason to check them out.  The tour is worth the trip.
  • Plan a week of meals that is completely balanced using USDA guidelines.
  • Help your kids pick out a new recipe they would like to try.  Help them plan the grocery list, shop, and prepare the meal for the family.
  • Read the USDA Certified Organic label guidelines.  Understand what organic food is and isn’t.
  • Plan a visit to watch the planting or harvest of a local crop.  In Illinois, that might be corn, soybeans, wheat, pumpkins, apples or even horseradish!  Your county Farm Bureau should be able to connect you with a nearby farmer.
  • Follow Illinois Farm Families on Facebook.  Read their updates daily and get to know some Illinois farmers that are growing your food.
  • watch harvest

  • Host a harvest celebration for your neighborhood.  Plan a meal featuring Illinois crops and let your guests know what they are eating and where it came from.
  • Check out this article from the FDA on how to read nutrition labels.
  • In Illinois, the Illinois Pork Producers Association hosts a ribbon cutting every time a new barn is opened.  Attend one and see for yourself how your meat is raised.  Call IPPA for a schedule.
  • Create cultural themed nights for your family.  One week, prepare a French recipe.  The next week, a German dish.  Include your kids in the research to determine which dish you’ll prepare.
  • Challenge yourself to one month of no food waste.  Utilize all leftovers, half containers of ingredients, and pantry items that will spoil.  Nothing goes into the trash.
  • Incorporate an unconventional veggie into one dish everyday for a week.  Zucchini pastaCarrots in Mac n CheesePeppers in meatloaf?
  • Don’t rush through your meals, slow down and focus on eating and not what you have to do after you finish eating. Focus on your food, and savor each bite.
  • Grow an indoor herb garden.
  • Watch Farmland to understand more about how the ag industry works.

FARMLAND Teaser Trailer 2014 from Farmland on Vimeo.

  • Start a blog to share/document your experiences with the things on this list

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