As farmers, we get a lot of questions about our passion. Consumers like you are taking a new interest in food and we absolutely love that! We get asked a range of questions almost daily and so our friends at Illinois Farm Families put together FAQs and answers to some of the more frequent questions we get. Use these as a starting point your education!
Are most farms today factory or corporate farms?
Today, the vast majority of farms are still family owned. In Illinois 97 percent are owned by individuals, family partnerships or family corporations. For these family farms, being stewards of the land and caretakers of their animals truly runs in their blood.
Get to know some Illinois farm families by checking out our Meet the People page.
Should I worry about antibiotics in my meat and milk?
The USDA requires all beef, pork, poultry or milk destined for grocery stores or restaurants be tested and inspected by the Food Safety Inspection Service to ensure there are no antibiotic residues. Farmers also are required to follow strict withdrawal periods for animals given antibiotics.
Read this post from a farmer who breaks down how farmers use antibiotics and how they ensure your food is free of all residue.
Are hormones in food making girls develop early?
There is no science-based research linking food to early development. Higher body weight has been suggested as a contributing factor. You might not realize it, but all living things contain hormones. Watch this video as Illinois farmers talk about hormones in dairy and meat compared to other food items.
Are GMOs safe?
The World Health Association, Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and American Medical Association, to name a few, have all deemed ingredients derived from a genetically modified crop as safe as ingredients derived from crops raised using other methods.
In this video, Paul Jeschke talks about the benefits of using GMO seeds in his fields.
What’s the difference between grass fed and grain fed beef?
- Grain-finished – Cattle spend most of their lives grazing on pasture, and then spend four to six months in a feedyard where they eat a mix of grasses and grains
- Grass-finished – Cattle spend their entire lives grazing on pasture
Check out this infographic on today’s beef choices.
Where can I find out more about what labels mean?
Is buying organic worth the extra cost?
While organic and non-organic foods are produced using different farming methods, nutritionally they are no different.
In this blog post, a Chicago mom discovers some of the differences, and similarities, between organic and traditionally grown produce.
Why do farmers use chemicals?
Plants use nutrients in the soil to grow. Fertilizers are natural compounds from the earth including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium that give growing plants the nutrients they need. When farmers need to control a pest or weed problem, they use products judiciously to help protect the plants.
Get perspectives about chemical use from different local farmers here.
Do animals on small farms receive better care than on large farms?
The livelihood of livestock producers – whether large or small – depends on the health and well-being of their animals. Regardless of the size of the farm, caring for animals is a 24/7 job that requires knowledge, patience and the utmost devotion.
Read this blog post from a Chicago mom who toured local farms to witness animal care for herself.
Do farmers have a choice in what they plant on their farms?
Yes, just like consumers have choices in what they buy at the store, farmers choose what they want to plant in their fields. They spend a lot of time researching, reading, meeting and listening to industry experts to determine what’s best for their farms.
Get to know Paul Taylor, an Illinois farmer who grows both GM and non-GM crops and can share his perspective on both.
What makes food local?
There is no set definition for “local” when it comes to marketing products. Many Illinois farmers sell their products directly to the public and others sell to brands such as DelMonte, Dean’s and Farmland that can be found in grocery stores throughout the state.
What’s the truth behind cow tipping?
The legend of cow tipping is mainly just that – a legend. In this video, Linda Drendel gives ones of many reasons as to why tipping a cow over would be quite the challenge.
This obviously doesn’t even scratch the surface of questions people ask. So to get more answers to your questions, check out Illinois Farm Families.