WORRIED ABOUT GMO FOODS?

Stop.

There are only 10 genetically modified crops available todayThey are alfalfa, apples, canola, corn (field and sweet), cotton, papaya, potatoes, soybeans, squash and sugar beets.

These crops have been genetically modified to express a positive characteristic that makes the crop easier to manage.  An example of these would be improved insect resistance.

Many of these crops are then used as processed ingredients, like sugar or cornstarch.  The sugar or cornstarch might then be included in food products at your local grocery store.  The only way to eat a GMO directly would be if your store includes varieties of papaya, potatoes, squash, sweet corn or apples in their produce aisle.

The list below identifies the genetic traits expressed and uses of the 10 GMO crops approved in the U.S.

GMOs in the U.S.

Although most of these GMO crops are edited for herbicide tolerance and/or insect resistance, this does not mean that the plant cells actually make herbicides or release chemicals.

Many of these crops produce a protein that is indigestible to insects.  When an insect feasts on the plant, it cannot digest the protein and it dies.  Humans CAN digest this protein, so the genetic mutation has zero impact to humans.

DO INGESTED PESTICIDES POSE CUMULATIVE RISKS?

Last week, we learned that you have to eat 10,072 bowls of Cheerios in one day for the potential glyphosate residue in the cereal to cause a negative impact according to the EPA.  Other states, other countries, and other associations have their own thresholds.

One reader started thinking about those thresholds and wondered, if I ate 10,072 bowls of Cheerios in my LIFETIME, would it cause the same impact?  How can I understand cumulative risks of eating a tiny fraction of risky pesticides each day?

Good question.

Studies have shown that if you do eat any chemical residue after washing your produce, your body does not metabolize it and instead, you excrete the residue in your urine or feces.  You are actually at more risk to eat less fruits and veggies than you are to ingest more chemical residue.

But you don’t have to take our word for it:

DID EWG’S ‘BREAKFAST WITH A DOSE OF ROUNDUP’ SCARE YOU?

Did you happen to hear in the news that a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to a man dying of cancer, which he says was caused by his repeated exposure to large quantities of Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers while working as a school groundskeeper?

Did you perhaps also hear the follow-up information from the Environmental Working Group that trace amounts of Roundup are found in most of 45 samples of products made with conventionally grown oats?

If yes to either of these questions, I’m certain that you’re feeling a bit frightened of your food and wondering what in the world is safe to eat now that all these details have been released.

Fear not!  I present you with: math.

This video is 100% worth watching.  Yes, it has a hefty time requirement, but if you are indeed worried about your food, you simply must take the time to watch it.

Still have questions?  We’d love to attempt to answer in the comments.  Fire away!

MEAT EXPORTS HELP FEED THE WORLD

One of the things that we work on constantly at IL Corn is how to export more commodities to other countries.  This obviously helps farmers because it creates more market opportunities for their products, but also helps other countries that don’t grow or produce enough food to feed all their citizens.

We really enjoy exporting pork, beef, and poultry.  It makes the most sense; sell the corn here in Illinois or at least in the U.S. to another farmer who adds value to the corn by growing beef or pork with it, and then sell that beef or pork to an overseas customer.  This philosophy helps U.S. farmers capture more of the economic opportunity here in the states while still helping to feed the world.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation is one organization that helps us do this.  They have representatives in other countries that understand the culture and food and nutrition demands of the citizens there, and then they help promote U.S. beef and pork in those countries using what they know.

They even work to build demand for the cuts of beef and pork that we don’t use so much of in the U.S. so that we waste less of the animal.  As an example, we love our bacon here in the U.S. so no reason to promote bacon overseas.  Do you know what we love less?  Tongue.  Do you know who likes tongue?  Japan.  It’s a win-win proposition!

Interested in learning more about how we export beef and pork into other countries?  Follow U.S. Meat Export Federation on Facebook!

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHITE MEAT AND DARK MEAT?

There are going to be endless options of poultry this fall — from turkey legs to chicken wings, with the “healthier” options of chicken salad and chicken breast sandwiches. But what’s really the difference between white meat and dark meat?

Really, it comes down to the muscle. Since turkeys and chickens do a whole lot more walking then flying, their legs contain higher levels of myoglobin (an essential protein that carries and stores oxygen in muscle cells) which makes the muscle darker, whereas their wing and breast meat stay white.

For years, folks have “flocked” to white meat assuming it was the healthier cut. However, one ounce of boneless, skinless turkey breast has 46 calories and 1 gram of fat versus 50 calories and 2 grams of fat for an ounce of boneless, skinless thigh. Dark meat actually claims higher levels of iron, zinc, riboflavin, thiamine and vitamins B6 and B12.

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5 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT FARMING

Originally published by BestFoodFacts.org

Cows and chickens, fields of corn, a big red barn, green tractors and dusty jeans – these are just a few of the images that come to mind when people hear the word “farming.” But for today’s farmers, there is much more to agriculture than meets the eye. We spoke with three farmers for their insights on how and why they’re committed to producing safe, nutritious and affordable food.

Here are five things we learned:

1. Most farms are owned and operated by families.
The 2012 Census of Agriculture shows that 97 percent of the 2.1 million farms in the United States are family-owned operations. Most farmers would tell you that working with their family is key to why they are so passionate about what they do.

“The biggest misconception I’ve heard would be that, as farms have gotten bigger, they have been labeled as factory farms. That we just use the land and move on. Yet, every farmer I know is very family-oriented. I love that our farm is something I can pass on to my family, a legacy, a business and a way of life that my kids love,” said William Layton, a third-generation Maryland farmer and owner of Layton’s Chance Vineyards and Winery.

Jenny Rhodes, University of Maryland Extension Educator in Agriculture and Natural Resources, who owns and operates a grain and broiler chicken farm with her family, said, “I love the whole family aspect and wanted my children to grow up the way I did. Instead of rushing home to spend a few hours with my family, we can spend time together working together. We are all family farms and at the end of the day it’s families working.”

2. Farming is efficient because it is high tech.
Farmers use technology to make advances in producing more food that is more safe, affordable, and produced more efficiently than ever before. Layton said, “Many people have an idea of the old-fashioned farmer, but in reality I spend half of my time in the office making GPS maps for what is going on in the field at any given point. We also have tractors that drive themselves, so we are very technology-based, and technology creates efficiency.”

“Everything you do in farming has to be efficient and sustainable and I love working to improve the resources on our farm so that we can do that,” explained Jenny Schmidt, a registered dietitian and Maryland farmer, whose family produces corn, soybeans, wheat, barley, hay, tomatoes, green beans and wine grapes. “When I talk to people about pesticide usage on our farm, I explain that our sprayer for our tomatoes, green beans, wheat, corn and soybeans sprays at the rate of 15-20 gallons per acre for herbicides. It is a 750-gallon tank so using 15 gallons per acre, this sprayer can cover 50 acres per tank – that’s only 0.04 ounces per square foot. This type of efficiency wouldn’t be possible without technology. Also, many people think we are dousing our fields with pesticides, but that would be inefficient. Spraying isn’t dousing.” Learn more about how the “dose makes the poison” in pesticide usage in “Should You Be Concerned with Pesticides On Produce?”.

3. Farmers are passionate about producing food.
“The thing that I love most about farming is working hard and seeing the results of that hard work. At harvest, I love quitting at dark after a 14-hour day and seeing all that I’ve harvested right in front of me. It’s a great feeling to see that,” said Layton.

“Farming is a passionate job and requires patience to weather through the ups and downs. Ultimately, I love being able to care for the soil and land with the available resources and set the stage for the next generation,” said Schmidt.

Farming is a lifestyle, not just a job. It is 24 hours a day, seven days a week and every day of the year! (Yes, this means vacations are nearly impossible to take!)

4. Farmers use a variety of production methods.
Debates about “organic” and “conventional” crops suggest there are only two ways to grow food: a “good” way and a “bad” way. But an important question to think about is, “What is the best way to feed a growing population, while reducing the amount of resources required?” To address this, farming will need multiple approaches, not just one.

“Many farmers don’t want to be seen as one thing; for me, I want to be seen as both holistic and sustainable. For example, there are trade-offs with all production methods. And each provide different benefits: it’s not an either/or, it’s more about melding the practices together,” added Schmidt. Want to learn more about organic versus conventional? Check out “Organic versus Conventional Foods: Is There a Nutritional Difference?”.

5. There are many ways to become involved with agriculture.
Farm and ranch families make up just two percent of the U.S. population, while most people are at least three generations removed from agriculture. However, the farmers we chatted with all agreed that getting involved in agriculture is for everyone.

Rhodes said it’s important to know what your goal is: Do you want to learn more? Do you want to own your own farm? “After you figure out your goals, then you can decide how to reach them through things like farm tours, working with different national councils, talking with your University extension programs and, of course, talking with the farmers in your area.”

“Social media is a great place to start and to seek out transparent farmers if you have questions about food. I love sharing information about my farm and interesting news articles that are related to the happenings on my farm,” Schmidt added.

Layton concluded, “Agritourism, corn mazes, farm stands, community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, farmers markets – these are all ways to connect with farmers. Talk with the farmers – they are happy to chat with you! I give tours twice a day every day at the winery and people ask questions not only about the grapes and wines but about our crops, too. I love answering these questions.”

Our food supply is abundant, affordable overall and among the world’s safest, thanks in large part to the efficiency and productivity of America’s farm and ranch families. Want to learn more about growing food? Reach out to a local farmer or let us know and we can connect you with one!

BUSY MOMS DON’T HAVE TIME TO RESEARCH WHAT TO PUT ON THE TABLE

Busy moms don’t have time to research what they put on the table.  That’s where farmers can help.

Watch this video of Texas cattle farmer Kyla meeting Kelly, a busy mom of two, and answering all her questions about how that steak gets from the farm to the table.

My personal favorite quote from the video?

“The night that I delivered Clara, Cole left to go bale hay.”

DID YOU KNOW GMOs PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT?

Many misconceptions might fuel the belief that GMO crops aren’t environmentally sustainable, but in reality many of the practices often affiliated with sustainable farming are used with GMO crops.

Fewer pesticide applications, conservation tillage (which reduces greenhouse gas emissions) and water conservation are all practices that can be used with GMO crops.

Find out more at GMO Answers!

CARPOOL WITH A FARMER

Have so many questions about your food but very little time to look for answers?

What if you could have a farmer for a day?  Ask her all of your questions and get the answers you felt confident in?  What if you and that farmer could actually … talk?

Check out the conversations this busy mom and her farmer had when we did exactly that.

 

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