Monday, June 16, 2014

How does your father feel loved?

Round Baling HayYesterday was Father's Day. I witnessed many friends posting online about how great their fathers are and how they have been influenced by them and sharing iconic photographs of memories with their dads. That was very thoughtful to share. I did not participate.

Instead, I was out in the hay fields, round baling alfalfa with my dad. He does not have social media, nor does he follow content online except for agriculture news and emails. In order to make him feel loved on this holiday, I shared my time and assistance. Working in the fields together brought more joy to him than he can express with words (or chooses to, at times).

With the gap in today's generations, we often forget the value people in the Baby Boomer years, like my dad, appreciate more than just an Instagram photo or Facebook collage. It is the time we cherish together, whether in work or play, as a family.

Don't get me wrong, social media is great! However, it sometimes takes away from the actual time we spend and the moments we experience in our daily lives. As I leave today for two weeks training in my first big-girl job, I realized time moves fast.

I challenge you the next few days, weeks, months and years to not just take selfies at new places, SnapChat your life story and tweet every waking moment of an event. Make the people in your life feel loved by being present in their lives. Spend time with your parents and grandparents. Write a letter or note to a distant relative. Play a game in your yard with your pets or siblings. Use your time and energy to your advantage and you can be certain the people around you feel loved.

P.S. I do have the best dad ever. ;)

Friday, June 13, 2014

How can we "meat the myths"?

Meat MythsToday is the information age. For the agriculture industry, this is part of a 'moo'vement. Consumers want to know how their food is grown, what is added or used in the process from pasture to plate and what makes the food healthy or produced 'safely' in their eyes.

Along with this factual information, we commonly interact with more 'entertaining' information on the Internet. Buzzfeed is a website for this entertainment purpose. Have you taken a quiz during your lunch break to see "which state you should live in" or "which Ryan Gosling movie character should you marry?" I'll admit, I have! It's fun and gives you a brief reprieve from another task you may have been doing. The past few days, some of my Facebook friends were sharing a different type of post from Buzzfeed instead of the usual quiz.

At the Community on Buzzfeed page, the American Meat Institute shared "15 Common Meat Myths That Need to Be Crushed For Good." I highly encourage you to read through them. Growing up in ag myself and with livestock no less, there were a few on the list I was not familiar with. However, it was once I scrolled down to the comments section of the page that my interest peaked.

There were some readers who were pleased with the information shared. Many were from a farming background, but some were not. There were also critics who felt American Meat Institute was just 'tooting their own horns of the corporate world' and 'feeding consumers false information'. Yes, it explicitly says that the post was created by the user and not the Buzzfeed editors. However, why are readers taking this stance as inaccuracy?
Newborn Shorthorn cow and calf
Shorthorn cow and newborn calf on Weihl Farms.

How can we bridge that gap of concern and sometimes inaccurate thoughts? We can't sway the 20 percent of society who have already focused against the industry. But the 60 percent in the middle group who remain unsure and can be influenced are who needs our help as the remaining 20 percent for agriculture. We need to join the movement. Society needs not just sources like AMI sharing info, but farmers and growers in local communities to "meat these myths" and share them with the public. Trust is built quickly through personal relationships. Therefore, we need to build trust at farmers markets, grocery stores and on our farms and ranches to overcome the blurred lines of the food industry and mass media.

Just yesterday, I helped birth a calf in the pasture. That heifer will add to the food chain either by being raised for a beef heifer or to be kept for breeding and reproduce herself. Until she reaches that age of maturity at around 6 months, it is up to our family to help her and the cow adjust and grow to be a healthy heifer (young female bovine). It is humbling to be on the farm to witness this process and I understand that not everyone can have this opportunity. But, that makes it my responsibility and that of other agriculturalists to share it for those who can't witness firsthand.

How will you join in this 'moo'vement for agriculture?
What ways are you already participating?