Farm to table experience in Michigan!
There’s nothing like a Midwestern farm to table. This trip was sponsored by National Pork Board as part of an initiative to connect consumers with farmers. As always, all thoughts and ideas found here are entirely my own.
We all have questions and concerns about where our food comes from. How farmers are treating the livestock, what they are being fed or what they are treating their fields with. As a home cook; I’m also intrigued by many of these concerns. At the end of the day I want to feed my family with the best. I’m sure you do too. Meeting the families behind the farms; those who work the fields, and tend the livestock. And learning about all the guidelines that most be met by the time it reaches our table, makes me a lot more comfortable with what I feed my family with.
My goal for this trip was simple, I wanted to see real food growing locally and I wanted to see first hand how livestock where cared for. Even though I test and photograph more recipes and dishes than the traditional home cook; I’m seldom not sure I really understand what it takes to get that food to my table. As a city girl living in Florida I don’t get to see or experience farming other than the seasonal U-Pick experience on local farms, (like blueberries and strawberries).
Note, I do grow a container garden at home and have been harvesting and sharing with my neighbors. The scale is not even comparable, but the journey has made me appreciate the work a farmer does. Nothing compared to the actual caring for a field that is hundreds of acres large and farms with hundreds or thousands of livestock in it.
These farmers not only work for a living, they care about their fields, livestock, family, staff and the entire community. A common denominator we all saw during our trip was that farmers we met all love their work, despite long hours and unpredictable markets. Piglets are born seven days a week, 365 days a year, and these farmers are there to make sure those piglets get off to their safest and healthiest start. A lot of work, time, care, dedication and experience goes into the food we eat. The food these farmers produce is what they feed their own family with too. That gives me peace of mind!
At the end of the day, if there is something I can say I took away with me was learning how sustainable and eco-friendly pig farming really is.
- Making sure the environment is well kept and the smell is properly ventilated.
- Collecting the manure and re-utilized as fertilizer in the fields.
- Using that same harvest as feed for the livestock.
Farmers in Michigan are taking some extra measures to make sure the entire community is happy.
Another take-away is how much farmers love working alongside their families. Most of them hope to grow enough to keep providing for future generations. Some have larger farms and provide jobs for many employees. It brings me much joy seeing younger generations coming back home after college to keep the farm going. This work is by no means easy or elegant. As a mom I can relate to the older generations. Seeing my daughter work by my side is of great joy.
Lastly, I hope that at some point; during or after reading this blog post you give some thought to where your food comes from. Plus, realize that farmers are family people just like you and me. They love their lands, their families, their community, and the their animals.
Many thanks to Dale Norton and Brady Reicks for having us over. To everyone that took time to spend a few days with us and be part of our farm to table experience. Real Pig Farming and National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council #realpigfarming for inviting us to get a glimpse into their farms and process. It takes great courage to bring in over a dozen of different set of minds into their space. Thanks for letting us be part of the “farm to table” conversation.