Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Food Day Part 2: We all want to be healthy!


Wyatt enjoying home grown squash

Welcome back!  If you missed it yesterday we began a series on Food Day you can check it out here.  This series is from the perspective of a wife, mother, farmer, and a lover of food.  Let's really start digging into the 6 Principles of Food Day.  


Today's Principle: 1.  Reduce diet related disease by promoting a healthy food.

At first this seems like a perfectly acceptable goal for Food Day.  However as you dig into the "meat" of the topic you learn quickly that "Healthy Foods" don't include all categories of the food pyramid or MyPlate.
The first thing they target is Factory Farmed meat.  Could someone please tell me what a factory farm is?  We raise beef cattle and run a dairy and I have yet to see these so called factory farms everyone keeps mentioning.  My friend Dawn explains why our family farms aren't factory farms perfectly on her blog Lady of Ag

Be prepared I am stepping on to my soapbox:

On our farm the cattle are not handled by machines but by people.  At the dairy each cow is touched by human hands twice a day at least...most of the time those hands are my husband's.  Our cattle have enough room to move about freely, access to pasture, water, and food at all times.  We are not a factory we are a family that cares about the food we produce.  When I imagine a factory...I see cold gray steel and people who look sad to be there...they work for a paycheck...not for a lifestyle.  When I imagine a farm...I see sunshine and fields of green (when it's not a drought year) and people who work their fingers to the bone...give up hours of traditional family time to check on close heifers just one more time.  It is a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year lifestyle...we didn't choose it because the money was great...we chose to farm because it is part of who we are and who we want our children to be...there is no factory in farming. 

OK I have stepped off my soapbox...moving on...
At a meeting last week I was discussing food and food choices when a lady told me something thought provoking.  This lady's daughter has a PhD & works for the USDA in the nutrition department, and she was on the team that developed My Plate.  The daughter once said, "Mom, there are no BAD foods...only bad choices." I have to say I agree and believe this statement to be true.  Many have preached it...even Mrs. Obama has shown us everything is OK in moderation.  

As I read through the 1st principle I saw scare tactics and a vegetarian/vegan agenda being pushed on millions of consumers, which of course pushes my buttons as a farmer who raises cattle (and sheep) for meat and milk. 

The principle states "the best diets consist largely of vegetables, fruit, beans, and whole grains, along with some seafood, low-fat dairy products, and poultry." To me this is a frontal attack at the meat industry, especially the beef and pork farmers. 

There are 29 lean cuts of beef that packs a powerful punch in helping you maintain a healthy metabolism.  "Studies suggest that the protein in beef may be help prevent many chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes and osteoporosis. It’s especially important that young children and older folks get sufficient protein. Children need the high-quality protein, iron and zinc in beef in order to develop their minds, as well as their bodies. Older adults can benefit from the protein in beef to help prevent loss of muscle mass and strength as they age. (Beef It's Whats for Dinner)."  There are numerous studies to back up those facts, check out this fact sheet titled :What you miss without meat!

Now this message worries me as it does many mothers out there because I don't want my son to become overweight or obese like 1/3 of children are according to Food Day statics.  I don't want to be a statistic either having heart disease or high blood pressure but I also want the REAL story about food...and the people who grow it.

I believe that consuming a variety of foods in the correct amounts is what helps us maintain a healthy diet.  But even with a healthy diet some people need to do more...including exercise.  The weight problem in the U.S. shouldn't be blamed on Farmers & Ranchers or the government for that matter...everyone has a choice as to what food they put into their mouth.

We need to help educate people more about portion size, will power, and self control.  If you need more information on how to change your diet talk with your doctor or check out the MyPlate site.  There are numerous resources out there to help you make good informed decisions.  I don't think that it is healthy to cut anything completely out of your diet. 

So in conclusion...yes we do need to promote healthy food in order to reduce diet-related diseases but we need to do so by encouraging everyone to eat from all food groups and have a balanced plate including fruits, vegetables, DAIRY, grains, & MEAT!

Stay tuned because tomorrow we will talk sustainability and subsidies!!!

Until then...

Caci

P.S. want more info...want to start a conversation comment or visit CommonGround's Website to talk with a farmer in your area!