Farmland: Meet America’s Next Generation of Farmers
Did you know that fewer than 1 percent of our population of 317 million are farmers? At one time, it was common for everyone to grow their own food. But with the immense amount of growth of our country has experienced, most Americans are now five generations removed from the farm. This means less people growing our food, and less land to grow it on, but that doesn’t mean there is any less care that goes into it.
Being five generations removed from the farm, a huge disconnect has developed between the farmer and the consumer. So much so, in some cases, that people couldn’t even tell you where their food comes from aside from in the grocery store. When in reality, about 90 percent of the food grown in America comes from a family farm.
It really saddens and frustrates me to see this happen, which is one of the reasons why I became an ag communicator. One of my greatest passions is helping to educate people where their food comes from and how it’s grown. But with anti-ag groups presenting misinformation, it’s sometimes hard to give people a firsthand look into what it is REALLY like on the farms across America. That is why I am so excited to share with you the new documentary, Farmland!
Released in theaters today, Farmland lets you step inside the world of farming and take an intimate look at the lives of farmers and ranchers in their ‘20s, all of whom are now responsible for running their farm and producing the food we all depend on.
As the trailer said, “When people see farmers, they think GMOs, organic, certified organic, all natural, treading an animal humanely” and all of the other buzz words that the media reports on, but what they don’t think about is that the farmer growing their food is a regular person just like you and me. And farming isn’t just a job to them, it’s their livelihood. Their lives depend on ensuring that their crops and/or livestock are healthy or nutritious. Not only because they feed them to their own family, but because hundreds and thousands of people are depending on them. To the outside eye, making sure that happens might look easy. But from firsthand experience, I can tell you that farming is anything but.
“We put so much time and so much effort into making something happen, when it finally does happen, we’re pretty proud of it.” – Farmland.
Thanks to the Indiana Soybean Alliance, the Indiana Farm Bureau, and BASF, I had the opportunity to attend an advanced screening of the movie and I absolutely loved it! I’m not sure if it was because it was such a great representation of the different areas of farming and what all it takes to be grow the food we all depend on, or because of how proud it made me feel to be a part of agriculture, but I truly hope that everyone takes the time to watch it! (Oh and maybe bring a tissue just in case, as I may have gotten a little tear-y eyed at the end.)
Farmland will be released in select theaters across the country starting TODAY! Please check www.FarmlandFilm.com for screening dates and locations. In Indiana, it will be showing at the Landmark Keystone Theater in Indianapolis.
If you don’t see a theater near you, their Facebook page said to send them a message with your email address and they’ll add you to the list to receive updates about the digital download and DVD release of the film.
Please do me, and yourself, a favor and go see this film! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Indy Hub’s Raise Your Food IQ Event
As a 20-something living in Indy, I decided to join this cool group called Indy Hub that advocates for Indy’s twenty-/thirty-somethings, and acts as a resource to help us learn about and become a part of the city.
If you’ve read any of my blog posts, or any social media posts for that matter, (or heck, just by looking at my blog header photo) you can probably tell that I am passionate about agriculture and food. So when I heard that Indy Hub was putting on an event called “Raise Your IQ: Indiana Food” I knew I couldn’t miss it!
At the event we were given the opportunity to have breakout sessions with two of the four panel members and then hear from all of them during a panel discussion. The panel members included:
Don Villwock, Indiana Farmer and President of Indiana Farm Bureau on new methods of agriculture and how they support a stronger economy and state for all of us.
Clay Robinson, Founder of Sun King Brewing on building a new career through food.
Dr. Lisa Harris, CEO and Medical Director of Wishard Health Services on envisioning the future of public health through food.
Aster Bekele, Founder and Executive Director of Felege Hiywot Center on her journey of community development and youth empowerment through a tiny urban garden.
The two panel members I listed to were Clay from Sun King, and Aster from the Felege Hiywot Center.
I’ve heard of Sun King before, but who wants to pass up a free sample and be able to pick the brain of one of the most popular local breweries in the city? Not this girl!
Clay talked about the increase in appreciation for local artisans, local agriculture and how people are recognizing that there are opportunities for these things within the local community. He also said that he is proud to be local and wants to stay local. He wants people in Chicago to say, “When are you expanding to Chicago?” so that he can tell them, “Never, when are you going to come to Indiana?”
He wants his beer to be known as “Indy’s local beer” that’s exclusive to the city and people come to Indy to buy it. And I love that philosophy! I know not everything can be kept local, but it boosts the economy and ups the hype about the cool things we’re doing in Indiana. Keep up the good work, Clay!
DidYouKnow: Indiana’s popcorn crop is the second-largest in the country and Sun King used this as their inspiration for their Popcorn Pilsner that is crafted with 2 pounds of Indiana grown popcorn per keg!
My second session was with Aster from the Felege Hiywot Center and I was very interested to learn more about this organization. Aster came here from Ethiopia and recognized that kids in her neighborhood weren’t appreciating everything they have here in the U.S. (education, resources, etc.) so she started the center to serve urban youth of Indianapolis, and teach them about gardening and environmental preservation as well as encourage them to embrace the virtues of community service. They have a really neat story so be sure to learn more about them on their website!
What I thought was so neat about her story was her passion for youth.
“Be patient and get them involved,” said Aster. “Also really listen to their ideas and be the resource the need. Sustainability continues through generations and the youth have to be able to carry it on.”
And that is so true! I am passionate about teaching youth about their food and agriculture and it was refreshing to see her putting an emphasis on it. I was so inspired by Aster’s work that I might actually help volunteer there! And you can too!
To end the night we heard from the panel and talked about what is exciting about Indiana food, sustainability, and how we can continue the conversation about the importance of knowledge about our food.
Indiana Farm Bureau President and Indiana farmer, Don Villwock said that he is excited about the opportunities for young and smaller famers to get involved with the increase in the local food movement.
As a farmer, he also emphasized the importance of sustainability.
“Sustainable farming is leaving his farm better than when his grandfather farmed it,” Don explained. “Water is clean, soil health is better, air is less polluted, and the crops that we raise are healthy, more nutritious and safer.”
This was such a powerful quote to me because it shows that despite what some might think, farmers really do care about their land and the crops they grow. That is their livelihood and they eat the same things we do so they want to make sure to take care of their resources.
My final take-a-way point of the night was from Dr. Lisa Harris about making time to actually gather around a table for a meal together. This really stuck with me because by being from a large family, this was one of the things I most valued about growing up. And I want to encourage everyone to make an effort to get back to cooking meals at home and eating at the dinner table. It sets a good example for your children and is such a good way to keep you connected to your food, and as a family.
Overall this event was so much fun! There was a great turnout with people from many different professions around the city. I caught up with a few participants to see what they took away from the discussion.
Click the link above to listen to physician Risheet Patel of Fishers and psychiatry resident Aimee Sirois share their take on learning more about happenings in Indiana food.
Thanks to everyone who came out to encourage the conversation about Indiana Food! I can’t wait until the next IndyHub event!
Best Red Velvet Cake Recipe. Ever.
I must confess. I LOVE Red Velvet Cake. To be honest, I’m kind of a diva when it comes to my Red Velvet Cake…but this you see, is because I have been spoiled my whole life by the best red velvet cake recipe…ever! Some may beg to differ, but this recipe has been passed on for four generations in my family and out of all red velvet cakes I’ve ever had, this is my absolute favorite. So much so that ever since I can remember, I have requested it for my birthday. And bless my mom’s heart for making me one every year because its not the quickest recipe. But the labor is totally worth it! (Thanks for all those year’s mama, by the way) 🙂
Anyway, I was asked to share this recipe with a fellow blogger and lover of all food, Lauren, of HallNesting so I thought I would just share it with everyone! While we typically make this for Christmas, since it is red, it could totally work for Valentine’s day as well if you want to make a special treat for someone!
Red Velvet Cake
By Chelsea Nord – Old Family Recipe
½ cup of Crisco 1 ½ cup Sugar
2 Eggs ½ oz. Red Food Coloring
1 tsp. Vanilla 2 Tbsp Cocoa
1 cup Buttermilk 1 tsp Baking Soda
1 Tbsp Vinegar 1 tsp. Salt
2 ½ cup Flour
Cream Crisco and sugar. Add eggs, food coloring, and vanilla. Sift flour and cocoa into a separate bowl.. Add to creamed mixture – alternating with buttermilk. Then, in a separate small bowl, mix vinegar, baking soda, and salt – and carefully add to the cake mixture. Don’t stir after blending. Bake at 350 for 40 mins. (I usually divide into 2 round pans – for this bake for 20-25 mins.)
NOTE: If you want to make this into a double layer cake, spray two 9 inch cake pans with non-stick spray and then cut out circles of wax paper to line the bottom of each pan. This makes the process of removing them from the pan much easier and your cake won’t fall apart.
1 cup Milk ¼ cup Flour
1 cup Crisco 1 tsp Vanilla
1 cup Sugar
Cook milk and flour until thick. (Heat slowly and stir constantly to make sure not to scald your milk. ) Then let cool. (**See note below**) While milk/flour mixture is cooling, cream together sugar, Crisco, and vanilla in mixer. Once milk/flour mixture is cool, add it to Crisco/sugar mixture. Beat until light and fluffy.
As mentioned, we make this a double layer cake so after cakes are cool, run a knife around the edge of the cake pan to loosen it, then use an additional sheet of wax paper and flip the cake upside down onto it, gently pull off the cake pan and wax paper, and use both hands, one on top and bottom of the cake, to flip it back right side up. Make sense?
To ice the cake, we put a layer of icing in between the two layers, then ice all around the outside and top of the cake to finish. My sister is the best at this technique!
I usually place plastic wrap on the surface of the cooked mixture while it cools. This keeps a tough skin from forming and helps your icing be smooth. This part may be tricky, please ask me if you are confused!
You can also substitute butter for one half of the Crisco in the icing if you want to, that’s how my great grandma used to make it! But we like it without butter because it’s a little lighter and fluffier. Up to you though!
Here are some printable recipe cards if you would like to save this recipe for your collection!
Is red velvet cake a tradition in any of your families? I’d love to hear about it!
Also, if you try this recipe, let me know how it turns out! I can also help with any questions that might come up! ENJOY!
Global Eats Indy – Cuban!
Hey Indy Foodies!
If you haven’t been keeping up with my Global Eats Indy posts, here’s the deal. A group of my friends and I travel to a new restaurant each month to try a new type of cuisine in Indianapolis and then I kindly report back here on my blog to let you know how it was! Any other ethic foodies out there? Check out our Italian and Turkish adventures if you missed them.
On our third excursion we traveled to Tata Cuban Cafe in downtown Indianapolis. It is a cute little cafe located on Market St., and its one of those hidden gems that might be easy to miss, but SOOO worth the journey to find it.
I was excited for this trip because I first discovered my love for Cuban food when I was in Disney World at Bongos Cuban Cafe. (Side note – MAKE this a stop on your next Disney Trip. Great atmosphere and awesome food!) Ok, back to Indy…
A few ground rules about Tata Cuban Cafe:
1. It is tiny. They only seat about 40ish? Maybe not even that many. But it kind of adds to the atmosphere, making it feel like a family restaurant in a small town.
2. They do not serve alcohol. But DON’T let this be a deal breaker for you. We typically give reviews on the culture’s traditional beverages, but the main thing is the food. There are plenty of establishments nearby to get refreshments afterwards if you so choose.
3. Make sure to look at the walls! They have a lot of cool pictures of people who have eaten there and festive decorations.
4. Every single thing on the MENU is good! The entrees are listed in Spanish, but even if you don’t habla Espanol, you can’t go wrong! Be adventurous!
We all had a hard time picking what we wanted but here were a few of our favorites:
Courtney had the El Guaso Cuban Sandwich – Cuban sandwich made with roasted pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard, and hot pressed on Cuban bread. This is a good dish for someone who isn’t that familiar with Cuban food. It’s a classic!
I had the Ropa Vieja Habanera – Shredded beef marinated with citrus juices,mojo criollo, mixed with grilled onions and peppers. Served with white rice and sweet plantains.
Everything was soooooooo good! Did I mention that it was good? Well if I didn’t, it was good!
Not only is the food to die for, the price is good too! Their whole menu ranges from $5.00 – $19.99. Thats a deal if you ask me.
Overall we had a great time at Tata Cuban Cafe! It was nice to catch up with some great friends, meet some new ones, and enjoy a new type of cuisine. Oh and a fun little treat, we were the biggest group in there so the owner, Alfredo Gonzalez, came out to chat with us and even took our group picture to add to the Tata Facebook page!
Have any of you ever been to Tata?
Check out this video from their website to learn more about them!
Alfredo is a very fun guy! He really takes traditional Cuban elements and incorporates them into every aspect of the Cafe. I will definitely be going back there sometime soon!
I’m still full just thinking about all the great food we ate at Tata’s, but there’s no rest for the weary! Next up – Vietnamese food!
Anyone ever been to Long Thahn Restaurant? I’d love to hear any tips on what to order!
Until then, it’s time to call it a night for this #GlobalEatsIndy gal. TA TA! (Late night joke if no one caught that) 🙂
Global Eats Indy!
I’ve lived Indianapolis for over a year now and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of learning the ropes of the city. I do miss the rural life sometimes, but one thing I do love about Indy is that there is always some place new to try – especially restaurants! Even some of my friends who have lived here several years agree that there are places even they haven’t been.
So since my friends and I all like trying new types of food, we decided to start Global Eats Girls Night where we go out once a month to try a new type of food! (plus get a little girl time) 🙂
I was so excited about this, but sadly I had to miss the first outing! Fail…I know, but luckily I recruited my friend Tiffany to guest blog about their experience!
Check out Tiffany’s blog for the story:
“Our mission – to boldly go where others are from and experience new cultures through food and fun. (And, possibly have a good reason to get a bunch of girls together for a couple hours of catch-up time.)
First mission, Chinese.
Two of our awesome ladies were prepping to run 100 (that is not a typo) 100 miles to raise money for Heifer International, an awesome charity providing livestock as a family income source in third-world countries. So, if you’re prepping to run 100 miles, you carb-up. And carb-up we did!
This is pasta carbonara at Mamma Carolla’s Authentic Italian Restaurant.
Our outing was full of laughs, stories, our cultural adventures (good, bad, horrible, and life changing) and where we planned to go next. It is amazing how many places a group of girls in their 20-30’s have been and still plan to go. I’m pretty sure it says a lot about the world we live in. For the most part we all grew up in small towns or on farms, but have spent weeks and years traveling shores our parents and grandparents never dreamed of!
While we were a bit of a spectacle, we had a great time! Full of laughter, good drinks and good olive oil, you can’t help but be amazed at how much food brings people together and brings out the stories. Who knew we’d be in an Italian restaurant discussing camels?
We really enjoyed Mamma Carrolla’s – and while it is a more intimate restaurant for romantic dates, we found the patio a great spot. It is small and they don’t take reservations, so be prepared for a bit of a wait. Expect to take some home too – its way filling and you’ll want it for sure on day 2! All in all, from these smiles, you can tell it was a success.
We’re off to Turkish on mission two. Should you choose to accept the challenge you will enjoy baklava like you’ve never had before!
Cultural Captain, mission accomplished!
Thanks for the great blog Tiffany! I can’t wait for the next adventure!
Q: What’s your favorite type of cuisine?
Indy Adventure – Farm Bureau Wine Tour!
Wow what a great weekend!
My parents were in town, I managed to squeeze in some pool time, and had an AMAZING time at the Marion County Farm Bureau wine tour!
In Farm Bureau, we try to plan activities throughout the year which allow us to tour local agri-tourism sites, learn about different agricultural practices in Indiana and have fun at the same time. All of the activities pretty much guarantee a good time, but I was especially excited for this one, we planned a wine tour!
Some of you might not have thought that the wine industry was a part of agriculture but it is actually a very big industry and has a lot of similarities to crop farming.
So, I like to consider myself a wine fanatic (and apparently Klout does too?) but I still learned a lot during our vino-filled day!
Did You Know: There are over 6,700 family wineries in the U.S.?
As for the wine industry as a whole, wineries in all 50 states attract 27 million tourists annually, create 1.1 million jobs in America and have a $162 billion economic impact on the American economy. – Wine Institute
If you ask me, I’d say that’s pretty impressive!
During our wine tour we visited five central Indiana Wineries where we tried several different wines, toured their facilities, and made an economic impact on the industry (AKA…buy wine to take home) ♥
Over the course of the day we visited:
Easley Winery – Indianapolis, IN
Oliver Winery – Bloomington, IN
Butler Winery – Bloomington, IN
Brown County Winery – Nashville, IN
Mallow Run Winery – Bargersville, IN
Have any of you visited these wineries?
We had such a great time! I have a lot of neat information to share with all of you but if I tried to squeeze all of our fun into one blog, you would need a nap just from reading it. So in an effort to help you refrain from tuckering out, I am going to re-cap our “Indiana Vino Adventure” over the course of three posts: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. (Who can guess why this relates?)
Be sure to check back for an inside look at these awesome wineries that are right here in our own backyards! And better yet – if you subscribe to my blog by email, my posts will be delivered right to you inbox so you won’t miss a thing!
BSE Case Confirmed in California – Food Supply STILL Safe
On April 24, 2012, the USDA announced that they had a confirmed case of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) in a California Dairy cow. It is only the 4th case ever found in the U.S. but it is still raising a lot of concern with consumers.
There have been several articles on this already, but I wanted to write one to help calm those fears. Even just this morning, people on social media were panicking because of the headlines, but I’ve done my research and I went to school for animal and food science so I know how the screening procedures work and can assure you that the food supply is still safe!
First, let’s dive into what BSE actually is.
What is BSE?
- Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly called “mad cow disease,” is a degenerative neurological disease of cattle that is caused by misfolded proteins (called prions) that build up in the central nervous system (CNS) and eventually kill nerve cells.
- It is typically caused by eating contaminated feed, but the ingredients that could cause this have been banned since 1997.
- The USDA maintains an ongoing BSE surveillance program and currently tests approximately 40,000 high-risk cattle annually, a number that exceeds the OIE’s recommended testing levels for the risk status assigned to the United States by the OIE. The ongoing BSE surveillance program is designed to detect BSE at a prevalence level of one case per 1 million adult cattle. All U.S. cattle are inspected by a USDA inspector or veterinarian before going to harvest, with high-risk animals identified for BSE testing. Meat from cattle being tested for BSE is held until the test results are confirmed. If you would like to know more about BSE, please visit BSEinfo.org
Now back to this current case.
- This animal tested positive for ‘atypical BSE’ which is a very rare form of the disease not generally associated with eating contaminated feed
- This cow did not enter the food chain. The cow was on a rendering facility, it was never meant to go into the food supply in the first place. America’s farmers, ranchers, and the USDA took the proper procedures to isolate the animal so the beef supply is still safe.
- BSE affects the cow’s brain and spinal cord; therefore, it never transfers into a cow’s milk supply. The milk supply is also still safe!
The media has been covering this heavily (which is ok in theory because people have the right to be informed) but their use of terms like “Mad Cow Disease” and not presenting all of the facts immediately causes more panic and fear in consumers, especially the consumers who don’t know what BSE is. That is why I wanted to write this article to help de-bunk some of the myths and uncertainties about this disease.
The agricultural industry works extremely hard to make sure your food supply is safe. If this would get into the food supply, they would be at the same risk as consumers like us. Therefore, they want to ensure food safety for everyone.
If you have any more questions or concerns about BSE and this case, I encourage you to contact me or check out this cattlemen’s blog: BSE Confirmed In California Cow – Food Supply Safe
He has a lot of good information about what the USDA is doing to ensure our food safety, the video announcement from the USDA, and great links to learn more about BSE.
Great post from Nebraska Farm Bureau! Thanks for sharing! Have you attended or conducted an Ag in the Classroom session? I’d love to hear about it!
We had another great question come in to the blog from a reader:
Q: Why is my child learning about agriculture in school?
A: Agriculture is a vital part of today’s society. One in three jobs in Nebraska has something to do with agriculture. Matter of fact, most adults and children have a tie to a family farm or ranch. Although they themselves might not be in the center of agriculture, there is a very good chance that their ancestors were.
It is important for children to learn at a young age where their food comes from. The food fairy does not magically stock the shelves at the grocery store and chocolate milk does not come from a brown cow. They need to understand that a lot of hard work goes into their food production—somebody tills the soil, plants the seeds, and then harvests the food as well as cares…
View original post 221 more words
Beef is red, right?
As I was doing my regular check of the news and social media this morning, I came across an article on “Pink Slime.” This is has been a viral topic in the news and social media which has been scaring consumers into boycotting beef, even though it is perfectly safe and we have been consuming it for over 20 years with no problems to anyone’s health or safety.
But that’s a whole separate topic… what I was most concerned about was a comment below the article from some reader which read:
“…The next thing that should be looked at is the red dye that is put on meat products either sent to grocery stores or put on by the grocery store to make the meat appear fresh. Real beef steak is not “red” it is grey. It is time to start providing consumers with the “real products” instead of “doctored” products…”
GREY! SERIOUSLY? I was instantly flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe that this person legitimately thought that steak meat was grey.
With all due respect sir, it’s called “red meat” for a reason.
WHY IS BEEF CALLED A “RED” MEAT?
Oxygen is delivered to muscles by the red cells in the blood. One of the proteins in meat, myoglobin, holds the oxygen in the muscle. The amount of myoglobin in animal muscles determines the color of meat. Beef is called a “red” meat because it contains more myoglobin than chicken or fish. Other “red” meats are veal, lamb, and pork.
There is no “dye” which is used to make meat red. They only way it can look grey is if it sits out for a few days, is cooked, or is vacuum sealed which removes the oxygen. But even then, when you re-expose the meat to oxygen, it will return to its red color within a few minutes.
But this blog isn’t even about that “red vs. grey” subject. Most importantly, I’m using this as an example to highlight the serious DISCONNECT that most consumers have with the agricultural industry.
A large percentage of the public doesn’t even know where their food comes from. They just assume that it shows up magically in their grocery store. That is why they get so scared when media or anti-industry groups come out with dramatic or falsified articles regarding food or agriculture.
Being that I am an agricultural communications graduate, this is one of my most passionate topics. As an industry, we need to continue working to increase the public’s awareness of how things are produced. There have been a lot of programs started to help fix this disconnect such as agri-tourism businesses, farm to fork tours and Ag In the Classroom, but we still need to work harder to share our stories.
We need to work to create a clear line of communication and understanding between the public and our industry so that they can be informed to make educated choices about the food they eat.
How do you help share your agricultural story?
Send me a link to your “Ag-Story” and I will put a list together to post in a future blog.