We are enjoying the summer, thus the lack of blog posts. We have been swimming, swinging, biking, and currently the kids are out watching the crop dusters basically dive bomb our field across the road. We're having quite a time.
We are also enjoying the typical summer favorites as far as food goes. Our attempt at gardening was and is, well, an attempt, but we've yielded a few zucchini squash (squashes???) and some cherry tomatoes to pair with our unbelievably good beef. Seriously, we have excellent beef, and if you're ever interested in trying some, I would happily let you. It's amazing.
Enjoying our good beef with our friends has really stirred up some great conversations with those who have 1) never tasted really flavorful beef and 2) never put a face to who produces what they eat. Our friends are our best customers, as far as when it comes to divvying up halves and quarters, and we are extremely proud of our product. This new sense of pride I have acquired has caused me to become really sensitive to all the press and marketing that is basically anti-production agriculture.
I am not insinuating that one should not have a garden or should not question where one's food comes from, but a person should look for information regarding food farther than Oprah and the Triscuit box. While these sources seem to get the most press (notice I'm not on TV or getting paid for this, so who the heck am I to talk??), they are not the most accurate.
Case in point, I just read in FarmWeek (our Farm Bureau's state publication. . . yes, I'm trying to become more agricultural) that a woman put her family's hog confinement operation on YouTube to get some better press. However, thanks to some not-so-farm-friendly groups that seem to dominate this site, the video was deemed inappropriate. Seriously? Seeing hogs in a safe, comfortable building that not only feeds them twice a day and keeps their temperature comfortable, regardless of the season is inappropriate? That really bothered me.
But it got me to think, if no one knows what a good operation looks like, how could those YouTube Hog Bashers have any idea whether their confinement operation wasn't appropriate? If you're getting your information from TV, honestly, you're only getting what will get the best ratings, and controversy sells.
But what about all the push to "eat locally" and "know where your food comes from?" I truly believe that the tomatoes we grow (by the grace of God they survived our WEEDS!) are better than the ones I buy in the store. I can hardly order a steak at a restaurant without knowing that Joe can truly grow and then grill a way better one at home (even though someone else does the dishes, so I'll happily eat it!). However, in the grocery store, it's hard to find out from whom you are buying your products.
So, I implore you to start with your meat. Start researching where your grocery store gets its beef from, if you're still buying that stuff (seriously, try some of ours, and you'll never go back). Google the brand they are supplied, check the source, educate yourself on what it truly means to be "free range" ( do you know the chickens end up eating their own poop if they're free range?). Before you get caught up in the hype of all natural, organic, locally grown, no antibiotics, etc., etc., know what it means. I'm not saying that our cows are all juiced up on various unnecessary drugs, but I will tell you our calves are vaccinated for very basic illnesses. While our animals do receive some hay and some feed, that doesn't mean that they are not primarily grass fed. It's just that we live in Illinois, and who can get grass for 100 head of cattle in December?
Be logical. Be informed. But most of all, be realistic. We are not in the cattle business to get rich or famous. Joe loves his animals. He loves being a cattle man, and we love the lifestyle for our family that we are living. Who wouldn't. . . when it constitutes ribeyes on a Saturday in July?