24 Apr 2017
A couple weeks ago I had the priviledge of going on the second part of the farm food tour. Last fall I went on the first part of the farm tour, I posted about that here. You might have seen some of my journey on social media but I wanted to dive into a little more here and share what I learned.
This tour was quite different from the first tour I went on. We weren’t on any farms per say this time yet learning more about what happens before products get to the farm or after they leave. The tour started out at Elanco in Kansas City. Elanco makes products to enrich the lives of the animals that our food comes from.
We then made our way to the St Louis area. That evening we went to Edgewild Winery for dinner.
And of course I can’t go on a trip and not snap a few outfit pics!
The food at Edgewild was amazing, my favorites would be the truffle fries and salted caramel cake-super balanced diet!
We had the pleasure of meeting one of the chefs there as well as having dinner with Tony from Tony’s Family Farms. Tony provides the tomatoes they use at Edgewild, I challenged Tony that they weren’t the “best in the world”. Tony pulled out a couple boxes of them from the kitchen and proved me wrong. These tomatoes were seriously juicy and the perfect shade of red, I could eat them daily!
We started out Day 2 at Monsanto’s St Louis campus. Now, I know some of you may have conflicting thoughts towards Monsanto but try to hear me out. I think we learned so much from the folks at Monsanto about where our food comes from. When I say where it comes from I mean how it starts, at the seed level.
Monsanto was very open with us and answered any and every question that we had. We had the pleasure of hearing from many people that work at Monsanto including a toxicologist, registered dietitian, engagement director, a bee expert and several others.
Part of our day at Monsanto included a tour around Monsanto’s impressive facility. From their greenhouses to the labs to the exterior area that houses their bees I learned quite a bit. One thing that really stuck out to me is that Monsanto really cares about the products-GMO or non-gmo- that they produce. Touring the facility it was apparent that so much time, effort and money goes into producing these products. Also, it wouldn’t benefit them to produce something that harms us. The picture above shows a controlled experiment they were conducting. One plant had round up ready sprayed on it and the other plant did not. They then introduced insects to the plants and as you can see they are tearing up the plant on the left-the one without round up on it.
This is a similar experiment, using a GMO plant and a non-GMO crop to see how pests would affect them. You can clearly see how beneficial these products are to farmers. Not only can they produce a stronger, heartier crop but they can have higher yields which will help feed our growing population.
After a full day of panels, tours, learning and conversation I came away with the thought that we truly don’t know enough about our food. We think we do and there is so much news out there that tells us what is in our food. I would caution you the next time you read an article about your food to make sure it is factual evidence and not “fake news”. Also, while grocery shopping and selecting items for your family make sure you understand food labels and what they really mean. For example, while on this trip I had a raspberry yogurt for breakfast one morning. The yogurt said “non-gmo” on it. I was confused by this as there are only 10 GMO crops out there, Monsanto makes 8 of them, and raspberries aren’t one of them. We discussed this at Monsanto with the folks there and the farmers that were on the trip with us. We found out the “non-GMO” label was referring to the cow’s milk, meaning that the cows that the milk came from hadn’t eaten GMO crops.
Do I think it’s wrong to label our food? Absolutely not. However, I don’t think we understand completely what those labels mean. I encourage you to read more information about your food, food labels and where it comes from. Talk to a farmer, ask them questions, believe me they want to talk to you!
The last evening we had dinner at Pastaria in Chesterfield, which is one of Chef Gerald Craft’s restaurants. There really aren’t words to describe this meal, it was amazing. I had the pistachio ravioli because it sounded so interesting I had to try it. It was worth it! We also had arancini (fried risotto balls), seasonal bruschetta, bread and housemade gelato. Yum!
Our last stop of the tour was at Central Missouri Meat & Sausage. They are a smaller meat processing plant that has a restaurant there as well. We were able to tour their facility and talk to them more about how meat processing works. One of my huge takeaways from this stop on the farm food tour was that a USDA inspector has to be there at all times when they are processing meat. I had no idea that there was someone there during all operating hours. I just figured they popped in every once in a while to check in on things. I don’t know about you but that made me feel a whole lot better knowing that an inspector is there at all times to ensure our food is processed correctly according to US law.
Probably my favorite part of the tour, the baconator!
After last fall’s farm food tour I didn’t know it was possible that there was still so much for me to learn about our food and where it comes from. This farm food tour definitely proved me wrong. I learned an immense amount of information this time and I think there is still so much out there that I still don’t know enough about when it comes to the food I eat. If you too are curious to learn more about where the food we eat comes from I encourage you to talk to a farmer, contact the associations below or comment on here and I will get you connected with the right people!