Well, our last tour is done and my head is still swimming! We saw SO much on this trip, and I’m definitely still processing a lot of it. The highlight for me was our visit to a Monsanto research facility – I could have stayed there for days! It was fascinating, and I’m so very grateful I got the chance to go.
One of the really cool things about this tour was that it was an overnight, which gave us a unique opportunity to talk more in-depth with our fellow Field Moms. In our conversations, I was surprised to learn that another Field Mom did have issues with pork production after seeing the Gould’s farm. To me it was just like any other production facility; to her it raised some serious questions about how she wanted to feed her family. So I’ll buy commercially raised pork with no qualms and she’ll make another decision. Neither of us is making a better decision than the other – but we’re making the right choice for our families. That’s the wonderful thing about this program; it’s given us insight, allowed us to form our own opinions, and empowered us at the supermarket. Just like any of the other hot button issues moms face (breastfeeding, going back to work, etc) there isn’t one RIGHT answer about how to feed our families – you just have to do the best you can with the knowledge you have and make the right decision for you.
Our weekend tour started on a Friday night – we had dinner with a bunch of local farmers and just got to have some nice conversations about what was going on in all of our lives – it’s stuff like that that makes me see that there’s really no difference between the farmers and the city moms! The next morning we were on the road early – we got to see how crops are loaded onto barges on the Mississippi River, and from there travel to St. Louis, New Orleans, and sometimes all the way to China!
We had a lovely lunch and got to tour the Moore’s farm before heading off to Monsanto. I honestly think I could write a book on everything we learned there! What surprised me the most at Monsanto was that it was built just like a normal farm – crops in the fields, exposed to the elements – no barbed wire, no attack dogs, no privacy fence. For a company that so many people claim is doing evil and secretive things, they seemed very open, honest, and eager to tell us all about their work.
We had a long drive home this time, and there were a lot of good conversations going on and a lot to reflect on during the ride. Honestly though, I didn’t really have a TON of questions about my food before becoming a Field Mom. I’m the kind of person who generally does a lot of research, makes a decision, and feels confident in it. A lot of people asked me on this trip why I wanted to be involved with the program, and I felt bad, because I didn’t have a rehearsed answer for them – I really couldn’t come up with an answer at all. But here’s why – it’s because of THEM. The people were the reason I wanted to connect with the Farm Families. Having spent over 8 years in Texas, I got pretty used to a different way of life than we have here in Chicago. Most importantly, I got used to the people – hardworking, independent, tough-as-nails women who are equally gorgeous in a pair of work boots or in rhinestone-encrusted flip flops. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Chicago, and I love the women here – but this city is where I was raised; Texas is where I grew up, and the female role models I had there are a big part of that.
I’m so glad I was able to meet women like Deb Moore, Carla Mudd, Amy Roady, and so many more awesome ladies who helped us out, answered our questions, and made us feel at home in a totally foreign environment. And so with that in mind, if there’s anything I’m going to take away from this experience it’s in the lessons I want to pass on to my Texas-born daughter: To work hard. To have respect for the world around her. To dream big. To marvel in what has been placed upon this land. And most of all, to approach every day as a blessing, an adventure, and to never take anything for granted. I’m so thankful that the Illinois Farm Families gave me the opportunity to relearn those lessons for myself!
Betsie EstesField Mom