February buzzed by, literally and figuratively. Granted it has three less days than other months and it’s usually plagued by clouds, snow or rain and chilly winds, so I suppose if it buzzes by there’s not much to miss.
But this February started buzzing for me from the beginning. It must be all this focus on food and farming that has my senses on high alert for buzz words. There is no shortage of them in food advertising as I mused on in my blog post “When Buzzwords Stop Buzzing”.
The second week of February I flew to NYC and joined celebrity chef Danny Boome on a satellite media tour. We talked with television and radio morning show hosts about buzzwords, the ones we see most often on restaurant menus and on grocery shelves – organic, hormone-free, grass-fed, local and natural. Click here to watch the video.
A week later, I got an email asking me if these buzz words mean different things to a farmer than a consumer. I think that’s part of our problem in attempting to converse about food and farming. Definitions can be so ambiguous and seem to change depending on the person doing the defining.
As a farmer and a consumer I define organic, hormone-free and grass-fed as the how of raising a crop or caring for livestock. I think some people use them to define the nutritional content of food, however as Chef Danny said in our interviews the nutritional value of food depends largely on how it is prepared versus how it is grown.
Local, to me, is my community, my little niche in Northern Illinois. It is the farms, the towns, the neighbors (who live on the other side of our square mile country block). It is the businesses we patronize and organizations we support. Locally grown for me is what I’ve found in my backyard garden or my mother’s garden and locally grown meat comes from farms of other family members. But, local can also mean purchasing food that has been raised in a certain mile radius of a store or restaurant. What’s the magic radius? I don’t think anyone can say for sure.
Natural is probably the hardest to define. Webster says “existing in or produced by nature” and to me that is farming. We exist in nature; have learned how to reap its rewards, survive its challenges and how to make our lives better by caring for the environment better. Are we perfect in this relationship? Absolutely not. Are we improving every day? Most certainly.
So, are the definitions of buzz words even clearer than mud now? Yea, for me too. I guess this is why this movement to converse, to respectfully listen to the opposite opinion, ask questions and broaden our scope of understanding is so important.
This year’s group of Field Moms has already tackled some buzz words. I can’t wait to read more about their adventures and the buzzwords they try to define.
Grand Prairie Farms