Illinois Farm Families Blog

Oct 27 2014

A Glimpse into the Life of an Illinois Beef Farmer

When I picture beef farming, images of cattle grazing on pastures in Texas quickly come to mind. As I toured Larson’s family farm in Maple Park, I was surprised to learn that beef production is increasing in the Midwest. With Illinois close proximity to ethanol plants and the latest scientific studies and technology, Illinois farmers are committed to producing high quality beef and promoting compassionate animal care. 

First, beef farmers are committed to providing high quality and safe food. Beef is one of the most naturally nutrient-rich foods in the meat group. Consumers want leaner beef choices. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited that many cuts of beef have 20% less fat and 14 out of the top 20 popular cuts meet government guidelines of “lean” compared to 20 years ago. These leaner results are due to the latest scientific studies and technology that assess the cattle’s diet and meat quality.

Next, beef farmers promote compassionate animal care. The Martz’s barns had rubber mats on the floor for the cattle’s comfort, as well as curtains to keep out the cold during the winter months. The cows have enough room to move around in the barns. The cattle remain indoors due to our variable Midwest weather and lack of pasture. The rest of the farmland is used for growing corn, soybeans, and wheat, which become part of the cattle’s diet. Also, the cattle have access to water, to fresh feed, and to vet care all the time. The family uses curved corrals, designed by Temple Grandin, to reduce stress, panic and injury in animals being led to their feedlot and to slaughter. The family and employees keep meticulous records of each cow, such as nutritionist and ultrasound data.

Thank you to the Larson Farm Family for a great day touring the farm, producing high quality meat, and promoting compassionate animal care. Their combine was vastly different than my grandpa’s combine he operated in the late 1970s. I can’t wait for my family to make and to eat the delicious Yumsetta dish we sampled during our fabulous lunch buffet! Thanks again for a glimpse into the life of an Illinois beef farmer!

Sarah Decker
Grayslake, Illinois

Sarah is one of the Illinois Farm Families 2014 Field Moms. Throughout the year she visits Illinois farms to learn more about where food comes from. Following each visit, the Field Moms share their thoughts by blogging about what they experience on these farms. Want to learn more? Read Our Story: Chicago Moms Meet Farmers.


Sep 23 2014

Conventional Milk is the Healthy Choice for my Family

As a mom, I’m at the grocery store about 2-3 times per week and I always make a stop at the dairy aisle to pick up some milk. Once I’m at the dairy section I always wonder if I’m making the right decision of milk product for my family. At most dairy aisles there are many different brands of milk, different fat content of milk, different types of milk, organic, soy, almond, and lactose free milk, and when I purchase the cheaper store brand milk product I wonder if I made the right choice. I often ask myself if my family is missing out on nutrients by purchasing the cheaper conventional milk. Would it be better to buy the organic brand, maybe the higher priced name brand milk is better quality. What about the other non-dairy milk like the almond and soy milks – are those milk products healthier than the dairy milk?  As many households can agree, milk is a staple in our household, I have 2 growing boys, 11 and 8 years old and milk gallons disappear as quickly as they are replenished.

I am very fortunate to be a field mom and last week we took our dairy tour – and I was quite excited to learn and see more. We first toured the Dean’s processing facility that processes the milk for most of our Chicagoland area. For starters, I was shocked to see that the name brand milk and the store brand milk all come from the same place – yes, the same processing plant. This facility plant takes many tests and inspects the milk before it is accepted into their plant to process. The facility does track and knows where each gallon of milk came from, and which farm provided it. One important factor was the heat treating method they apply to the milk to kill off bacteria and it doesn’t diminish the nutrients the milk contains. You might not know just how quickly the milk is processed, but it can take as little as 48 hours for the milk to come from the farm to your house – yes it’s that fast and fresh! 

Feeling a little bit better about having bought conventional milk for my family, we then toured Drendel’s Dairy Farm in Hampshire, IL. There we learned the difference between conventional and organic milk. The difference here is that organic dairy farmers have to ensure they don’t give their cows any type of antibiotics. As a mom, I ask myself “how do the antibiotics make a difference on the final product?”  We learned that any type of antibiotic material in the conventional milk does absolutely nothing because our digestive system breaks it down and it has no affect to our bodies. So the major difference between conventional and organic is the price!  We also learned that soy and almond milk do not contain nearly as much nutrition as dairy milk. In fact most of the non-dairy milk contains more sugar than conventional milk.

After learning all this information regarding dairy milk I feel so glad about purchasing conventional milk for my family. Not only is it delicious and healthy for us but conventional milk is the best choice for me, I’m not going to spend double the money for organic brands knowing it’s absolutely no different in nutritional value than regular milk and I’m certainly not going to spend money on the other non-dairy milk items that contain more sugar and less nutrients than dairy milk. I’m so glad I had the privilege to take this tour, now I don’t doubt myself when I’m at the dairy aisle. 

Veronica Ortega
Berwyn, IL


Veronica is one of the Illinois Farm Families 2014 Field Moms. Throughout the year she visits Illinois farms to learn more about where food comes from. Following each visit, the Field Moms share their thoughts by blogging about what they experience on these farms. Want to learn more? Read Our Story: Chicago Moms Meet Farmers

Sep 19 2014

Annual Ag Day

So what all goes into preparing to compete for County Fair Queen? Of course you’re going to have your regular practices where contestants learn to walk and interview, but our County has added one thing to the list. An annual Ag Day has vastly become one main focus into what agriculture is all about. Each year 4-Hers, FFA members, and other farming families come to compete at the fair to showcase their projects and hard work from the past year. If you only attend the main attractions at the fair, such as the concerts and evening shows, you are completely missing out on an entirely other side of the excitement. The arguably most important of all- what the fair is all about!

July 14th our contestants had the opportunity to go around our County to learn more about agriculture and all the hard work that goes into preparing for the fair. Our first stop was at the County Farm Bureau office to meet with Agriculture Awareness and Family Nutrition Program Coordinator Sharon Knorr.  Knorr covered  the steps of growing and producing our food on farms, and then the cycles our food goes through to end at the grocery store. Fun fact! Transportation is one of the more expensive steps in that entire process. To end the lesson, contestants made homemade butter!

Contestants then rushed over to our local Farmers Cooperative to talk with Kent and interns Andrew, Brooklyn & Andrew. Topics covered were the use of GMO products. GMOs are plants that are modified to excel in various soil conditions and resistance to pest. Also covered was how UFC services their customers with providing feed for livestock and their many locations. Contestants then toured the process of reading grain markets to know when to buy and sell, weighing a semi full of grain, sampling the grain to test moisture and grain quality, then dumping the semi and moving the grain into silos. We also learned that some of the grain sold by UFC is even sold into Japan. It's pretty wild that corn and soybeans grown right here in our County can travel all over he world!

Next stop was the Doyle livestock farm. Contestants met with the Doyle family to learn about their horse and cattle. Dave, Andrew and Amanda showed off their young heifers as the contestants got to watch the feeding process. We then got to meet their friendly steers who were eager to make new friends. The Doyles showed us the ground corn, silage and gluten fed to their animals. We learned that livestock eat a more balanced diet than we do! Before we left, we can't forget all the fun the girls had climbing, jumping and taking pictures on the gigantic round bales!

Our last stop was at the Asher farm. Contestants did many activities, starting with marketing their grain. They toured the grain bins and learned about the benefits of storing grain to market. After breaking into teams, each group got to decide how much grain they wanted to sell that year. We then did an activity where the contestants got to sell their grain when they thought the market was right! Contestants learned about the constant rising and falling of the grain market and the huge role it plays in agriculture. Contestants then created their own budget. Items were listed and teams had to decide if they wanted to sell or invest. One team sold all while others strategically invested in their future farming operations. I must say, we have a lot of business minded contestants this year! They did a great job!

Contestants then got to tour and explore a combine and grain truck. This was our biggest photo opportunity as the girls loved getting their pictures in the large combine tire! Then the competing began  as our contestants learned about the import role a shop plays in farming. They then had a scavenger hunt finding as many tools as they could in five minuets. The girls were surprisingly knowledgeable and did an excellent job! Items ranged from a welder to a grease rag. To end the day, contestants competed in a bale toss. 1St and 2nd place landed only a foot apart. Our furthest toss was about 25 feet!

Here are some of the responses to “what did you learn about agriculture?”

  • “Farming is more business than it seems”
  • “I learned a lot about the grain market” “The markets change a lot!”
  • “Farmers get paid based on their product”
  • “I learned a lot about the plants and crops”
  • “I learned a lot about the Ursa Farmers Coop”
  • “I learned a lot about the budgeting part of farming” “A lot about how to run a farm”

I am so excited these ladies got to share this opportunity with me and took initiative to learn more about agriculture! Our county is so proud of you and each and every one of you would represent us well! Best of luck!

Rachel Asher

Rachel and her husband Garrett raise corn, soybeans and cattle with the Asher family on their farm in Adams County. Rachel grew up raising pigs and dairy cows. 


Aug 29 2014

An Impromptu Farm Visit

In June, farmers Adam and JoAnn Adams met with a group of SYSCO sales reps in Chicago. They were invited to give the farmers' perspective on the beef industry. This was a good conversation between farmers and consumers. Many good questions were asked and insight was gained for everybody.

One of the fun things that came out of this presentation was one of the sales reps visiting the Adams' farm with six third graders. Third graders who had never been on a farm before. Everyone had a great time. After visiting the farmstead, the group moved the cow herd to a new pasture. The kids were fearful when Alan first called the herd up to the Kubota. But soon the kids were mimicking his call as they drove through the woods surrounded by cows and calves.

Below are a few pictures from this visit. This is the perfect example of how farmers and consumers can get to know one another and make informed choices on food and farming.

Alan and JoAnn Adams
Sandwich, Illinois

Aug 19 2014

A Visit to Our Farmer Pen Pal

In late June, I took the kids to visit my Illinois Farm Families pen pal Cindi Monier on her corn and soybean farm just north of Peoria. Cindi let the boys climb on the farm machinery and feed treats to her horses. She explained that their farm's location so close to the Illinois River makes it easy to offload grain to the waiting barges. It bothers her to watch parking lots cover some of the world's choicest farmland. Getting into farming can be tough. There are huge outlays for capital equipment, seed and other supplies. And the competition for land, which drives prices up, doesn't make it any easier.

We visited a neighboring farm where cattle of various breeds go for finishing--gaining weight before being sold for the market. The cattle feed is a mix of corn and supplements, which calm wilder cattle behavior. We gathered eggs and scared the chickens (and they scared us!) at her friend's nearby chicken farm. (These eggs are so fresh! You should see how high the yolks sit in the pan when I fry them for breakfast.)

I didn't expect the animals to be so aware of our presence--the horses came right up to the fence. They were excited we were coming because they knew they were getting a treat from Cindi. The chickens knew we were unfamiliar and had a fit as we approached. And as I was talking to the cattle farmer, I glanced up only to realize that all the cattle had crowded over to the fence to get a look at us because they were curious. Too funny!

We drove to Lacon where a torrential rainfall soaked us as we ran to storefronts from the car to The Pizza Peel. The staff gave us bath towels to dry off and served some great 'za, including a gluten-free one for Isaac. We joined Cindi's husband Breck and his friend having lunch there. They had pulled an all-nighter as volunteer firefighters taking care of a local blaze. In the video, you can see the staff at Kelly Sauder Rupiper Equipment give the boys a ride around the parking lot while Cindi describes to me how the equipment is used. What an excellent trip! I hope to make it back there in the fall to see their operations during harvest.

My son Peter entering the chicken coop

Nesting chickens and clutches of eggs

The cows were curious as we talked to the finisher and walked over to check us out.

The boys had a great time riding in a combine.

Dina Barron
Oak Park, Illinois

Dina is one of the Illinois Farm Families 2014 Field Moms. Throughout the year she visits Illinois farms to learn more about where food comes from. Following each visit, the Field Moms share their thoughts by blogging about what they experience on these farms. Want to learn more? Read Our Story: Chicago Moms Meet Farmers.


Aug 12 2014

Combine in Action

Illinois Farm Families Field Mom Dina Barron talks with farmer Cindi Monier about everything combines can do, including how to auger swings out from the machine for unloading the grain after it has been harvested. Most people may be surprised at how big the machine is, how fast the grain can be both harvested and unloaded or how much technology is inside the cab of a combine.

Jul 03 2014

Getting the Buzz About Agriculture

Despite living my entire life in a county comprised of nearly 90 percent farmland and driving past miles of crop fields each day on my drive to work, I know very little about what is growing on the land around me.

As a full-time nurse and mother to three young children, I've heard a lot of buzz about GMOs (genetically modified organisms), farming pesticides and organic versus non-organic foods. In terms of what’s best for my family, I didn't want to rely on the opinions of others.

On May 16, I had the privilege of visiting Dan and Pam Kelley’s farm as part of the Field Mom program through Illinois Farm Families. The program takes moms like me who are interested in learning more about where their food comes from and gives them a firsthand look at the farming process from spring planting to fall harvest.

On this tour, Mr. Kelley spent three hours talking about their 3,500-acre corn and soybean farm. He enlisted the help of various specialists, including a seed expert to discuss the process of bringing GMO seed to market, an agronomist to talk about the importance of quality soil and a farm equipment representative to talk about technology used in farming practices today.

I was looking to the experience for reassurance that the food I was providing to my family was safe and of good quality. The thing that surprised me the most was the extensive process it takes to bring GMO seed to market from start to finish. We learned from GROWMARK Seed Corn Product Manager Matt Free that all new GMO seed varieties require regulatory approval through the Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and USDA -- an up to 13-year process! This means there is more regulation in place for GMO crops than organic crops. GMO crops allow farmers the efficiency of providing larger quantities of affordable, sustainable food to meet the demand of our growing global population.

I also learned that farmers have nothing to hide. They are parents and consumers just like us. Seeing their farming practices firsthand gave me the reassurance I needed in order to be confident that the crops being produced on our local farmland is not only safe for my family, but protective of the environment we are leaving for future generations. I’m grateful to be a part of the Field Mom program and look forward to the next farm tour where we learn about livestock and fall harvest.

Devon Flamming

Devon Flammang is a Field Mom from central Illinois who, like Chicago moms, is visiting farms to see firsthand how food is raised.

Jun 19 2014

Farmers Are Geeks Like Me!

I really enjoyed touring the Jeschke's farm in May. It was a gorgeous beautiful day, full of insightful discussion among farmers, agricultural advocates and fellow moms. Even knowing how much technology has developed over the years, I was still surprised by the integrated use of technology on the Jeschke's farm, from GIS, GPS, and even Drones!  

Programming the Planter

In undergrad and grad school, I also took classes on GIS (Geographical Information Systems), which used layers of data maps to study the socio-economics of urban areas. Combining different layers of data can give you insight into a geographical area. 

I saw Tyson demonstrate how farmers are utilizing the GIS technology on their crops. Farmers use soil borings to determine the nutrient levels in the crops after harvesting. They need to determine how and where to replenish the nutrients in the soil. By overlaying this data with 2 or 3 years of crop yield data, the program will derive a map detailing how many seeds should be planted in which areas, thus providing the best information. The final map looks like this: 

The green areas of the map show where they will plant the highest number of seeds. The red areas show the lowest, yellow the middle range. Where you see the green and orange squares, those are test plots for comparison. 

They transfer this data to the Planter, which uses an automated system to distribute the pre-determined amount of seeds throughout the crop. The planter uses GPS for guidance and to plant the correct amount of seed. They may plant 35,000 seeds in one area and 25,000 seeds in another area that has been predicted to produce a lower yield. 

GPS Crop Management

Paul Jeschke demonstrated how the Sprayer uses GPS software to control the amount of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides distributed on crops. The program tracks the location and amount of chemicals that have been sprayed, which minimizes over spraying, or double spraying. The sprayer has 5 zones which are controlled separately, and can be shut on or off to control where the chemical is being applied. 

Drones! 

We were able to see a demonstration of a drone, otherwise known as, unmanned aircraft. These are fitted with a video camera. Matt Boucher showed us how farmers can use them to fly over their fields and capture a bird's eye view. It shows them areas of the farm, which they could only see if they walked the entire farm. And really shows them more, because it's hard to see walking through a corn field. This allows them to target very specific areas of concern, further cut down use of sprays, lower costs, and improve yield, which can be a big help to the farmer and the environment. 

It is easy to see these farmers, Paul, Tyson, and Matt, get excited about the technology they use. Just like we want the latest in smart technology to help improve our lives, they want the best for their farms. 

I wonder how farmers can benefit from all this data being collected? What could happen if they all shared the data collected on their farms?

What is next for farming technology? Can farmers utilize new solar roadways that are currently being tested and developed?  

You  can follow me at: 
Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest: @mdesmpa

Mysi DeSantis
Crystal Lake, Illinois

Mysi is one of the Illinois Farm Families 2014 Field Moms. Throughout the year she visits Illinois farms to learn more about where food comes from. Following each visit, the Field Moms share their thoughts by blogging about what they experience on these farms. Want to learn more? Read Our Story: Chicago Moms Meet Farmers.

Jun 12 2014

Why GMOs Aren't the Enemy

Prior to visting the Jeschke's farm for our 3rd Field Mom trip, I thought it best to do a bit of research in advance of our outing. You see, the Jeschke family are farmers that grow both corn and soybean crops, both of which make up two of the largest crops grown in the US and both of which use Genetically Engineered (GE) seeds. As a new mom and conscious consumer, I have always prided myself on researching the food I feed myself & my family. One area, however, that has always been "grey" to me is GE foods and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). So, I Googled. I went on the internet, typed in GMOs and read what I could on both sides of the coin so I could be in a better position to ask pointed questions once I visited the farm. I was mostly interested in the articles that touted GMOs as "the enemy"; I wanted to know why the better part of society felt they were so terrible.  

For those who don't know, GMOs are organisms whose genetic material, or DNA, has been altered by using Genetic Engineering (GE) techniques. The aim is typically introduce a new trait which does not occur naturally in the species. The reasons for doing this are a bit more varied; resistance to pests, disease, or environmental conditions just to name a few. Prior to my involvement in the program, my knowledge on GMOs in general was limited, but what I did "know" from everything I saw on TV and read online, was that they should be avoided at all costs. That finding products that are "GMO free" is the best way to ensure your family's continued good health. Why this should be done was a bit less clear, only that they should be avoided at all costs. So, imagine my surprise when I discovered that the list of commercially available GM products on the market today was much shorter than what I had been previously led to believe. To date, that list consists of:  corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, squash & papaya. Based on my own internet research on the subject, much of the controversy over GMOs in our food stems from claims of negative long-term health issues such as allergies, GI disorders, accelerated aging, and even cancer. So, what gives?

It's a lot to take in, and prior to my involvement in the Field Mom program, the data and information I thought was legitimate and valid, now gave me pause. If nothing else, it has taught me not only to obtain information from reliable sources (and how to find it), but to also read through some of the more questionable articles with a more critical eye. One thing I did notice was that in every single article posted touting the negative effects of GMOs and why they should be avoided, when listing the reasons, always included terms like "could possibly lead to," "can" and "may.” And the use of inductive reasoning in so many of these articles didn't sit right with me, either. One of the worst examples I found was a website claiming because the rate of autoimmune diseases has gone up since the 90's, which was also the same time GM products were introduced in our grocery stores, then GMOs must be the cause of this. Really?  Do people seriously believe this stuff? You bet they do, and I used to be one of them.

So, what did I walk away from the Jeschke’s having learned and what is the bottom line? Well, the answers are still unclear, at least to me anyway. But there are a few things I do know for sure and things that, once I discovered, were true "Aha" moments for me. While the list of commercially available GM products is short, one thing that is in many of the foods available to the public is corn. And corn or corn products (corn oil, high fructose corn syrup, etc) is found in the vast majority of the processed foods that line our shelves, and in many cases, our pantries. 

From all the research and studies done (and not by corporations that have "something to gain" by declaring them safe) GMOs pose no greater risk to human health than non GM products. From what I can garner, no one has ever died from eating too many fruits, vegetables, or wholesome foods in their true, whole form. What I do know is that many people have died from eating too many high fat, high sugar and heavily processed foods. So, perhaps instead of putting so much focus on whether the cookies, mac & cheese or chips we're feeding our families are "non-GMO", we should be more focused on feeding our families more nutritious and healthful foods. Maybe the link to the many illnesses like heart disease, obesity and GI issues has more to do with the high fat, high sodium and countless preservatives found in these items and less to do with the fact they're made with GM seeds.  

What I also learned was that the main reason the US has not opted to label foods containing GMOs is that in doing so will lead to an insinuation to consumers that products containing GMOs should be avoided and are ultimately bad. While I can't say that I know for certain there are no negative effects that can stem from GMOs, I also haven't found sufficient or reliable evidence that says it is. What I can say is that, while my intentions were good, I feel duped into believing I should buy a certain way (organic, GMO-free) without understanding why I was doing so, or was misinformed about what the terms really mean. Labeling our foods in this way will only continue to feed into a misinformed culture. It made me angry and I vowed that I would make it my business to be a smarter consumer, if nothing else.

And lastly, but absolutely most important in my particular situation, is the use of GM crops in medicine. At the age of 7 I was diagnosed with Type 1 (or Juvenile) Diabetes. For the last 26 years I have relied on synthetic insulin to keep me alive, first through injections and now through an artificial organ known as an insulin pump. I am now 33 years old and I am proud to say I am in fantastic health. In my case anyway, the constant use of synthetic insulin over the last 27 years has done nothing but benefit me. So, while many may still be on the fence as to whether GMOs are safe, whether they're a threat, or they are sitting somewhere in between, I know for this family anyway, our focus will certainly lie elsewhere.

Suzanne Batch
Des Plaines, Illinois

Suzanne is one of the Illinois Farm Families 2014 Field Moms. Throughout the year she visits Illinois farms to learn more about where food comes from. Following each visit, the Field Moms share their thoughts by blogging about what they experience on these farms. Want to learn more? Read Our Story: Chicago Moms Meet Farmers.

Jun 10 2014

The GMO Conundrum

These days it is hard not to hear about Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs. The label appears in nutrition books, blog articles, grocery store shelves and may even pop up on your child’s school lunch menu.  

So what is the deal with GMOs and where do we primarily find them? Corn and Soybeans are found in virtually every aisle of the grocery store as well as in many non-edible items like cosmetics, insecticides, paints, pharmaceuticals and candles to name a few. These seeds are at the center of the GMO v. non-GMO debate. I have many questions and mixed emotions about the dangers, use of and reasons for GMOs and that was my primary interest when visiting the Jeschke Family Corn and Soybean farm earlier this month.  

Donna and Paul Jeschke welcomed a group of about 20 IL Field Moms to spend a day touring their family farm. Immediately, I could sense their excitement and passion for a business that has supported generations as far back as the early 1900s in their families. We saw the size and investment today’s farmers make in high-tech machinery such as this $160,000 sprayer.

I was also surprised to learn that a large majority of the corn and soybeans grown on this farm, and most of Illinois farms, are exported to Europe and China. This is because of the close proximity to the IL River, which ultimately flows to the Gulf of Mexico and allows for cost-effective shipment overseas. Both of these factors play a huge role in the farmer’s decision to plant GMO or non-GMO seeds.  

First, let’s back up a step, what exactly does GMO mean? As described by Tim Newcomb, a sales manager for Beck’s Hybrids, a seed becomes genetically modified if at least one component of the DNA has been altered. The reason for altering the seed DNA is to create a new germination with superior traits. The ultimate goal is to create a seed that will produce highest yielding crop. However, I had no idea the extent of modifications that are made. Tim told us that each year his company may create up to 20,000 GMO varieties for trial and only 6-8 of those are seed types that actually go to market. The different seeds try to balance disparity of soil, insecticide and herbicide issues as well as increased water utilization (drought resistance).

My hesitation about GMO crops has been driven primarily from a health perspective. In particular, I am concerned about the toxicity of so-called “Bt corn” which carries a gene Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to break open the stomach of insects and kill them. Another GMO product is the “Roundup Ready” corn and soybeans with a key ingredient of glyphosate. These toxins have been shown to have damaging effects particularly on the human digestive system and healthy gut bacteria which doctors are now beginning to understand have a tremendous impact on immune function. Many Americans experience any number of chronic health issues such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, mental disorders, allergies, etc. The list goes on and unfortunately, it is not a simple 1+1=2 equation, but much of my research comes back to the same principle of ineffective immune function at the root of the problem.  

During my day at the Jeschke farm I was fortunate to have a very candid and honest conversation with Paul Jeschke, the owner and father of the family business. I was interested to know if he understood my direct health concern about GMO seeds and what his thoughts were. He stated that he appreciates hearing from the consumers as it gives him a market focus perspective and that while he stays up-to-date with the latest information released from the Food and Drug Administration about product safety, he does not have a deep understanding of the relationship between the immune issues I discussed above and GMO seeds. He shared his perspective about why they choose to grow GMO seeds. First, the GMO corn and soybeans enable the farmer to spray less pesticides and herbicides on their crop. Remember that $160,000 sprayer pictured above…that means the farm is able to save money on the amount of liquid sprayed, number of times it is sprayed and overall places less wear and tear on expensive machinery. Another reason is because of the increasing world demand for his crop. As I mentioned, most of their corn and soybeans are exported to Europe and South Asia. As world population increases, so does the need for food. His very straight forward example was that mothers in China that have children to feed do not care whether the seed was GMO or not, they simply need something to put into their bellies. When faced with the moral dilemma it is clearly a tough choice. 

 

Like most things in life, decisions are complex and varied depending on the goal in mind. For my family, we will continue to lean towards non-GMO products when given the opportunity. However, considering roughly 90% of the crop grown in the U.S. is GMO versus only 10% non-GMO, it is important to me to balance the cost of unnecessary stress and financial impact of striving for 100% compliance to the cause. 

   

Amanda Hinman
Mt. Prospect, Illinois

Amanda is one of the Illinois Farm Families 2014 Field Moms. Throughout the year she visits Illinois farms to learn more about where food comes from. Following each visit, the Field Moms share their thoughts by blogging about what they experience on these farms. Want to learn more? Read Our Story: Chicago Moms Meet Farmers.

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