I have to admit that as a child and teenager, I never gave a thought to where my food came from. I took both the food and my mother’s wonderful home cooked dinners completely for granted. As a dedicated athlete who trained four hours a day, I consumed a lot of food—thinking about nutrition and fuel for my body, but never giving a second to think about what it took to grow it.
I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face the first time that he attended a team dinner for the Dartmouth Women’s Swim Team. As a college football player he was no stranger to eating, but the feeding frenzy that he witnessed that night left him speechless. He wisely decided to step aside and let my team mates and I eat our fill before attempting to enter the food line himself…
As I transitioned from competitive athlete to farm girl, I found myself (for the first time) taking an active role in both understanding and growing food. When I moved to Nebraska in 1997, I had complete trust in modern food production but very little understanding of it.
Somewhere in the last 16 years, universal trust in food production has been eroded. Farming practices have been questioned as well as the integrity of the farmer that implements them. This saddens me. While I truly believe that every person has a right to understand where their food comes from, I also believe that it is important to truly understand before passing judgement.
The challenge that we all face is the ever growing gap between farmers and urbanites. Whenever a disconnect like this occurs, myths perpetuate and misinformation stands in the way of good conversation and understanding. Perception becomes a cloud of fog that hinders trust and stands in the way of true learning and comprehension.
Somehow philosophers like Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser have become the authority on food production, while farmers like myself have become the evil opportunists. While I can certainly respect that every person has a right to their own beliefs, it bothers me tremendously to read books like Fast Food Nation that misrepresent both who I am and what happens on my farm.
- I believe with all of my heart that responsible food production must universally exist.
- I believe with all of my heart that this responsible food production includes quality animal care.
- I believe with all of my heart that a deep understanding of food animals and their needs must play the key role in determining what defines proper care.
- I believe with all of my heart that good care leads to healthy animals and a safe food supply.
- I believe with all of my heart that together farmers and urbanites can come together to build relationships and understanding relative to meat production.
The goal of the Tyson Farm Check program is to bring scientists and farmers together with our customers to rebuild trust while also continually learning how to improve farm animal care.
Do we care? Absolutely!
The goal is to build trust while responsibly growing safe and nutritious food.