Shepherd’s Way Farms, rural Nerstrand. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo. Shown here for illustration only.
ARE WE A GENERATION away from losing the farm? Not in the literal sense. But in the sense of understanding agriculture.
Do you know, do your children know, do your grandchildren know the sources of ingredients in food and other products?
A recent test shows me that, even here in rural Minnesota some 50 miles south of Minneapolis, people are not particularly knowledgeable. Granted, this was no scientific study. And it was limited in scope. But results were enough to make me realize that we could do a better job of educating our young people about agriculture. Even those who live in a city like Faribault surrounded by corn and soybean fields.
A fest-goer attempts to match animals and plants to products I set out.
How did I reach this conclusion? Well, I pulled together several farm-themed matching and other games for a recent kids’ fall fest at my church. One of those required players to match farm animals and plants to five products. Only one boy successfully completed the task as did some, but not all, adults.
Registered Holsteins photographed at a Faribault area farm. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.
I laid pictures of the following on a table: cows, sheep, pigs, corn and soybeans.
Then I set out a can of cranberry sauce, a box of Velveeta cheese, a brush, a bottle of Thousand Island salad dressing and a wool blanket.
The goal was to match the image and product.
Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo from Shepherd’s Way Farms.
As you might guess, the sheep and blanket, cows and cheese proved easy matches.
Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo of a cornfield.
But not the other three. Can you figure it out? I’ll help. The first ingredient on the dressing label is soybean oil. The second ingredient on the cranberry label is high fructose corn syrup. That leaves the brush. Some brush bristles are made from pig hair.
I expected the game might challenge little kids too young to understand what comes from where or what ingredients are in our food. But I was surprised by mid to upper elementary kids and adults who got the matches wrong.
Does it matter? I believe so. Our kids and grandkids, even us adults, need to be knowledgeable about food and product sources. We need to understand that our food and more doesn’t just come from the store or some online source. It comes from the land, directly or indirectly, grown or raised by farmers. When we realize that, we begin to value and appreciate rather than simply consume.
In the window of Ruf Acres Market in historic downtown Faribault, egg cartons promoting eggs from Graise Farm. The eggs are sold at this market and elsewhere in the area. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.
ASIDE FROM THIS EXPERIENCE, I’ve seen strong efforts locally to educate consumers about agriculture. Leading the way in my community is Tiffany Tripp of Graise Farm. She and her husband raise grass-fed animals in a sustainable environment, according to their farm website. I’ve seen Tiffany out and about selling and promoting locally-grown/raised. She is currently co-coordinating efforts to market locally-grown/raised/sourced products under a Cannon Valley Grown label. What a great idea. I love her enthusiasm and that of others who recognize the value of what is grown and raised right here in southeastern Minnesota.
© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling