A Lesson From The Baby Carrot

Ah, social media.

Where people have so much to say, and so little understanding.

Social media is the not-so-new wave of information sharing, where it seems everyone is an expert and their information source is about as reliable and consistent as weather in Ohio throughout the month of March.

Social media is exciting and terrifying all at the same time, a lot like the first time you go to Disney World. You often find yourself sorting through the fodder, wondering what is real? What is created based off imagination? Why is everyone trying to look like a duck?

Wait. Before I go any further:
Have you liked Harvest Land Co-op’s Facebook page yet? If not, what are you waiting on?

I saw a Facebook post the other day that made me shake my head and pray for patience. It came from a person who appears to be an avid health and fitness junkie and as well as a personal promoter of organic foods. They regularly and proudly post photos of the meals they prepare for their family (a lot of forage) and videos of their workouts (no square bales of hay were involved).

On this particular day they were outraged to learn that baby carrots, the small, manageable carrots that have replaced washing/peeling/slicing of years gone by, were a product of genetic modification.

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Travesty!

A wolf in sheep’s clothing!

Poison in the lunch box for years!

With this groundbreaking (incorrect) discovery, the mother wrote about her plans to no longer serve her three children (ages 8 – 19 years) these toxic tiny roots. Yes, complete restriction of baby carrots was in order. She shared her sudden findings with hundreds of immediately outraged friends.

You can imagine what was going through my head after reading this; probably much of what is going through yours right now. This is a perfect example of how poorly informed consumers are when it comes to GMOs and how terrified they are of something they know so little about.

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Had the gal done her research, she probably would have found three things:

  1. Baby carrots aren’t a GMO product. Corn, soybeans, alfalfa, cotton and sugar beets are the only GMO foods.
  2. Baby carrots are actually a product of conservation management and creative thinking. In 1986 Mike Yurosek began using a green bean cutter to cut misfit carrots  into two-inch pieces and then peeled them with an industrial potato peeler to create the perfect sized carrot. This eliminated waste by utilizing misshaped or small carrots that would usually be tossed.
  3. Their perfect cut and shape are a product of work done post-harvest.

This family, along with millions of others, have been consuming these carrots – modified to serve a consumer base that doesn’t have time to wash/peel/slice carrots for the Super Bowl party – for years without concern. No one has fallen ill from these carrots. Ever. They’re a perfectly healthy addition to any diet. That has been proven by decades of kids rolling their eyes as they open their lunch box to find a bag of baby carrots awaiting them. What harms the American public is lack of understanding.

When I was little, the only way my parents could calm my fear of things that crept around our (these were the days when kids shared bedrooms with siblings) bedroom in the dark was to turn on the lights. They had to bring light to the area and prove that my fear was not warranted. We have to continue to do this today with consumers. Every day, at every opportunity.

So what can we learn from baby carrots?

  • Even after performing their own self-deployed study (feeding baby carrots to their family and self for years), consumers can still choose fear over fact.
  • Ignorance is often louder than reason, especially if they have a Facebook page.
  • Our journey of informing the public about GMO foods is far from over.
Join Harvest Land in continuing to
fight the good and worthy fight
regarding safe food production,
one baby carrot at a time.

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A Day To Remember

In case you’re looking for things to do in 2016, we wanted to remind you that May 20 is National Bike To Work Day, September 5 is National Cheese Pizza Day and finally, December 13 is National Violin Day. I don’t know who dreams up these days, how they are determined to carry enough merit to be proclaimed national days or who even observes them, but I found it interesting that someone has expended enough energy to get days like this recognized. You can visit the National Day Calendar and find countless other fairly useless ways to celeb rate every day of the year, as though being given the opportunity to wake up wasn’t enough.

I bet you also didn’t know that Tuesday of this week, March 15, was National Agriculture Day. If you aren’t on social media you may not have even realized the occasion. Your local FFA chapter or 4-H club may have done something in observance, but this day – which highlights an industry that impacts every human on earth – typically goes unnoticed.

How is that?

How is it that such a large part of everyone’s daily life is formally appreciated just one day out of 365, and even then it’s often overlooked?

Agriculture is so much more than plows and sows and cows. Oh friend, those days are over.

Moyer Kids on Hog

Today agriculture is about recognizing an issue (The world’s middle class will more than double in size to nearly 5 billion as the world population grows to 9 billion by 2050. The fastest part of that growth will actually occur between now and 2020. This means billions of people demanding access to better diets, including an increased consumer demand for meat, milk and eggs), discovering solutions to the problem (GPS technology in the field ensuring every available inch is utilized for planting, genetically modified seeds that can produce more pods per plant, insecticides that can protect plants from parasites and so much more) and implementing ways to meet – and continually address – the challenge. Meeting the demands of a growing population (food, fiber, fuel) has become a major undertaking with great responsibility tied to it. No longer will backyard chickens and an herb garden in the kitchen window suffice. Welcome to a complex Rubik’s cube where – if not solved – people starve. It may sound more like a video game or Hollywood blockbuster than reality, but trust us: It’s very real.

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Though 97% percent of all farms are run by families, 100% of U. S. families utilize the products of family farms in some way.

  • The Thursday afternoon farmer’s market
  • The fall pumpkin patch
  • The cotton towels after a shower
  • The meat, milk and eggs in the refrigeration section of the grocery store

And those are just the easy, obvious ways. The span of agriculture touches everyone, no matter social class, age, gender or location.

Even a suburb-dwelling family of four is affected by agriculture on any given day. Imagine they load up in their SUV (leather seats, engine oil and rubber tires are all by-products of cattle) and travel (on fuel refined by CountryMark, I’m sure) downtown to watch a football game. The football really is made of pig skin, the Astroturf is a product of turf science and agronomy and the popcorn they share very well could have been grown right in their home state of Indiana. Their blue jeans, hooded sweatshirts and socks are all made of American-grown cotton.

Those who may not feel directly connected to a farm or agriculture use the products that come from it, without second thought.

If agriculture touches – literally – so many more people than just the ones who plant the wheat or feed the cattle, why isn’t it appreciated every day?

There lies a disconnect. Perhaps people would better recognize agriculture around them if they understood the stake they have in the game.

How can we work together to recognize the many ways that agriculture is woven into every day lives, even those who live so far from a cornfield? A simple way to support agriculture appreciation is to ask children daily how agriculture impacted them today. What products did they use that began on a farm? It is an eye opening, learning experience that will teach kids to appreciate what they have and how it came into their life. No kids at home? Why don’t you take on the challenge, yourself?

Daily Agriculture Experience

For the record: The national days listed above would not be possible without agriculture:

May 20, National Bike To Work Day: Stearic acid, made from animal fat by-product, helps the rubber in tires hold shape under steady surface friction.

September 5, National Cheese Pizza Day: Wheat flour in the crust, pizza sauce from tomatoes, cheese from dairy cattle, need I go on? Should we throw on some pork sausage?

December 13, National Violin Day: The strings are made of horse hair.

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Know Your Why

It is often asked in an introductory conversation. Maybe you’re on a flight, maybe you’re at a workshop, maybe you’re even signing your middle child up for kindergarten. I bet if you began visiting with someone and asked them what they did for a living, they’d have no trouble telling you.

Architect

Communications Specialist

Farmer

Daycare operator

Nurse

Loan Officer

The list could go on endlessly with the variety of careers on the market, and with each additional position, the person in that role could easily explain to you what they do. Even if they played a lot of different roles in the day (anyone out there a chauffeur, accountant, chef, therapist and farm hand – all in one day?). It’s their daily routine; if they’re lucky, it’s their passion, too.

What if you asked that same person how they did their job? Well, unless their work is highly classified, there is a great chance that they can explain that to you, too. They probably know the ins and outs of their position so well, they can explain their work in a 30-second synopsis. This likely won’t happen often on Between the Rows, but an Albert Einstein quote comes to mind when thinking about someone explaining how they do their daily work (for the record, moving forward we’re more likely to quote George Strait on any given Thursday than we are Einstein):

if-you-cant-explain-it-simply-you-dont-understand-it

But what if we went deeper?

What if you asked the question why?

Why do you do what you do?

That question may extend your conversation a bit, and I bet it would take the respondent a moment or two to think of their answer. Why do you do what you do?

For Harvest Land, that big question is easy to answer. We have no reservation in response, no worry in reaction. We know our purpose; we know our why.

 

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We have a moral obligation to couple the resources available to us and the spirit of generations of honest work so that we’re able to put food on the table for people we’ll never have the pleasure of meeting.

That is why we don’t hesitate to work the long, spring hours or the endless harvest days.

That is why we take safety seriously, in every situation.

That is why we navigate the changing agricultural climate, volatile markets and political landscape right along with you.

That is why our Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays sometimes run together.

That is why – to this day – we value the way our Granddads worked: planting trees, knowing that they’d never have the opportunity to enjoy the shade.

That is Harvest Land.

That is our why.

What is yours?

The Cooperative Spirit: A Brief History

We’re so glad you stopped by to visit.

Do you have a quick minute for a story?

Or maybe, a history?

Years ago – we’re talking long before weather maps were kept on cell phones in pockets – folks relied on working together to defend their land, hunt, produce and gather food and create shelters and clothing. It was their cooperative spirit, one that encouraged working together to achieve a common goal, that allowed the people to create more, support larger groups and elevate success as culture evolved. It was through information sharing that early societies were able to triumph through the most arduous times.

At Harvest Land Co-op, we’ve never forgotten that cooperative spirit. In fact, it’s the very fabric of our business.

Our cooperative is unique from many businesses in that nearly 5,000 farmers who have made their homes in Indiana and Ohio own us. Together they collaborate for our success by utilizing Harvest Land’s services, sourced products and expert employees. Continued investment in our farmer-owned cooperative ensures the longevity of such a system that welcomes and serves so many.

This blog was created as a resource for our members and also those with whom we share communities. We want to use this space to answer questions about what our cooperative does, explain why we’re so passionate about land and resource conservation and share our steadfast belief in creating a responsible food system (speaking of food systems: don’t forget to pick up milk after work).

Join us on this expedition and come back weekly as we dig deeper to the roots of Harvest Land Co-op and the many fibers that make our cooperative spirit sturdy, nearly 100 years after our inception.

strong roots