Commentary: Farm families buy groceries, too

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Like many of you, I wear a lot of hats. Of my many roles, I’m most proud of being a wife, a mom and a farmer. My husband and I raise our two kids on our farm in Rowena, located about 30 miles outside of San Angelo in West Texas.

My days are probably a lot like yours—jam-packed with responsibilities around our farm, shuttling kids to school events, volunteering for activities in our community. And, of course, there are the weekly chores around the house, laundry and grocery shopping… Yes, farmers buy groceries, too.

As both a farmer and a consumer, I pay attention when the media says that food prices are climbing too high. We all feel the pinch when our grocery bills increase. But the truth is, as Americans, we are very fortunate when it comes to the cost of food.

It takes just five weeks for the average American to earn enough to pay for their family’s food for the entire year. Other budget items like housing, transportation and fuel tend to take up much more of our monthly expenses.

In America, we spend just under 10 percent of our annual income on food. As a point of comparison, that’s much lower than our counterparts in France (13 percent), South Africa (19 percent), the Philippines (36 percent) and Jordan (40 percent).

But Americans don’t just want affordable food. We also want to feed our family with foods that are safe and healthy. The good news is, we can do both.

Thanks to ongoing research and innovation, the modern American farmer is growing enough food to feed our country—as well as others around the world—and keep prices reasonable. We have found ways to grow more using fewer resources while maintaining the highest standard of safety. We feed our families the same fruits, vegetables, grains and meats as you do, and food safety is our top priority.

Here are some of the ways that we make sure the food we grow is safe and healthy for both our families and yours:

  • We use only enough herbicides and pesticides needed to protect the crops and allow them to grow effectively and safely. Using too much can be bad for both the crops and for our businesses.
  • We, like many farmers, are using “integrated pest management” to naturally control pests and reduce the amount of pesticides used in our fields.
  • Genetic modification of crops—much like cross-breeding—allows us to improve seed and raise more food on the same amount or less land. Biotechnology is carefully monitored by federal and state agencies and has been proven to produce crops that are safe and healthy.
  • In our beef cattle herd, we use antibiotics and medication only when necessary to humanely treat sick cattle or prevent diseases. We treat and medicate our animals in the same way we do our own family to keep them healthy.
  • Food safety is important beyond the farm, too. In the kitchen, it is important to properly wash, cook and store food once we get it home from the market.

As a mom and as a farmer, I’m proud of the way we and our fellow farmers and ranchers raise our crops and livestock to provide food that is both affordable and safe.

Some of you may have questions about how we grow our crops or how to make smart purchases at the grocery store. Leave a comment, and let’s start a discussion.

Note: The above post is from Monica Minzenmayer, a Texas farm wife and mom from Runnels County. Monica is one of five guest bloggers who is talking about food and farming during Texas Food Connection Week, sponsored by Texas Farm Bureau Feb. 17-23.



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