Farm Fresh Answers

Cultivating conversations about food & farming

Tag: meat

Farm Fresh Podcast: ‘Meating’ Needs


Help ‘meat’ needs in McLean County by contributing to the Meat Donation Drive at Hy-Vee in Bloomington March 20-26.

All proceeds will be used to purchase meat for Midwest Food Bank and benefiting our neighbors in need through area food pantries.

Hear about the program from Mike Hoffman, Director of Operations for Midwest Food Bank in this week’s Farm Fresh Podcast.

Listen Wednesdays at 12:45 p.m. for the Farm to Table segment on WJBC Radio.

Pesticides on Your Plate?

What does a mom who makes pesticide recommendations for farmers feed her own children? Organic. Homemade. Conventional. Store bought.  I use it all.

Yes, I sometimes bought organic baby food. I bought it for the convenience of the pouch packaging. I bought it for the unique food combinations. I did NOT buy it because I thought it was more nutritious or better than conventional.

I am somewhat particular about the country of origin of the foods I feed my children. Any food grown in the US or Canada I am completely comfortable purchasing.

I will admit that I think twice when I see produce, particularly berries, from other countries and often opt not to purchase them. Berries have soft skin that can be easily bruised during transport and I am not as comfortable with the control measures for complex pest management strategies in other countries.  But, I obviously buy foreign grown bananas because they aren’t grown in the US.

My master’s degree is in Weed Science. I studied Herbicide Physiology and lots and lots of chemistry.  My master’s thesis involved glyphosate (aka Roundup). Yes, I sprayed it myself – gasp!

I studied the chemical structures of herbicides, how they breakdown in the environment and at what speed, which products should be used in what situations, and how the herbicides fit into the entire cropping system.

I am very comfortable the pesticides used on our food in the US. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registers chemicals after review of the pesticide ingredients, crops to be used on, the amount and frequency of use, timing and also how the pesticide should be stored and disposed.  They determine the risk of potential harms to humans, wildlife, and non-target species.

The EPA also determines a pesticide tolerance – the maximum amount of pesticide residue that can legally remain in or on a particular food. It takes generally 8-10 years from discovery to registration of a herbicide.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitors and enforces pesticide tolerances in both raw and processed foods.  Meat, poultry and eggs are monitored and enforced by the USDA. Food grown domestically and imported food are both monitored for pesticide residues.

Bottom line – I trust the safety of the food I buy because I trust the science behind it.

The Friday Five: Et tu, Subway?

On Tuesday, another restaurant chain joined the ranks of the farmer-maddening crowd. If you have farmer friends on social media you may have noticed a flurry of comments and commentary about Subway’s announcement to source meat from animals raised without antibiotics.

For a quick sampling of farmer responses check out: Subway Announces A Bullet is their Choice of Treatment for Sick Animals…Did Subway Make the Right Call?  & Eat Fresh & Stay Politically Correct…and more

Farmers are a little fed up with the rhetoric and fear mongering surrounding antibiotic use. The frustration stems from the fact that while farmers provide the raw ingredients for our food, most of the time they get left out of these conversations and are villianized by corporate marketing decisions driven by misguided opinions rather than real food safety risks.

To take a look at the meat of the matter, check out five reasons you can rest easy about antibiotics used for animals for this week’s Friday Five:

  1. ALL meat is antibiotic free. Any animal treated with an antibiotic must be held out of the food supply until the withdrawal time for the drug administered is up. Just like any drug used by people, after a certain number of days the antibiotic is no longer present in the animal’s body. Specific withdrawal times for each drug are set by USDA & FDA, plus meat is also inspected & tested for the presence of antibiotics. For more about withdrawal times and how antibiotics are used on the farm, check out this video from the North American Meat Institute.
  2. Veterinary Oversight:  Similar to prescription drugs for people, antibiotics can only be given to animals with a directive from a veterinarian. To learn more, check out this info  from the Animal Health Institute.
  3. Quality Animal Care to Limit Antibiotic Use: Did you know that on many of today’s pig farms, workers must shower before entering the farm everyday? That’s just one way farmers work to limit the need for antibiotics by limiting exposure to disease.  Other tools farmers use to keep animals healthy include vaccinations, feeding animals a balanced diet specifically formulated for their age and needs and providing shelter from inclement weather or extreme heat. Take a closer look at antibiotics & animal care on the farm herehere or here.
  4. Most Animal Antibiotics are not used in Human Medicine: Antibiotics are classified into different categories and about 70% of the antibiotics used in animals are rarely used for people (Tetracyclines) or not used for people at all (Ionophores). Check out this infographic for a more detailed breakdown.
  5. Antibiotics are Expensive…and as a result farmers have no incentive to overuse them. Check out this Facebook post from the Peterson Farm Bros that explains more about the cost of antibiotics.

Have a question about antibiotic use on the farm? Ask us!

UPDATE: Subway revised their statement on animal care & antibiotic use as of 10-23-15. For more, check out this post or see Subway’s policy here.

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