“Agritourism, defined as activities offered
on working farms and other agricultural settings
for entertainment or educational purposes.”
(Rich et al., 2012)
By Kim Beavers, MS, RD, LD, CDE
What do going to school and going to a farm have in common? Education! Farm tours are both educational and trendy. I’m a farm girl at heart but sadly the family farms of my youth are no more. This means my children do not have access to the wholesome farm environment that teaches hard work, responsibility and respect for both land and animals. This lack of access to farm life is quite common in today’s world as only about 2 percent of Americans have direct access to farms, hence the growth in agritourism. Farm tour adventures are uniquely poised to educate the public, on how food is produced, alleviate misconceptions and help in developing an appreciation of the food supply.
Recently I was fortunate enough to be sponsored by the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association to attend the Honor the Harvest: From Dairy Farm to Table Summit. Part of this conference included a tour of Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana. Even though I am from a farming family, the changes in technology and sustainable practices proved quite amazing and eye-opening.
• All dairy farms are different and have different farming practices. Many differences are due to the geographic location of the farm.
• Cows are well cared for (almost pampered).
>> Well-treated animals and land yield better output—most farmers want this and make huge efforts in this area.
>> Cow comfort includes fans, misters, bedding that is cleaned multiple times a day, 24-hour access to high-quality food and clean water.
• Sustainable efforts are made in feeding cattle: Cows can be safely and nutritiously fed with foods and plant parts that are not edible by people, such as almond shells and citrus peels. Partnerships between farms and food companies help to redirect this food into cattle rations instead of landfills. Cows are ruminators with four stomachs and a different host of digestive bacteria and enzymes that allow them to digest foods inedible for humans.
• Sustainable practices are on the minds of most farmers. The U.S. dairy community contributes only about 2 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions—the lowest carbon footprint per gallon compared to all other countries.
• Innovative practices further promote sustainability
>> Fair Oaks Farm uses an anaerobic digester system to produce renewable energy from waste (manure). The anaerobic digester process allows the farm to produce fuel to run their milk truck fleet, electricity to power their farm and fertilizer for use on the farm or to sell. Not all farms have this capability. This farm is on the cutting edge which will lead the way for other farms to follow. As the technology and cost improves, more and more farms will be able to adapt these practices to their farms.
• Most dairy farms do not use artificial hormones in cattle. Therefore most milk available in the marketplace today does not contain artificial growth hormones.
• Antibiotics are illegal in milk. If a cow is treated for an infection they are milked separately until the infection and antibiotics clear.
• Full fat dairy is back on the menu. Emerging research on the fat in dairy has revealed that dairy fat found in milk, yogurt and cheese does not affect cardiovascular biomarkers (cholesterol and triglycerides) negatively. To theconsumer this means choices. Use your taste preference (and calorie needs) to guide your choices. If you prefer one percent milk, consume one percent milk, but if you crave a little cream in your coffee that’s okay too!
Berry Healthy Smoothie
Getting teens, tweens and school-aged children to grab a glass of milk can occasionally be a challenge. However, smoothie recipes are great tools to keep in the “healthy eating tool box” and they deliver much-needed calcium and a host of other nutrients needed for delicious health!
6 ounce vanilla flavored Greek yogurt
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
½ cup fresh or frozen wild blueberries
1 cup 1 percent milk
½ -1 tablespoon honey (optional)*
Combine ingredient in a blender. Blend until smooth.
Yield: 4 servings.
Nutrient Breakdown: Calories 150, Fat 1g, Cholesterol 5mg, Sodium 65mg, Carbohydrate 25g, Fiber 2g, Protein 11g, Potassium 132mg, Phosphorus 20mg
*Nutrition breakdown includes 1 tablespoon of honey
Kim Beavers is a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator for University Health Care System. She lives in North Augusta with her husband and two children and she is the co-host of the culinary nutrition segment Eating Well with Kim, which airs at noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday on WRDW. To be notified of new recipes join Kim’s facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/eatingwellwithkim. To search for specific recipes go to www.universityhealth.org/ewwk. You can also watch the segments at www.wrdw.com/ewwk.
This article appears in the August 2016 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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