July 13, 2012

The responsibility of raising food

By Sandra Kavan, NCGA-St. Louis intern

Sandra Kavan
My five-year-old niece asked my mother a great question of why we have so much stuff on our land to eat. My mother ‘s response was that we enjoy fresh food and like to know where our food comes from. Our pork comes from our farm, our beef is from my uncle’s farm, our chicken is from the neighbor, our vegetables we eat all year-round are from our garden that my mother freezes. Our jelly is all homemade, and our tomato sauce is what my mother cans. I love to know that when I am home, I know where about 90% of my food comes from. As my father puts it, I am spoiled because I know what good food is. I would have to agree with him and I enjoy being spoiled with good food.

My niece’s question is from a child who lives in the city but comes to grandma and grandpa’s house, where she will spend the whole day riding around in the combine and tractor during harvest. She is like a lot of society now, where she thinks her food just comes from a grocery store. Society says they want to know what they are eating, for example wanting GMO foods labeled, but they could not tell you that a steak is from a beef cow, you do not get chocolate milk from a brown cow, brown eggs do not have any nutritional difference from a white egg, or bacon and ham is from a pig.

Some adults have asked me how do you not become emotionally connected to your livestock. It is a valid question, but our livestock is our livelihood, jobs, lives, and responsibility. We feed our livestock so they can feed us. We take care of them by keeping them clean, healthy, and out of the elements of different weather (as a pork producer this is important especially in this hot weather for our pigs to be in a cool barn because pigs do not sweat and need to stay cool and out of the sun. Pigs like to be clean, but will roll in the mud if they are outside to stay cool and to protect them from the sun. The mud is their type of sunscreen when they are outside).

My family and I have been working on educating youth and anyone who has a question about farming. Over the years my niece has learned that we rotate our crops every year and that the corn we harvest with our combine is field corn and what we feed our pigs, but sweet corn is the corn that we eat on the cob. She has even been working on educating others in agriculture by taking an ear of corn and a soybean plant into her daycare for show and tell.

I personally have been working to educate youth about agriculture through the Nebraska Ag Sack Lunch Program. It is a program that is the first of its kind where we give fourth graders a free lunch that was produced in Nebraska, while educating them about the four major livestock groups and three major crops in Nebraska. The Ag Sack Lunch Program also informs students about how agriculture in Nebraska helps to feed the world.

My mother is a fourth grade teacher who sets time aside in her classroom to teach her students about agriculture.

I grew up around agriculture my whole life and know that farming is more than just a job, but a large responsibility. It is a responsibility and duty that every farmer/producer takes on, to raise the best quality products and healthy livestock to feed their family and families around the world. My family looks to continue educate the next generation about agriculture and its importance. My niece is only five, but she happily tells others about how she spends days on the farm learning about how a farm works. It is my passion to continue to educate others about agriculture as my future career.

The National Corn Growers Association headquarters office in St. Louis is hosting Sandra Kavan of Wahoo, Neb., as their first summer intern supported by a partnership between the Nebraska Corn Board and NCGA. Sandra will be a senior in agribusiness at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. 

1 comment:

  1. Great Blog Sandra!! Glad to hear the next generation of Kavan's is educating consumers! I'm sure we'll see her showing pigs in a couple of years at the fair? :)