Monday, August 16, 2010

Home raised beef, and that's about it.

I grew up on a farm.

A few months ago I had a conversation on Twitter with a young man from Baltimore. He described himself as an aspiring foodie, and was hoping to grow all of his own food one day. He asked me what it was like to grow up on a farm. My response, "The best thing that has ever happened in my life. I learned responsibility for livestock and land. My family was there with me and you can't beat home raised beef."

He told me I was lucky. And how great it was to have access to all that food. However, that is where he misunderstood. Even though I grew up on a farm and we had home-raised beef, and pork from a the neighbor down the road we still went to town to buy our eggs, milk, cheese, fruit and vegetables. He was really shocked.

He didn't think about the fact that where I grew up in Alberta the crops we grow are mostly barley, oats, canola and grassland for hay. Yes, our family could have had chicken but with my fear of birds that probably won't have worked out real well! And we didn't have the time to grow a garden. From June to August my sister and I were lucky to be home for more than two days in a row with all the 4-H camps, livestock shows and agricultural trips we were taking. My understanding is if you are not there to water, weed and harvest a garden it doesn't work out so well.

I consider myself a farmer, but I don't know if I could feed myself somedays. It takes time and resources that I don't always have access to. Something to think about and make sure the consumer understands.

This is sorghum. Where I grew up it isn't grown, but lots can be found in Kansas. 


  1. Crystal, I have found this misconception to be true in my travels also. I live in the heart of agriculture. But we have brutal winters and I buy a majority of our food even though the farmers around me including my family farm help feed the world's population. Thanks for sharing your insight!

  2. This is great! Where I grew up we have 70+/- frost free days a year. Poeple don't understand the complexities of growing food. I need people in the central valley of California to raise dairy animals for my milk, just as I need my friends in Florida for oranges. A 100% local diet is near impossible anywhere. It's so hard for people to understand.

  3. Great post! I'm surprised people think this, but I guess it does kind of go along with the 'picturesque' family farm so many people imagine. We have pigs and sheep, and I love working with livestock, but I will admit that I despise gardening. I'm just not patient enough! I also can't drive a tractor to save my life (yes, I am a country girl but I cannot get the hang of shifting gears no matter how many people teach me!) All of those facts just make me even more thankful that we have so many growers and producers who raise the things I don't have time for or no interest in. That's one of the best parts about agriculture being so diverse--there's something for everyone!

  4. Excellent thoughts. Thanks for sharing. We're farmers, but not gardeners, too! :) New follower, would love you to stop by to visit sometime:


  5. Thanks so much for all your comments. It sounds like many of you are in the same position that I am. It is important that we let the consumer know this.


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