It leads to great conversation!
My husband and I had the absolute wonderful opportunity to attend the inaugural Illinois Harvest Dinner last Wednesday in Pontiac, Illinois. Actually, on Mackinson Dairy Farm, which is a 5th general dairy and grain farm in central Illinois. At our table that evening was Don Mackinson (4th generation) and Kolton Kimpling, a Future Farmer of America member who is planning on going into Agricultural Business.
Oh my goodness!
Those of you who have reading this here little blog for any length of time know that we are not dairy drinkers. We choose to drink soy milk and our middle son, who has a casein allergy, drinks almond milk. We do, though, love cheese. I only point this out to illustrate that though we choose not to consume dairy milk, we do consume dairy products. It's just what works for our family right now.
There's something a bit more calming when you are able to break bread with a dairy farmer and an FFA member who are willing to not only answer any questions that you may have about dairy farming, but also encouraging you to ask the hard questions.
My raw milk questions
My pasteurization questions
My milking, sanitary and animal safety and health questions...
My fueled with sensationalized mis-information questions...
Here, right here, was my golden opportunity to ask them all and get them answered.
And, you know what. I believe everything that Don and Kolton shared. All of it!
Beyond the amazing food, great company (we also sat with a reporter from Farm Week, the superintendents from the local primary and high school and their guests) and beautiful setting, I got clarity. I received the information that I have wanted to know from the other side of the coin.
I also ate asparagus for the very first time.
I am that person, you know, the one who has watched Food Inc., The World According to Monsanto, Forks Over Knives, Hungary for Change, Fast Food Nation and Food Fight. I've read the articles, the books and follow the Facebook posts.
And, my decisions have been effected by it all.
But, I only had that one side. And, I'll admit, the sensationalized side. The side that said that ALL farmers were evil and mistreating their animals and the land. It's all about money, you know! The side that said that seed companies were trying to take over our food supply. It's about world domination, you know! The side that said that dairy was bad for you and that GMO's were even worse. Because, the phloem and chemicals and poisons and antibiotics and on, and on, and on...
But, you know what? I'm not really buying it anymore.
I'm still skeptical. I'm skeptical about fricking everything, though. I still ask a lot of questions and don't take anything at face value. I still want to learn more and become more informed and weigh my options to make the choices that are right for me and my family.
I'm also a hands on learner. I need to see it with my own eyes, too. This dinner, it allowed me to sit and see and hear and ask. This dinner has impacted the way I will choose foods for my family in the future. Does that mean I'm going to run out any buy a gallon of milk? No. It means that I'm more aware.
There has always been something very genuine about sharing a meal with people.
It leads to great conversation!