Dietitians Farm Food Tour

(Anna) I’m really excited to be on this trip. One of the best things for me is being able to take information back to my clients and be able to answer their questions about agriculture better, especially when it relates to things like GMOs, antibiotics and hormones. That’s why I really loved this trip. We started off at Merck. And the best thing for me at Merck was it was really interesting to be able to hear about how the antibiotics especially are actually made, how the animal testing is done, the way that the animals are treated and how they’re used. It was really eye opening to be able to actually learn about that experience and some of the testing that goes on with the antibiotics as well, as far as making sure that that doesn’t end up in our finished food product and how to make sure that those are for the food supply. The science behind that was really great for me to be able to understand, so that I can educate my clients. Next place that we went to was Monsanto. Monsanto was cool as well. (Kylene) Monsanto was actually really great. They ended up spending about two hours with us, taking us around their headquarters and showing us just the ins and outs. The major things that stuck out to me were the seed, I’m not sure if they call it a splicing machine, but basically it took a sample of the seed so that they could kind of figure out when genetics were great to reproduce then. So actually seeing that and knowing that Monsanto creates, invents machines that are going to allow for that process to happen it’s not so much about the scary, dark side of it, they’re inserting genes into something else, but they’re actually innovating technology to make things happen. (Mary Jo) If I were to pick one main thing that was a real “aha” moment at Monsanto. It would be when they showed the plant, the stalk of corn that was like a plant, it was like a bush and compared that to today’s corn stalk, which was tall and thin and is producing more kernels on the ear. And you think about all the science that went into that and it’s really pretty mind boggling. (Sarah) We next went to Maschhoff’s, which was a really neat approach to family farming and pork production. We got to see the feed mill and what I found most fascinating about their business and their production that they had was they actually partnered with other family farms. They had a lot of control over the animal product that they were able to provide by the control of the feed they gave the animals. Eight to ten diets throughout an animal’s life span is pretty complex, so that was probably the most fascinating thing, because I think about all of the diets that we put humans on throughout their life span based on different disease processes. (Abby) Central Missouri Meat and Sausage was really amazing. I had no idea that pasture raised pork had the amount of worms and things like that internally that they can’t have at processing just because they are out in the fields and eating whatever they’re exposed to whether it be roots or worms or other bugs or dead carcasses of other animals. They’re exposed to so many other elements of feed that your typical antibiotic free pigs are feed nice, well balanced diets that we know what they’re being fed. It may be true with antibiotics but they don’t have antibiotics at processing and when they go through processing they have a much lower risk of trichinosis and other food borne illnesses that we’re very concerned with as registered dietitians because we don’t want patients to get sick from the food that they’re eating. (Johannah) So, my biggest take away was the use of antibiotics and how important they are into the process of producing meat products, is the ethical thing to do. Just as you wouldn’t let your kid suffer through an infection or through a fever without antibiotics or bringing them to the doctor to get them medicine, when they’re sick, we don’t want to do that to our animals especially those that we are sacrificing for food purposes.

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