The Food Knowledge Gap

This last week I heard someone talking about a recent hospital visit a family member had.  A nurse, who was providing care for the person, told them they needed to eat only organic food because it was healthier.  The nurse also went on to tell them that ‘farmers feed their livestock lots of salt which results in salty food products and that they shouldn’t eat any animal products because farmers weren’t taking care of their animals correctly.’

Luckily this person had a connection to agriculture and knew this nurse was just repeating propaganda that is easily found on the internet by groups who are against eating meat or eating any animal products.  This person tried to help the nurse understand how farmers really do care for their livestock.  When the doctor found out what the nurse had said he wasn’t happy.  The doctor’s orders had not been followed out correctly by this nurse.

When I heard this story it really concerned me.  How many other patients has this nurse been misinforming?  And how many of these patients trust this nurse to have correct knowledge based on facts and not personal opinion or agendas?

My first reaction to this story was that I wanted to gather up all of the information I could get my hands on and go talk to this nurse and share with her how food is produced by farmers and ranchers.  I wanted her to know our nutritionist designs our livestock diets to meet the needs of our animals at every stage of their growth.  I wanted her to understand that the term organic simply defined HOW something was raised; it doesn’t mean it is healthier.  There is no nutritional difference between organic food and non-organic food.  I knew I couldn’t find this nurse and it would be impossible to get my information to her, let alone talk to her.

This story once again reminded me of the need for farmers and ranchers to reach out to people who don’t farm and share our stories.  It’s especially important to reach out to the medical community.  I’ve decided the next time I have a doctor appointment I’m going to talk to my doctor and ask if they know how food is produced on farms and ranches.   Maybe this will open a door for me to help share the facts about how livestock are cared for.  I know doctors and nurses are busy and they don’t have time to make farm visits or gather facts about food production.  I want to make it easier for them to be connected to a farmer.

This may not make a huge impact but if I can help even one person understand how livestock are raised and what some of the terms (like organic, free-range, antibiotic-free, etc.) really mean it will help bridge the information gap.  I’m not sure if this nurse had a personal agenda or if she truly thought she was sharing factual information.  With 98% of our population living off the farm it’s important for each of the 2% involved in farming/ranching to reach out and share our stories.  I hope other farmers and ranchers will join me in reaching out to the medical community to share the facts about how we raise food!

About Chris Chinn

My husband, Kevin, and I are 5th generation farmers. We live on our family hog farm in Missouri with our two children. Our dream is that our children will have the opportunity be the 6th generation of farmers in our family.
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