conversation heartsIn light of the upcoming lovers holiday – I prefer not to say the V word – and a recent conversation in our office, I realized:

Farmers and Mother Nature have the most twisted and unhealthy relationship in the world.

It’s on again, off again.  Codependent.  He said, she said.  Abusive.  And basically every other relationship no-no that Buzz Feed warns you about.


And if there’s a golden rule to dating, it’s that you pick one friend to complain about your significant other, and you leave the rest of your friends out of it.  I mean, who wants all of their friends to hate their man?  But when it comes to farmers and Mother Nature, they are all complaining about her – all day, all the time.

It’s too dry.  It’s too wet.  It’s too hot.  It’s too cold.  She can never win.


300 feetFarmers are completely dependent on Mother Nature – and I know they wish they didn’t have to be!  But the fact you learned in elementary school still holds true: plants need sunshine and rain to grow.  And it’s so nice if it happens at exactly the right time in exactly the right amounts.


She will say she still loves them anyway.  She will beg them to stay.  But she just can’t stop sending tornadoes, hurricanes, record-setting droughts, and drenching, flooding rains.  Mother Nature can be a bit of an abusive partner for a farmer.  But when she’s happy, everything is good.


On the days when rain is needed and farmers get a gentle, all-day rain, she is their most favorite person in the world.  On the days when the crops are looking great and poised to make record-setting yields and Mother Nature sends high winds that flatten everything, they hate her.

You’d understand if you lost a several thousand dollar investment.



Dear Every American Who Doesn’t Believe in Science:

I know you are smart.  I know you care about your kids, your family, your pets.  I know you are a basically decent human being who wants to do right and contribute to society.  And because I know these things, I’m going to try very hard to understand why you refuse to believe in scientific fact, rather than berate you and call you names.

But I still really don’t get it.

GMO foodsI wish we could sit down and talk.  I wish I could explain my views without you getting defensive.  I wish you could show me your proof without the hair standing up on the back of my neck.  So I’ll admit – we both have a problem.  We both are talking to answer, not having a conversation to listen.

The funny thing is, I actually think I’m reasonably good at seeing the other side of any issue.   There are a few issues where I struggle, but even then, if I’m honest with myself, I can intellectually understand the other side of the issue and why my friend or colleague has positioned himself on that side.

Regarding immunizations and genetically modified organisms, I can’t.

Yes, I view these two issues – though they are definitely in different industries – as intertwined.  Why?  Because the people who are anti either of them have a blatant disregard for science and I just don’t understand that.

Scientific consensus on both of these issues is that both are safe.  Immunizations are safe for the vast majority of people.  GMOs are safe for everyone.

Do you understand what scientific consensus is, my friend?  That means that most of the scientists (maybe even those who don’t usually agree) believe the safety of GMOs and immunizations to be fact.  It’s beyond dispute.  The data has proven safety beyond a shadow of a doubt so that scientists no longer squabble over this issue.

There is also scientific consensus on gravity.  That the Earth is round.  That germs spread disease.  That atoms exist.

Friend, do you question these truths as well?

The thing is, science is fact.  And while there may be outliers that disagree that the Earth is round, why are you so quick to take up with the outliers that believe GMOs are bad?  If you ran into a scientist who believed the Earth was flat, wouldn’t you think he was a quack?  And when that same doctor believes GMOs are bad, why do you believe him?

I think it must be because buying organic has become a status symbol for you.  You are buying boutique food and making all the other parents feel bad about it.  Which, if true, proves another point for another day – that maybe we never really leave junior high.

Your crusade to eliminate vaccines – is it the same sort of status symbol?  I just can’t cognitively understand anything else.

In fact, here’s a question I’ve been dying to ask and I promise to listen intently: do you deny your children life-saving vaccines and still use birth control?  Do you buy organic produce and hormone free meats and still believe in plastic surgery?  Do you use an iPhone or a computer?  Why are some of these technologies demonized and others celebrated?

Let’s talk, you and I.  I have gotten to a point where I really need to understand why you disregard science.  Because even if your viewpoints are too solidly held to change, I have to be sure I understand how this happened and do everything I can to stop it.

Who knows what unscientific nonsense my grandchildren will face?

Lindsay Mitchell 11/14Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director


You’re sitting in the booth for dinner with your family when you scan the burger section. The description reads “grass-fed beef.” You, like many avid burger lovers, may not understand the difference between grass and grain fed beef. Here are 7 differences you should know:

1. The lives of cattle start out the same. Calves are born and live off of their mother’s milk, grass, and shrubs found in their environment. At about a year old, some cattle are moved to a feedlot where their diet changes to grain-based.

2. Grain fed cattle are fed a diet of grain-based feeds including corn and corn by-products. Because cattle are ruminants (mammals that can get nutrients from a special part of the stomach before digestion) they are also fed forages such as hay.

3. Grass fed beef does not mean a diet of strictly grass. Grass, shrubs, weeds, clovers, and leaves are all found in pastures where some cattle live. It can also include hay.

4. Both grass fed and conventionally (grain) fed beef are terms used to describe diet. It does not indicate other production practices used such as antibiotic free, hormone free, or free-range.

5. Grass fed beef usually contains less total fat than grain fed. Aka, it’s lower in calories.

6. Grain fed beef, or conventional beef has a higher rate of gain and makes it to market quicker. This is one reason it costs less to purchase at the store.

See the difference in marbling from grain-fed beef on the left to grass-fed beef on the right.
See the difference in marbling from grain-fed beef on the left to grass-fed beef on the righ

7. The grain fed to conventionally fed beef increases marbling (the little white flecks of fat in the middle of cuts of meat). This intramuscular fat makes the meat tender and adds flavor which many consumers enjoy.


ali seys

Ali Seys
Illinois State University student