Wednesday, July 16, 2014

EVENT | The Food Sisterhood spends the day with Farm & Food Care Ontario!

For some of us, trips to the supermarket is a weekly routine. We are certainly blessed to have a wide variety of supermarkets, farmers markets and butchers to get all of our grocery needs. Although we're buying produce all the time, we don't always know where it's coming from. We were very fortunate to be able to attend a day trip organized by Farm & Food Care Ontario  to learn more about the grain and cattle industry in Ontario. 

Our biggest take away from this farm tour was knowledge from the farmers and the way we think about food now.

Our first stop was a visit to the Burnett Farms in Orangeville. We quickly learned that most farms in Ontario have been passed down through many generations and the Burnett family is no exception. Burnett Farms is a large scale grains and oilseeds farm, growing a large variety of crops (including both GMO and non-GMO soybeans, food grade barley, corn, winter wheat and canola). 

The pictures below don't do the machines any justice and they are even bigger than what they appear in the pictures! It was a great opportunity to see all the machines first hand and see how much technology has grown to adapt to changing consumer needs and increased population. 

Often when we think of GMO and non-GMO products, we tend to favour non-GMO for it's pureness and simplicity in farming. While those are definitely factors in the difference between non-GMO and GMO, we have to take into consideration the demand and supply of such produce. GMO does not necessarily mean that the produce itself is harmful. Science is a necessity in developing new techniques to be able to accommodate growing demands. The next time you see a GMO product, take it with a grain of salt. 

Here are some benefits of wheat
- People who eat 3+ servings of whole grains, such as wheat daily have 20-30% lower risk of heart disease
- Regular consumption of whole grains helps protect against caners of the digestive tract and pancreas
- 3 daily servings of whole grains including whole wheat is associated with lower body mass index in adults

After our visit to the Burnett farms, we made our way to the Mono Township Community Centre to enjoy a gourmet Taste of Ontario Lunch catered by Mark Mogensen of Black Birch Restaurant. 

Green Salad with Warm Herbed Woolwich Chevre, Cider Infused Barley and Apple Ranch Dressing

Sorrel & Spinach Soup with Cider Infused barley and Creme Fraiche 

Hockley Valley Beer Braised Ontario Corn Fed Beef Ribs with Mushrooms, Mashed Potatoes and Roast Asparagus 

Honey & Yogurt Semi Freddo with Rhubard Compote and Barley Cookie 

Sampling of Ontario Craft Cider Association Hard Ciders 

Our final stop was a visit to Schaus Land & Cattle Beef Feedlot in Alliston, Ontario

It was really interesting to learn about the traceability program for all cattle in Ontario.  It was eye opening to learn that cattle go through many farms from the time they are born to the final farm and traceability plays an extremely important role in being able to verify where the cattle are coming from.

The Schaus Land & Cattle Beef Feedlot is also home to the only steam corn flaking mill in Canada which is used to feed the animals. 

Farmer Ken Schaus and farm manager Paul Martin guiding us through the farm. 

This corn feed smelled exactly like corn on the cob as it was cooking!!!

There are supermarkets in Ontario that sell certified humane meat. As an animal lover, I would have jumped on that bandwagon had I not gained more knowledge from the Schaus Land & Cattle Beef Feedlot. No one is going to argue that certified humane meat is a bad thing but a lot of people also don't consider the fact that meat that is not branded as humane meat may not be in inhumane. You may be paying a premium for piece of mind but don't assume everything else is inhumane.

Here are some fun beef facts that we did not know about until we went on the farm tour!

- A serving of beef provides only 170 calories of a typical 2000 calorie daily diet!
- Chicken always seems to be the go to protein for those on diets but a 75g of cooked sirloin steak with the visible fat trimmed has 3.9g of fat while a same size piece of chicken has 3.4g

Video of our Farm & Food Care Ontario Tour:

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