Do farmers that grow thousands of acres of corn and soybeans really eat the food they produce? Or do they produce it and not eat it all? That’s what we are about to find out from Rebekah Gustafson. I met Bekah at a CommonGround conference this past summer and admired her strength and knowledge as well as her hard work ethic. With three kids and a farm to manage, this mom has to be organized to get through her day!
Let’s get to know Bekah.
My farmer, Neil, and I have been married for 11 years and we have three young daughters: Olivia, age 7, Allyson age 5, and Caroline age 3. We live in the small town of Osceola, Wisconsin, just on the Minnesota border. My husband and I both grew up here, and both of our families had dairy cows during our childhood. We now farm row crops with my husband’s family. My husband also works off the farm as the Service Manager for the local John Deere dealership, while I stay home with the girls. My in-laws still live on the home farm, and we live 2 miles down the road on our own little hobby farm where we have horses, a rabbit, 2 dogs and a cat. We hope to grow our own farm in the near future to include a cow/calf beef operation, and maybe a few other critters to keep the girls busy.
How do you start your mornings?
We start with eating breakfast! We’ve got to nourish ourselves first before we run to check on all the animals. My favorite breakfast is an English muffin with peanut butter and some fruit, but I do switch it up with either oatmeal with apples and cinnamon or a bagel and cream cheese.
What are your ingredients to a nourishing life?
The most abundant ingredients are faith and family. We thrive on family time, and depending on the season, sometimes dinner is the only time we get, so that definitely is a priority. Our love of agriculture, tractors, and horses are what bring us all together. The girls love to ride along with Daddy or Grandpa in the field, and my husband and I have some of our greatest conversations in the fields.
What’s your biggest struggle with feeding your family?
My biggest struggle is the typical “what’s for dinner” problem. Because our days vary so much and sometimes I don’t know where we will be eating, it is hard to find things to eat that fit into our lifestyle. I may have a meal planned and ready to eat, and then the weather changes, so our schedule changes. It may be rainy, so I plan for the whole family to be at the dinner table, and then suddenly the weather clears out and my husband has to be at the farm. Other times we bring dinner to the farm and he is called away. So I struggle most with the timing and location of the meal! When things are busy, I rely on pasta or hot dishes most often. I can pack the meal into a basket with some plates and forks and I can prepare them ahead of time too. We also eat a lot of sandwiches, with fresh fruits and veggies, and some cheese. Finger food is great for eating on the go, and is easy cleanup in the field.
What’s your role on the farm?
Well, I’m a mom to my girls and I also bring meals to the fields, transport supplies to the field and sometimes I am run for machine parts when something breaks down. And I’ve been known to drive the tractor too.
What’s your family’s favorite recipe?
Rigatoni with Sausage, Peas and Mushrooms has to be the favorite. It’s an easy meal that everyone loves.
- 1 pound Italian sausage
- 12 ounces rigatoni pasta, uncooked
- 12 large white button mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen peas
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pepper to taste
- In a large skillet over medium heat, brown sausage and then remove the sausage from the pan, reserving the fat from sausage.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook rigatoni until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of pasta water.
- In the same skillet with reserved fat, cook mushrooms until golden brown. Add wine stirring to scrape up any brown bits from bottom of skillet. Add garlic and sprig of thyme and reserved sausage to pan and stir.
- Add reserved pasta water, and peas, simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in heavy cream and simmer until mixture thickens, 6-8 minutes. Remove thyme sprig, stir in butter and salt and pepper.
- Add cooked rigatoni and stir to coat with cream, heat through, serve and enjoy!
I’m a mom, and like many moms, I care about the safety of my kids. And I totally understand when other moms have questions about the foods in the grocery store. It’s so hard to know what the different labels on our foods really stand for. But being a part of a farming operation, I know we do our best to ensure the safety of the food we produce. What we grow is known as ‘field’ corn or ‘dent’ corn, which mostly goes into animal feed for the turkeys at the nearby Jennie-O Turkey farm. However, there is a time when our field corn tastes very similar to sweet corn. If we catch it at the right time, it is not uncommon to see it served up on our table. In fact, we have a neighbor that prefers our field corn to sweet corn and loves coming to pick our corn to eat.
There’s something special about sharing the feast from our fields. I recommend this very short video, it’s very similar to my story.
Thank you Bekah for sharing your ingredients to a nourishing life with us. Do you have any other questions for Bekah – a mom who helps produce the food we eat? Please leave your question in the comments.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by CommonGround Minnesota. All thoughts and writing are my own.