Laughing so hard around the kitchen table, I remember it like it was yesterday. Why we were laughing? Not sure. But it happened frequently when we would have meals with my grandparents. As an only child, my mom’s side of the family was small, yet they were close enough – just 2 miles away from where we lived – that the weekly family dinner was common. My grandpa had the best stories…he would share stories about his farm and animals, growing up in rural Iowa and sometimes not so funny stories of being in the military.
The kitchen table wasn’t anything fancy, it was just a place to gather. For a good meal and good stories.
The same thing happened a couple of weeks ago at The Kitchen Window in Minneapolis – a super cool place to take cooking classes that involve preparing your own meal with other people – highly recommend! A good meal was shared and good stories were told…on food and farming and life with the women of Common Ground and about 50 other Minnesotans (home grown and transplants :)).
Food is our common ground. We all eat. Which is why it’s great to have conversations with those that are involved in growing it.
That’s the mission of Find Our Common Ground. To open up the dialogue on food and farming between those that grow it and those that eat it. To connect women that grow the food to women who prepare and cook food to feed a family.
While I am in this picture because I volunteer with this amazing group of women, I am a bit unique as I do not own or operate a farm. All of them do. As a former farm girl and registered dietitian, I got involved because I have a special place in my heart for farm families. I grew up as part of a farm family and I wanted to be able to help other farm families.
I admit though, I attended this event and learned so much from these women. Because while I grew up on a crop and hog farm in the 1980’s and 1990’s, things have changed a lot in the last 20 years since I was involved. Just like for me in the world of nutrition, staying up-to-date on the best practices is the key to knowing more and doing better.
I’m sharing a bit of what I learned that evening. Because I learned a lot!
Did you know that the second largest industry in Minnesota is agriculture? And top producing crops are corn, soybeans, hogs and dairy?
Did you know 97% of the farms in the United States (2.1 million of the them) are owned and operated by families? There’s a family behind nearly every food you and your family eat!
Did you know nearly all beef cattle, both organically and conventionally raised, are raised on grass? So essentially all beef we buy in the grocery store is “grass fed”…yet when we see the term grass-fed, we tend to think it is better. Seeing the words grass-fed on a package of beef just denotes they spent an extra 4-6 months on grass. Is there a difference nutritionally? Not much. All beef is nutrient-rich.
Did you know there are no added hormones in poultry or pork? So if you see a package of chicken that says “hormone-free” – it really means nothing…all chicken, turkey and pork products by law must be hormone free whether it’s stated on the label or not. No need to feel pressure to buy the packages that say hormone-free, as they all are!
Here are a few other snapshots about Minnesota agriculture…did you know Minnesota grows sunflowers and pinto beans?
Sunflowers grown in Minnesota? Yep!
And some mouthwatering food we shared.
My absolute favorite? Cocas-Catalan Flat Bread (a fancy name for a grilled pizza bar) and the Grilled Bruschetta Bar. Both of which I will make again.
Earlier in the post you see I’m holding the flatbread I made just after it came out of the Big Green Egg. (Disregard the black pepper in my teeth! Where was a mirror when we needed one!)
I hope you use your kitchen table for conversation. Whether it contains laughter or serious talks, it’s all important and we can all learn from it.
I also hope you use your kitchen table for food. Food that your family enjoys eating.
Visit Find Our Common Ground to meet the women growing our food! www.findourcommonground.com
And look for an upcoming Mom 2 Mom feature on the blog – about moms, for moms!