Farm families buy groceries, too

By Monica Minzenmayer

Like many of you, I wear a lot of hats. Of my many roles, I’m most proud of being a wife, a mom and a farmer. My husband and I raise our two kids on our farm in Rowena, located about 30 miles outside of San Angelo in West Texas.

My days are probably a lot like yours—jam-packed with responsibilities around our farm, shuttling kids to school events, volunteering for activities in our community. And, of course, there are the weekly chores around the house, laundry and grocery shopping… Yes, farmers buy groceries, too.

As both a farmer and a consumer, I pay attention when the media says that food prices are climbing too high. We all feel the pinch when our grocery bills increase. But the truth is, as Americans, we are very fortunate when it comes to the cost of food.

It takes just five weeks for the average American to earn enough to pay for their family’s food for the entire year. Other budget items like housing, transportation and fuel tend to take up much more of our monthly expenses.

In America, we spend just under 10 percent of our annual income on food. As a point of comparison, that’s much lower than our counterparts in France (13 percent), South Africa (19 percent), the Philippines (36 percent) and Jordan (40 percent).

But Americans don’t just want affordable food. We also want to feed our family with foods that are safe and healthy. The good news is, we can do both.

Thanks to ongoing research and innovation, the modern American farmer is growing enough food to feed our country—as well as others around the world—and keep prices reasonable. We have found ways to grow more using fewer resources while maintaining the highest standard of safety. We feed our families the same fruits, vegetables, grains and meats as you do, and food safety is our top priority.

Here are some of the ways that we make sure the food we grow is safe and healthy for both our families and yours:

  • We use only enough herbicides and pesticides needed to protect the crops and allow them to grow effectively and safely. Using too much can be bad for both the crops and for our businesses.
  • We, like many farmers, are using “integrated pest management” to naturally control pests and reduce the amount of pesticides used in our fields.
  • Genetic modification of crops—much like cross-breeding—allows us to improve seed and raise more food on the same amount or less land. Biotechnology is carefully monitored by federal and state agencies and has been proven to produce crops that are safe and healthy.
  • In our beef cattle herd, we use antibiotics and medication only when necessary to humanely treat sick cattle or prevent diseases. We treat and medicate our animals in the same way we do our own family to keep them healthy.
  • Food safety is important beyond the farm, too. In the kitchen, it is important to properly wash, cook and store food once we get it home from the market.

As a mom and as a farmer, I’m proud of the way we and our fellow farmers and ranchers raise our crops and livestock to provide food that is both affordable and safe.

Some of you may have questions about how we grow our crops or how to make smart purchases at the grocery store. Leave a comment, and let’s start a discussion.

The above post is from Monica Minzenmayer, a Texas farm wife and mom from Runnels County. Monica is one of five guest bloggers who is talking about food and farming during Texas Food Connection Week, sponsored by Texas Farm Bureau Feb. 17-23.

4 Responses to “Farm families buy groceries, too”

  1. Thanks for the article, Monica. You mentioned the use of pesticides, herbicides, genetic modification and antibiotics. When you boil it down isn’t the ultimate goal of these to increase production? You could also say to drive down food prices, but as you pointed out, prices are already low by comparison.

    Some research shows there are major health problems associated with these production enhancements. Since we’re talking about health and price isn’t an issue, shouldn’t we do away with these enhancements because there’s so much at stake and little to gain? Some will point out that there’s no definitive proof these enhancements are bad and some research even shows they’re fine. Well, some research shows they are bad; very bad. I say best to use common sense. If I shouldn’t drink a glass of pesticide, herbicide, or bovine antibiotics, then I shouldn’t have my food touch it either. As a consumer, what good is GMO to me (if price isn’t an issue) when some research shows it too has major health risks?

    Little to gain. Much to loose. Prudence is best. What do you think?

    • Clay, I believe research and science have proven that these chemicals and the methods in which we use them are perfectly safe. For example, I would not recommend anyone drink a glass of herbicide, but when spraying we mix a cup of chemical with 160 cups of water and spray it over 43,560 square feet. The chemical is also made to do its job and then quickly deteriorate in the sun and dissolve in water. By time the crop is harvested, the chemicals are gone. In many crops, such as our wheat, the chemicals never even actually touch the grain of wheat that is made into food!
      As for antibiotics, they have no effect on increasing production. When I or my child gets sick, we go to the doctor and get an antibiotic. Same with our cows. I feel that it would be inhumane to let a cow get sick and die when we could simply give it medicine like we take. Their body processes the medicine out of the system the same way ours does, and it is gone by time the healthy cow is sent to the packer.
      Hope these numbers and insight into our farming methods help you understand how safe our food supply is. It’s truly a blessing to live in a country with such safe, affordable, and abundant food!

      • Monica, good points. However, do you realize you’re asking me to bet my health? You make good points showing I won’t receive ill health effects, but others make good points showing I will.

        So my question is… what’s to gain that warrants the risk if not a cheaper price? Even if the two sides can’t agree on whether there is risk, that in and of itself is risk.

        Shouldn’t I always reach for the ketchup made with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup? Why ever reach for the other if price is negligible? Thank you.

        • We’ve been here before, Clay. I know you will never believe you are not betting your health, but the science says you are not. You have to know that without these tools you dismiss so quickly prices would be substantially higher. I know people for which that matters. I don’t know where your read “negligible” but – no way.If corn sugar bothers you, then you have the choice to do exactly what you’ve been doing. The single mother of three can shop on price. Both of you will be healthy if you don’t overeat and exercise like you should.

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