Farm to Table: Put Your Best Pitchfork Forward

This time it’s the pitchfork!

Wheat Foods Safari

Visiting a wheat field in Kansas, where I learned about technology for growing and harvesting wheat and caring for the land.

I originally wrote this post to celebrate the 2017 theme for National Nutrition Month®, Put Your Best Fork Forward.  I’ve just updated it. I’m talking about how to put our best forks forward. We’ve covered the eating fork and how to make healthy taste delicious with the cooking fork. Today, I’ll share thoughts about putting our best pitchfork forward because learning about how food goes from farm to table is just glorious.

The Pitchfork

I’ve been fortunate to meet some farmers and visit a few farms in the last several years. A lot of this was sponsored travel, by the way. And wow, have these guys and gals earned my respect! Fortunately, I was invited to participate because, prior to my trips, I had very little idea of what it took to get my safe and delicious food from farm to table. I’ve seen machines shake the living daylights out of walnut trees to release the nuts I love to eat in my morning muesli and feature in this delicious sweet potato recipe. Gotta love walnuts for their nutritious deliciousness!

Walnut tree with shaker

Thanks to California Walnuts Commission for treating me to this fabulous farm to table tour.

I’ve learned that pig farmers work with swine nutritionists to feed their pigs 10 different and precise diets over 22 weeks. On a partially sponsored trip, I met Pig Farmer of Year Brad Greenway, who shared how farmers care for their animals and work to prevent disease and discomfort.

Just recently, I visited a pig farm in North Carolina. Something strange happened that day. I washed my hair 3 times in a single day! I’m sure I’ve never done that before. Much of the pig farming these days is indoors to protect the animals from disease and weather extremes. So every visitor and every worker has to shower on site before entering the farming area and shower a second time before leaving. They call this a biosecurity measure, which sounds a little scary. But what it really means is “keep your germs to yourself.”

Here’s how it worked. Our group, sponsored by the National Pork Board and North Carolina Pork, arrived right after breakfast. I entered the “dirty side” of the shower room, where I stripped down and left my clothes. Then I moved into the shower for a thorough washing and shampooing. With confidence that there would really be clothes for me on the other side (yeah, there was a bag with my name on it!), I moved into the “clean side” of the shower room to dress into clean clothes. We reversed the process on the way out to avoid taking any germs with us. That third shampooing came later in the day when I dressed to go out to dinner.

baby pig

I’m wearing the clean clothes (right down to my socks) that the farmers laid out for me on the clean side of the shower room. This baby is pretty young.  photo credit: North Carolina Pork

In Canada, I learned that canola growers use GPS to be certain that each inch of land receives exactly the amount of fertilizer necessary and not a drop more or less. I loved my trip to Saskatoon for Canola Camp.

Aren’t these canola flowers beautiful?

Put your best (pitch)fork forward for the love of farm to table.Click To Tweet

On a Uncle Ben’s Rice is Nice Tour (and isn’t rice so nice?), I learned that farmers use a sustainable process called alternate wetting and drying to flood their fields. Each person involved plays an important role in getting food from farm to table.

farm to table

Rice field in Mississippi

So much science, technology, respect for the earth and hard work goes into bringing us safe and delicious food in a sustainable way!

Take any opportunity you can to visit a farm and talk to a farmer. And use your own pitchfork to grow tomatoes, herbs, blueberries, anything you love and appreciate. By the way, I have a young fig tree in my yard and nurture it and love it. I can’t wait to grill some figs with goat cheese and balsamic vinegar!

What are you growing?

National Nutrition Month 2017

If you’d like to read or hear more about nutrition and agriculture, check out what some of my colleagues have to say.

Melissa Dobbins, the Guilt-Free RD®: The Surprising Truth about Sustainable Agriculture

Jen Haugen: Boosting the Agriculture Experience

Denise at Vine Ripe Nutrition: 3 Seasonal Fruit and Kale Recipes

Cara Harbstreet: Talking Biotech

Jill-Weisenberger_about-image-2
Jill Weisenberger

I'm Jill, and I believe simple changes in your mindset and health habits can bring life-changing rewards. And I don't believe in willpower. It's waaaay overrated. As a food-loving registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes care and education specialist and certified health and wellness coach, I've helped thousands of people solve their food and nutrition problems. If you're looking for a better way to master this whole healthy eating/healthy living thing or if you're trying to prevent or manage diabetes or heart problems, you'll find plenty of resources right here.

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Welcome to my Blog

Hi there! I'm Jill, a nutrition & diabetes expert and the author of 4 books.

Jill Weisenberger

I believe simple changes in health habits can bring you life-changing rewards.

And I believe willpower is way overrated.

Right here is where you can discover the mindset and habits to stick with healthy lifestyle choices most of the time - and drop the guilt when you don't.

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