Miller presents food security program to local Rotarians

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Michelle Miller, "The Farm Babe," is on a mission to use her voice as a farmer, writer, public speaker and columnist to separate the myths from the facts when it comes to food security. Miller presented her program to Guttenberg Rotarians on Oct. 31 at the Guttenberg Public Library. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

Providing families with nutritious food is at the heart of every household. Misleading scare tactics and fear-producing headlines have created concern for the consumer. Taking time to read labels, and sift through the barrage of up-to-date scientific information can be a daunting experience. 

Michelle Miller, "The Farm Babe," is on a mission to use her voice as a farmer, writer, public speaker and columnist to separate the myths from the facts when it comes to food security. Her presence on social media and regular writing for AGDAILY.com allows her to share her perspective. 

Miller presented her program to Guttenberg Rotarians on Oct. 31 at the Guttenberg Public Library. 

Miller began, "I was living on a white sand beach in Florida when I met my 'prince farming.'"

Miller's boyfriend Doug and his family are sixth generation farmers in rural Monona. "Moving to rural Iowa has been an eye- opening experience. When Doug's family started teaching me about GMOs and the cattle industry, and I started touring these big farms, I realized how much peoples' perceptions are completely off," she said. 

Experiencing farm life for herself prompted Michelle to speak up. “I know what it feels like to be on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, because I was that girl. I was fooled. I used to waste thousands of dollars thinking that I had to buy hormone-free chicken, when there's no such thing as added hormones in chicken. Federal law prohibits it." 

She added, "Livestock antibiotic use in the poultry meat sector has decreased by 82 percent between 2012 and 2017. Now my goal is to help people not fear their food."

Area residents may recognize Miller from her presence at Guttenberg's Farmers Market. Her vendors stand, "Buckinglamb Palace," sell high quality beef and lamb products. "My boyfriend's family has been raising cattle for over 50 years," she shared.

What is food security?

Food security makes healthy societies and creates a more intelligent, empowered human race. 

Hunger kills more people each years than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Approximately 21,000 people die of hunger or related causes each day, and 815 million people across the globe do not get enough to eat. Children born in poverty are at a huge disadvantage. 

The Five A's

Food must be available, affordable, accessible, absorbed, and accepted. Miller stressed, "We all want what is best for our families but fear-driven labeling can be very confusing."

Miller pointed out, "First world politicians who are trying to help don't see the big picture. Asking a single mother trying to raise a family of four whether she prefers organic or non-GMO food is absurd." She used a comedic drawing to demonstrate her point. 

"What can we do in the grand scheme of things? We need to turn to scientific research for the answers. My goal is to bridge the gap between government agencies, farmers and consumers," she explained. 

Miller pointed out, "Statistics show that the average person wastes a pound of food a day." She encouraged audience members, "Think about all the work that goes into food production. Once you consider the hundreds of people harvesting the fruits and vegetables you enjoy, you become less likely to throw them out." 

Miller commented, "The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn't still be a farmer. You have to be resilient." 

Today's farmer produces 262% more food with 2% fewer imports compared to 1950. "We need to let go of the romantic notion that only the small family farm can feed the world," she urged. 

"Global crop yield has nearly tripled in recent years. We are producing more crops with less water due in part to no till farming, cover crops, soil testing, precision agriculture and crop rotation creating better nutrients and resilience," she said. 

"I see so much improvement, but how do we portray that and educate the average consumer?" she asked.

The future of food includes satellite imagery, drones, robotic weeders, breakthroughs in genetics, sensors and data points. Miller inquired, "Have you seen the inside of a combine lately? The amount of technology that is available at the farmer's fingertips is amazing."

"Technology is used to preserving food so we are not throwing so much away. With high-tech techniques, yields are greater and more beneficial for the environment." 

She continued, "Larger dairy farm innovation is very intriguing. They have technology to make dairy farming more efficient which creates happy, healthier cows."

She stressed, "Not eating meat is not the answer to greenhouse gas emissions. According to the EPA, total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by the economic sector showed only 9 percent came from agriculture, with only 2 percent of that coming from cattle. Cattle also provide us with thousands of byproducts we use everyday... it's way more than just meat and leather!" 

Miller concluded, "Without crop protectants, on average up to 40 percent of the world's crop production would be lost. As farmers it is our job to protect our products from insects and disease. Healthy plants make healthy people and healthy societies." 

She closed her program with the following quote by Ramez Naam, author of The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet.

Ideas are the only natural resources that we always have more of over time, not less. 

You can find Michelle Miller's online presence on Facebook.com/iowafarmbabe;Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Youtube and LinkedIn @thefarmbabe; www.thefarmbabe.com and Michelle@the farmbabe.com or call 563-880-0707.

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