Popular food blogger, Kristin Porter of West Des Moines, recently visited Justin Rowe’s farm in Dallas Center to learn more about his pasture, cattle and everyday life on the farm.
The "Join My Journey" activity started in May and is part of a partnership between the Iowa Girl Eats blogger and the Iowa Soybean Association’s Iowa Food & Family Project.
Heather Lilienthal, Communications Manager with the Iowa Soybean Association, said the reason behind the partnership was to inform the public about farming practices and to take the message to consumers.
"We know people have questions about food, so we always keep our eyes out for bloggers or people readers can connect to," she said. "Kristin’s blog is phenomenal and reaches about 2 million readers so we invited her and her followers to join us on this journey. We don’t tell her what to write or change anything she writes because we are confident in what we show her here on the farms."
Throughout Porter’s journey she has planted row-crops in a Jefferson field, visited an egg farm at Rose Acre Farms in Stuart, spent time at the local farmer’s market to talk to Greg and Polly Rinehart from Rinehart Farms in Boone and learned the science behind hybridizing seeds at DuPont Pioneer. She will continue to travel around Iowa this summer visiting other livestock farms as well as harvesting crops in September.
The experience, Porter said, has been eye-opening.
"I have lived in Des Moines all my life and driven by farm fields, but I had no idea what really went on," she said. "It sounded really interesting to me to learn about agriculture and farming."
Her interest has also expanded to her readers.
"I’ve received some really positive feedback from readers and from farmers," she said. "I think a lot of consumers think that farmers are unreachable or untouchable, but we are showing that we can have that connection."
She also emphasized she would like her readers to know that farmers produce safe and wholesome products.
"Farmers do care about producing safe, wholesome products and conserving the environment more than anybody," she said.
Farmer Justin Rowe agreed and said animal care is his top priority on his 5th generation farm.
"We are out during thunderstorms and snowstorms, basically when everyone else is hiding in their house, taking care of things," he said. "We think it’s important for beef producers to tell their story and show that we produce a safe, nutritious product. We eat it ourselves and feed our beef to our son."
His cows and calves are pasture fed with a corn, silage based product which is antibiotic free. However, if a calf becomes sick, they do treat the animal with antibiotics.
"If it’s a group, we put it in the food, but if it’s one or two then it’s per calf," Justin’s wife, Corinne Rowe, said. "Our vet keeps a record and we keep a record of who was treated and know when the antibiotics wear off. If we don’t take care of them when they are sick then we have no business having them."
Monitoring cattle is the Rowe’s top priority and what allows them to produce a safe product.
"We just wanted to get our story out and let other people know that beef is a safe and nutritious product," Corinne said.
It also allows readers to think beyond the grocery store shelves.
"Growing up, I didn’t think about what I ate at the grocery store or where it came from," Lilienthal said. "We want people to start asking questions and draw out more connections that maybe we didn’t realize we had with one another. It’s a pretty amazing puzzle."
For more information on the Iowa Food & Family Project or to learn about healthy food options, visit iowafoodandfamily.com.