Illinois Farm Families: Helping You Make Decisions About Your Food

Illinois Farm Families: Helping You Make Decisions About Your Food

The Illinois Farm Families organization can help you make decisions about your food, where it comes from and how it’s grown.

Face it: We, as parents, are often judged by what we feed our children.  I can’t count how many times I inadvertently have been pulled into a conversation with another parent about the benefits of buying organic this or non-GMO that.  Tired of trying to determine fact from fiction and wondering if our food really came from a farm or a large factory, I found a group that is dedicated to providing education about farming in Illinois to urban parents like me: the  Illinois Farm Families.

 

Visiting the Larson Farms

Visiting the Larson Farms

Illinois Farm Families hosts moms from the Chicago area (and surrounding suburbs) on tours of family-run farms.  The programs lasts for a year and I was able to tour at least 4 different types of farms including those that concentrated on hogs, cattle, corn and soy as well as a dairy farm.  At the end of the tour of the farms, we also explored a grocery store to learn how food is transported from the farm to the processor and finally to the store.  I spent much of the year redefining my erroneous views of how our food is grown, processed and sold.  Most importantly, I gained a better understanding of what it means to have GMO and non-GMO grown food.  When my friends asked me what I got out of the program I  always said the same thing: “I learned so much that I think you should apply to be a Field Mom too.”  In other words, don’t take my word for it, go out and meet the people who are growing and caring for your food!

Grain Feed

Grain Feed

The mission of the group isn’t to sell the Field Moms on why we should buy one type of product over another;  it is to get the word out about Illinois Farms and get rid of the mystery (and stereotypes) of what it means to be a farmer and live on a farm. The Field Moms met with farmers and other agricultural representatives from both the pro-organic and pro-GMO sides of the farming industry.  Both sides were passionate about their beliefs and were willing to answer some of our (okay my) outrageous questions.  We learned that not all farmers are alike. For a growing portion of the Illinois family owned farms,  women are considered the “head” farmer  or at the very least equal partners with their male relatives.  Running a successful farm is less about manually planting the seeds and more about using the latest and greatest technology to ensure a successful harvest.  For instance, all of the farms that we visited used GPS guided planters to maximize their acreage and plant the best seed for a particular type of soil.

 

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That’s me, climbing in the a state-of-the-art tracker. I was truly wondering how I was going to get out of it!

 


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Finally, we had the opportunity to volunteer at a food bank. I have to be honest, although I was looking forward to spending time with many of the women with whom I made lasting friendships, I was not too excited to spend a precious Saturday throwing meat and stuffing boxes of dried goods.  Once again, I was wrong!  This was a wonderful experience.  It made me appreciate how much food is actually wasted in this country and what I could do to help others gain access to healthy, non-processed meals.  In fact, when I became a Federally Licensed Health Navigator later that year, I often referred my Medicaid eligible clients to the Northern Illinois Food Bank.  I cannot wait to have another chance to volunteer at this very needed and dynamic facility.

My experience with Illinois Farm Families didn’t end with the volunteer work at the Northern Illinois Food Bank.  I was invited to speak at the Illinois Soybean Growers Conference about my experience as a Field Mom.  My experiences truly influenced my perceptions about the modern farming industry and where our food comes from.  More importantly, I had the chance to meet women, who are very much like me: Mothers, Business Women, Wives, Pet Owners and Dynamic.  What was once a seemingly insurmountable difference between these women and me; that they lived on a farm and I, in a city, seemed irrelevant by the end of my year.

The 2013 Field Moms

The 2013 Field Moms

If you would like to learn more, or even apply to be a part of this years city moms touring farms, then I suggest you check out the application HERE.  Deadline to apply is November 15, 2014.  Trust me, you will be glad that you applied.

 

SELF Magazine’s Workout in the Park is Blowing Into The Windy City

SELF Magazine’s Workout in the Park is Blowing Into The Windy City

 

Raise your hand if you'll be there with me!

Raise your hand if you’ll be there with me!

Hey Windy City! SELF Magazine Workout in the Park is Back!

Forget training for a half marathon. Unless it’s a zombie and is chasing me, this girl isn’t into running for the sake of running. Nope!  But I have always wanted to participate in the SELF Magazine Workout in the Park! This year, I got my act together and am super excited to participate in what I consider one of the first true signs of spring!

Bob Harper, trainer from The Biggest Loser, is set to host the (get this!–Has it really been this long?) 21st Annual SELF Workout in the Park this weekend, May 17th from 11:00 am – 3:00pm (rain or shine!)

Workout in the Park with Bob Harper

Workout in the Park with Bob Harper

What: SELF Magazine’s iconic active lifestyle event, Workout in the Park returns to Chicago’s Grant Park. Get psyched to participate in a fun-filled day of invigorating exercise, beauty consultations, healthy treats, and fabulous freebies – all designed to inspire women to re-energize their lives and feel their very best.

What I am dying to try out: High-energy CRUNCH Fitness classes on the Main Stage, to Barre Assets, Yoga and Pilates in the Quiet Zone, to CrossFit in the Reebok Fit Zone.  After last year’s fiasco at the gym where I tried TRX for the first time and fell on my ass—I figure I’m up for anything!

Where the FUN is HAPPENING: Grant Park, Butler Field, Enter at the corner of East Monroe Street and South Columbus Drive, Chicago

WHY:  As if I need to say it:  Because it’s fun, it’s exercise and a great way to spend a Saturday in the Windy City! (Also, it’s a great place for awesome people watching!)

ANYTHING ELSE? Attendees will enjoy exclusive giveaways from SELF Magazine and event partners including CRUNCH, Garnier and Reebok as well as Athleta, Aquaçai, Bai, Ban®, Health Warrior®, Emmy’s Organics, Fitbit®, GoGo squeeZ, KIND Healthy Snacks, popchips®, Truvia® and Victoria’s Secret Sport.

So…what are you waiting for?  Tickets are only $30 for a day’s worth of health and fun.  (And hey!  A one-year SELF Magazine subscription is included with the purchase of every Workout in the Park ticket.

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Now!  Get your ticket and join the fun!  And make sure that you tweet me at @windycitymomma with #WorkoutInThePark so I know that you’re showing SELF magazine that Chicago truly is the hippest, happiest and most fit city in the USA!