Food questions?

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When it comes to food and farming, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. So it’s only natural that you might have questions.

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How much weed killer do farmers use to spray their crops?

To protect 47.8 bushels (about 2,800 lbs) of soybeans, farmers apply only 22 Fl. oz. of glyphosate, a common choice among many available weed killers. That's about one large coffee's worth of weed killer that's used to cover an entire football field of crops. Sprayer tanks, used to distribute weed killer across fields, are mostly filled with water, which is mixed with a small amount of weed killer that helps to kill crop-damaging weeds.

Source: USDA, Penn State University Extension

Can I trust the people who grow my food to share my values?

Ninety-six percent of U.S. farms are family farms. Farmers live and raise families on their farmland. That land serves as their livelihood and their legacy. So they take great pride in providing affordable, healthy and safe food for their families and yours while caring for the land and their animals.

Source: USDA

Should I be worried about antibiotics in my meat?

The FDA does not allow meat to be sold with traces of antibiotics above strict safety limits. The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service performs scheduled, but random, testing of meat nationwide. Any antibiotics used to keep animals healthy are carefully selected and administered in accordance with industry training and principles. Antibiotics have required withdrawal times, a specific number of days that must pass between an animal’s last antibiotic treatment and the date the meat enters the food supply, to ensure the antibiotics have sufficiently exited an animal’s system.

Source: University of Minnesota, Iowa State University, FDA

Are non-organic foods safe and nutritious?

All foods – whether organic or non-organic – must meet federal and state regulations before being sold to consumers. Several U.S. government agencies, including the FDA and the EPA, monitor the food production chain from farm to fork. Studies have shown there is no difference in nutritional value between organic and conventional food.

Source: USDA, FAO

Are chickens raised for egg production kept in cages?

Most farmers use one of three housing systems for housing their laying hens: conventional cages, enriched cages and aviary housing, which is often referred to as cage-free. All three systems have advantages and disadvantages. Today, most eggs produced in the United States follow the United Egg Producers (UEP) Certified guidelines, which assures that hens receive appropriate space, nutritious food, clean water, proper lighting, and fresh air daily. Any egg farmer desiring to be recognized and market eggs as UEP-Certified must implement the UEP guidelines on 100 percent of his or her flocks. The USDA, FDA, FTC, Food Marketing Institute and National Council of Chain Restaurants all recognize and approve of the modern cage-certification program.

Source: United Egg Producers

Are local foods more sustainable?

Buying local helps to support area farmers, but does not guarantee that your purchase supports sustainability. Only 20 percent of U.S. farmland is located near metropolitan areas, which makes buying local difficult. Furthermore, as our population grows and competes for land, energy and water, U.S. farmers will need to be even more efficient and productive. Small, local farms and larger farms will need to continue to work together to practically and sustainably address all future food production needs.

Source: Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University; Washington State University

What are genetically modified organisms (GMOs)?

GMOs, or bioengineered plants, are plant hybrids created using more technologically advanced hybridization methods called biotechnology. Scientists test GMO seed and plants, and they are reviewed by the FDA, EPA and USDA before they are marketed. GMO crops are created to achieve a desired trait, such as resistance to a pest or tolerance to drought conditions. There are ten GMO crops commercially available in the U.S. today: Corn (field and sweet), Soybeans, Cotton, Canola, Alfalfa, Sugar Beets, Papaya, Squash, Apple, Potato.

Source: USDA

How do I know my food is safe?

Several U.S. government agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), monitor the food-production chain through regulations and inspections from the farm to your table. Most cases of food-borne illness can be prevented with proper processing, handling and cooking to destroy bacteria that cause food-borne illness.

Source: USDA

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