Farm Babe: How important are food labels?


Do you or someone you know buy into a lot of food labels? Are they worried about food safety?

It’s time to stop fearing our food.

Every year, millions of hunters make their way into the great outdoors to hunt many different types of animals. From deer to birds, the thrill of the hunt can be exciting for anyone seeking the thrill, or feeding their families delicious food caught naturally in the wild.

So what do we suppose their diet is composed of?

Well, here in the Midwest, it is common for say that deer (for example) can easily be found in farmers fields … eating corn. It is said that around 90 percent of America’s cornfields contain what is called GMO, or genetically modified, corn. GMO can sound like something very scary. What’s a GMO? It doesn’t sound glamorous. It sounds like some scary weird mutation you shouldn’t put in your body, right?

But once you understand it, it isn’t very scary at all. I’m here to tell my story.

Years ago, I watched a “documentary” about the American food supply. While I’m not going to tell you the U.S. diet is necessarily “healthy” in comparison to other countries, I do feel there was a lot of unnecessary fear instilled in me … as I’m sure some of my readers can relate.

So, like many others, I believed the hype for a long time. I spent thousands of dollars on making sure everything was organic. I read labels like a madwoman; I feared everything.

Fast forward. A little over seven years ago, I started dating a corn farmer from Iowa. The first time I visited his farm, I DRILLED him with questions. After all, I feared GMO. I feared all the scary things I learned about … dare I say it … Monsanto.

He looked at me like I was from another planet.


“Monsanto has done WONDERFUL things for modern farming!” he said.

Then I look at him like he was from another planet.

Michelle Miller and her boyfriend

We’ve been living and farming together now for six years, and, boy, has my opinion of agriculture changed — for the better. I’ve learned a lot — and you should, too — by talking to farmers, the growers, the generations of hard-working farmers who devote their entire lives to feeding the world … 365 days a year. They are the experts. Their livelihood is animal well-being. Soil. Water. Land. It is their expertise, and for many, it may be all they know! They see the benefits of advanced technology to feed more people on less land, and are responsible for feeding an estimated 9 billion people by 2050. Without farmers, we’d be nothing. They are the background of our lives! Unfortunately, too many people are visiting Google and not enough people are visiting farms, which leads me to my main point:



So here’s the deal. Farmers make up barely 1 percent of the U.S. population. The other 99 percent … well … let’s just say their voices can be a little louder than ours. 😉

Frankly, I’m really fed up with the misconceptions of the industry, but what it all boils down to is money.

Every time we go to the grocery store, we are faced with labels … everywhere … to get you to buy a product. Hormones, rBST, antibiotics, pesticides, organic, natural, real cheese, no sugar added, no preservatives, artificial flavorings, free range, vegetarian fed eggs, cage free, grass fed, the list goes on.

I’m here to tell you it’s mostly a bunch of BS. Or … as us farmers like to call it … all-natural, organic fertilizer. 🙂

Did you know there’s no such thing as artificial growth hormones in chicken? And that organic still uses pesticides? And there’s no such thing as artificial growth hormones in pork production? rBST (the artificial hormone in dairy to improve milk production) is quite rare? That animals are not “pumped full” of antibiotics? “Natural” is strictly a marketing ploy used to get you to buy a product and has no formal definition, even in the eyes of the FDA? If an animal ever does get sick and needs antibiotics, federal law requires strict standards on withdrawal periods … therefore, all meat on store shelves is antibiotic free. This is why animals oftentimes get tagged, to track if anything is given to them.

So that’s why I’m sharing my story. I was duped. And so are millions of others, and it isn’t fair.

The next time you hear something really scary, do more digging or ask a farmer. It probably isn’t scary at all once you understand it, it’s just a marketing tactic to get you to buy a product.


Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is an Iowa-based farmer, public speaker, and writer, who lives and works with her boyfriend on their farm, which consists of row crops, beef cattle, and sheep. She believes education is key in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.

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