Farmers are Sustainable, are You?
When thinking of Earth Day, recycling and planting trees may come to mind, but how do our food and eating habits affect our communities? In Wisconsin, we a fortunate to have a diverse and productive agriculture community. Our farmers are constantly working hard to produce high-quality products and care for the land and resources they use. From feeding distiller’s grains and reusing water to planting cover crops and utilizing renewable energy, many farms are finding ways to manage their resources and reduce their carbon footprint.
Farmers often live on or near the land that they farm and work collaboratively with experts to develop environmental and animal care best practices. Some examples of innovation that have led to increased sustainability include enhanced productivity practices such as improved cattle genetics, more precise animal nutrition, increased resilience and efficiency, and improved resource use, among others. The U.S. beef industry works in tandem with the international research community to continuously improve and share sustainability advancements and technologies. Approximately 29 percent of the land in the U.S. is pasture and rangeland that is too rocky, steep, or dry to grow food crops, but it’s perfect for cattle.
People aren't the only animals who enjoy leftovers now and then, farmers often feed distillers grains or spent grains which are the leftovers from ethanol or beer production. Normally, these would go into a landfill once we have our beer in hand or gas in the tank. However, our cattle in Wisconsin have what I like to call a superpower. They can take these grains and turn them into protein for our families. In fact, 90 percent of what cattle eat is grass or leftovers that humans cannot eat. Farmers work with experts like nutritionists and veterinarians to create a diet plan for their animals and make sure their animals are healthy.
Farmers and their local communities also play a part in the water quality solution. Clean lakes, rivers, streams, and safe drinking water start with smart, sustainable farming practices. Farm families drink the same water everyone else does and work hard to ensure that water is safe and clean. They also use the water to tend to their land and animals. There are 41 farmer-led watershed groups in Wisconsin. Farmers work with government agencies, researchers, environmental groups, conservation professionals, soil scientists, and other agricultural experts to understand how they can best care for their land and resources.
Everyone from farmers raising food to customers who enjoy it has a responsibility to work together and care for the environment. Reducing your food waste can help you be a more sustainable food eater!
Three ways to reduce food waste:
1. Proper Storage
Understanding how to properly store food can helps reduce spoilage and extend shelf life. Different products require different storage methods.
Cheese Storage: https://wisconsincheese.com/the-cheese-life/article/36/how-to-store-cheese
2. Freezing Food
When I purchase beef, I often buy a much larger package than I need for one meal. One of my favorite things to do is to freeze portion-sized amounts of cooked ground beef. Not only does this reduce my leftovers, but also helps me to prepare for my next meal. I can quickly thaw the cooked beef and add it to chili, nachos, tacos, and so much more!
Learn more about freezing beef with this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxLYSSDq5VY
3. Repurposing Leftovers
Alright, be honest - how often do leftovers go bad in
your fridge? They do in mine too. One of my favorite ways to make sure those leftovers are eaten up is by repurposing them. It can be as easy as adding steak or cheese to your salad or into a soup, or you can get creative and disguise your leftovers as a new dish. One of my favorite ways to do this is with an egg bake. I often use any leftovers I have from beef, ham, cheese, vegetables, and more. Here's my recipe for my taco egg bake.