Thursday, March 24, 2011

Our Duty.

This morning, I was reviewing my twitter feed, looking to see what pithy comments were out there today, when I came upon this gem:

follownathan: Nobody is gonna like this... but I am just waiting for #bigag to use the Japan tragedy as another PR spin to "feed the world"


So let me get this straight; I happen to believe that as a good christian, and quite honestly, as an American, I should help those in need. The United States is the Saudi Arabia of food; we have considerable surplus quantities of grains produced every year. So why SHOULDN’T we help Japan?

Because Nate and his “pro-food”, “whole food”, “real food” cronies don’t want us to.

They want to drag our 8th wonder on the world, modern American agriculture, back to the days of 40 acres and a mule. They don’t want us to have the export capacity to help a country in dire straits, because they believe food is far too cheap and plentiful in this country.

Right now, the Japanese people are suffering. They are hungry, and they truly need our help; and right now, I don’t think they would care if the food is BST, GMO, or Ei-Ei-O. They don’t care about the angry acronyms; they care about where they are going to find their next meal.

At the end of the day, if having the ability to help the Japanese with food due to our agricultural prowess-and the desire to do so-makes me “Big Ag”, then I’ve never been prouder to have been insulted.

Jeff VanderWerff is a 4th generation fruit and grain farmer from Sparta, Michigan. Learn more about him at

Thursday, March 17, 2011

3 Local Meals a day...

Lately, I’ve been asking people what makes their food local, and most people seem to believe that you need to grow it in your community garden, visit the farmer’s market, or stop at a farmer’s road side stand. While all of these are great ideas, and they defiantly support farmers and local agriculture, I think you’ll be amazed to learn how local most of our food really is.

Let’s start with one of the last places you’d expect to find local food: a fast food or quick service restaurant. However, you’d be surprised to learn how local that food is. At McDonald’s, for example, most of the apple dippers your kids enjoy instead of fries are fresh, locally grown Michigan apples, all of which come from a farm just like mine. Same goes for the apples in that new oatmeal they are selling. Rather have an Egg McMuffin? Rest assured, those eggs are raised on family-owned, family-run farms all over Michigan.

Planning to stop by Panera Bread for lunch? No problem. Order a delicious turkey sandwich and enjoy Michigan Turkey Producers signature product. All that healthy, safe, turkey is produced on West Michigan farms, owned by West Michigan families. While you’re enjoying that sandwich, make sure you throw on a big handful of Lay’s potato chips; proudly produced with Michigan potatoes.

Busy evening planned? No worries here, a fresh pizza is just the ticket. Allendale, Michigan is home to one of the largest mozzarella cheese plants in the US, all made with local Michigan milk. Don’t forget to add some sauce made with Michigan tomatoes, such as those grown by lots of farmers in southern Michigan for Red Gold Tomatoes!

A huge majority of the products we enjoy everyday here in Michigan are grown and processed right here; they are produced on family farms, processed by grower-owned co-ops, and sold to families just like yours and mind. So the next time you’re out and thinking about buying local, just remember to buy Michigan; it’s more local than you think!!

Jeff VanderWerff is a 4th generation fruit and grain farmer from Sparta, Michigan. Learn more about him and his family at