Eat Smart to Eat Safe


Louise Calderwood, Northeast Agribusiness Feed and Alliance

Food production practices in the US are under increasing scrutiny from the public for myriad reasons ranging from climate change to obesity. The impact of federal agricultural policy and dietary implications are often rolled together in a confusing mish mash of jargon, opinion, and competing scientific facts. At the center of this noise stands the American farmer, using the best combination of practices for their soils and climate to grow wholesome food at a profit that supports their family.

Marjorie Urie of Shadagee Farm in Greensboro, Vermont, a 180 cow dairy selling a combination of commodity milk and farmstead cheese, often finds herself in the bull’s eye on food production issues.  Marjorie, married to Brett Urie, is the mother of three children ranging in age from 14 to 21. Marjorie stated, “We grow safe food and we are proud of what we do.”

The Urie’s utilize many conventional tools such as pesticides and GMO’s to manage their dairy herd and grow the animals’ feed.  “I get tired of being attacked for using safe practices,” Marjorie said. “We have the most regulated food supply in the world. The animals and vegetables we grow in this country are safe.”

Marjorie is committed to healthy diets and the impact of food choices on wellness. She is particularly concerned about the obesity she sees in the local school system in Hardwick, Vermont. “We have worked hard in the schools to educate children about healthy food choices,” she said. The Uries are part of a group of farms that have worked with classes of children to grow potatoes, squash, onions and carrots. “The children came to the farm three times a year to help with planting, hilling and harvesting the potatoes; it really made them appreciate the work that goes into growing quality food.”

Marjorie said “We grow the healthy food; it is the consumers job to make smart food choices, that isn’t up to the government to decide for them.”  She lamented the cost and health impacts of eating processed food, rather than easily available healthy choices. “The problem isn’t the difference between organic food and the food I grow with modern practices,” Marjorie said. “The problem is the choice to eat chicken nuggets instead of a simple chicken leg.”