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Food's journey from farm explored in Sycamore

Published: Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013 5:21 p.m. CDT • Updated: Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013 10:08 p.m. CDT
(Monica Maschak - )
Jaxsen Gabriel, 4, of Sycamore scoops protein pellets for a cattle feed mixture at the Farm to Food event in Sycamore on Saturday. The event was designed to show non-farmers where food comes from.

SYCAMORE – DeKalb resident Rosie Seagrave and her family just moved into town, and they thought it was important to attend the DeKalb County Corn and Soybean Growers’ Farm to Food and You event on Saturday to learn about their surroundings. 

The event in Sycamore, which featured farming equipment, animals and food tents, was aimed at teaching families where food comes from, said Phil Montgomery, president of DeKalb County Corn and Soybean Growers. 

“We really think people have a lot of questions about where their food comes from,” Montgomery said. “They want to know how it’s raised.”

Seagrave said she was particularly interested in learning about how soybeans and corn are farmed.

“It’s a big part of the culture here and the environment,” she said.

Soybeans are the second largest crop grown in Illinois, said Illinois Soybean Association director Paul Rasmussen. For him, teaching people about his product was essential to a relationship with the consumer.

One of those consumers was Sycamore resident Joan Stern. A Chicago native, Stern was surprised to find out that corn is used in the ethanol that goes into her car.

Agrigold Seed Corn representative Jerry Kastler sells hybrid corn seeds that are used to produce field corn, which is used for ethanol and to feed livestock. 

Stern also overheard one soybean farmer say that the Three Musketeers candy bar contains soy.

“Oh, that’s kind of gross!” she said.

Malta resident Katie Arndt grew up on a farm, and she said she was surprised at how little others know about food's origins.

Arndt is an officer of the DeKalb chapter of Future Farmers of America, and she volunteered at elementary schools to teach second graders about agriculture.

“I asked them where their milk comes from, and they said, ‘The grocery store,’” she said.

A few sheep were sheared at Saturday’s event, where participants learned that each sheep produces six to 10 pounds of wool per year.

Jane Zeien, member of DeKalb County Lamb and Wool Producers, said that wool is a good fiber that has a undeserved reputation of being too hot to wear.

In reality, wool breathes very well and is even used for fire blankets since it is flame retardant, she said.

Montgomery said a lot of work goes into farming. Most weeks are well over the standard 40 hours, and even in the winter, marketing needs to be done.

“People don’t realize how all parts of agriculture tie together into where food comes from, how it’s raised and what it takes to do all that,” he said.

Farmers have a tendency to be forgotten or misunderstood, Arndt said.

“We’re helping families,” she said. “We’re feeding the world.”

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