(Family Features) When you try to picture what a farmer looks like, you probably don't picture a woman. But women operate more than 30 percent of the more than 3 million farms in America-making them a large part of raising your food.
Kristin Reese and Carrie Divine are two women whose farming roots run deep. Kristin grew up on a farm in Ohio and now has a farm of her own with her husband and kids. Carrie is an eighth-generation farmer on her family's land in Kentucky. Kristin and Carrie say the hardest part of being a farmer is not the hard work, it's that today's farming is often misunderstood. Some consumers often think their food comes from large, impersonal corporations. The fact is, 98 percent of farms and ranches in the United States are family owned and operated. That's why Kristin and Carrie joined CommonGround, a movement that fosters conversations among farm women and women in cities and suburbs around the country who want to know more about their food.
Through local events and the website www.FindOurCommonGround.com, women farmers share facts about today's agriculture and dispel misconceptions about modern farming.
"I can empathize with mothers who might be confused about making healthy food choices amid all of the information surrounding their food," said Carrie. In her role with CommonGround, she talks with people who may have never been on a farm about the truth of where their food comes from and how it is raised.
"If most consumers had a better understanding of the people who grow their food and raise the animals and the practices used, they would feel more comfortable with their food choices," Kristin says.
Here, Carrie shares a family favorite for the grill - The Stenger Family Not-Secret Pork Mignon. She uses freshly ground pork and a tangy barbecue sauce for a fresh take on a basic burger.
Kristin says that her American Lamb Arugula Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette is simple, but has big flavor. "I enjoy making this because we raise blackberries, lamb and arugula, so all the ingredients are at my fingertips. If you don't have that luxury, the ingredients are easy to find at the local grocery store."
To learn more about family farming, get food facts, find more recipes, or pose your own question to a farmer, visit www.FindOurCommonGround.com.
Buying from local farms helps support area farmers, but most of the United States relies on food choices from around the country. In fact, only 20 percent of farm land is near large metropolitan areas. As the population grows and competes for land, energy and water, U.S. farmers are becoming more sustainable, more efficient and more productive all the time.