ALEXANDRIA, Minn. – You couldn’t ask for a nicer group of professional young people than those who agreed to share their viewpoints on farming and food.
Four millennials, Ali Ziesmer, Laura Nelson, Robert Norman and Kacie Mercil, served as a panel of consumers with zero farm exposure who were interested in food. They answered questions and shared their views at the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association annual meeting.
As the presentation began, the moderator, Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, told the audience to keep their opinions to themselves. No side remarks to their neighbor or glances were allowed, as this was a real opportunity to hear from educated young people.
These individuals said they spend from $80-$200 per week on groceries, depending on the size of their family.
All four said they rarely go out to eat, and prefer locally-raised meats. All four enjoyed meat and eating beef, but they wanted high quality if they could afford it. They preferred fresh over frozen meat if possible, and there was at least one person who hunted in the group.
Local products were viewed as those produced within 100 miles of their home, or perhaps produced in Minnesota. They viewed family farm cattle herds as having 30-50 head of cows, which is actually close to the national average.
They also wanted minimal packaging. One of the panelists expressed concerned about microplastics packaging that is getting into the sea, and they all worried about the types of antibiotics that were used.
Hormones were a concern, and one person voiced her concern that hormones used in cattle could cause young girls to reach maturity earlier. Natural hormones found in foods were not a concern, nor was the point that children are gaining heavier weights through good nutrition earlier in life..
They also trusted farmers more than a stamp from the USDA, and used words like clean food and minimally processed.
They also wanted grass fed/finished beef to become more accessible and cheaper, and they wanted to see their dollars go to family farmers. They like to use organic foods if they can, or if they are on sale, and at least one presenter will only eat organic butter.
When asked what they would like farmers to know about their food tastes, one of the speakers said she would like access to more clean foods. They mentioned sustainability, affordability and small family farms.
They also appreciated convenience, and the opportunity to have groceries delivered – and they use social media.
There was a question from the audience asking the panelists if they would like to visit farms, and would it help them feel more assured about the food they purchased if they liked what they saw. The panelists all said they would like to visit farms, learn more about farming practices and find out how it affected the food they purchased for their families and themselves. The group of four were cordially invited to attend the Summer Cattlemen’s tour that will be hosted by the Morris-area cattle producers on July 9, 2019.