I have previously participated in the #140smalltown conference in Hutchinson, Kansas twice--once as an individual speaker and once as a part of a panel. But this is an altogether different event! The focus this time is on Health, Wellness, Fitness and Food. Where does a Kansas cattle rancher fit into that mix? Well, many ways, actually.
After five kids and 24 years of marriage and working on the ranch, I will admit that I'm not at a healthy weight right now. Moms historically have neglected their own needs for the needs of the family and having a 24/7/365 type of a job makes it even easier to put other needs above my own. I often make plans to head to the gym 30 miles away to lift weights and get in a bit of aerobics, but I rarely actually make it to the gym. Often cattle need attention, hay needs baled before it gets too hot, or kids need hauled to the next activity! But my genetics include a propensity for heart disease and stroke--on both sides! So, at 45 years of age, I have come to the realization that I need to get healthy.
You might say that farming and ranching should provide opportunities for exercise...yes, that is true, but not at any sustained level. I do load 50-pound sacks of mineral into my truck, carry 25-pound buckets of feed, and pick up 80-pound calves from time to time. But those are short bursts of weight lifting. I also walk to help fix fence, walk from barn to barn in the barnyard to get various tools and such that are needed, and spend entire days on my feet working cattle. I have worn a pedometer and have racked up as many as 11 miles walking just vaccinating cattle...that is walking back and forth many times to move cattle through the facility that measures just 35 feet long! I crossed that 35 feet many many times in order to rack up 11 miles! But those days are rare, and especially in June, I spend many days in the tractor baling hay and sitting on my tushy! I do try to tweet during those days as I tend to get very bored with only myself to talk to, but that is not a good aerobic exercise!!
So I know that I must come up with a better plan for exercise for my own health--and to benefit my family. Because it definitely isn't a a benefit to my family to visit me in a hospital...or worse yet, a morgue. So FOR my family, I need to get healthy!
Another obvious way that a cattle rancher fits into the discussion on Health, Wellness, Fitness and Food is by talking about how we grow and raise food. The current interest in where food comes from is awesome! I love talking about how I care for, and about cattle--how they are truly "cool" animals who I do enjoy raising. Everything I do has an impact on food safety, nutrition or taste. I want people to know why we do certain things on the ranch. I am so excited to be able to take part in this event so that we can show how farmers really want to be a vital part of that conversation!
That comes to our actual topic for the panel, "Have No Fear, Empower Yourself." Oh boy...where are we going here, you might ask yourself....well, I am troubled by the fact that information and studies are so easy to skew or even fake on the internet. When searching how beef is raised, you may find various articles or blogs that lead you in one certain direction and you click on those. Did you know that when you do that, you are "training" google and other search engines to give you more of the same? If you "like" certain pages on Facebook, did you know that you will see more ads at the side of the page that are similar to those pages? The problem with that is...where is the balance? How can I make a well-informed decision, taking both sides into consideration when all I am presented is facts that are skewed to my previous searches?
We as consumers (because, duh, I'm a consumer, too!!) must not only be searching for more information about where food comes from, but we need to look beyond the regular information that comes up in searches! I like to know both sides of a story before I make a decision (that comes from being a mom of five kids...check out this time I was a poor listener) but the information handed to me lately is decidedly one-sided. What can we do about it? Well...I won't give away our entire presentation, but obviously, I hope you'll ask a real farmer or rancher why we use antibiotics, or set fire to the grass on our ranch, or vaccinate our calves!
If you are interested in attending the #140You conference, visit: http://140you.me/register. You'll also find a link to watch the entire conference online next Tuesday and Wednesday (June 18 & 19, 2013). I hope you'll join the conversation on twitter or at the site, and if you are going to be at the #140You I'd truly love to meet you! THAT is the POINT of traveling to NY for a conference like this! I hope to be enhancing my twitter newsfeed with people who rock the health conversation! If they follow me back, that will be the vinaigrette on my lettuce, the salt on my steak, the slice of lemon in my lemonade!!