During the fall semester of 2013, I worked with my teacher Tracy Anderson and three other students in an unofficial internship. Our stories were published as two packages in Midland Daily News. We investigated organic farming over three months, covering everything from dairy, meat and vegetable production, and writing about the topics that went along with it, such as shopping at the farmer’s market. I co-wrote the main article “Meet the farmers behind the food” with my colleagues. Under Burton’s supervision, I composed two stories on my own; one about transitioning to organic farming and the other about food recalls.
Michigan Organics: Food recalls push consumers toward organics
Dec. 17, 2013
One reason people gravitate toward organics is the large amount of food recalls in recent years.
The recalls can be for misbranding the product or omitting undeclared allergens. But they also can be for food-borne illnesses linked to bad processing or vendors not following food safety regulations.
Michigan is among a list of states affected by recent recalls. Last month, a Kent County Meijer store in Rockford had to recall 663 pounds of meat. Meijer officials stated that the meat might have contained small pieces of magnetized materials. Apparently, a malfunction during meat processing caused the potential contamination.
Read the rest here:Food recalls push consumers toward organics_PDF format
This is the main article that we composed together.
Michigan Organics: Meet the farmers behind the food
Dec. 16, 2013
The engine is idling. The tank is full. The refrigerated truck is stocked. After all, it’s Tuesday, one of the Hilhof Dairy Farm’s two weekly delivery days. The organic, glass-bottled operation — the only one of its kind in the state — delivers throughout the heart of Michigan, from Big Rapids to Midland.
At 7:45 a.m., farm owner Will Straathof makes the almost five-foot jump into the cab of the truck. The cooler’s thermometer reads 33.8 degrees. The odometer is at 261,137 miles — an indicator of the truck’s many travels.
Straathof, 53, is no stranger to Michigan farming. He grew up working with his father on the same 365-acre farm he manages today. The decades of strenuous labor haven’t hardened him; his tall, oxen build and Hulk Hogan-like mustache stand in contrast to his kind eyes and pleasant demeanor.
He reviews his clipboard of the day’s schedule. There are 10 stores on the list. The first location is Currie’s, a BP gas station in Big Rapids. “I never thought I would sell my milk out of a gas station, but it works,” Straathof said with a slight laugh. “And here we are.”
Read the rest here:Michigan Organics-Meet the farmers_PDF format
Michigan Organics: Making a smooth transition into organic farming
Dec. 16, 2013
The key to making the transition to organic farming is to return to the root of the problem: bring the soil back to life.
Since 1980, Joe Scrimger has been the expert that farmers turn to when they need help understanding the land, where they grow their food or raise animals. Will Straathof of Hilhof Dairy Farm in Hersey sought Scrimger’s consultation when he was overwhelmed with sick cows and wanted to know if organic farming methods could save his farm.
“Healthy soil has a complex ecosystem of its own,” Scrimger said. “It’s boiling with microbes and tiny plant and animal life, which all depend on one another for their existence. The activity of these billions of tiny life forms keeps the soil aerated and provides the nutrients for healthy crops.”
Scrimger owns and operates Bio-Systems, a soil-testing and consulting business in Marlette. He serves those who live in the Great Lakes area with a farm, orchard, greenhouse, garden or any related agricultural business.
Read the rest here: Making a smooth transition into organic farming_PDF format