Being born and raised in one of the most agricultural-saturated states in the country, I often take for granted just how richly abundant our farming industry stands. Pennsylvania is home to over 55,000 farms, reaching over 9,000,000 acres of some of the most beautiful horticulture, produce, and livestock.
In this honor, every year our city hosts the largest indoor agriculture event in America, the PA Farm Show, where over 300 commercial exhibitors, and 13,000 competitive exhibits come together to promote and celebrate the beauty of this industry.
If you are from Pennsylvania, chances are you’ve been, or at the very least, have heard of this sought out event. My visions of the Farm Show stem from early childhood when the family would bundle up – usually in the midst of a snow storm – and head into the city for a night of rodeos and fried mushrooms. I haven’t been for many years, and regret not being able to make it for the past few, if anything because of the missed opportunity for the unmatched local food offered.
This year, I, along with a group of local bloggers, were invited to attend and be a part of a very special experience, as presented by PennAg Industries Association.
A few months ago, I received an email from an employee of PennAg, who was interested in working with local bloggers to help promote their innovative and must-see display of Today’s Agriculture, which showcases a live barn with real livestock and the farmers behind them.
Melissa, a PennAg associate and new friend, was simply wonderful to work with and truly so passionate about creating awareness of sustainable farming practices in our state.
She was the mastermind behind putting this whole event together for our group so a HUGE thank you goes out to her!
We all met on Friday night, a day before the show was even open to the public, to have an exclusive tour and VIP dinner hosted by PennAg.
We were also invited to bring along our family and friends so I decided to bring my number one fan, my dad. It’s a good thing I did too, because he ended up serving as my personal photographer for the night and took over 200 pictures. You see where I get this from?
I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect inside the exhibit, but just as Melissa said, it was overwhelming (in a good way). The exhibit is broken up into four categories: beef, poultry, pork, and crop.
We were first greeted by the Beef Ambassadors who spent a few minutes explaining to us some facts, nutritional benefits, and safe farming practices of beef cows.
We went on to visit several other livestock exhibits including, chickens, ducks, and pigs. Each station provided a friendly farmer or representative explaining the animal itself, farming practices, and nutritional benefits. They were also so eager to answer our questions and relay their passion for their industries.
A few takeaways I gained from the tour:
- There are 29 lean beef meats, meaning only 10 grams or less of fat. When choosing a lean cut of beef, make sure to look for round and loin.
- Hens lay around 150 eggs a week. The nutritional value of the egg is dependent on the feed that is given to the chickens.
- All hormone-induced feed products were outlawed in the 1960′s for poultry.
- Being a farmer is NOT CHEAP! The cost of necessary and typical farming equipment can run easily over $300,000 per machine. The cost of seed alone can be close to $10,000 for the year, and it’s not guaranteed. If your crop has a bad year, the farmer is out that money and won’t come close to making any sort of profit.
- Farmers are passionate. This is their livelihood and, for the most part, they are all truly concerned with providing sustained, healthy, and natural meat, dairy and produce to the consumers.
Once the tour was complete, PennAg invited the bloggers and our families to take part in a special VIP dinner where we were invited to sample some of their handmade food items from their own food booth.
We were handed a long menu with everything from pork slider sandwiches to trout chowder. I went with the tortilla crusted tilapia sandwich and a cup of that trout chowder (it sounded too intriguing to pass up).
The food was excellent, as was the incredible hospitality offered by PennAg. We spent some time conversing with the associates, farmers, and representatives over a good meal.
The event was such a unique and eyeopening experience and one I’m so glad I was able to be a part of.
Ever since I had the opportunity to attend and write a leading piece on the FarmAid concert this year, my vision and stance on farming practices in general have been more affirmed. I once found myself gravitating more towards organic, where now, I have a deeper appreciation for supporting and buying local. (To read more about my take on local vs. organic, you can read my post about it HERE)
This marked the fourth PA Bloggers Meet-Up event, and I have to say, they keep getting bigger and better. I’m so proud of this group I founded, and so lucky to have connected and met some very influential people and business as a result.
To see the previous meet-ups:
Meet-Up # 1 - The Hershey Pantry
Meet-Up # 2 – Fusion Fire
Meet-Up #3- The Tomato Pie Cafe
A big thank you to PennAg for allowing us to be a part of the Today’s Agriculture Exhibit and the PA Farm Show!
Disclaimer- PennAg provided the experience for our local PA Bloggers group as well as a free meal; however, all opinions expressed in this post are my own. In no way, was I compensated for a positive review.