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International chefs and AFC FFA visit local farms

Posted: Wednesday, Sep 26th, 2012

Mark Meurer, left, with one of the visiting culinary specialists that visited the area farms. (Photo by Ben Yates)




On Thursday Sept. 24, seven international culinary specialists from all over the globe met up with the AFC FFA to learn about where the food they prepare really comes from. They came from Czech Republic, Georgia, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, South Africa and Thailand. They were chosen by their own embassies to come to the U.S and learn more about agriculture. They called it Culinary Diplomacy and the goal was to promote cultural understanding through food.

The first farm they visited was Mike and Joan Pfeifferís farrow to finish hog operation. They learned about the controversial subject of farrowing crates. The chefs thought it was in humane for the hogs to be in such a secluded area, but after Mike explained the purpose of the crates they realized that it was necessary. They asked many questions, such as, what kind of food the hogs eat, to why the Chicago teachers were on strike. The FFA helped answer all of the unique questions that arose. The cultural difference was very obvious but it was a great experience for the chefs and the FFA.

Next, they visited Mark and Lynnette Meurerís Big Prairie Polypays sheep farm. Mark talked about his roots growing up on a hog and sheep farm. He explained many different aspects to raising and showing sheep. The chefs learned about many different uses for sheep. One chef asked if there was a problem with sheep being stolen. The chef explained that in Lebanon they have many problems with livestock being stolen. Mark explained that in our nation we are lucky enough to not have to deal with that issue.

The chefís last destination was Nolan and Linda Henertís grain and livestock operation. Their daughter Renee explained the different breeds of cattle and why the Henertís raise Black Angus on their farm. Then they moved to the grain facilities and Nolan talked about how everything works. The individual from the Czech Republic asked if he could climb the grain leg to take pictures of the landscape. He was very surprised at how flat the land was, and all he could see was corn. Since the Henerts were in the field, Nolan explained the process of combining and moving grain. The chefs were very appreciative of all the hard work the farmers go through.

The chef from South Africa told the FFA that he didnít realize how advanced the agricultural community really was. He described his idea of agriculture as being very out of date. The chefs were all very different, but very interesting in their own individual way.

The FFA really enjoyed getting to know them and teaching them about their rural lives. The chefs really appreciated all the time taken by the FFA. While the FFA was teaching they also learned much about the different perspective from the chefs.

It was a great experience for both sides to learn about culinary diplomacy, and promoting cultural understanding through food.

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