The City Mom and the Country Mom

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City Mom and Farm Mom

I’m a farm mom. I sometimes find soybeans in my clothes dryer. I live 28 miles from a Target store. And I negotiated mud flaps on our last minivan purchase.

What could I possibly have in common with a mom who resides on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue?

Mother-of-two Amina Nevels lives in a loft condominium about 25 blocks from Millennium Park. The area ranks as an epicenter of “Chicago cool” in the eyes of this downstate mom.

Yet, in conversation, we easily chat about kids’ bedtimes (and wake-up schedules). I learned we both look for deals when we shop for food and clothes. We strive for quality family time with husbands included. And we like to get our kids “out” to experience life, which by nature of our surroundings takes on a different meaning.

Out and About

Amina and her girls, ages 3 and 2, venture out almost daily. Life within minutes of the museum campus proves a favorite convenience for the family. Whether on memberships or day passes, they visit several museums, the Chicago Botanic Gardens and Brookfield Zoo.

The kids and I also prefer to be out, whether in the yard or on the farm. My daughter and son, ages 9 and 6, care for chickens, climb trees and play baseball in the yard. In summer, we harvest garden produce and fish in remote places.

Similarly, both of us moms schedule play dates and visits to relatives. And minivans rank as our top mode of transportation. Amina’s distance from her destinations makes the vehicle handier than public sources. I have no other option besides the pickup truck.

Food for Thought

Amina shops at a supermarket, a couple specialty food stores and a warehouse club for her family’s grocery needs. I frequent a supermarket and warehouse club for our needs beyond meat. Our family-raised beef, pork and chicken fill the freezer.

Prior to her involvement as an Illinois Farm Families Field Mom, Amina used to buy only organic food. Rarely have I ever bought it. I simply shop by price, product quality and contents like fat and sugar.

Before becoming a Field Mom, Amina wondered about antibiotic use in livestock. She questioned hormones in dairy milk and their impact on her girls’ health and growth. And she stood wary on GMOs and their long-term safety for her family.

“I was spending hundreds of dollars purchasing only organic products to safeguard my family from the fears that I developed as a result of media pressure and misinformation,” she says.

Today, price, product quality and dietary needs impact her buying decisions, too.

Joanie Stiers

Columnist Joanie Stiers with her kids.

Family and Faith

Regardless of farm or city, Sundays provide special experiences for both our families.

My household shares Sunday school commitments and volunteer roles in our small-town United Methodist Church. I also ring in the handbell choir.

The Nevels attend Moody Church together and afterward enjoy a Sunday meal from the slow cooker. Amina occasionally sings background vocals for the church choir, too.

What a small world. Years ago, my family bought a farm from the Moody Bible Institute. We still call it the “Moody Farm.” While I cannot vouch for its connection to Amina’s church, the name provides enough for me. Work on that western Illinois land now reminds me of her family on Michigan Avenue.

Illinois Farm Family Happenings

While Joanie interviewed a Chicago mom, Amina Nevels, about their differences and similarities, moms all over the state remain foreign to country living.

Even when surrounded by fields and fields of corn and soybeans, the majority of moms have many questions about their food and the farming practices that go along with growing or raising their food.

Small towns and larger cities have similar concerns – how do we bridge the gap?

County Farm Bureaus, Illinois Corn Growers, Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Pork Producers, Illinois Soybean Association and Midwest Dairy Association reach out through local events, tours and advertising to start conversations with consumers. The relationships built help us appreciate our differences and, at the same time, realize that we have much in common.

To read more about city moms on farm tours, go to WatchUsGrow.org.

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