Every year the UNR Cooperative Extension hosts a Field Day to show case their agricultural research. Northern Nevada showcased a vibrant agricultural community with diverse research projects and community involvement this Saturday. There were several themes at Field Day this year. The Veggie for Kids and Veggie for Seniors program highlighted the importance of getting fruits and vegetables to underserved communities especially children and elderly. Master Gardner’s and the Nevada Department of Agriculture were on hand to help locals learn how to grow there own food and reduce invasive weeds. Nevada Grown, Buy Nevada and others stressed the importance of connecting local farmers and producers to customers. Marketing is often the last thing on farmers minds as they focus on getting as high a yield as they can in high desert conditions. However, it is an important part of the food system, and essential to farmers survival as a business. One area of the food system missing at Field Day was waste, an important but often overlooked part of the food system.
The highlight of Field Day is getting a tour of Wolf Pack Meats, the only meat processing plant in Northern Nevada. They process meat from Northern Nevada and Northern California mostly from small ranches and individuals who don’t have a large number of animals. They will process anything from cattle and pigs to bison and wild game. They are a custom processing plant that will even process meat into salami. The small staff of 7 to 8 keep the animals calm through the entire process and butcher each animal quickly. This plant provides an important resource for small ranchers to continue their livelihoods. The workers clearly understand the importance of what they are doing and work to make the process as clean and simple as possible. They are inspected by the USDA everyday to make sure they are following all the appropriate procedures.
Understanding the food system means delving into all aspects of it from production and processing to sale and waste. With meat being such a large portion of American’s as well as the worlds diet, it is important to consider how livestock is being raised, killed and processed before it is sold. This helps the consumer make better decisions about the type of meat they want to buy, its impacts to the consumers health and its environmental footprint.
There is a vibrant community of farmers, producers and consumers in Northern Nevada. UNR Main Station Field Day highlighted the importance of networking to connect all the pieces of the system together from the producer to the processor to the consumer.