So far, my family has stayed healthy this cold and flu season. It’s a welcome change after years of daycare germs, COVID and an awful stomach bug that persisted for months last fall.

I don’t have any immunity-boosting secrets to share, other than I rarely get sick when I exercise consistently. (It also helps fight the winter blues.)

I don’t take vitamins or supplements. I eat oranges almost every day in the winter, in hopes that the vitamin C will keep me healthy. I also try to eat other healthy foods, including real meat and dairy.

Dairy foods, like milk and yogurt, are good sources of vitamin A and vitamin D, which support a healthy immune system. Beef and pork also offer immunity-boosting micronutrients, including zinc, iron and selenium.

Just like how I wash my hands often to keep from getting sick, Iowa farmers also take precautions to keep farm animals healthy.

For example, hog farms enforce strict biosecurity measures. Employees must shower and change clothes before entering barns. Truck drivers must wash and “bake,” or heat-treat, their semis for disinfection before arriving on a farm. And several hog farms require employees to run their lunch coolers through heat sanitizers to kill any potential germs.

All these extra efforts help keep farm animals healthy – and help protect food safety.

In this issue of the Iowa Dish, we take a closer look at how farmers and veterinarians treat sick animals and why they must sometimes use antibiotics.

It’s important to know: All meat and dairy foods are free of antibiotics, as required by federal law. The “antibiotic-free” labels you may see at the grocery store are about marketing, not food safety.

We also bust a few common nutrition myths, if you’re confused by all the diet talk by social media influencers – or your friends and family.

Plus, we take a look inside a hog barn to show how farmers use “smart home” technology to keep pigs healthy and comfortable in the frigid winter months.

As always, if you have any questions about food and farming, please contact me, and I can connect you to expert answers. Let’s keep the conversation going about nutrition, food safety, sustainability and how our food is grown and raised.

Until then, keep thinking warm thoughts! Spring is so, so close! 

Take care,

Teresa Bjork
Editor, The Iowa Dish

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