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Omelets and agriculture

Nashville news anchors participate in a cook-off as Gov. Lee proclaims Tennessee Ag Day
Story and photos by Cara Moore 4/23/2021

 

The team from News Channel 2 prepares their omelet at the National Ag Day Omelet Cook-off to show their support of the ag industry. Their team received an award for Best Presentation. From left are Neil Orne, Nikki Burdine, Elizabeth Lane, and Kristina Shalhoup.
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Nashville’s Farmers Market was recently the scene of a hot competition.

On March 23, Farm and Forest Families of Tennessee hosted the National Ag Day Omelet Cook-off at the iconic Farmers Market in downtown Nashville as agricultural industry representatives and Nashville television news station personalities came together to raise awareness and show their appreciation for Tennessee’s farming industry.

“We have a lot of amazing, hard-working farmers around the state,” said Channel 5 meteorologist Cody Murphy. “We were proud to use local produce as ingredients for our omelets to showcase our appreciation of these folks.”

In addition to Murphy and WSMV partner Joe Dubin, local anchors teams from WKRN Channel 2, WSMJ Channel 4, and RFD-TV raced against the clock to prepare their omelets for judging. Competitors included Neil Orne and Kristina Shalhoup, Channel 2; Nikki Burdine and Elizabeth Lane, Channel 2; Henry Rothenberg and Steve Layman, Channel 5; Dubin and Murphy, Channel 4; Tammi Arender and Kelly Theiss, RFD-TV. Judges for the event were Jeff Aiken, Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation president; Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M.; and Julie Giles, Executive Director of the Farm Animal Care Coalition of Tennessee (FACCT).

RFD-TV brought home the Best in Show championship title for their omelet.

Almost all of the ingredients used in the competition were locally grown and produced. Neil Orne, Channel 2, used fresh eggs from the hens that his daughter raised, while Tammi Arender from RFD-TV proudly claimed that every ingredient in her omelet, except for the salt and pepper, came from a Tennessee farm.

“As a mother, I’m really passionate about knowing where the food comes from that I feed my daughter,” said Nikki Burdine, anchor with News Channel 2. “Knowing that it’s fresh and local really matters to me.”

The cook-off was staged in conjunction with National Agriculture Day to show appreciation of the hard-working farmers and forestry workers who lay the foundation for the nation’s economy and to celebrate the contribution of agriculture in the daily lives of Americans. Governor Bill Lee — a fellow farmer — recognized the importance of the Tennessee’s agriculture industry by proclaiming March 23 as Tennessee Ag Day.

Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation President Jeff Aiken said the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the importance of American farmers.

“Since the beginning of our country, agriculture has been essential, but throughout the past year, many people have seen a small glimpse of just how essential farmers are,” said Aiken, a Washington Farmers Co-op member. “That’s why — this year especially — celebrating National Ag Day and Week is incredibly important to honor those in agriculture who deserve to be praised every day.”

Valerie Bass, executive director of the Tennessee Beef Industry Council, noted the integral role that farmers play in creating a sustainable economy and the importance of spreading that message to others.

“Many people do not realize the work that goes into raising fresh farm products,” said Bass. “We want to give those people an avenue for information and education, and hopefully get them even more interested in agriculture. Farmers do so much for us every day, so we always like to take time to honor them and to call special attention to agriculture.”

Agriculture is Tennessee’s largest industry; the state’s agriculture and forestry sectors contribute roughly $81 million annual economic activity and provide over 342,000 jobs. Tennessee’s landscape is dominated by 66,000 farms that encompass 10.8 million acres, or 40 percent of the state’s total land area.

 
 
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