Farmers greedy?

News from Florida is the strawberry crop is being, in many cases, destroyed. As a previous post highlighted, fear of litigation and many places not taking produce keeps much food turned away from hungry people. Yet when prices drop to where farmers cannot afford to ship it to market they’re called greedy for cutting their losses and destroying the crop.

How dare farmers not go further in debt by harvesting – how dare they not risk their farm and future. There’s perfectly good food dumped by restaurants when it’s a wrong order – that doesn’t go to the hungry. The farmers should – again- simply suck it up and feed people for nothing.

I understand it makes no sense to many – if you want something for free it doesn’t make sense to charge for it. Farmers have bills too; with liability and other issues that consumers are willing to sue for many don’t let people on their farms to protect themselves from that. When there’s food you can’t afford to ship and can’t give away it’s a tough call.

Frankly I think better giving away than letting it rot. But if the farmer charged for it – needing the money as it is a business too – they’re greedy? The expectations of farmers at a different level than every other business is insulting and makes one wonder if all stopped farming for a year what people would do. If someone decides they get sick from those berries then would the farmer be justified in destroying the crop even with public insistence they get it?

No other industry works that way. I don’t at present have a vehicle – does that warrant vehicle manufacturers sucking up to give me one? Of course not! They couldn’t do that and stay in business. neither can farmers.

not all grain fed is the same

I watch a great deal of conversation on the web about agriculture and food. I see a lot of criticism of cattle being fed grain – even charges it’s akin to feeding them poison! It’s wasteful – cows should graze. While I personally agree on pastured animals I can see some merits in some situations of feeding a small amount of grain. However there’s another realm I never hear criticized.

I hear much on the waste of feeding grain to livestock. I balance that with an appeal for money I got this morning on email from a horse rescue place listing typical costs of caring for an animal. It listed a bag of feed every 2-3 days. Let that sink in – a 50 pound bag of feed every 2-3 days is 15-25 pounds of grain *per day* – these are not hard working animals but even that…is a lot of grain! Rescue horses, if starved or doing without, do need to gain weight but high amounts of grain can cause metabolic issues from founder to colic.

Yet I don’t recall critics ever mention feeding grain to horses even at much higher levels than is fed to cattle or hogs. I wonder why that is. Horses, being an animal designed by nature to eat most of the time, are a pasture based creature (or hay) if there was a model for one. Yet the same people not wanting to put 50 cows on an acre think nothing of 50 horses per acre! They think nothing of denying the horse access to pasture and those large amounts of grain. But one can’t criticize horses – we don’t eat them so it’s ok? Moderation in all things is important!!

Michigan governor – what was she thinking?

Michigan’s economic woes have been well documented. From automaker failures to government intervention. National ag day is, for most, a day to celebrate the diversity in agriculture from the small gardens to the purebred livestock to the commercial growers. Except for Michigan.

Agriculture – the one thriving industry in the state – received a kick in the teeth when the governor proclaimed it meat free…vegan. Somewhat like flipping the bird to everyone who raises animals in the state. The backlash is large, from over 3000 people on a FaceBook page to discussion on Twitter which prompted 52 people to join one supporting the vegan day.

People can choose to eat whatever they want. You CHOOSE to stick to a vegetarian or vegan diet great. No one is demanding you eat meat. Perhaps it’s time to take note of that. Equally don’t demand everyone else conform to YOUR choices. Most don’t – they see it the same as a personal choice. Those wanting to convert the masses aren’t happy with other people’s choices. There are places willing to grow food for you personally – such as SlowMoneyFarm – that insures no matter what your choices are it’s met. The “meat out” idea infringes on choice – and if you disagree with that then you won’t be imposed on to have a day everyone has to eat pork or beef or chicken or rabbit.

From the homesteader raising it themselves to the farmers coast to coast to the consumer of food whatever your choices may be it’s time to think about where your food comes from. Enjoy the abundant choices agriculture provides and thank those who provide it.

100 things to increase survival

So often the things that circulate as forwarded email are funny jokes in passing or a call to some kind of action. For survival mode and prepredness many pass it off as alarmist but if it’s needed they’re most prepared. Be it storms or other disaster or, heaven forbid, another 9/11, it pays to be prepared. All the money doesn’t help if store shelves are bare, and help can be days or weeks away.

100 Items to Disappear First

1. Generators (Good ones cost dearly. Gas storage, risky. Noisy…target of thieves; maintenance etc.)
2. Water Filters/Purifiers
3. Portable Toilets
4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood takes about 6 – 12 months to become dried, for home uses.
5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (First Choice: Buy CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile ANY!)
6. Coleman Fuel. Impossible to stockpile too much.
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots.
8. Hand-can openers, & hand egg beaters, whisks.
9. Honey/Syrups/ white, brown sugar
10. Rice – Beans – Wheat
11. Vegetable Oil (for cooking) Without it food burns/must be boiled etc.,)
12. Charcoal, Lighter Fluid (Will become scarce suddenly)
13. Water Containers (Urgent Item to obtain.) Any size. Small: HARD CLEAR PLASTIC ONLY – note – food grade if for drinking.
14. Mini Heater head (Propane) (Without this item, propane won’t heat a room.)
15. Grain Grinder (Non-electric)
16. Propane Cylinders (Urgent: Definite shortages will occur.
17. Survival Guide Book.
18. Mantles: Aladdin, Coleman, etc. (Without this item, longer-term lighting is difficult.)
19. Baby Supplies: Diapers/formula. ointments/aspirin, etc.
20. Washboards, Mop Bucket w/wringer (for Laundry)
21. Cookstoves (Propane, Coleman & Kerosene)
22. Vitamins
23. Propane Cylinder Handle-Holder (Urgent: Small canister use is dangerous without this item)
24. Feminine Hygiene/Haircare/ Skin products.
25. Thermal underwear (Tops & Bottoms)
26. Bow saws, axes and hatchets, Wedges (also, honing oil)
27. Aluminum Foil Reg. & Heavy Duty (Great Cooking and Barter Item)
28. Gasoline Containers (Plastic & Metal)
29. Garbage Bags (Impossible To Have Too Many).
30. Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Paper Towels
31. Milk – Powdered & Condensed (Shake Liquid every 3 to 4 months)
32. Garden Seeds (Non-Hybrid) (A MUST)
33. Clothes pins/line/hangers (A MUST)
34. Coleman’s Pump Repair Kit
35. Tuna Fish (in oil)
36. Fire Extinguishers (or..large box of Baking Soda in every room)
37. First aid kits
38. Batteries (all sizes…buy furthest-out for Expiration Dates)
39. Garlic, spices & vinegar, baking supplies
40. Big Dogs (and plenty of dog food)
41. Flour, yeast & salt
42. Matches. {“Strike Anywhere” preferred.) Boxed, wooden matches will go first
43. Writing paper/pads/pencils, solar calculators
44. Insulated ice chests (good for keeping items from freezing in Wintertime.)
45. Workboots, belts, Levis & durable shirts
46. Flashlights/ LIGHTSTICKS & torches, “No. 76 Dietz” Lanterns
47. Journals, Diaries & Scrapbooks (jot down ideas, feelings, experience; Historic Times)
48. Garbage cans Plastic (great for storage, water, transporting – if with wheels)
49. Men’s Hygiene: Shampoo, Toothbrush/paste, Mouthwash/floss, nail clippers, etc
50. Cast iron cookware (sturdy, efficient)
51. Fishing supplies/tools
52. Mosquito coils/repellent, sprays/creams
53. Duct Tape
54. Tarps/stakes/ twine/nails/ rope/spikes
55. Candles
56. Laundry Detergent (liquid)
57. Backpacks, Duffel Bags
58. Garden tools & supplies
59. Scissors, fabrics & sewing supplies
60. Canned Fruits, Veggies, Soups, stews, etc.
61. Bleach (plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite)
62. Canning supplies, (Jars/lids/wax)
63. Knives & Sharpening tools: files, stones, steel
64. Bicycles…Tires/ tubes/pumps/ chains, etc
65. Sleeping Bags & blankets/pillows/ mats
66. Carbon Monoxide Alarm (battery powered)
67. Board Games, Cards, Dice
68. d-con Rat poison, MOUSE PRUFE II, Roach Killer
69. Mousetraps, Ant traps & cockroach magnets
70. Paper plates/cups/ utensils (stock up, folks)
71. Baby wipes, oils, waterless & Antibacterial soap (saves a lot of water)
72. Rain gear, rubberized boots, etc.
73. Shaving supplies (razors & creams, talc, after shave)
74. Hand pumps & siphons (for water and for fuels)
75. Soysauce, vinegar, bullions/gravy/ soupbase
76. Reading glasses
77. Chocolate/Cocoa/ Tang/Punch (water enhancers)
78. “Survival-in- a-Can”
79. Woolen clothing, scarves/ear- muffs/mittens
80. Boy Scout Handbook, / also Leaders Catalog
81. Roll-on Window Insulation Kit (MANCO)
82. Graham crackers, saltines, pretzels, Trail mix/Jerky
83. Popcorn, Peanut Butter, Nuts
84. Socks, Underwear, T-shirts, etc. (extras)
85. Lumber (all types)
86. Wagons & carts (for transport to and from)
87. Cots & Inflatable mattress’s
88. Gloves: Work/warming/ gardening, etc.
89. Lantern Hangers
90. Screen Patches, glue, nails, screws,, nuts & bolts
91. Teas
92. Coffee
93. Cigarettes
94. Wine/Liquors (for bribes, medicinal, etc,)
95. Paraffin wax
96. Glue, nails, nuts, bolts, screws, etc.
97. Chewing gum/candies
98. Atomizers (for cooling/bathing)
99. Hats & cotton neckerchiefs
100. Goats/chickens

From a Sarajevo War Survivor:
Experiencing horrible things that can happen in a war – death of parents and friends, hunger and malnutrition, endless freezing cold, fear, sniper attacks.

1. Stockpiling helps. but you never no how long trouble will last, so locate
    near renewable food sources.
2. Living near a well with a manual pump is like being in Eden.
3. After awhile, even gold can lose its luster. But there is no luxury in war
   quite like toilet paper. Its surplus value is greater than gold’s.
4. If you had to go without one utility, lose electricity – it’s the easiest to
   do without (unless you’re in a very nice climate with no need for heat.)
5. Canned foods are awesome, especially if their contents are tasty without heating. One of the best things to stockpile is canned gravy – it makes a lot of the dry unappetizing things you find to eat in war somewhat edible. Only needs enough heat to “warm”, not to cook. It’s cheap too, especially if you buy it in bulk.
6. Bring some books – escapist ones like romance or mysteries become more  valuable as the war continues. Sure, it’s great to have a lot of survival guides, but you’ll figure most of that out on your own anyway – trust me, you’ll  have a lot of time on your hands.
7. The feeling that you’re human can fade pretty fast. I can’t tell you how many people I knew who would have traded a much needed meal for just a little bit of toothpaste, rouge, soap or cologne. Not much point in fighting if you have to lose your humanity. These things are morale-builders like nothing else.
8. Slow burning candles and matches, matches, matches

it takes all kinds of farmers

There  is such an unnecessary division in agriculture. It’s such a diverse industry there’s small vs large farmers and family vs industrial then there’s “only what we believe” vs “everyone else” – and consumers just want food.

Wendell Berry once made a comment about food being too important to be a weapon. Yet here we are decades later and that is exactly what it’s come to.

Advocate purists say only organic or local or small farm (without saying what a small farm is!). They actively rail against larger farms without regard to their customers are a totally different market. We all eat – that’s a no brainer.

In working to set up a farm that caters to what many Twitter consumers say they want it fits with many personal ideas already. It uses ‘responsible’ methods, heritage and heirloom seeds and livestock (many seeds are organic), it allows for knowing where the food was grown and, with web cam transmission and other videos it allows absolute transparency. There’s a price that comes with that and yet talking about money brought a furious attack of being money orientated over everything else. Actually it’s being realistic – land costs money! The bigger questions come up – in talking with several people they love the idea – but  can’t afford it. Feedback from out of the area brings the same comments – great idea…I can’t afford it but great idea!

Knowing full well this is a specialty market for under 40 people it doesn’t seem possible to deliver for what the market can afford no matter how much food is delivered. No matter the principles behind it – those who can’t afford it simply can’t afford it.

OK so we take out the large farms. We eliminate all who don’t think on this  level – what do those people eat? They can’t afford to buy food from custom places. There isn’t food (bulk produced) at the store so what is their option? This has not yet brought a single clear answer – it’s just seen as saying small farms don’t work. NOT what I said! They can and do work – and better as our nation is much more rural than city!

But the question remains – if they can’t afford $700 or $1500 or $5,000 for a custom raised situation what do they eat? Especially if not having room for year round raising of food themselves?

Options are wonderful! Many move to the country to raise what they can and barter for what they can’t. But what about  those who can’t afford it? It seems that even though maybe it’s not ideal by many standards that volume produced food, processed or HFCS or whatever, is better than going hungry.

When you go 3-4 days without eating because you  can’t afford food it changes a great deal of perspective. We need large farms and small. We need volume as well as choices. There is no excuse for anyone going hungry in America and yet due to legislation, regulation and fear of lawsuits produce and milk is better dumped than given to the hungry.

Things have to change. Forcing people to go hungry isn’t the way to do it. Those clamoring for change put the $$ up and make it change!

Why is America hungry?

People in the media make much of the hungry in America. Produce is thrown out rather than helping people.

A discussion spurred some comments. Among them Lisa “Over the summer I had an abundance of left over tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and several other veggies.  I boxed them up and took over 100 pounds to the soup kitchen.  They refused me saying that health regulations would not allow them to accept produce from any farm that was not USDA certified.  I checked further into it and its universal in our state (CT) not just that one soup kitchen.  They can no longer accept any meat/produce donations. Only boxed and canned goods purchased at a grocery store.”

Another: “A couple years back, my company had a big holiday party at the office.  We had it fully catered with food for 200, but only ended up getting 75 people to show. At the end we had an astounding amount of food left over and we called around and found an orphanage (yes, they still exist) only miles away and we offered them the food.  They were THRILLED.  These children were going to get a holiday meal.  Several of us employees loaded up our cars and drove the food there.  I never in my life seen anyone as thankful as they were when we arrived.

Just after new years, we received a note from a food director of the facility.  He was fired for accepting the donated food.  It was against policy and he did not know that. ”

Another “We had so much help when my husband was unemployed that I grew a huge garden last year so I could give back. Nope. FoodBank wouldn’t take anything. …. I can’t even bake cookies for my kids to share with their class at school.”

It’s a sad day when basic necessities are regulated as much or more than drugs. Better to have hungry people than risk a law suit?