Misinformation aimed at kids

Recently a page from a cartoon supposedly to educate kids came to my attention. It was regarding cattle, specifically dairy cattle which, if common sense and half a thought entered into it with even some basic math it’s discounted. When emotion overrules facts it’s not educational – it’s slanderous.

It presented a question about cows having babies at 15 months old. The ‘answer’ used an example of mice hitting maturity at a few weeks old and stated cattle are mature at a year old. There’s something they left out. Cattle have a 9 month gestation period so if they’re bred at 12-15 months plus 9 that’s what? (Come on readers play along!) Now if she has a baby at 15 months subtract 9 – that’s when she would have had to become pregnant in order to have a baby at 15 months! BEFORE PUBERTY!  It leaves out entirely that one must be mature in order to get pregnant! So now there’s many readers who think they just magically get impregnated at 12 months, perhaps microwave speed to have a baby 3 months later?! Yes I’m making light but it’s serious when people believe what they’re told without questioning.

It then goes on that eating corn and soy – grains – aren’t natural for the cow and make her belly hurt, make her sick. Think it’s tough getting kids to eat now?!! “If it makes a big cow sick I’M NOT EATING IT!”

It also points to the difference of a name and a number. OK let’s run with that one. Just for a minute. Names are good – numbers for identification aren’t. (Throw out the social security number – name is enough right?!) Let’s say it’s a standard classroom or office work place. How many Janes? Cathy? Marie? Being as cows don’t have last names it’s all first names only. Now in our human group let’s say there’s a group of 200 people – Cathy/Kathy come forward. You weren’t feeling well so here’s something to help – oh wait which one? Which one needs vitamins and which one needs treatment?

Cows don’t speak English – when faced with multiple animals of the same name it can mean treating the wrong animal. It can mean breeding the wrong animal. If Blackie is being bred to Thunder (bull) does it matter which Blackie? If one of them is his daughter or sister and the other is a newly purchased champion it certainly can make a big difference! Number 3120 vs number 7839 tells exactly which Blackie with no chance of mixup.

Most things in the country are done for a reason and that includes numbers on cows.

food politics & obsession

The major appeal for many to buy land and move to the country is food. Perhaps it’s just a garden and chickens of all the way up to beef, pork and hay fields. Whatever the choice, food drives America. Growing it, moving it, cooking it, avoiding it, campaigning for/against it…people are obsessed with food.

Even if they live in urban areas or cities the obsession is still there. Local is the only way! many cheer and while that’s a great idea few have been able to answer how NY City eats all local from November to March or longer! Or where local beef in LA is – an area that won’t even host rabbit shows to be politically correct with activists.

There’s others that want only ‘natural’ unprocessed food. Many of these banner wavers are vegetarian or vegan that abhor meat. “We don’t need it” they chant along with recommending soy milk and tofu. This hit me as just the most oxymoronic thing I’ve heard all month. Any idea how soy milk is made? Here’s a hint – there are no udders on a soybean. Look HERE for an explanation.

Note the part about additives. “Soy milk is nearly always fortified with calcium, vitamins D, and certain B vitamins. Highly concentrated flavorings, such as vanilla, carob, chocolate, and almond are often added to the finished product. Many companies add sugar and salt to the drink to make it more palatable to the consumer” – so all the nutrition milk already has in it is added (natural vitamins – seems processed to me!) as well as sugar to make it – well – able to be consumed!

Note also “The soybean is a low acid food and as such, is a good host for the breeding of harmful bacteria.” Also the byproduct – unused by humans in the processing “transforming it into a high-fiber, high-protein animal feed.” Which means, like it or not, soy milk production creates animal feed from what humans cannot use.

Too much soy damages the health – not blaming farmers but the plant itself is not meant for high consumption. A range of dietary disorders comes from soy – which can have benefits at low levels, like many other foods! Balance!

Then there’s the other fighting words – raw milk. Some states it’s banned. Indeed a woman in California wanted raw milk despite this so purchased a cow share that let her use milk from her cow. “Before joining the program, consumers were given a binder full of information the health risks and required to sign an agreement relieving the dairy of liability, said owner Blake Alexandre.” Despite this she drank the milk (from her own cow!), got sick, sued the dairy and settled.

The right to consume something comes with a responsibility. Holding farmers and gardeners responsible is the fastest way to have a problem in the food supply. No testing is going to find everything. Another statistic showed about 125 people had serious issues with raw milk in a year. In perspective, millions DON’T have a problem with it.

Food will be a bigger factor in the months and years ahead. It’s coming to places the US hasn’t been in a long time – only this time it’s man-made via restrictions, lawsuits and other issues.

food wars & labels

HSUS and animal rights advocates vs McDonalds and other restaurants. Organic vs non-organic (at least not certified). “Profood” vs practices they don’t approve of (including acknowledgment not all can afford certified organic). Large farm vs small farm. With the number of food wars happening it’s becoming a wonder there’s food on the store shelves. Food is a political battleground. From heated discussion that could pasteurize raw milk (one debate) to “proper” care everyone wants a say and in a world of choices should have a say! Whether you grow it yourself, buy direct or just shop at the store food is personal.

I was reading the McDonald’s article about rejecting cage free eggs and continuing to buy battery eggs and it struck me that do they advertise that? I mean when looking for eggs is being in cages a qualification? How about this radical idea – QUALITY and PRICE dictates purchases?! Most people, I’m guessing, eat at McDonalds not for the five star cuisine. It’s for the price – something quick, inexpensive and they’re hungry…probably will not give much thought where the egg on he egg mcmuffin was laid. Just reality folks!

However, many do give a little more thought when it comes time to prepare foods at home. How long will it last in the fridge? Does it look and taste good? Is it safe to eat? Many go beyond this. They do care how the chickens were raised and where the pig that become sausage lived. They might still buy that sausage egg biscuit (or fix it at home!) but when they sit down to Sunday dinner they know their money supports farmers being able to do the same. Their food isn’t necessarily certified organic but they know and trust the farmer. These people are willing to pay a little more to insure that their food was raised according to their ideals. Some may call that food elitists and perhaps it can be. I call it CHOICE.

The problem comes when that choice is pushed to eliminate other choices for people who can’t afford the higher cost. The economy will rebound faster when money is spent in the communities. The direct purchase of food or growing it yourself is one of the major perks of rural living. You don’t need a cow if a trusted farmer will sell you beef and milk. You don’t need pigs if someone will raise it for you. This allows you to make the most of what you do have while financially supporting others.

This can come to trust. Do you trust DownTheRoad Farms or the volume of processors for Smithfield? Both deliver an edible, nutritious product – probably at a comparable price. The difference is how it got to your plate. Currently demand for testing and food safety has pressed for additional regulation that will hit small butchers hard enough to end their businesses. Without being able to afford unnecessary(but required) testing they will have to close. If you enjoy purchasing direct this affects your choice as they won’t be there to process your meats. Major packers can better afford this – do you want that your only choice?

Food is personal. Quality, quantity and affordability matter. Get informed and make decisions then support those decisions financially! It is the fastest way to induce change. If there is enough people buying cage free vs conventional and the money shifts production will too! Demand dictates what is produced. Demand created what we have now – abundant food at a relatively low cost held in a large market share by a few companies. Want a change? Finance it! Grow it! Make a difference starting today!

No taxes no vote?

A news blip on yahoo states nearly half of people in the US will not pay taxes. While that’s not unexpected the responses are incredible. BobG says “If you don’t pay taxes you should not be allowed to vote!” This was followed by “Astounded” saying “I’ve been making those points for years. No skin in the game, no vote. Of course, that would eliminate a very large proportion of Obama voters…”, Tevis T added “I agree that people who don’t pay federal income taxes should not be able to vote for a federal office. Likewise, people who do not pay state income taxes should not be able to vote for state offices (governor, assembly), and so on and so forth at the county and local level.”

As many work but don’t owe taxes due to income level that eliminates many who have not voted for ‘business as usual’ in DC. It also allows even more those with money to run things which is how corruption started to begin with – this company buying this favor or donation to that fund. Further it eliminates many soldiers who serve overseas and don’t pay taxes.

The idea that people who aren’t as educated or wealthy are somehow less deserving or are automatically on welfare is wrong. Many in rural areas, seeking things other than money, then are eliminated from voting?!

Perhaps, like many we in the country seek the opportunity – not wanting to take from “the rich” but wanting a fair shake. It’s for this reason many in rural areas start small businesses, be it selling off the farm or hundreds of other ways that may not get rich but is enough to get by.

The divide between those who have money and are paying taxes – and understandably frustrated how it’s being spent – is shared by many who don’t have money and, as echoed by many, have little incentive as it’s going to be taken by the government. It’s many of those people whose votes are needed to make the changes. America wasn’t a place just for the privileged rich. It’s a place for those who want something better – who want an opportunity.

Whether that’s making $20,000 per year repairing small engines in your garage or running a multi-million dollar company it takes many threads to make the fabric of America. Burning the quilt because someone took one doesn’t make sense.

Cage free by choice or by legislation?

For many people the idea of living the country dream is out of town, a few chickens for fresh eggs. We find the eggs are fresher and, without confinement of some sort, the risks greater as everything it seems wants to eat chicken.When a dog, coyote or coon kills your chickens you have no more eggs! This is why for protection many are kept confined at least at night.

While it’s a low input way of providing food for the table, when we keep chickens it’s typically for a family, or perhaps to sell the extra. We don’t want to feed hundreds of people or supply the restaurants…although there are many people without chickens who still want eggs. This means someone has to raise the chickens. For reasons of labor, feed efficiency and protection this meant a move to cages in a confinement system. We have a choice what to eat – the lower cost of the “big farm” eggs or free range or our own.

Groups such as the Humane Society of the United States aren’t happy with allowing choice and want to legislate no cages. It sounds great right? Chickens need to scratch the ground, we’re told, and indeed they seem quite happy doing that! The problem with it is, unlike the automated system that the egg rolls to the front off the cage, chickens in a pen you have to hunt for their eggs – then wonder if it’s really fresh or is it one you missed (and for how long)? When shipping eggs to other people this is unacceptable.

We’re told to look to the Europeans as Germany banned cages. All cage free. Yes indeed how is that working? “In February 2010, the average price of eggs was 11 percent higher than one year ago. The price of consumption eggs has risen notably in recent months. This is predominantly caused by increased exports to Germany.”

11% in a month…ok perhaps not too bad. Those $2 eggs are now $2.22 – a quarter for the chickens right? Not exactly. The above link shows more. “Dutch exports of consumption eggs to Germany grew by over 2 billion to nearly 7.5 billion. If exports increase, prices go up and occasionally Dutch consumers were faced with empty supermarket shelves. The shortage of eggs in Germany was the direct result of a ban on battery cages introduced on 1 January 2010. As battery cages were dismantled, the egg-production process stalled. In the Netherlands and the rest of the European Union, the ban on battery cages will take effect from 1 January 2012.”

Not only the price of eggs is affected. Everything with eggs in it also is faced with higher costs if not shortages.

Now..bring that to America. For the next week do this – look at everything you eat that has eggs in it. From the meatloaf to the sausage egg biscuit to the cupcake for dessert. Look at right now the demand for Easter eggs – hard boiled that make wonderful snacks or eggs Benedict. Bread. Look at labels. We don’t have, normally food shortages here. Take half of those foods away.

What will you eat? Where will you get it? The last couple of years chick demand has been high with many hatcheries listing breeds/varieties as unavailable due to demand. Without planning now there are not enough young birds to fulfill the demand. Places like Slow Money Farm, CSA’s and other ideas won’t exist if not supported now to be growing into demand and, even at that, there’s only so much most want to do. Again – one coyote getting into a field, one loose dog and their chickens are gone too.

Think for a minute about your food! It’s too important to take for granted!