Tag Archives: agriculture

Reader’s Choice ’12: Food Fright

Remember Ryan Goodman?

Ryan Goodman

Ryan Goodman

He’s the young cowboy we visited last March. He’s been quite busy since then. Besides full-time graduate school, Ryan’s been blogging his passion for agriculture on CNN’s food blog Eatocracy.

You read that right: C-N-N.

Ryan graciously agreed to take a moment out of his celebrity schedule to be in our little Reader’s Choice feature. Meanwhile, our friend Dairy Carrie let me hijack his blog as a Bandita. I’ve never been a Bandita before! 

See my surprise guest post today on Ryan’s blog Agriculture Proud. But first, Ryan’s Reader’s Choice is:

Food Fright

click to read Food Fright

click to read Food Fright

Reader's Choice 2012

 

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Food Fright

This post was featured by BlogHer on July 17, 2012.

Something’s awry in the 630s and the 338.19s.

cauliflower

cauliflower

Recently I ventured into the 630s and 338.19s at the downtown branch of the Wichita Public Library. Those are the Dewey Decimal call numbers for farming and production.

I was looking for a book that could help me address the concerns of yet another well-intentioned friend who watched Food, Inc. and hit the panic button.

Food giant Cargill headquarters its meat operations in Wichita. Kansas ranks seventh among states for total agricultural production. You’d think this prairie town would be dyed-in-the-wool pro-ag. Not so fast.

Instead of books about the dignity of farming and food production, here’s a sample of the titles I found:

The End of Food: How the Food Industry is Destroying Our Food Supply–And What You Can Do About It

Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit

Stuffed & Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System

A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American  Soil

Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization

Really?

Did you eat today? How about yesterday? Last year? Do you plan to eat again?

Did you have trouble finding food? Or did you have your choice of food at your choice of markets? Is someone preventing you from growing your own food if you want to do so?

I know your food didn’t kill you or you wouldn’t be reading this.

steak

steak

I have a child. To borrow a line of reasoning from Katie Pinke, because I have a child, do you think I abuse him? How about my dog? Do you assume I abuse her?

If you have children or animals, should I assume you abuse them? How about livestock or poultry? If a farmer raises livestock or poultry, is it a foregone conclusion that those animals are abused?

You know how I feel about milk.

Did you find insects in your produce? How about fungi on your fruit? Was your corn sweet and robust or wimpy and weedy? Was it dripping with chemicals?

Bad things happen in agriculture. There are accidents and outbreaks. There are crimes. Sometimes animals are abused. Sometimes people die.

There’s always room for improvement.

Bad things happen at local swimming pools. And at city halls. In factories. Police departments. Schools. Daycares. Animal shelters. Fortune 500 companies. Convenience stores.

There are accidents and outbreaks. There are crimes. Sometimes animals are abused. Sometimes people die. There’s always room for improvement.

Bad things happen, but they’re not the norm.

They’re certainly not the intention of the majority of people who work in these sectors. Crimes should be prosecuted. Innocent people shouldn’t be attacked.

Research, funding, and lifetimes of labor by dedicated farmers go into improving farming and our food. The result is one of the safest, most plentiful, least expensive food supplies in history. We have choices of what to eat.

Surely there must be something right about farming and food.

Much of what’s wrong appears to be grown and harvested on a bookshelf of misinformation. And don’t even get me started about what’s on the internet.

radicchio

radicchio

Show me the right path, O Lord;
point out the road for me to follow. Psalm 25:4 NLT

The Farmer’s Song by Murray McLaughlin. Thanks for the meal, here’s a song that is real from a kid from the city to you.

I snapped the food photos in this post at The Fresh Market in Wichita, where conventional, organic, homegrown, and imported foods are sold from the same shelves.

What’s your take on this? What are your concerns about farming and food? What would you like to stay the same? What would you like to change? 

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Going Cowgirl Couture

Celeste Settrini

Today I’m honored that an everyday epistle post is being featured on The Couture Cowgirl.

Celeste Settrini, the site’s creator, is blessed with a positive outlook and energy for life.

She is the founder and president of Couture Cowgirl Communications and fashion editor of Equestre Magazine.

You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter @couturecowgirl7. Or catch her on Rural Route Radio with Trent Loos hosting Fashion Friday.

Or speaking to school children in San Francisco and business people in Sacramento about farming. Or leading the charge as a past president of California Women for Agriculture. Or working on her family ranch in Salinas.

She’s a busy bee. And I’ll bet she wouldn’t have it any other way.

I hope someday when I meet Celeste in person she’ll show me the ropes of being a real cowgirl. But first I need her advice on a good pair of gorgeous cowgirl boots!

Now mosey on over to The Couture Cowgirl, meet my friend Celeste, and read about my favorite fashion strategy in Many Happy Returns.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. Ecclesiastes 4:9 NLT

Speaking of fashion, have a slice of Cake with a Short Skirt and a Long Jacket.

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Field Trip to Visit a Cowboy

Ryan Goodman riding horseback on the west slopes of the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming

There’s a new everyday epistle post out. But it’s not here where it usually is. Today we’re taking a field trip. A blog-cation.

Saddle up and click on over to Ryan Goodman’s excellent site Agriculture Proud.

Ryan is a real cowboy. Comes from the hearty stock of an Arkansas cattle ranching family. Smart, too. He’s currently in graduate school at the University of Tennessee.

And Ryan is social. His Facebook page I am Agriculture Proud has more than 1,400 followers. Find him on Twitter at @AR_ranchhand.

Ryan Goodman is Agriculture Proud

Ryan is also tall. He’s six feet four inches of tall, dark, and bachelor. Said he’s not ready to settle down yet. Single ladies, see if you can help him with that, will ya?

Humor and matchmaking aside, I’m honored to be guest posting on Ryan’s site today because he has a passion for telling the true story of American agriculture. And he’s invited some friends to join him this month.

So come along with me to Ryan’s cyber ranch. Meet a real cowboy and find out why I’ve been known to follow ag blogs, write about farm stuff, and collect photos of barns and livestock on Pinterest.

All this, a mere click away. Now go be Agriculture Proud!

And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. 2 Timothy 2:6 NLT

Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? asks Paula Cole. Get with the program, Paula. They’re over at Agriculture Proud

 

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Milk Wars

Beautiful 685, image from Troxel Dairy Farm, IN

Competitive parenting has us taking sides against each other on everything, and marketers know it.

Before our kids are born we divide over natural, drug-assisted or C-section delivery. At the hospital or at home. Doula or doctor. Bottle or breastfeeding. Cloth or disposable diapers.

Rocking to sleep or crying it out. Nanny, sitter, daycare or stay-at-home. Ballet or soccer. Piano or tennis. Swimming or Mandarin. Public, private or homeschool. Religious or secular. Hot or cold lunch. Bus or carpool.

Sadly, we even divide over milk. Conventional or organic.

The Journal of the Academy of  Nutrition and Dietetics published a study* concluding concluding there are “no biologically significant differences in quality, nutrients and hormones” between organic milk and conventional milk produced with or without rbST (recombinant bovine somatotrophin hormone). The conventional milk “had statisically lower bacterial counts,” a fact that may lead some to argue it’s safer.

as seen at Lacoste

So conventional and organic milk are compositionally the same. When you buy organic milk, you’re paying a premium for packaging that says so. Kind of like the alligator on a Lacoste shirt.

Buying organic for taste, convenience or preference is one thing. Buying it because you believe it’s safer is misguided.

It doesn’t stop with milk. In February 2011, STL Family Life published a post by a contributing writer. She saw the documentary Food, Inc., followed it up with Fast Food Nation, then, in her words, “freaked out” and decided to feed her family organic food only.

Jolly good for her. That’s her choice. Problem is, she implies all responsible parents should follow suit.

She writes buying organic food is more expensive, but cost is a poor excuse. She is willing to sacrifice things like a new car, video games, and real wrapping paper. In her words, making kids’ safety a priority is a parent’s “OBLIGATION.”

image from http://PinkePost.com

I agree our children’s safety is a priority, and the film disturbed me too. But I disagree with this mom’s implication that all conventionally-produced food is somehow unsafe or inferior.

My husband grew up on a dairy farm and has worked in agriculture his entire career. Last fall, we had the unique privilege of meeting filmmaker Rob Kenner, director and producer of Food, Inc., when he presented to a small group of agribusiness professionals.

We sat with Kenner at dinner. He’s a great guy—smart, savvy, admittedly liberal in his views. He made a sincere effort to show different sides of the issue in Food, Inc. But the large food and agricultural companies ignored his requests for an interview. As a result, their story was mostly left untold.

Can’t say I blame them for not talking to him. Sure wish they had though.

According to Box Office Mojo, Food, Inc. grossed $4,606,199. Not bad for a documentary.

The film was such a success, Kenner said environmentalist elite Prince Charles requested a private audience with him during a retreat to one of the castles. Think the royal family’s hurting for grocery money? Not on your Union Jack.

Kenner also talked of working on a second film about food for the same group of investors who backed the first Food, Inc. Cha-ching!

Meanwhile, millions of moms and dads stand before grocery store shelves and refrigeration units wringing their hands. Are they doing the right thing, buying conventionally-produced food and milk? Are they contributing to animal abuse and the destruction of the planet?

Are they bad parents? Are their children being short-changed? Do they really need all that clothing, shelter, education, transportation and wrapping paper? Maybe they should give it up to buy only organic food like responsible parents.

I mentioned my husband grew up on a dairy farm. His family named their cows and they had about 200. To this day he can tell you about cows’ individual personalities like teachers can tell you about former students.

image from Troxel Dairy Farm, IN

Good farmers don’t abuse their animals. They recognize those animals are their most valuable assets.

Good farmers love the land. They pursue the very best practices and technologies to produce the very best fruits, vegetables, grains and livestock. Seeing the healthy growth of their plants and animals is a primary force that drives them to farm.

Are there unscrupulous farmers? Yes there are. Same as there are unscrupulous butchers, bakers, candlestick makers, teachers, preachers and politicians. Should they be prosecuted? If they break the law, absolutely.

image from http://PinkePost.com

Should we all throw up our hands, head for the hills, and buy nothing but organic? You are free to do so if you choose. This is America. But please don’t guilt, scare or legislate the rest of us into doing the same.

Personally, I like having choices in this free market of ours. I buy what looks and tastes best, what my family will eat, what meets our nutritional needs, what’s available and what we can afford—conventional or organic.

It’s my responsibility as a parent to put the food on the table. It’s not my responsibility to compete with other parents or be judged for what I serve.

Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Romans 14:3 NLT

image from Troxel Dairy Farm, IN

For your listening refreshment, order up a tall glass of No Milk Today by Herman’s Hermits.

*Reflects an updated link to the abstract of the study Survey of Retail Milk Composition as Affected by Label Claims Regarding Farm-Management Practices by John Vicini et al., published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (1/2008).

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