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Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Year in Review: Food For Thought

It's been a big year for Food For Thought and to thank all of you, I thought it'd be interesting to review some of the happenings:
  • This year we've had 7,238 visitors to our blog.
  • Our top two posts receiving visits were: Getting to Know Your Beef and Temple Grandin Lecture
  • Most of our traffic is direct refferal and of course Facebook.
  • Our visitors are from 104 different countries.
  • Our top five states are: 1. Kansas, 2. California, 3. Missouri, 4. Texas, and 5. New York.
  • We continue to keep up with a twitter account that I encourage you to follow.
  • We hosted a speaker for the Upson Lecture Series - Dr. Temple Grandin
We'd like to thank you for a fun year of blogging and bridging the gap between producers and consumers. We've all enjoyed seeing Food For Thought gain interest and look forward to a successful 2011!



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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Food Safety and Some Political Mumbo Jumbo


I wish I followed politics more. Maybe before I begin following I should wish to care more first. Don't get me wrong, when there are specific issues that affect things I am really passionate about, I jump on the computer and do my research to form an opinion. But I have a feeling no one would put me in the category of well-rounded in the political arena. My facebook says my affiliation is, "currently looking for a worthy party," and while this statement has some truth, I'm not actively looking either. I should make this a resolution for 2011. I'll keep it in my top 5.

There are some political issues I like to read up on. The current U.S. food safety bill (Food Safety Modernization Act) would be one of them. It won't officially be signed until January of the new year, but even when it is signed I'm not sure it will change much. It is estimated that it will cost somewhere in the ballpark of $1.4 billion in the first five years of installment. Unless you have been in a hole for the past few years of economic turmoil, I don't think we have that money just sitting around.

When I do choose to research some of the hot topics in political changes, I need the information to be pretty cut and dry. I found some good information for the recent food bill on the FDA's website. While most of the information is good, I won't speak for one of the opening paragraphs...

"The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) gives FDA a mandate to pursue a system that is based on science and addresses hazards from farm to table, putting greater emphasis on preventing food-borne illness. The reasoning is simple: The better the system handles producing, processing, transporting, and preparing foods, the safer our food supply will be."

Thanks for that. It probably cost a lot of money and some poor intern's whole work day to get that paragraph orchestrated and I'm pretty sure that sums up the FDA's purpose in the first place, before the FSMA. No new information here.

There are some interesting provisions in the new bill and they are listed on the FDA website given above. I guess what urged me to write this post is that we (meaning the United States) have a very safe food supply. I don't think that we have the extra money laying around for the costs associated with the legislation and I think it's just pushing more on to the FDA. I think it's truly unfair to place majority responsibility for food safety into one agency.

Food safety is the responsibility of a complex web of people. That's why it is important that we all care about the safety of the food put on our tables. It takes the producers who work hard to insure a safe product is raised, to the processors who are regulated to do things correctly in their facilities, to the preparers of meals whether it be Bobby Flay or my mom. A system that is just complex enough to ensure that we keep eating safe food.


For what my two cents are worth,

Tera




Thursday, December 23, 2010

Farmers Night Before Christmas

FARMERS NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS 2010

Twas the night before Christmas when down on the farm
The animals were resting in the warm, cozy barn.

Now was the time to reflect on the past year
Saying thank you for all the great things they had here.

A calf had been born to the brown and white cow
All bedded in straw from up in the hay mow.

The horses they whinnied with such a great joy
They were a present picked out for the farmer’s young boy.

The pigs they all squealed with every ounce of their might
For the farmer’s wife gave them extra apples tonight.

Even the dogs gave a bark to say thanks
While wagging their tails the children all yank.

A nice quiet night is what they all thought
But little did they know quiet it was not.

When what to their wondering eyes should appear
But the farmer’s whole family had all gathered here.

First there was mom who gathers up all the eggs
And her cute little toddler clung tight to her legs.

Next was the farmer all warm in his coat
And his brown headed boy with his brand new toy boat.

Come Susie! Come Matthew! Come Peter and Paul!
Quick Jenny! Quick Sarah! Come close to the stall.

To the animals they went with treats all in tow
For their gratitude to those creatures they must show.

The pigs all got apples for giving them bacon.
The cows all got hay for the milk they’ve been makin’.

Benny and Penny, the Labs, got new bones.
Their cute little puppies were going to new homes.

As the family and animals all gathered round
The snow started falling softly to the ground.

Even the animals enjoy Christmastime
Giving joy to the family without spending a dime.

They all danced around to frolic and play
As the farmer dropped down to his knees to say:

Thank you for my family and country home
And a nice big area where my animals can roam.

I promise to take care of the creatures and land
And the people who lend a warm, helping hand.

Thank you for the freedom to do what I do
To produce food and fuel so others may have too.

Time had come for the family to call it a night.
The children needed sleep though fight it they might.

To the door they all went while waving goodbye.
What a night this has been they said with a sigh.

Once they retreated the animals all lowed.
For this was the best Christmas one cow bellowed.

They all settled in to get a good rest.
The family they had was clearly the best.

Provide for them they would with all of their might.
That’s what they must do after a night like tonight.

Christmas on the farm is a sight to behold.
Merry Christmas to all, both the young and the old.

- Adapted December 2010 by Aimee Chandler


Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Chelsea

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

American Agriculture | a story of productivity

In 1940, one farmer produced enough food for 19 people. In 1970, one farmer produced enough food for 73 people and in 2010, one farmer produces enough food to feed 155 people. Click on the video below to find out more about how productivity has shaped American agriculture.

More prisoners than farmers in the U.S.

There are more people in prison in the U.S. then there are farmers. It's sad but true.

There are over 285,000,000 people living in the U.S. The prison population in the U.S. exceeds 2 million people, meaning 1 in every 142 U.S. residents are currently incarcerated.


On the other hand, there are only about 960,000 people in the U.S. claiming farming as their principal occupation. So, there are twice as many prisoners than there are full-time farmers.


The sad truth is the number of mouths to feed in prison are growing and the number of producers meeting this need is not. This is one trend I'd sure like to see reverse in the future.




Monday, December 20, 2010

Funny video for the true food lovers

My family loves good food. Every letter or phone call from my Grandma Good is sure to include a description of her last great meal. Every meal at home ends with planning what we’ll eat at the next one. Being home for Christmas this love is celebrated more than any time of year, especially this year because my dad received a premature Christmas gift of a new smoker.

My friend Crystal Young, known to many as Crystal.Cattle, shared this video with me and it exhibits this love that so many of us have for food.



I like the video even more because it reminds me of a couple Thanksgivings ago when my middle brother Derek was upset that my younger brother Kelton and I claimed the two turkey legs before he had a chance to get one, so he stole mine of my plate while my eyes were closed for the Thanksgiving day prayer. Only the steaks are higher in the video because the food everyone is feuding over is my personal favorite – beef.

Hope you enjoy the video as much as I did and be sure to celebrate your love for food this holiday season!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

American Beef wins International taste test




At the recently held SIAL exhibition, the largest international food and beverage trade show, US beef products came out on top over competitors from several countries.

Over 1,000 visitors took park in a blinded taste test where American striploins, top blades and flank steaks were compared to those from Argentina, Ireland, Germany and France. An impartial French market research firm compiled the results.

US beef was chosen over the other countries for both the striploins and top blades, with improved tenderness coming in as one of the main factors behind its success. What was also interesting was that consumers were able to recognize the US product over 40% of the time, while for most other countries less than 15% of consumers could recognize the country of origin. However, consumers did recognize the French steaks 21% of the time, as the French steaks consistently finished at the bottom of the pack.

To see the rest of the story feel free to visit:
http://www.drovers.com/news_editorial.asp?pgID=675&ed_id=8265&news_id=20850&ts=nl1

Enjoy,

Hyatt Frobose

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Death and Taxes



Great news!


Today, the US Senate voted to extend all expiring tax rates for two years. While I'm sure there is some discussion that could be had within our readership on how our country should be taxed, I for one am glad that the so-called "Death Tax" is at least at-bay for another two years.



The estate tax was originally created and is still associated as a tax on the rich. However, this tax disproportionately affects US farmers, ranchers and small businessman due to its framework. The United States Department of Agriculture even cites the death tax as one of the primary reasons that multigenerational farming and ranching operations are broken up when the past owner passes away.


If the Bush-era tax cuts had not been extended for two more years, the tax would have jumped to levels of 55 percent on any estate valued over $1 million. So, for example, if a farmer in Ohio passes away who owns less than 300 acres (not even enough to make a living), at a conservative estimate of $3,500/acre, he would have land assets alone valued over the $1 million dollar threshhold and his family would have to pay 55 percent of that value to the federal government.

As a consumer, I love to buy my meat and food products from family farming and ranching operations (still over 98% of those in the US). However, taxes like these are part of the reason why it is so hard for young people like myself to take over a family operation and the reason why so many are dissolved today. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the House will follow suit with the Senate's vote so these tax exemptions can stay in effect.


Voters: keep in mind that this tax extension will still be up again in two years. So vote for Congressmen who will not only extend this tax exemption, but perhaps get rid of it in future years so that family operations can continue to dominate the landscape of American agriculture.

Thanks for reading,


Hyatt Frobose

Friday, December 10, 2010

Extra Extra Read All About It!!!

Hot off the press is the new issue of Lifelines, a publication put out by the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and featured front page is the Upson Lecture Series that our group founded.

The coolest part of the new Lifelines feature is that there is an online video interview about the Temple Grandin Lecture and more information about Food For Thought. Go check it out!!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

HSUS: a new perspective

The Humane Society of the United States is an organization that uses it's name and emotional commercials to tug at the heartstrings of millions to raise more money to fund lobbying efforts. Their goal? To abolish animal agriculture as a whole. They do not support the local animal shelters that actually do work in our communities to help stray cats and dogs find homes. I have several classmates who are very passionate about doing work in these shelters and see a growing number of veterinary students interested in shelter medicine. They need to be the ones benefiting from the opening of America's pocket books when the commercial with the sad puppy in it comes across the tube.

I could go on, but this article says it perfectly. I encourage you to read the Q&A with Jake Geis. He is a veterinary student and a very bright, passionate person who will make strides in the animal health and welfare field.


I encourage you to leave your opinions in the comment section below. I'd love to hear your take on things and learn a bit more myself.

My best,

Tera Rooney

Monday, December 6, 2010

Time to Bed Down!

It's getting cold and a lot of farmers and ranchers are starting to move some of their livestock inside for the winter and with that moves comes an increase in management.  Farmers supply indoor animals with bedding in order to make the living space more comfortable and provide warmth when it's rainy, cold and snowy.

A lot of farmers and ranchers use straw to bed down their animals. Straw consists of the dried stalks of plants, especially cereal grains such as wheat stalks or corn stalks. Straw is not hay!  Hay is used as a primary forage and serves as a valuable source of nutrients, energy and v&m (vitamins and minerals) whereas straw is used as bedding and also to assist with scratch factor in livestock. Another key difference between straw and hay is that straw is much cheaper. For example:
In Kansas an average small square bale (~65-70 lb) costs  ~$3/bale. One ton of small square bales may cost anywhere from $85-$95/ton (depending on size/price of bale).  Straw on the other hand is about $55/ton.  As you can see, it's much cheaper to use straw as bedding than hay because farmers will use several tons of straw throughout the winter to keep livestock warm and dry and those costs will add up.
Still having trouble differentiating between straw and hay? Check out these pictures:


Hay (above)


Straw (above)

Another form of bedding used in livestock operations are shavings.  Shavings are most commonly found made from pine wood. These are really prevalent in the show industry.  Here's an image of pine shavings at work.


The last form of bedding I want to discuss is sawdust. Sawdust serves the same purpose as straw or shavings but there is a downfall. Sawdust shouldn't be used in a building or area that allows strong winds to blow through - why?  Because sawdust is so fine that the wind can blow it up in the air and it can get into the animal's eyes.  You should never used sawdust in a trailer that has open sides or slats - that's just asking for irritated eyes.

Livestock aren't the only animals that enjoy warm bedding in the winter --don't forget to put some extra straw in your dog house this winter! 


Until next time,
~Buzzard~

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Meatless Mondays


Recently you may have heard of a new movement in the school lunch programs, referred to as Meatless Mondays. Using a marketing dichotomy targeted at adolescents, Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative that encourages eliminating meat from your diet every Monday of every week.

I have a problem with this idea of eliminating one food group in meals served to school-aged children for the following simple reasons:

  1. I think the aim should be to teach children to make healthy eating decisions every day. Healthy, square meals include moderated servings of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and meat. I don't like the idea of trying to teach children this concept, by eliminating one of the food groups on one day of the week. We all, and especially children, need all of the food groups EVERY DAY of the week.
  2. Budgets drive school lunch menu decisions, and we'd all like to see meal options improve in schools, however eliminating a major protein source from the meal is not the answer. Students need nutritious meals to fuel their activities throughout the day and that includes a meal with meat.
  3. Ounce for ounce, meat provides more vitamins and minerals than any other food products. Nutrient dense food products like beef, which provides zinc, iron, protein and Vitamin B12, should be included in a healthy lunch.
These are the three reasons that I don't agree with the promotion of Meatless Mondays and I am some of you have an opinion on the matter. Pro or con, let me know what you think about this initiative in schools across the US. Leave some comments and good discussion!

All my best,

Tera Rooney

What's in That Feed Bunk?

This past week I was in Ohio with my fiancĂ©’s family for Thanksgiving. I was getting settled into our room when I saw this picture on the wall.


Very old fashioned, yet to the point. There are a lot of claims out there that livestock are fed non-nutritive feedstuffs or garbage. Obviously, farmers and ranchers wouldn’t feed our livestock any feed products that are detrimental to the animal or consumer’s health or safety. Would you like to know some of the ingredients in livestock feed? I thought you would….

The 5 main ingredients in a diet for market weight pigs are:
  • Corn 
  • Soybean meal 
  • DDGS – Distiller’s dried grains with solubles – (by products of ethanol production that are high in protein, fiber and oil)
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Fat
These ingredients meet the nutritional needs of the animal and also contribute to a safe, healthy end product for the consumer.

While on Thanksgiving break, I was fortunate enough to get to take care of the cattle at the Frobose feedlot – every morning and night we cleaned their bunks, gave them fresh feed and checked to make sure there were no sick animals. Those are some lucky cattle, here was their dinner menu:
  • Whole corn
  • Whole oats
  • Mineral supplement
  • Alfalfa hay
  • Straw to keep their intestines in fine working order
These dinner items may not be the most delicious sounding to you, but cattle love them!

If you have any questions about livestock feed, here are some links that provide ingredient lists:
http://cattle.purinamills.com/OurProducts/GrowFinishFeedlot/default.aspx
http://www.admani.com/allianceswine/MomentumStartersCompleteFeeds.htm
http://www.kalmbachfeeds.com/Product-Information.html
 
Or, as always, ask a farmer! They’d be happy to share the components of their livestock’s rations with you.

Until next time, 
~Buzzard~

 

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