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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

From Plants to Pants

I've told you that my dad is a cotton farmer in Southwest Kansas before, right?

If you missed that memo, check it out. 

Have you ever wondered where your jeans really came from? Plains Cotton Cooperative Association is the only fully vertically integrated company in the world that offers total traceability. With every bail of cotton produced and sold by a cooperative farmer, it can be traced back to that farm.

They put out a neat video explaining more about this vertical integration here.

Jeans on a Journey

I hope you enjoy learning a little more about this very important fiber crop. I am so excited about a Boots On The Ground post that will be coming out soon about a cotton farmer from Kansas.



Sunday, February 26, 2012

Boots on the Ground - father. teacher. farmer.

BOOTS ON THE GROUND is a series of posts introducing you to a producer. Check out the other ones if you haven't kept up!

Today we go East of the Mississippi a ways to check in with a small family farmer who enjoys the farm life while his main career is in the education field. John grew up on a family farm in Kentucky where they grew corn and tobacco. Nowadays, John continues farming on the weekends and breaks from his position as a 5th grade teacher. 

When do you pull your boots on in the morning? 
 I don’t think I’ve ever taken my boots off. Whether you are a farmer full time or more of a hobby farmer like me, agriculture is part of your everyday life. There is always something to do on the farm and that means I’ll always be prepared with my boots on. My family's been wearing farming boots for 4 generations. I hope I can pass on a pair to my son.
What is your role in the agriculture industry? 
I’m a teacher who enjoys supplementing my income with a small family farm. People say that bigger farms are not considered family farms and that is incorrect. Just because I have a job outside of the farm doesn’t mean that my farm is better because it’s smaller. In fact, it's the other way around. The size of my farm is directly related to the fact that I can manage it while still having a career in education. I wanted to keep my family's farm alive and so I had to downsize it to something more manageable.

Here is your platform, what do you want consumers to know?
I want to connect with consumers. People are more interested to know where their food comes from. I have time to connect with a lot of consumers because I have a job off the farm. Most farmers, however, are busy growing crops and raising animals all day. It’s harder to make that connection with a mom buying groceries in New York City when you’re on the ranch in Texas. The internet is a wonderful tool and I hope that consumers are reaching out to connect with farmers on the internet, rather than finding more information about their food from sources that don’t really know the truth.

From Farmer John to the Consumer who might be reading this: 
Agriculture is a complex system of growing, marketing and trading goods that become the dinner on your table. Because of that complexity, we have a safe and cheap food supply. Please learn about your food from a reliable source. Believe it or not, agriculture gives you many options at the grocery store and that doesn’t mean that those options exist because the traditional ones were wrong or unhealthy. Options exist because the consumers asked for it! How lucky we are!

BOOTS ON THE GROUND is brought to you by Country Outfitter They sent me a fancy new pair of boots and so I'm linking them on to this series. They help put boots on the ground, and I know I will be ordering my next pair from them too!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Will You Eat Beef in 2012?

I hope so. I know I will - I'm addicted and I know I'm not the only one. I live in a town with a very heavy population of farmers, farm kids and rural dwellers who are all very proud promoters of beef. Don't forget about the countless burger joints in Manhattan that are frequented by a hungry college town. However, with all the love we give beef, consumption is predicted to fall this year. Why? Instead of telling you, I'll just let you read this article.
Is Beef Still on the Table?

Within it you'll find scientific data to show that beef producers have become much more efficient with their natural resources. You'll also find out why beef consumption could decline, while pork and poultry are holding steady.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Monday, February 20, 2012

My "New" Book

With much disdain and after an onslaught of emails over the all-school listserv I finally decided to drag my tired carcass up the 4 flights of stairs to the top floor of Trotter Hall (ok so I may have taken the elevator) where the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine Library was holding their annual book sale. Would there really be anything worth reading in a library that I couldn't conjure up with a mouse click and a little help from Google? My hypothesis was no.

 Not surprisingly, there was a slew of now "outdated" technical textbooks and references of the subject matter you expect from a top tier veterinary college (shameless plug): Physiology, Toxicology, Pathology, Medicine,the list goes on and on. Once worth hundreds of dollars each, these old relics were now being offered up for the scrap price of $5 a piece. Oh well I thought to myself, I needed a break from my desk anyways.But as I turned to leave, something caught my eye. There it sat, brown and tattered, on the bottom shelf of sale items, between a brightly colored edition of Kirk's Current Veterinary Therapy and an acid-base homeostasis and disorders text that would make Henderson and Hasselbalch cringe. The spine read United States Department of Agriculture Year Book 1920.

As I began to thumb through the pages, I knew it was a keeper. Reading this book is like getting a visit from the Ghost of Agriculture Past. In fact its more like a slap on the back of the head than a visit. Most people in my generation are just down right oblivious to how lucky we are have today's technologies and production systems and at times I can count myself as one of them. On the other hand, I was amazed to to see that many things that I have viewed as only problems of my generation were discussed in depth as major concerns almost century ago.

I thought it would be a shame to not share some of it with you all and along the way I hope we will all get a little better understanding of why we do things we do today and how we used to do them. STAY TUNED!!!



P.S.- Here's a great recipe I just stumbled onto for Pork Medallions on a Bed of Creamed Corn! It comes from the good folks over at the Kansas Pork Association. :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chipotle - Back to the Start Rebuttal

I enjoyed reading this official comment on the recent Chipotle commercial that aired during the Grammy's. The gross misinformation presented in the video made a lot of agriculturists feel offended.

You can read the comment put out by the American Society of Animal Science here.

I think what I enjoyed most was the following direct quote -

“The world can afford for a few wealthy people to get pork and other animal products produced in outdoor extensive systems,” said Pettigrew. “But we cannot sustainably produce nearly enough for all the world’s people that way. Such systems require too much land and feed to be sustainable if applied across the industry.”

Sourcing food from places that Chipotle does is not wrong. It's a valid option to give consumers. However, I disagree with presenting it as a replacement for conventionally produced meat products. We have a lot of mouths to feed and we have to provide protein products for people who make $5 an hour AND for people who make $50 an hour. 

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Menu Planning on a Budget

I want to send you to a new blog I am IN LOVE with! She's funny and creatively feeding her family of 6 on a budget. A budget that consists of $60 a week. Her menu planning is fun to follow and she does all of this while serving up balanced, nutritious meals to her family members.

I hope you enjoy as much as I have - Grocery Cart Challenge!



Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chipotle - Back to the Start

Farmers take care of all of us. See how pigs are raised on MOST of the hog farms in America. This video sure gets it right!

Oh Baby! Oh Baby! Let me tell you what I L-O-V-E!

This week is Valentine's Day and while I don't usually get into that holiday, I figured I'd throw a post out there for you!

These are a few of my favorite foods!

L -


I bet I can count on my hand how many times I've purchased beef from the grocery store. My family raises cattle so we keep the freezer stocked with fresh, lean beef from animals that we have raised and had butchered.The hamburger that comes from home is my favorite, but that is also because we can formulate our own lean to fat ratio when making your own. There are 29 cuts of beef  that meet government labeling guidelines to meet the standard of being lean. My favorite is the Top Loin Strip Steak. Depending where you are reading this from, you may see this on a menu as a Kansas City Strip or a New York Strip. Either way, I'd take one Medium Rare if you're cooking tonight! Beef is produced in a lot of states, but the top ones would be Texas, Kansas and Nebraska.

O -


If you stay up to date with the blog and read this post, you'd know I was pulling your leg!  My O-food is Oranges. I love Oranges, they are probably one of my favorite fruits. I especially like those little bitty clementine oranges called Cuties! They're my favorite because you can peel them easily with your fingers!

V -


I love my veggies. Since I can't get my favorite veggie, corn fresh off the cob, mainly because my dad raises the BEST sweet corn ever and there is no comparison to what is available in the can or frozen variety so I don't even bother. I'd probably have to say green beans or cauliflower are my favorite veggies. Cauliflower, for instance, is grown year round in many states and most of ours comes from California. It actually begins as a seed in a green house and after about 35 days the plants are transferred out into a field to finish growing.

E -

I like eggs. I like them scrambled, hard boiled, fried, pickled or even deviled. I like the white part and the yellow part! They're a staple protein source at my house, especially on a college budget. Eggs are considered a food staple in our country and that is defined as an item that is found in a large majority of households. Eggs are found in 93% of households in the United States. Think about it though, eggs are the epitome of affordable and they have a lot to offer when you are thinking about nutrient dense food for a relatively low price. Did you know that you can find out exactly how old your egg is? To determine the age of an egg, if the carton you pick up has the USDA grade shield on it, the "pack date" must be shown. The "pack date" is a three-digit code representing what day the eggs were processed and placed into a carton. January 1 would be 001 where January 16 would be 016 and December 30 is 364.

What kinds of food do you L-O-V-E? You don't even have to follow the letters. Let me know!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

New Technology Brings Pigs and People Together

    Would you be interested in a video game that is played between real people and their counterparts in the pig world? How could this work, you might wonder? Well, thanks to collaborative research between the Utrecht School of the Arts and animal scientists at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, the  Playing with Pigs  project has become a reality in the form of a video game called PigChase.

PigChase is designed as a way to bring humans and pigs closer together, as it involves a human playing on an iPad or iPhone video tablet interacting with live pigs in their home environment. It will be much easier to understand if you check out the video.

Researchers have set up a large touch-screen system inside a pen where young pigs are housed. Research has shown that pigs are attracted by moving light and based on this principle, a game was created where humans use their fingers to drag a ball of light with their finger and try to match it up with the pigs' snouts on the other side of the screen.

This is an exciting idea that I must say needs to be applauded for it creativity. In animal science we often discuss the need to bring food animals and consumers closer together, and what better way to do so than by keeping both pigs and people entertained at the same time?

For those of you interested in getting the game PigChase, keep your eyes peeled for its release!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I'm An Agronomist

So I'm not really an agronomist but that is the name of a website created by Iowa State University that is dedicated to agronomy education. I found the site while visiting a few friends in Ames, IA this past weekend who had an "I'm An Agronomist" magnet on their fridge. Good advertising, I think.

Anyway, here on Food For Thought, we strive to provide a window into all aspects of agriculture so today I thought an inside look at agronomy would be a change-up.

The motto of I'm An Agronomist is "applying science to fuel and feed our global society" - very catchy and very true. The website addresses issues like bio-energy development, how to confront world hunger and protecting human health. I'm pretty interested in feeding 9 billion people in 50 years so I clicked on the World Hunger link and was pleasantly surprised at the tactics agronomists are using to help solve our world hunger problems:

There are now 854 million undernourished people in our world 820 million in developing countries, 25 million in countries formerly controlled by the Soviet Union, and 9 million in industrialized countries. These numbers reflect the intersection of complex historical, economic and political problems that together have created chronic poverty. The companion to poverty is hunger fed by a lack of access to fertile land and resources to grow food, and /or a lack of sufficient opportunity to generate income to buy food.
The solution to hunger must start from the ground up especially since many of the worlds hungry also live in rural areas. Agronomists use skills and knowledge across the areas of soils, agroecology, climate, crop diversity, and plant breeding to help identify and analyze systemic problems facing the agriculture of an area. Contributing this training to the knowledge and practices of local farmers, in the context of their culture, could generate creative ideas that have the potential to take aim at one of the most unjust and unacceptable problems of our time. In this way, agronomists are, "confronters of world hunger"
I was also interested in the human health portion and after checking out that particular page I learned some nifty info on healthier soybean oils. I'm a supporter of fried chicken, chicken fried steak, fried potatoes, etc - so healthier oils to use while preparing those tasty dishes is relatively important to me.
Neat, huh? I also found a cool podcast link, YouTube videos from ISU's Agronomy Channel and if you're ready to bleed agronomy, red and gold --- several desktop wallpaper themes.

I enjoyed reading more about agronomy and the different technologies utilized in crop production, and I hope you'll give the I'm An Agronomist website a look.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Super Bowl of Agriculture

The big game is tomorrow and while coaches are reviewing film, fans are preparing barbecue and the halftime entertainers are double checking their wardrobes to avoid any malfunctions.....Will that ever get old?

8 years later and the newscasters still bring that up!

Anyways, I ran across a website that only an Ag nerd would completely fall in love with. BUT if you aren't as crazy as some of us Ag nerds, you might just find it interesting to aid in consumer awareness about where food and agricultural products are produced across the US.

Interested? Check it out: STATE AG FACTS

So, for fun, I present you with the SUPER BOWL XLVIAG. Because they are like the only people who still utilize Roman Numerals.

Location: Indiana (Indianapolis)
Top Ag Products: Corn, soybeans, popcorn, tomatoes, peppermint, spearmint, eggs, ducks, regular ice cream and fat free ice cream

Team # 1: Massachusetts (New England Patriots)
Top Ag Products: dairy products, eggs, flowers, ornamental shrubs, cranberries, sweet corn, apples and hay

Team #2: New Jersey (New York Giants)
Top Ag Products: blueberries, cranberries, peaches, horses, milk and fish
Enjoy the game tomorrow! While you are chowing down on some guacamole and chicken wings, take a minute to find out what major food products come from your home state. Which ones do you enjoy most often? Which ones can you not get locally?


Tera Rooney

Friday, February 3, 2012

Boots on the Ground - cattle rancher. grain farmer. agriculture student.

BOOTS ON THE GROUND is a series of posts aimed at introducing consumers to a diverse group of people who have their boots on the ground working in the agriculture industry in some form. This series will bring you all kinds; from boots that do chores on a family farm in the heartland to boots that walk the steps up to the Capital daily. You better grab hold of your bootstraps because it'll be one heck of a ride!

 Rosie Templeton - agriculture advocate

Today we go way North to check out a pair of boots that are most likely insulated for the majority of the year! Rosie Templeton grew up on her family's grain farm and cattle ranch in Coaldale, Alberta, Canada. Rosie was born into a family of agriculturists who have been working on the same operation to raise purebred cattle and grain crops for three generations! She is currently a student at the University of Alberta studying Agriculture Business. Making it home to the family farm is always a a priority in her life and you'll see why when you read this post!
 Rosie pictured on her purebred cattle ranch.The pictured cattle is an older group of bulls are used for breeding purposes. The breed of cattle Rosie's family raises is called Hereford. Hereford cattle have distinct markings and are raised as a beef breed of cattle, which means that they are eventually bred to produce high quality meat for consumers. Purebred breeders, like Rosie's family, rarely slaughter their cattle, but rather make breeding decisions to provide good genetics to sell to other cattle ranchers. 

When do you pull your boots on in the morning? 
The morning routine at the farm usually starts with chores around 7am. All of our cattle need to be fed, checked for health issues, and given fresh bedding on a regular basis. Depending on the time of year, most of the day can be spent baling hay, trailing cows to a fresh pasture, building fences, having the veterinarian out to check pregnancy rates in our cows, or checking every few hours for cows ready to give birth. You’ll never have the same day twice working on a farm.

Agricultural jobs are rarely 8-5er's, when do you get to take your boots off at night? 
Even when the outdoor work is done at the farm, there is plenty more to do. Each of our purebred cattle come with extensive paperwork with their full pedigrees, health information, and history. Keeping records is an important part of our farm. My family is also very involved in several volunteer committees that aim to improve our local cattle and agriculture industries. My personal involvement extends from Collegiate 4-H Club President at my University to Vice President of the Alberta Junior Hereford Association, along with my studies and hobby blog, Absolutely Agriculture.

Rosie checking on a baby calf out on her ranch. Ranching families are concerned about the health and productivity of the cattle they raise. Every year a cow on Rosie's ranch will produce one calf. Sometimes you will get a set of twins out of one cow.

Here is your platform, what do you want consumers to know?
If I could tell consumers one major thing about agriculture, it would be that their food comes from hard-working farmers and ranchers who care about their animals as much as my family does. A healthy, low-stress animal will be the most productive animal in our cow herd or a feedlot.

Rosie is an excellent example of why the future of Agriculture is so darn bright. She's driven to educate the consumer because she enjoys what she does so much. Please check out her blog, Absolutely Agriculture, to keep up with her and her farm! 

She would also be happy to answer any questions you might have about where your food comes from. E-mail her at: rosie[dot]templeton@live[dot]ca


Tera Rooney

BOOTS ON THE GROUND is brought to you by Country Outfitter They sent me a fancy new pair of boots and so I'm linking them on to this series. They help put boots on the ground, and I know I will be ordering my next pair from them too!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Super Bowl Food Will Be Super Safe!

Sorry for the cliche title.

An article on has highlighted the extra efforts being made by the city of Indianapolis and it's Division of Food and Consumer Safety to ensure food safety at the Super Bowl.

There are over 250 eateries, restaurants and food trucks that are to be inspected during the coming days of Super Bowl partying, including the day of the big event. Super Bowl food vendors will be monitored on the following criteria: getting food from an approved source, good personal hygiene, cooking temperatures, holding temperatures as well as cross contamination. These are all important measures in making sure that consumers are able to enjoy their food but don't transmit any food borne illnesses and can enjoy the Super Bowl experience.

The biggest piece of advice that Kelli Whiting, coordinator for the inspections, can give to consumers is “We want you to wash your hands, early and often,” Whiting said. “That’s the best way to help prevent the spread of disease.”

It sounds like Indy is on top of their game when it comes to food safety, so you Super Bowl patrons can rest assured that you'll be safe while you enjoy nachos, barbecue beef sandwiches, pretzels, bratwursts, chicken wings...

Oh my, I'm getting hungry.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Managing Manure

Today we get to talk about crap.

I bet you didn't think that poop could be such a big deal, huh? 

Manure management is a huge part of raising livestock and it's something that farmers (who raise crops off of the land) and ranchers (who raise animals) work together on every day.

On our farm, we are surrounded by several large cattle feedyards. This is convenient because the manure is really close to the ground we farm. We spread manure on our fields as a natural fertilizer every year, and it also helps the feedyards get rid of excess manure they may have on site.

Everyone's talking about poop!

Streamed online today at Kansas State Research and Extension, they're talking about reducing phosphorus levels in waste water from cattle feedyards. Check it out here.

Kansas Environmental Management Associates have developed a system that reduces the amount of phosphorus in waste water. It's called a Phred! You can read about it here.

Sick of me talking crap? I'll stop. Just thought you might be a little interested!




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