Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Vegetarian who Supports Animal Ag

I’m a vegetarian who supports the animal Ag industry 110%!  Just because I don’t eat meat, doesn’t mean that I want to force my food choices on everyone else, but that is not the case with others, so please read on.  But first, let me share that I’ve been a vegetarian all my life and it’s not because of any certain beliefs or convictions, I just don’t like meat.  As my mom tells the story, I quit drinking milk at 4 months old and later refused to eat any kind of meat.  After many trips to the doctor to see what was wrong with me, she finally let me eat what I wanted.   Frankly being a vegetarian is a pain in the you-know-what, but it is just the way I am. Being a non-meat eater has its challenges, like when packing my very first lunch for  Farmer Joe (as a new farm-wife) and wanting to be sweet, I made a tuna-fish and bologna sandwich (yes together) as I thought they are both disgusting so I’m sure they go together…. Well that was the wrong assumption!  =)  And it was the very first day of harvest too, oops poor guy.   However, I've since improved my culinary skills as my family loves their beef, (T-bone steaks in particular), pork and poultry. So now that I’ve bared my soul and shared an embarrassing story on myself, you are probably wondering why am I telling you this?  Well this blog is about the freedom of choice and the important goal to preserve this right.   Whether or not you are aware, there is a real threat to your freedom of choice on what you put on your dinner table if your meals are centered around meat.    Anytime one sector of Ag is affected, there is a trickle down effect on the rest of Agriculture, so this vegetarian wants to speak out on behalf of the animal Ag sector.    click here if unable to view the videos

My spoiled pooch
Let me say it takes a special person to raise animals and long before I wed my farmer, the farm had a hog operation.  Farmer Joe said during his years caring for the pigs that "there is always something that needed feeding, doctoring, tending, cleaning or fixing and was a 24/7 job- lots and lots of work". We have tremendous respect for all animal producers, but our consumers need to remember, these animals are being raised for "harvest", they are fed and treated well - but they are a crop, they are NOT a pet like your Fluffy or Spot. And that may be why consumers let themselves be swayed to vote in animal cruelty laws because we all love our pets and only want the best for them (my spoiled pooch included) but livestock animals and pets are in different categories.

As with many farmers and ranchers, the care of animals is learned early as young children, either with chores on the farm or being in 4H and FFA.  Our nephew, Zach shows you what I am talking about.  He and a couple of buddies grind their own feed for their animals and do all the chores that involve taking care of their animals. We hope that Zach will one day want to farm with his dad (Farmer Jay) and uncle Farmer Joe - but for now our young pig farmer is happy to share what he knows and is learning about the proper care of animals:

So as the official election season is upon us, there mostly likely will be petitions to get animal cruelty laws enacted.  From what I have observed even if petitions or laws have vague language that appears to be targeted towards stopping cruelty to domestic animals, and unless expressly stated, it tends to also cover animal agriculture and then that is bad news for you and me.

A movement is well underway by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the uninformed consumer is being duped into helping them with their goal to make meat so expensive that people cannot afford to put it on their dinner table.  This organization works behind the scenes to get the consumer to vote for legislation that negatively impacts agriculture.   Can you imagine the Thanksgiving holiday without a turkey or Easter without a ham?  

Many believe that HSUS is the parent organization for all humane societies, but that is not true.  Here is a video based upon real facts and legislation that has been passed in many states.  Idaho appears to be one of their next targets to enact legislation under the guise of "animal cruelty" laws and there was a direct quote from HSUS that said they would be funding a "multimillion dollar ballot initiative and hire paid staff to gather signatures".  As I said before, whether it is crops or animals, they are a farmer's paycheck, so we make sure to take care of our paycheck as best we can.  I believe I can truthfully say that 99.99% of farmers and ranchers treat their animals with care, respect and humanely. We do not like to see animal abuse anymore than anyone else does, but we concede there are a few bad apples out there as in any organization and we are aware that when an abuse surfaces, that it give Agriculture a black eye.  We personally know many ranchers and they take pride in their operations and well being of their animals.  For instance,  cows will be taken to the mountains during the summer, because it is cooler for them and in the Fall they will be rounded up.  Often times ranchers in this area will also move their cows to a lower elevation to winter them as the temperature is milder and easier on the cows.

So where does H$U$ get  money  from? Well watch the video and read on.....

HSUS Revealed

This is a direct quote from Humane Watch, "HSUS puts some serious money every year into pension plans for its executives. Since 2004 (when “Humane Wayne” Pacelle took over), the HSUS pension slush fund has grown by more than $8.5 million. Instead of helping dogs and cats in pet shelters, that money will be fattening the wallets of HSUS big shots after they retire."  To read more check out, HumaneWatch, a website created to report on the abuses of HSUS.

What to do?  If you donate to HSUS then STOP, give the money to your local humane society where the money will go directly to helping animals.  Then think very carefully on what kinds of ballot measures you are signing, think even more carefully on the way you vote when it comes to animal cruelty laws or laws that talk about "animal rights" as those laws, once enacted, create financial difficulty for those farmers and ranchers who are involved in animal agriculture.  If you have questions, please call the State or official organizations for the Beef, Pork, Poultry industry to ask about effects these laws have on their sector and if you still need more information, they could most likely get you in touch with a producer to get their insights and views.  But I can almost guarantee that if you, the consumer call their organization and explain that you are a voter and want to know the real story about proposed legislation or ballots coming up, you will get their attention as our councils are very aware of what is being circulated out there.

In conclusion, if people vote without knowing how legislation will affect the Ag industry (and its impact on affordable food) then the results are a lot like my first sandwich making attempt... in that the intent was to do good, but by me lacking the knowledge needed, the end result was disastrousSo as the election season officially rolls around, be an informed voter and if you feel that protecting your dinner table choice is important, then tell others and better yet - send in a letter to your newspaper editor.  

Want to read more about other farmers and ranchers?  If so then I  invite you to check out this site: Farmer Inc, The Real Story .

As we are talking about food and you, better check out the step by step recipe for Braided Spaghetti Bread on the Good Farm Eats page...
Bread and Spaghetti all rolled into one delicious taste treat

As always, a big thank you to reading this blog and so now I'll get off my soapbox as I need to get this dinner to my friend Cindy for their dinner.  If you have questions then please email me at or leave a comment.  All my best, Gayle

P.S. Farmers Joe & Jay are busy tending the crops and I'll write more about that soon.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Flurry of Field Work

The Anderson farm plaque 
It's a flurry of activity here on the Palouse as the window of planting the Spring crops are drawing to a close  and farmers all around our area are busy getting their crops in the ground. We had to wait on a few wet fields, but now we are now completely finished planting garbanzo beans and Spring wheat. At our Genesee farm, we planted about 400 acres of regular garbanzo beans and about 200 acres of "billy beans" which are smaller garbanzo beans used for hummus. So if you purchase the brand "Sabra" you may find comfort in knowing that the main ingredient probably came from this area as not only our farm but many  other area farms  grow the billy beans.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Chapters of Ag, whether in Life or in a Cookbook

The Face of Agriculture is constantly changing, a chapter in someone's farm life closes and new chapters for another  begins.....
Farmers are an interesting group of people and since I didn’t grow up in a farming family, I still watch with a certain amount of objectivity and fascination on how they interact. Around here our farmers have an amazing network and all seem to know what one another is planting, they all know what kinds of equipment everyone owns, and it drives them crazy if one of them gets into the field before they do. No one wants to be the last one getting their crops planted or harvested. So as I watch with a good dose of amusement on how closely they keep tabs on each other, I mostly see that they are a close knit group that will come to the aid of one another in a heartbeat and we rely on each other.