WHY IT IS SO HARD TO HEAR ORGANIC PROPONENTS COMPLAIN

groceriesI understand that some people want to buy organic.  I am glad they have that choice.

I understand that some Americans want to buy gluten free.  I am glad they can.

I understand that some Americans will spend extra for labels that claim no hormones.  I love that those products are available.

But what is really hard for me to understand is the folks that spend their money on these (and other) specialty items at the grocery store AND THEN EXPECT ME TO DO IT TOO.

America is about choice.  I should get the opportunity to buy GMO laden products if I believe them to be safe.  And I do.  Why do you get to choose what’s available to me?

I’m happy about the statistic above.  It takes me only 40 days of work to pay for my food for the year.  It takes me 129 days to pay my taxes.  That’s less than half and I’m excited about that statistic.

I have a limited income.  Other single parents, one income families, and folks with disabilities do too.  And I hope that they never have a choice made for them by the vocal minority in our country to spend more on organic, non-GMO foods.

If you purchase non-GMO, organic, or other specialty items at the store, you pay more for them.  If farmers were forced to plant only these sorts of products, they would grow much less and you would pay SIGNIFICANTLY more for them – and for all food – because there wouldn’t be enough to go around.

This is why its so hard for me to listen to the proponents of organic and non-GMO food complain about the foods that are available to them or our modern food production system.  It feels selfish to me – and it must mean that they either don’t understand the implications of their whining or they simply don’t care about the rest of us.

Americans pay considerably less for their food than people around the world.  Let’s celebrate that fact and not take choices away from hard-working families.

Lindsay Mitchell 11/14Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

 

THE PURSUIT OF DAILY IMPROVEMENT – DOES IT DRIVE YOU?

churchill“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”  – Winston Churchill

I read this and I immediately think of all the changes I make in my life.  I am constantly trying to learn the newest and greatest technology so I can perform my job adequately,  constantly changing up my parenting tactics as my kids grow and learn new bad habits from their friends.  I am constantly altering the means by which I hold myself accountable to my own spirituality and my relationships with friends and family.

I am seeking constant improvement, though I realize that I will never quite achieve perfection – or anything close to it!

1954 tractorIn the same way, I believe farmers are seeking consistent improvement.  Year over year, they are trying to raise more with a smaller global footprint.  They attempt to apply fewer chemicals, fewer fertilizers, to disrupt the land less with every crop year.  They do this because they seek constant improvement in the way they manage their land and preserve it for the next generation of farmers.

And every year when Mother Nature sends them a new curve ball – like a drought or a hail storm or winds that ravage their crops – they change midstream to attempt to salvage the very best that they can from that field.  They change for the benefit of their own family and yours.

For years and years, farmers farmed just like their fathers and grandfathers before them, with minimal improvements in methodology or technology.  Horses pulled implements, farmers walked behind, and the harvest was completed by hand.  Now we see farmers changing vast portions of their procedures year over year.  This year adding GPS to minimize fuel usage and trips over the field, next year adding mapping to help gauge exactly where to apply fertilizer.

Does the vocal society that criticizes farmers realize how quickly they are changing and adapting to new technology?  Do people really understand the changes farmers employ every day to try to become the perfect farmer?

We know there is no perfect farmer.  There can never be a perfect farmer as long as Mother Nature has a hand in the outcome.

But I do believe this world would be a better place if every human being attempted to change and update their routine as often as farmers.  The pursuit of improvement is a noble goal – and one that drives farmers every day.

Does it drive you?

Lindsay Mitchell 11/14Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

 

RED MEAT: TO EAT, OR NOT TO EAT?

Rumor has it the USDA is preparing to release the latest dietary guidelines according to their research. This time, they have been getting recommendations to lower the recommended amount of red meat that we should all consume. Now, it isn’t exactly news that the health benefits/effects of red meat have been heartily debated in the past. This time, however, the recommendations are coming from an environmental standpoint.

The argument some people are posing here is that the carbon footprint of the meat industry is exponentially higher than that of plant-based food production. To which I say… duh! Of course a cow is going to have a greater carbon footprint than a soybean plant. But what does this have to do with dietary recommendations that are supposed to be based on research regarding health of the human body?

Here is my disclaimer: I have been raising beef cattle since I was 7 years old. Obviously, I’m biased here. However, I am NOT here to tell you that “RED MEAT IS THE BEST AND ALL OF YOU SHOULD EAT STEAK 3 TIMES A DAY.”

So, hear me out.

  1. The issue at hand is the latest version of dietary guidelines. Is environmental impact really a relevant piece on information to be considered here? Of course, I’m not saying that environmental impact should be disregarded altogether, I just don’t think it should be a consideration for this particular case. If we start taking sustainability into consideration for this, then we must also consider economics, ethical issues… it’s a total domino effect. While each of these issues are important, should they really be a part of nutritional recommendations?
  1. Can we just take a moment to remember that every person has different health issues such as dietary restrictions, heart health, etc.? I know people from all walks of life that choose to eat in completely different ways. And do you know what? I don’t think any of them are wrong. I know vegetarians, and I know people who eat meat almost exclusively. They all have their reasons, and what other people eat isn’t really your business. If it works for them, awesome. You do what works for you and your body.
  1. For most of us, the USDA’s list of dietary guidelines is something we can take into consideration or not. At the end of the day, we get to eat whatever we choose to eat. The problem is, this isn’t the case for everyone. The biggest effect this change would made is on federal feeding programs (i.e. food stamps, school lunches, senior care…). Is red meat really what we should be providing less of in these programs? I personally don’t think we should be limiting access to a great protein source for those individuals who rely on one of these programs.

I love red meat. I eat it once or twice a week, and it works for me. That’s not going to change based on these guidelines. But we really do need to think about the bigger picture with these sorts of things, not just ourselves. Would this change really be for the best?

Food for thought.

rsandersonRosalie Sanderson
ICGA/ICMB Communications Assistant

REREAD THE BEST OF 2014!

Happy New Year!  If you are a new reader to our blog, or would just like to take a look back at our five most popular posts from 2014, now is your chance!

1. meals FIVE THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT GROWING UP IN A FARM FAMILY

 

2. ARE FARMERS RICH? bag of money

 

 

 

 

 

3.#9 Field Signs8 THINGS TEACHERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AGRICULTURE

 

 

 

4. bargeCORPS CLOSES THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER

 

 

 

 

5. hybridTWELVE WORDS THAT MEAN SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ON THE FARM

DISTILLERS GRAINS WITH SOLUBLES: WHAT ARE THEY?!

Farmers, livestock feed, texas mission, ddgsDried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) have become a valuable part of agriculture.  A by-product of ethanol production, this product makes an excellent livestock feed and is transported by rail to various parts of the U.S. so that the livestock centers of the world can take advantage of it.  DDGS are also exported to other countries to feed livestock there.

coop, livestock feed, ethanol plant by productDDGS can be either dry or wet.  In the Midwest, it is very common for ethanol plants to dry their DDGS in a dryer.  This dry product stays fresh for a much longer time and is able to be transported across the country or world.  It is also cheaper to transport because ethanol plants are not shipping so much water weight.  The DDGS in the photo above are dried.

ethanol plant, by product, livestock feed, wet distillers grains

The Distillers Grains in this photo are wet.  Often, ethanol plants that are co-located with livestock farms don’t undergo the additional cost to dry their DDGS because they can be used nearly instantly by area livestock.  Also, with livestock close by, these WDGS don’t need to be transported great distances, thus the water weight does not matter.  The WDGS pictured here are produced in Texas and feed almost immediately to cattle.

One-third of the corn used in ethanol production returns to the market as livestock feed.  In fact, DDGS have replaced soybean meal as the second largest livestock feed component, second behind corn.

Want to learn more about DDGS?  Check out these links:

DDGS OVERTAKE #2 SPOT IN LIVESTOCK RATION FEEDSTOCK FROM SOYBEANS

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT DDGS FROM DIFFERENT IL ETHANOL PLANTS

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director