Tag Archives: american agriculture

Saturday Muses

I saw Patry’s post about the medicinal use of red wine in the treatment of influenza

Patry Francis Red wine may prevent swine flu, which is the absolute only reason I drink it. http://www.anotherwineblog.com/archives/4253

I checked my stock and decided I needed to make a “medicine” run…Off to Spec’s we went. After a stop for a lunch of TexMex cuisine I went shopping in the aisles of my favorite neighborhood “medicine” store. Granted, I came home with a few bottles of the white version of the “medicine”, but most met the “flu medicine” test…Does anyone know if I can write these off as medical expenses on my income taxes?

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I was reading another blog today that seems to be looking at this swine flu story with newly opened eyes…

There are serious problems and concerns with our nation’s the world’s current model of how meat is put on the table – call it Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), or Industrial Food Animal Production (IFAP) as the Pew Commission does – threatened public health, environmental degradation, severely compromised animal welfare, and decimated rural communities. Just recently, just this week, just today, we’re all getting a dose of reality about the public health angle with the discovery and emergence of the H1N1 triple-hybrid human/bird/pig flu virus.

via Why Small Farms? «

The more I observe this modern world we have created…The more I wonder who was paying attention to the details.

It seems as if we have let the corporate profit takers have their way with the world in the past few years without holding them accountable for their lack of knowledge in what they were messing with. Does anyone other than me find it strangely coincidental that it was with the rise in CAFO’s or factory farms that the obesity “epidemic” began to grow. Who has tested the cumulative effects of all the growth hormones and antibiotics that we are accumulating in our bodies just so the big meat companies can pull a few more cents of profits out of their factories? The residues of all of these chemicals are leaching out into the groundwater. We are accumulating them in our bodies with practically every meal we eat.

From recent news reports, it doesn’t even make a difference if you are a vegetarian. The antibiotics and other chemicals have become so pervasive, they are now measurable in the very vegetables we eat.

We have had thirty years of food “scientists” telling us what we should and shouldn’t eat. We have a thirty year history of getting more and more unhealthy as a result. This weeks health problem’s “cure” leads to next years new “disease”. And yet, every magazine, every newspaper, every hour of television has us being told by “experts” that we should ask our doctor if this or that new medicine isn’t right for us…Don’t pay any attention to the fine print or the announcer rattling off the infamous side effects. Is it just me or do these lists always sound worse than the “disease” they are treating.

Now…Quite suddenly, the questions being raised or of a different level of scary. Could or penny pinching CEO farmers be breeding the bugs that will lead us to the next pandemic. I know, we are not supposed to call it swine flu any more because it hurts the profits of the factory pig farmer. Guess what, it seems there is a lot more than flu growing in those pig farms…And just think, as we keep pumping the antibiotics into these animals we are creating “bugs” that wont be treatable…All for a little faster growth, that tough of “wellness” that lets us crowd just a few more animals into the shed…All for that almighty extra few cents per head per month…If it’s that hard to make these things profitable, maybe, just maybe there is a reason.

Is it any wonder that when the avian flu scare happened a few years ago, chickens were slaughtered in great numbers around the world to stem the spread. We are already seeing the same thing with pigs in certain parts of the world.

And all this is happening at time when the world’s financial ability to weather additional shocks is at an unprecedented low…Schools are closing down daily. Here in Texas, some are closing for upwards of three weeks. What is going to happen as families already strapped by shaky finances are forced to stay away from jobs to take care of children?

We are throwing money at the banks…We have always thrown money at the corporate farmers…Who is going to be around and pay the bills?

Sissy Farmer? I don’t think so…

Stumbling through my news reader I came across a reference and a video of Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I have been aware of the work Joel is doing for a while. His success with Polyface is an inspiration that will become more important as we go forward in the coming years.

The following video isn’t the one that started this muse…The one that started the muse can be found here: Wayfaring Wanderer: Brighter Days Ahead.

Here is the biographical info from the Polyface, Inc website…

Joel Salatin, 50, is a fulltime farmer in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. A third generation alternative farmer, he returned to the farm fulltime in 1982 and continued refining and adding to his parents’ ideas.

The farm services more than 1,500 families, 10 retail outlets, and 30 restaurants through on-farm sales and metropolitan buying clubs with salad bar beef, pastured poultry, eggmobile eggs, pigaerator pork, forage-based rabbits, pastured turkey and forestry products using relationship marketing.

He holds a BA degree in English and writes extensively in magazines such as STOCKMAN GRASS FARMER, ACRES USA, and AMERICAN AGRICULTURALIST.

The family’s farm, Polyface Inc. (“The Farm of Many Faces”) has been featured in SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, GOURMET and countless other radio,television and print media. Profiled on the Lives of the 21st Century series with Peter Jennings on ABC World News, his after-broadcast chat room fielded more hits than any other segment to date. It achieved iconic status as the grass farm featured in the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA by food writer guru Michael Pollan.

via Polyface, Inc..

This past fall Fred First was in on a tour of the farm with a group from the Society of Environmental Journalists. His writeup of the trip starts this way…

None its “many faces” are very showy. As a matter of fact, from the ground or the air, nothing seems all that different about this plateaued 550 acres of Central Virginia valley farmland near the community of Middlebrook.

To the casual observer, it may seem just so much pasture and woods and soil and the occasional outbuilding. But Polyface Farm represents an innovative “foodshed” (think watershed) from which food products flow, grown from the ground up–which seems only reasonable for a farm, after all–from earthworms to pastured chickens and rabbits and cattle, as if the earth really mattered.

Every element of the process holds an elevated status there. Soil is more than just dirt there, and as Joel Salatin says, his farm honors the “pigness of the pig.”

via Polyface Part II | Fragments From Floyd.

Take a few minutes and follow the links and find out what real sustainable agriculture can be…

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Agriculture in America…Looking better?

When I was born in 1952, there were 203,000 farms in Iowa, only 11,000 fewer than when my dad was born in 1926. By 2002, the number had dropped to about 90,000, with roughly the same acreage in production in a state with a population that had remained roughly the same. The national numbers followed the same track: fewer farms, bigger farms, less-diverse farms. To a lot of people, this looked like progress because the ideal of efficiency promulgated by the Department of Agriculture was bigger yields with fewer people.

This industrial notion of efficiency has always seemed terribly inefficient in other important ways: socially, culturally and environmentally.

It seems to me that the more we think we know, the more our true ignorance shows through in the end. Be it our agricultural policy, our food policy, our drug policy…Hell, even our financial policy all have come back to haunt us in the past few years.

I was born just a couple of years after Verlyn. Almost all of my extended family lived in rural communities. Most did not farm…but all depended on the health of the farms for their incomes. My nuclear family was one of the few in our generation that made the move to the urban side of America. On my trips back to the area of Texas where my parents were raised, I have seen the urbanization of large swaths of these farmlands.

In a very real sense, they are going back to an earlier model of farming in Iowa. The farms are more diverse, and so are the crops they grow. To me, this is where the new passion for local foods finds its real meaning, and the best news is that Iowa is not alone. Nationwide, there are some 300,000 new farms since 2002. And the farmers? More diverse than ever, including a higher number of women. This is a genuine source of hope for American agriculture.

I am seeing some of the same changes in the counties around my home. More small farmers, growing more varied crops…Including some that wouldn’t have been considered crops thirty to forty years ago like sod grass…

via Editorial Notebook – Good News From Iowa – NYTimes.com.

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