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Archive for the ‘Diet & Nutrition’ Category

What Do We Eat? Beefiniroom Casserole!

Squash Casserole on the plate

Tonight was “dad’s night to cook.” We just picked up some fresh zucchini and yellow squash from the local farmer’s market last night (I stuffed and barbecued a big one last night for supper), had some hamburger thawed in the fridge, so I probed my memory and decided on a casserole.

Squash Casserole ready for the oven

The recipe is fairly simple, brown a couple of pounds of ground beef and set aside. Slice and sauté a couple large squash in olive oil, I use oil grown by my friend Irv Leen of  Gold Rush Farms, and set aside. Mix thinly sliced mushrooms, a couple of cups of sour cream, a cube of melted butter and a roll of crushed Ritz crackers with the beef. Spread the beef evenly in the bottom of a 9 x 14 casserole dish. Spread the sautéed squash on top of the beef and then add a couple of cups of shredded cheese over the top. Place in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes and supper is served!

Squash Casserole out of the oven

While waiting the 20 minutes for the casserole to bake, I began to think about the past several weeks… I have been to Washington D.C. to meet with reporters and writers about the use of antibiotics in livestock, discussed organic and conventional production and grassfed vs grainfed beef…PEW held a discussion in Chicago on antibiotic use and superbugs…and Panera launched a campaign insinuating that farmers who use antibiotics are lazy. I recommend you take a look at a well written post by my friend Carrie Mess “Dear Panera Bread Company” and “Here’s What Panera had to say…

Now you are probably asking yourself, what in the heck does this have to do a squash casserole?

Well, remember that ground beef I used, here is the back story.

Read more…

Proposition 37, Labeling Lemon

Proposition 37 is plain and simply a bad law….for multiple reasons.

  1. Prop 37 would require labeling for non-harmful ingredients.
  2. Prop 37 does not require ALL products to labeled.
  3. Prop 37 is a California-only regulation on food.
  4. Prop 37 provides loopholes for imports to evade the labeling requirement.
  5. Prop 37 would increase food costs in California by over $400 per year.
  6. Prop 37 would create additional bureaucracy and cost tax payers millions.
  7. Prop 37 would open the door to frivolous lawsuits.
  8. Any proposed regulation, that will have such overreaching impact, should go through legislative and economic analysis, not through the proposition venue.

I fully support the consumer’s right to know if anything harmful is in a product that they might buy. If a product is harmful, it should be labeled, but directed from the FDA, not the state.

Labels informing consumers of the ingredients should be voluntary. There is already an organic label to identify non-GE products.

If there is strong support to identify ingredients in non-organic foods, I would encourage someone to take advantage and create a niche label. It would seem to me, to be a wonderful opportunity.

I support a NO vote on Proposition 37.

The USDA and Meatless Monday

Yesterday, while the Verizon towers were down in Siskiyou County, a newsletter from within the USDA, Greening Headquarters Update, was released and had a suggestion to implement the Meatless Monday Initiative within the agency. There was a quick uprising among many in the agricultural community, within the social media world. By 1:07 in the afternoon, the USDA retracted the statement in the newsletter as released in The New York Times. Now, most folks would think “Excellent, we accomplished our objective,” and move on. However, this is not the case with some, as I continue to see several rant on and now I understand several industry organizations are considering a ‘unified response’ to the matter…yes…after it has been retracted and the USDA’s position clarified.

To those who are still ‘worked up’ over this, I respectfully ask you to stop for a minute and take a deep breath. Allow the emotions to settle down and let’s take an objective look at what further actions, if any should be taken.

First, I am a beef producer and admittedly was not a big fan of the Meatless Monday Initiative. However, after taking some time to look at things objectively, I completely support the idea of encouraging folks to eat more fruits and vegetables, most do not eat enough. We should all be supportive of people eating better balanced meals that include all the food groups.

Second, let’s take a look in the mirror. What does it look like to our customers when agriculture is constantly ‘on the fight,’ ‘whining,’ and complaining on a daily basis? Folks, certainly we face challenges, but think about all we have to be thankful for. We should spend some more time showing gratitude for positives.

Third, I agree with a dear and respected friend who said, “I just don’t think people in Ag stop to think for a minute how bad they look every time I see the hunk of meat Monday’s, etc. it’s just as adversarial to me as the anti-meat campaigns.” We should be celebrating that people are now posting and sharing recipes of all kinds through a plethora of blogs and social media platforms. What could be better than more people taking the time to return to the kitchen and actual start cooking again? Think about it. If they start cooking vegetable dishes, they will most certainly expand to include meat. This is a positive, not a negative, in my humble opinion.

Fourth, to those considering continuing to beat the proverbial ‘dead horse,’ I offer the following suggestion. Be gracious to the USDA for retracting the statement and clarify their position. Recognize that the USDA does not just represent the 2% of the country that produces food, but also 100% of the customers. Politely share the current information that refutes the UN study and close with a smile and a thank you.

In my humble opinion, this continued negativity, does not promote healthy relationships with customers and will only serve to hinder the efforts of the USFRA and other organizations that are working so diligently and sincerely to encourage dialogue. Celebrate. Be thankful. Be Happy. Stay positive.

** After receiving a number of messages from those in the ‘Hunk of Meat Monday’ crowd, I want to be clear about a couple of things. First, I support your endeavor and believe it has been very successful and informative. Second, hindsight is always 20/20, consider this….what if  ‘Hunk of Meat Monday’ had been ‘Satisfying Steak Saturday,’ or ‘Fabulous Meat Friday.’ Rather than coming across to some as being ‘combative’ or ‘un-supportive’ of the idea of eating more fruits and vegetables, it may have been even more successful, promoting higher quality protein later in the week. What if ‘Hunk of Meat’ Monday had been first and ‘Meatless Monday’ had been launched after? Would we have considered that to be combative? Finally, while the premise behind ‘Meatless Monday’ in regards to health and the environment is ‘off base,’ in my humble opinion, the objective of getting people to eat more fruits and vegetables and think balance in diets is one that I do support. Please, realize that I am not trying to promote any single way of doing things…merely offering suggestions to think about and perhaps help shape a more positive effort on another issue in the future. Keep up the great work!

Just The Beginning?

Several weeks ago, when the New York mayor proposed the ban on large sodas, it started turning the wheels in my head. Is the next step going to be the banning of cases, 12 packs and 2 liter bottles in stores?  Are grocery stores going to be linked in order to keep track of the quantity of soda being purchased?  Is sugar now considered a controlled substance?

If soda is banned what is next?  Why not limit the quantity of alcohol that can be purchased by one person?  Are we going too soon see single serving cans and bottles, whether they be hard alcohol or wine and the elimination of cases, 12 packs and kegs?  Are stores going to keep track of the quantity that we buy and once we have reached our limit we will no longer be able to purchase?

Why did the mayor choose soda?  Doesn’t tobacco cause more health ailments?  Doesn’t alcohol have more of a negative impact on society?  Was this just a first step?  Is this just the beginning of what is soon to be an out of control nanny state?

What other consumables will become rationed? How will the limits be determined? Are we seeing the beginning of a pre-determined creation of new state and federal agencies?

I’m sorry, but this just doesn’t sit well with me.  Have we really reached the point in our society where individuals are no longer able to make their own decisions whether they are good or bad?  Do we really want to go down this path?  I do not.  You should not.  What happened to individual responsibility?  What has happened too common sense?

Just some thoughts weighing on my mind…

Pink Shirts, Pink Ties and Pink Slime

The 'Boss Burger," my favorite at 'Dotty's'!

I own and wear a pink shirt. I even have and wear several pink ties. However, this post isn’t about apparel…sorry.

“Pink Slime” has hit the media yet again in recent days. Several of my friends in social media have inquired what my thoughts were on a number of videos and news reports: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution ‘70% of Americas Beef Is Treated With Ammonia,’ Fox News Report ‘Pink Slime in 70% Of Ground Beef,’ and ABC News ‘Where You Can Get Pink-Slime Free Beef,’ were the three most cited.

Can you imagine taking fresh picked fruit, misting it with ammonia hydroxide to eliminate bacteria, sticking it in a blender, cooking it, putting it in a jar and then selling it for human consumption? Most of us do, by purchasing jelly and jam to go with our peanut butter.

Can you imagine taking fresh picked lettuce or spinach, misting it with ammonia hydroxide to eliminate bacteria, putting it in a package, selling it, buying it, opening it, adding croutons, tomato and ranch dressing and then eating it? Many of us do, purchasing prepackaged salad to eat before supper.

This post is not intended to promote, nor condemn the practice of utilizing ammonium hydroxide, but rather to present some facts and allow you to make your own decisions. This is not a “new” process, nor is it solely utilized by the meat industry. The questions are those that I have been asked over the past four days. Read more…

Food, Farmers, Demons and Monsanto

Demonizing companies and individuals through the use of misleading and false information is never productive. More times than not, fissures are created, within families, communities, states, the country and even the world. It is very acceptable to question actions and results, but let us remember to remain objective in our assessment, research the origins of the information and pass on only that which is true. Passing this type of information along, without doing research on it, is just as irresponsible as passing along an email that says the world will end if you don’t forward to your whole address book.

I have seen a number of people posting on Facebook and Twitter lately, that they have signed one of a couple of petitions currently circulating with a host of claims against Monsanto. Many of these people I consider to be friends and respect. I felt inclined to write this post to provide some additional information in order to clarify several of the accusations that are being claimed. I, for one, as a small farmer and rancher, am very grateful for the work that work that Monsanto and others are doing to help farmers be more efficient and holistic in their management opportunities.

Read more…

Special Food and Special Hands

I meant to get this post up last week, but, well…..

This year I give thanks for the consumers who purchase what we grow and raise, the farmers and ranchers who provide the bountiful choices we so enjoy and particularly the hands that prepare the food.

In preparing for Thanksgiving this year I was thinking of the wonderful and delicious dishes that I have been so blessed to be able to try over the years. Some of the recipes have been handed down, some are new. Read more…

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