Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Scientific American Busts Myths on Organic Farming; I tackle daddy-long-legs


Having posted my own reasons why I do not usually purchase more costly organically-produced foods, I thought this post was an excellent companion piece. Actually, I am thrilled that a professional writer from Scientific American magazine is tackling this tough issue. She may hold a bit more clout than this rural mommy from Kentucky.

Here are the myths she takes head on:

1 – Organic farms don’t use pesticides

2 – Organic food is healthier

3 – Organic farming is better for the environment

4 – It’s all or none

One of my favorite points she makes is that the factory farm definition is not exclusive to conventional methods. There are many very large organic farms in this country. Organic does not mean small or local. It reminds me of my disdain this summer when I visited a little home-based, roadside market between swimming practice and home. I asked the proprietor if he grew all the food there and he said the only thing that was locally grown (100 miles away) was a small pile of squash. The rest was purchased at a wholesale produce market and he was charging much more than the local grocery store. He did not claim any of it was “organic,” but I can guarantee that many people had that perception.

I want to reiterate that I am not against organic production, and I believe there are several benefits to having varied production methods. I just don’t think one is necessarily superior to the other. I am a bigger fan, however, of food produced by farmers that I “know.” I appreciate being able to talk to them about what they are doing, regardless of the label they are given. Then it becomes personal, and in the end we may meet on common ground to figure out what methods are good for everyone and everything.

Before I provide the link of the said blog post I want to do some of my own mythbusting: Daddy-long-leg spiders are NOT the most poisonous spiders on the planet. In fact, they are not poisonous at all, nor are they spiders. I have no idea who started this myth, but hear it just about on a weekly basis. These creatures are called Harvestmen, and they eat decaying plants or animals. Pass it on. Source: http://www.uky.edu/Ag/CritterFiles/casefile/relatives/daddy/daddy.htm  

Mythbusting 101: Organic Farms vs Conventional Farms - http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/2011/07/18/mythbusting-101-organic-farming-conventional-agriculture/

You may also enjoy - Why I don't buy organic most of the time.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eating Meat Can Be The Green Thing To Do

I have read several blog posts and comments recently regarding the livestock industry's negative impact on the environment, and I have made sure to provide a different view point to each. My guess is that since most of us aren't willing to give up meat based on health or welfare/right claims, some are trying to pull at our "I care about Mother Earth" heartstrings. Below are some myths/facts about the environmental sustainability of livestock production that I helped compile for my 9 to 5 job last fall.

Meat is In For Our Environment!


The agriculture industry is constantly evolving. Today’s farmers are producing more food using less land and resources—an important fact considering that global food demand will double within the next 50 years. Farmers are showing their commitment to land conservation and sustainability time and time again.

Myth: By eating less meat, Americans will improve the environment and free land and resources for the production of more plant crops to feed the world’s hungry.

Fact: Americans who eat both animals and plants are managing the nation’s natural resources in the best way possible to feed its people. For example, about half the land area of the U.S. can’t be used for growing crops—it can only be used for grazing. That land would be of no use as a food resource if it were not for grazing livestock like cattle, goats and sheep. Grazing animals in the United States more than doubles the area that can be used to produce food while limiting soil erosion, preserving wildlife habitat and reducing the risk of wildfires.

Myth: Meat production is not an efficient use of grain.

Fact: Environmentalists have devised some pretty creative ways to blow the feed needed to produce meat out of proportion. There are many factors of meat and grain production that are not being considered. As for beef cattle, most are grazed for the majority of their lives, and they are eating low quality forages in which humans cannot utilize. If and when beef cattle are placed on grain rations (corn and soybeans), it is fed with additional forage material. Many livestock producers are utilizing grain byproducts from biofuel and milling industries. This feed is higher in protein, fat and digestible fiber and results in similar if not better weight gain.

Myth: Meat production is a large contributor of greenhouse gases.

Fact: Animal agriculture has minimal impact on greenhouse gas production in the United States. All animals naturally produce the greenhouse gas methane by way of food digestion, but according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the entire U.S. agricultural sector contributed only 6.4 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2006.

Consumers may also hear that animals raised in a feedlot or in modern production systems create more methane than animals raised alternative ways. According to a report on beef released by the Hudson Institute’s Center For Global Food Issues, pound-for-pound, beef produced in a conventional feeding system generates 40 percent less greenhouse gas emissions and uses two-thirds less land than beef produced using organic and grass-fed production systems.

Myth: Meat production creates large amounts of water-polluting manure.

Fact: The efficiency of manure use to support crop production is the critical metric. Because of the nutrient and organic matter content, manure is an alternative to commercial fertilizers with the added benefit of substantial energy savings. For example, in the case of corn production, energy savings from the substitution of swine manure for commercial fertilizer result in net energy savings on the order of 31 to 34 percent. And all farmers ensure proper conservation is practiced to protect our water supply. They drink it too.

Other stories & resources on food/meat production and environment:

Vegan Visits a Feedlot
Ryan Andrews is a registered nutritionist, exercise physiologist and a strict vegetarian. So when he visits a 20,000-head Colorado feedyard and writes about the experience, you might expect the usual rants about factory farming, abusive conditions and animals “pumped full of hormones and antibiotics.” But no, his article actually offers an objective summary based on his personal observations and research, touching on environmental management, nutrition, and animal health. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/cattle-feedlot-visit

Ex-Hippie/Ecologist says vegans have it wrong and eating animals in moderation is good for the planet and only logical: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/food/article-1316382/Carnivores-rejoice-Eating-meat-good-planet.html#ixzz1107TrgmY

More links to information can be found at www.kylivestock.org/steakoutthefacts/.

You may also be interested in my June 2010 post - Why I Choose to Eat Meat: http://foodmommy.blogspot.com/2010/06/why-i-choose-to-eat-meat.html

Monday, August 29, 2011

My Love/Hate Relationship with the Grocery Store

Why I love the grocery store:

1) It's a convenient place to buy most of my food, and I am there at least 3 times a week. (Glad it's on my usual route ).

2) My chain offers gas rewards. For every $100 I spend in groceries, I get 10 cents off per gallon at the pump. It wasn't that long ago that I got 60 cents off! Woo Hoo! Then, "Aaaaccck, I spent $600 on food between fill-ups?" Surely I had a few out-of-town fill ups in between, I hope.

Why I hate the grocery store:

1) Long lines and never enough checkers.

2) Terrible baggers - do they teach people how to bag groceries any more? I worked at a large chain when I was in high school and we always had a manager telling us how to do it better. I now set my groceries on the the belt in categories in hopes that they are bagged that way... never happens. I remember the little old, grumpy ladies who would insist on bagging their own groceries at my store. I have become one of those grumpy ladies.

3) There must be a list of all the things I like to eat that is used to decide which products are to be discontinued. The latest is Yoplait Greek Yogurt which I am convinced is the best, and I will pay whatever it costs to get it. There is no local grocery that carries this now. Grrrr.

4) It's nasty dirty - the only other place that gives me worse germ anxiety is a hospital. When I was getting apples the other day, one fell and rolled across the floor. I announced loudly, "And that is the reason why you should always wash your fruits and vegetables!" And no matter how hard I tried to stop him, my son would find a way to lick the grocery cart. Luckily he has outgrown that.

5) Carts are always all over the parking lot waiting to dent an automobile. They have the nice, convenient cart corrals these days. I cannot think of a good enough excuse for someone not to put their cart up. Laziness? Come rain, snow, or a screaming child, my cart will end up in the proper place. I also make sure to take a cart from the parking lot into the grocery store to help their efforts.

6) They set all the things kids want but parents don't at cart level. I have ended up with all sorts of things in my cart that I did not select. The worst spot is the checkout counter. Do you kow how hard it is to keep a toddler's hands off the M&Ms while you are trying to load your groceries? They count on that, I am certain. If anyone has any tips to avoid this, please send them my way.

I'm done hating now and off to the grocery store, again.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Photo Friday: A New Respect for Organic

My oldest child was given a Bonnie cabbage plant at school last spring to grow and take a photo in hopes of winning a $1,000 scholarship. We have been caring for the cabbage diligently using what I consider organic methods – no pesticides and a “natural” fertilizer mix. I will admit that I consider myself less knowledgeable than a novice gardener, but thought we could manage this. The cabbage plant is not doing so well. I left for a couple days and found this.


If a certified organic farmer can achieve a great looking and great tasting cabbage (obviously this one tasted great to the bug) without using pesticides, I have no choice but to respect the craft and work put in to achieve that. I understand why organic produce carries a higher price tag, but also understand why many farmers do not want to take on that kind of risk. I’m so glad we have all food production systems working together to ensure we have an ample supply of safe food.

As for the photo contest, do you think we will get votes for “most interesting?” They never said it had to be the biggest, prettiest cabbage. Wish us luck.

You may also be interested in my April 14 post, “Why I don’t buy organic, most of the time.”

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Chocolate Milk Continued

The day following my blog post, "The Great Chocolate Milk Compromise," I saw a story in the Baltimore Sun that calories and sugar content are being reduced in flavored milk products. This is great news, and I'm glad the milk processors are thinking more about our children's health.

I also this week ran into my good friend Denise who is a dairy farmer and works for the Kentucky Dairy Development Council. She confirmed that my child was probably not exagerating about the white milk tasting funny at school. She said milk packaged in paperboard cartons can pick up odors from other foods quite easily. Denise also told me that one milk company is trying to get schools to purchase milk in recyclable plastic bottles and will then pick up the bottles to recycle them. One more "mooovelous" idea.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How Not to Herd Chickens

Have you ever had one of those experiences where you cried so hard it actually made you laugh? That was my evening last night.

I came home from a business trip this afternoon on an emotional high though quite exhausted, and my husband announced that he wanted to go ahead and move the chickens to their nearly finished coop. The chickens have been living in our horse barn, but they are making a big mess—scratching up the limestone floors, feathers and poop everywhere—so he wanted them in their new home a.s.a.p. The coop is located in our front yard, about 150 yards from the barn. We knew that getting them to their new home and convincing them to stay close while roaming would probably be a challenge, but a plan was in place.

Unfortunately I did not have a video camera, as I am sure the events that followed would have earned us an Emmy on “The Lifestyles of the Na├»ve and Stupid.” But please picture this:

The chickens were in “roosting” mode since it was starting to get dark, so they had already perched themselves in their dedicated horse stall. This made it very easy to catch them as chickens become very lethargic at bed time. I picked each one up and placed them in a large cage. We then loaded the cage into the truck and drove it up the driveway. Carried the cage to the coop and decided that the only way to get them inside was to place them in one by one. We placed our oldest child at the temporary door to make sure the chickens we placed inside did not come back out. Six chickens in and so far, so good. (BTW, the easiest way to catch a chicken is to grab its legs and then flip it upside down if it starts to flap their wings. This really calms them down. If they don’t struggle, just hold them upright in the crook of your arm.)

Unfortunately our youngest child was running around trying to entertain himself. He decided it would be fun to smack the smaller chicken door (for them to come in and out on their own) as hard as he could. The chickens inside freaked, and out most of them flew… into the woods behind their coop. Keep in mind that our woods are horribly thick with very narrow trees, briars, fallen limbs etc. They are not very easy to maneuver through. And did I mention that runny chicken poop flew out with them… all over my husband’s face and on my new white T-shirt.

We just stood there with the “oh, %@!*” looks on our faces and immediately started to try to herd them back toward the coop. While they are pretty easy to round up at dinner time at the barn, they are now in a new place and have no idea where they want to go. They are also Leghorns, which tend to be very flighty and skittish. If one goes in a different direction, they all go. We were back and forth between the woods, the yard, the road, the driveway, and back again, and again, and again. The children were not much help. Miss E does not know the fine art of cutting chickens and scattered them more. Mr. L had had enough and cried and cried for me to take him to the house. I just tried to keep taking deep breaths, regroup and continue to have positive, happy thoughts.

I have to give my husband “kudos” at this time because I expected him to throw up his hands and say "to  heck" with the chickens. He was very good at listening to my suggestions, even though they did not work the way we would like. Finally, we decided to put up a ramp to the chicken door, encourage them with some grain and pray that they would eventually go in. If so, we would just close the door later in the evening. They decided to run into the woods, however, and this time they decided to fly up into the trees because it was past their bedtime.

Ah, ha, I thought. I can just grab them out of the trees.

I gave them a few minutes to get settled by playing with Mr. L. (Miss E had thrown in the towel and went to the house. My husband had to finish his horse chores.) Then the two of us set out on a hunting trip to find chickens in the deep dark woods. Mr. L thought it was fun. The first four were fairly easy to catch as they were either low enough for me to reach. The last four were a bit out of reach. I was able to untangle the branches to bend the tree down they were roosting in. I had to call for reinforcements to get them since I had visions of the tree slipping out of my hands and the chickens being launched into the next county. Luckily that did not happen and four more made it the coop. The last chicken was about twelve feet up, and we had to knock her out with a long stick. But don’t worry. She is perfectly okay.

The final step was to climb into the coop and place the chickens on their roost pole (since it was dark, they could not see that it was available to them). I really love my chickens. I also really love my husband for putting up with my animal projects and working so hard to see that the animals and I am happy. I gave him a really big hug and a kiss after we closed up the coop door, knowing the chickens were safe and sound. He said, “If you ever get any more animals….”

This scenario made me very mindful of the fact that our farmers also have to deal with animals getting out of their fences or barns. I have a feeling that they too feel the extreme adrenaline rush required to strategize and get those animals back to safety. If you are a farmer and have such a story, I would love for you to share it with me and my readers. I think we need to be reminded that raising livestock, no matter the species, is not an easy job and takes a lot of passion, compassion, and a dash of comic relief to make it through the mishaps.

If you want to read our other stories about our chickens, check out Eden's Chicken Chronicles or 7 Families Went Hungry.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Great Chocolate Milk Compromise

Thank goodness school is back in session, and my family is settling back into a regular schedule. But one thing is different this year. I am packing my child’s lunch every day.

I had not done that the last three years. I generally felt that what her school provided her was fine, and I am still convinced it is an economical, as well as time-saving way to go. However, since I have dedicated myself to be a bit more conscious of what my children are putting into their mouths, “fine” was not good enough.

Here are my biggest issues with the school lunches:

1) A few too many convenience foods – frozen pizza, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, etc.

2) Too few fresh fruit and veggie options.

3) The fact that I have no idea of the ingredients, calorie and nutrient content of those foods.

4) Chocolate milk.

Yes, I said it. I am sure my dairy farmer friends are not happy with me, but I don’t like the added sugar. What I don’t like even more is the fact that I could not convince my child to not drink the chocolate milk at school when she has been/is perfectly happy drinking regular skim milk at home. She says the school’s white milk tastes funny. I have a hard time believing this, and she is making the least favorable choice because it is available to her. On this issue, I have to agree with what Jamie Oliver (http://www.jamieoliver.com/) is trying to do with his “Food Revolution” at our schools.

Therefore, I am taking more control of my child’s diet by sending my food choices to school with her. They are usually full of fresh fruits and veggies, varying proteins, a light serving of grains, and water to drink. To date, she has been very happy with what I have been sending, and she has created her own menu list so she can request the different combinations. (Look for these lunches on this blog and on my Facebook page.)

HOWEVER, I am not a stalwart food mom all of the time, and I am open to compromise. So I told her she could pick one day a week to eat the school’s lunch. Since the school system has changed to a consistent weekly menu throughout the semester, she has decided that Thursday is her day. She will be eating chicken nuggets, a whole-grain roll, applesauce and (pain) chocolate milk. They do offer mashed potatoes and asparagus (canned), but she is not a fan of either. I can’t say that I blame her on the asparagus. Since she eats green veggies such as spinach, broccoli and fresh asparagus on a regular basis, I feel she can go without a veggie this one meal. We’ll make up for it at dinner.

After I started writing this blog, originally titled “Improving the School Lunch,” I decided to think about chocolate milk a little more. The average calorie content of an 8 oz. chocolate milk carton served at school is about 160. The average 12 oz. non-diet soda has about 155 calories. If those are my choices, I’ll gladly suggest the chocolate milk, for it actually has some good nutritional qualities: protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, energy-inducing fat and carbs, and a number of other vitamins and minerals. The difference in calories between the chocolate milk and the plain milk we drink at home is about one Dove dark chocolate, which I would have let her eat after dinner anyway.

Jamie Oliver makes a very compelling argument against chocolate milk – filling the school bus with the sugar a child consumes in a school year if drinking only flavored milk – but I fear many kids are getting much more sugar from candy, cookies, toaster breakfast foods, cereals, and sodas. While chocolate milk may not be the best choice, there are much worse things for our kids to consume in my mind, and I am glad I decided to take a more critical look. (Have you thought about how much sugar your child consumes in an average week and the foods that sugar comes from?) Thinking about parents who may not be able to send lunch to school with their kids, I am fine with schools continuing to serve flavored milk as it may be one of the more nutritious things they have all day. But could they maybe work with the stevia folks to reduce the sugar? Just a suggestion.

Miss E won’t be drinking chocolate milk every school day, but I won’t feel guilty about our compromise for 36 days out of the year. I think this agreement has actually made her more excited about making her own good food choices.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Eating Out with Your Kids – Kentucky State Fair

While I believe that wholesome meals at home should be the foundation of a family’s nutrition and together time, times do arise where you will be eating out. The first installment of this column will help a parent navigate the Kentucky State Fair. Fairs are usually a time to find fun and horribly sinful foods, but there are choices that are better than others.

The best venue to eat, hands down, is the Great Kentucky Cookout Tent located in front of Broadbent Arena (west of the West Hall Pavilion and north of the midway). There are many booths to choose from, and every vendor provides food from Kentucky farmers. You will find fare from the Kentucky Pork Producers, Kentucky Cattlemen’s, Kentucky Aquaculture, Kentucky Poultry, Country Ham, Sheep, Dairy and the Kentucky Corn Growers. The tent also is one of the few venues to provide families a “meal” instead a snack you will likely carry around with you.

If you have young children or are trying to conserve your calories, I suggest the Kentucky Corn Growers Association booth. They serve roasted sweet corn-on-the-cob and will gladly serve it without the butter substitute. The corn is grown in Shelbyville at Gallrein Farms. They also serve hand-dipped corn dogs using an old-fashioned corn meal batter from Weisenberger Mills in Midway. Depending on the thickness of the batter, the corn dog is between 250 and 300 calories.

If corn dogs are not your kid’s thing, the Cattlemen’s association serves an all-beef hot dog on a bun, which is also a lower-calorie choice. The Poultry Federation provides a kid’s meal of chicken nuggets, tater tots and applesauce. The Cattlemen’s and Pork Producers serve a small hamburger. The "Dairy Bar" serves grilled cheese sandwiches and milk.

Another pretty healthy option is a grilled chicken breast or chicken quarter from the Poultry Federation, paired with the roasted corn and a side of baked beans from the Pork Producers. Other vegetable options in the tent include an endless supply of fried potato products, and cole slaw.

Now for you food-loving parents, a few of my favorite things in the tent are the boneless pork chop and barbeque from the Pork Producers, the fried catfish from Aquaculture, and the beef brisket from Cattlemen’s. All of these options come in combo meals and can easily be shared.

You can top it all off with some ice cream or a milk shake from the Dairy Bar, but what I really recommend are the ice cream from Chaney’s Dairy Barn (Bowling Green) or one of the delectable caramel apples from The Sweet Shoppe (Hodgenville) – my absolute favorite is the Turtle apple with pecans, caramel, dark chocolate and white chocolate. Both of these booths are located in the lobby of the West Hall among the Kentucky Department of Agriculture exhibits.

Happy fair eating!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - School Lunch

What I sent with my 3rd Grader today for lunch - she ate every bit. That is broccoli soup in the bowl and the apple is halved with peanut butter inside (helps keep it from getting brown).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More for Your Food Dollar: Low-Calorie Juices

Tonight’s trip to the grocery store inspired this latest segment, which I will try to provide regularly.


Our favorite style of orange juice was missing due, so I decided to try the 50% less sugar version since it was on sale. Not only did the certain brand claim less sugar and calories, but no added artificial sweeteners. It sounded great, but the taste was not.

I started to think about it a bit, read the back, and wondered why I was so stupid to buy juice that was just watered down. Eureka, it does not take a genius a figure out they are getting more money out of us by providing us less and playing to our health-consciousness. I also wondered why I thought this juice was different since I knew exactly that is what another company did to make a “tots” version of apple juice.

I have been cutting fruit juices with water for years for my kids, especially for my toddler, to do just what they are offering – reducing the sugar and calories.

So the moral of the story is, never pay for low calorie juices. Add water to the good stuff and get twice as much for the same money.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

7 Families Went Hungry…

At least they would have gone hungry if they were depending on me and my small “farm” to feed them. A raccoon killed seven of my chickens last week.

You can guess that I was extremely mad. I have put a lot of time, money and emotion into those chickens, and I was looking forward to collecting their eggs to feed to my family. I was also having the debate with my oldest child whether we should be eating the extra roosters. She had finally decided that eating them would be okay, but the raccoons beat us to it. And it wasn’t pretty. The most frustrating part was that out of the seven killed, very little of those chickens were actually eaten.

We still have nine chickens left: two roosters and seven hens. This will be enough to provide us eggs, and we will be able to share with our family and neighbors. You can imagine that we have upped our chicken security. They now are put into a large dog crate covered with chicken wire each night (tree limbs are provided for them to roost on), and we have set a trap outside their home for the past several nights. And yes, we have captured several culprits, but nothing in the last two nights. We will continue to do this until their new critter-proof coop is ready, which should be by this weekend.

But why is this story important? I recently attended a conference of farm women, and a featured speaker asked us if large-scale/commercial/factory farming is “right.” That seems to be the million dollar question these days regarding food production. Many people want to see farming like it was in the good-old days where more than half the population had a small farm in which they raised most of their food and enough to feed a few non-farming neighbors. But things have definitely changed.

Fewer and fewer people have dedicated themselves to producing our food. Most of us just don’t want to do it… it requires land, capital, long hours, and a lot of faith. It’s not as easy as the internet games Farmville and Farmtown on Facebook make it out to be. I think someone needs to program in unpredictable natural disasters, disease, pests, low prices and high inputs. Then let’s see how many people want to dedicate hours to producing their virtual crops.

Having worked for farmers in the modern age – and unbeknownst to most of the world, 95% of these farmers are not food company owned – I have a real appreciation for their growing success. It was comical to see the article in Time magazine about how farmers are becoming rich these days. But the difference between a wealthy banker or stock broker and a farmer is that any profit made by the farmer is immediately invested back into his or her operation – they buy more land, they buy better equipment, they hire more people, and they invest in methods to improve the sustainability of their practices. They are not off buying yachts and summer homes in France. They are creating jobs and investing in their communities and the future of our food.

Now, I will admit 100% that I am not immune to the “factory farm” expose videos showing our food animals being mistreated or in poor living conditions. I made myself watch the Mercy for Animals video of the corporate hog facility in Iowa. I immediately left the house, turned my chickens out to run around the farm and proclaimed to my husband that I would no longer be purchasing pork from my grocery store (which was named in the video). I also suggested that we buy a pig or two to raise ourselves, just like my grandparents did, but that didn’t fly.

And since I have undertaken the task of advocating for our US farmers and their practices, I had to ask myself, “How do I defend this if I don’t like it?”

That has been a tough question, but something I felt I needed to address. After several weeks of contemplation, my answer about the morality of farming comes down to this:

In most cases, I believe the individual farmer feels a strong sense of duty to feed his or her fellow man. That sense of duty may be tied to faith and/or a real desire to contribute a basic necessity for life. Most farmers do not intentionally set out to abuse animals or pollute the environment, but try to produce food the best way they know how at the time with the resources they have available to them.

Improvements are constantly being made – not for making loads of money, but to maximize future productivity. Making a profit is still important, however, and we cannot lose sight that farmers must provide for the basic needs of their families as well. I believe a lot of farmers are complacent at just getting by, but operating at a loss for several years is difficult to endure for anyone, which has led to many farmers leaving the business.

I also believe most farmers are willing to listen to the needs of consumers and will “fix” certain aspects if it makes logical sense. Some farmers are turning to niche markets to meet those needs and help themselves stay afloat financially. What I don’t want to see happen though is our food supply drastically reduced because going back to the “good-old days” makes people feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Our farmers will need to feed 9 billion people by the year 2050, and there are still cases of famine across the globe. We still need efficient, larger-scale operations to feed the majority of the under-privileged people across the world and even in our nation.

Now back to my chickens… I love the fact that I am producing some food for my family in the best way that I know how. The chickens I have left are happy and get to eat as much horse poop, bugs and green stuff as they want. Raising chickens is expensive (I could have already purchased 1700 dozen eggs with what I have spent in food and housing) but it makes me feel good. But I would be hungry if I had to depend on these chickens to feed me and my family. Okay, seven families may not be hungry, but I have lost several years’ worth of eggs and a few meals worth of meat in one night. The notion circulating that we could all sustain ourselves on 4.5 acres of land is laughable to me. God doesn’t make things so easy. That perfect world only exists on Facebook.

It is my true opinion that we have the ability to feed our people on the land available to us, without deforesting millions of acres and without causing further destruction to our natural resources. I am seeing some amazing technology coming down the pike to help us achieve that. Some may think that it is more “right” to not use pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically-modified crops, or confine animals, but I can guarantee that if we all turned back the clock on food production, many more people would be starving. Where is the morality in that?

Update: After having a great conversation with a reader I wanted to clarify that I will never try to defend bad behavior of farmers or food companies. But I feel I need to defend agriculture in general - big or small - for putting food on our tables. I have said it before; farmers have a really hard time recuperating from the misdeeds of a few. It is our right as consumers to demand better, but we must also realize what it will take to feed more people with less resources.
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