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November 2013 Archive for Grazing the Net

RSS By: Greg Henderson and Friends, Beef Today

Our editors spend some time roaming the web looking for stuff cattle people and others in agriculture might find useful or entertaining. 

Eat It, Vegans

Nov 26, 2013

We've known for a long time that a cheese burger paired with an egg was a tasty dish, but research done at the University of Montreal has shown the pairing is essential for brain development. Asparagine is an amino acid that is readily found in meat, eggs and dairy products. The body naturally produces asparagine so it was previously considered non-essential. Dr. Jacques Michaud, who was a co-author on the study, says the amino acid is crucial for brain development and for brain cells to function properly it depends on the local synthesis of asparagine. Looks like there are some vegans who should reconsider their dietary choices, but they may not be smart enough.


Soldiers Saluted with Steaks

A round of applause is deserved for a group of cattlemen from Nebraska who jumped through a lot of hoops to insure home-grown beef was delivered to U.S. troops who are currently serving in Afghanistan. First the producers couldn't get the trucks to deliver to the Air Force base in Delaware that would be sending the steaks overseas. Then there was some difficulty finding a grocer in Delaware that had beef sourced from Nebraska. After finally finding a Safeway with ribeyes from the Cornhusker State and a $3,000 money order went through the steaks were finally on their way. We're proud to report it was a "mission accomplished."


Beef for the Holidays

We're not that fond of the magazine Mother Jones, but every once in a while they'll publish something that catches our eye. The publication recently took a look back in history to determine why particular meat dishes are eaten at certain holidays and why beef typically isn't one of them. Much of it had to do with the time of year and if the animal was ready for harvest. Hams were ready for Easter after curing. Turkeys were good and fattened for Thanksgiving after gorging all fall on acorns. This Thanksgiving we hope you'll be passing the roast beef and not the traditional turkey.


Oklahoma Drones

Drones have been a hot topic in agriculture and producers in Oklahoma are finding all sorts of uses for them. Plus, you can read about the good, the bad and the ugly of these unmanned arials and watch them in action to see if you could use them on your farm. Who would have ever guessed that remote-control flying crafts would become part of farming?! 


Tuberculosis Found in Nebraska Herd

A case of bovine tuberculosis was discovered in a single cow from a northeast Nebraska cow herd.
 

Got Cheese Brine?

Nov 25, 2013

Wisconsinites have embraced the "cheesehead" moniker, and Packer fans adore wearing those silly looking cheese-shaped hats. We've been known to throw out a few cheesy insults of our own to some of our Wisconsin editors, but we must admit this is an idea of real genius. Folks in the Badger State have discovered that cheese brine—the salty water that soft cheeses float around in—can be reused to keep roads from freezing over in the winter. That's because salt brine has a freezing point of 6 below zero, but cheese brine doesn't freeze until 21 below zero. What's next, the Packers spreading cheese on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field?


Heifers for South Dakota

Here's a story that will make you proud to be involved with agriculture. It's about neighbors helping neighbors. Cattle from Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota have already been delivered to ranches hit by the freak October blizzard in South Dakota, and more are on the way. Ty Linger's dream of finding heifers for South Dakota ranchers has mushroomed into a multi-state effort called Heifers for South Dakota.


Feeder Cattle Prices Weaken

A softer tone was evident in feeder cattle prices last week, with the over 600 pound kind trading steady to $3 per cwt. lower. Demand for calves, however, remained firm with prices unevenly steady to $5 per cwt. higher. Friday's Cattle on Feed report pegged October placements 10% higher than last year, while total inventories remain 6% under last year.


Undercover Abuse Charges

In a bizarre twist of the law, a Colorado woman who recorded video of animal abuse on a Colorado ranch now faces animal cruelty charges. Taylor Radig, who claims to have worked as a "contractor" for the animal rights group Compassion Over Killing, filmed alleged animal abuse at Quanah Cattle Company from mid-July through September. Radig's charges stem from the fact that she didn't report the abuse when it was happening, which is a violation of Colorado law. The video was delivered to the Weld County sheriff two months after she quit working at the ranch. Three ranch employees have also been charged in the case.

Kick the Can

Nov 22, 2013

The folks on Capitol Hill have yet again failed to agree on a farm bill. It was looking like the conference committee composed of leaders from both the House and Senate might make something happen with the farm bill, but ultimately issues with food stamp cuts and other sticking points led for the group to postpone voting. Now both the House and Senate will be going on recess for the Thanksgiving holiday. Let's hope they don't continue to play kick the can.


Kangaroo Chow Mein?

Beef with broccoli is a staple of many Chinese restaurants here in the U.S., but over in China you're probably going to see a lot of different proteins in traditional dishes. Some exotic species that have been eaten for medicinal purposes include cats, dogs, rats, and a host of other animals. Now, kangaroo meat could be the new popular paring with broccoli or fried rice thanks to efforts by the Australian government. Right now kangaroo meat is cheap at nearly half the price of beef. It's not yet known if Chinese consumers will be jumping for joy to eat 'roo meat.


Custom iPad Burgers

McDonald's is known for its speed of service with billions of burgers sold. The franchise is now trying to slow things down in an effort to give customers a little more of what they want. The custom burger fad, made popular by other chains like Five Guys, Smash Burger and In-And-Out, appears to have changed the world leader in fast food's approach. McD is trying something completely new—new to them, that is and only in a Laguna Niguel, Calif., restaurant. Diners will now be able make a custom burger with an iPad that list more than 20 different sauces and toppings. To steal a phrase made famous by Burger King: "Have it your way."


More Beef

We like to hear that beef is at the center of the plate, and this article makes us feel all warm and fuzzy like we just ate a juicy T-bone. Beef consumption has been on a steading increase since 2010 with the average American consuming 52 pounds per year. Restaurants across the country are helping with the positive trend by adding more and more beef items to their menus. That's music to our ears.

Bedroom Beef

Nov 21, 2013

It’s no secret that beef is what's for dinner. However, things that happen after dinner don't usually involve products from the beef industry. Bill Gates is trying to change that with his search for a new type of contraception: BEEF CONDOMS. Through a grant awarded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, research is being conducted to develop a condom made from beef tendons that will be stronger and thinner than traditional latex. If it works the Beef Checkoff sure could have some fun with new slogans.


Putting on the Ritz

We're meat and potatoes kind of people. Give us a juicy ribeye and some hash browns, and we'll be pretty content. But this story out of a Canadian day care has got us a little flummoxed. A mother of two children was fined $10 when the daycare she sends her children to deemed the lunch she'd packed wasn't up to code. Roast beef, potatoes and carrots, with an orange for dessert and milk to wash it down sounds good to us. Apparently, $10 worth of Ritz crackers makes it a balanced meal.


Wild, Wild Middle East

While visions of cowboys on horseback lassoing calves and bringing in the strays conjures up thoughts of the American West, it could also be halfway across the globe. In Israel, the cowboys are just as handy as they come in Texas or Montana, and it is evident in this photo editorial. The Golan Heights region of Israel where the ranch is located happens to be near Syria where a civil war has been rampant and adjacent to the cease fire zone the countries share. Even with the Israeli army training on the land with live ammunition, it is hard not to look at these images and think you're in the States.


Fountain of Cows

Juan Ponce de León may not have found the Fountain of Youth when he discovered Florida, but the state could help rejuvenate a decreasing national cowherd. Beef producers in the Sunshine State are in a good position to increase the state’s herd says Jim Handley, executive vice president of the Florida Cattlemen's Association. Currently, there are 910,000 beef cows in Florida which is down from a record high of 965,000. With the development of land for housing slowing and acreage originally for citrus production or timber being changed to pasture, the time is right for more cattle to graze in Florida.

Robo Cowdog

Nov 20, 2013

Robotics have been stepping into all phases of life, but we didn't think robots would be in the pasture this soon. Researchers in Australia are trying to replace the cowdog with a robot that can perform the task of herding cattle. Border Collies, Kelpies, Heelers, Australian Shepherds and a number of other dogs have got to be a little worried about their job security. Not only could the robot remove man's best friend from the farm or ranch, but the folks Down Under even had the nerve to give the robot a dog's name: Rover.


Volvo Does Splits and Runs with Bulls

By now you've probably watched the "Epic Split" that movie star and martial artist Jean Claude Van Damme pulled off between two moving Volvo semis. But what you probably haven't seen is a previous video stunt Volvo performed in the streets of a Spanish city with some cattle. During a video titled "The Chase" a Volvo pickup is painted red and outruns the famous running bulls of Spain. "The Chase" is pretty neat, but it doesn't look much different than a lot of ranchers' feed routes when the cows are hungry for cake.


Joan Jett(s) from S.D. Float

The selection of PETA supporting rocker Joan Jett didn't float the boat of South Dakota cattlemen when it was originally announced she would be standing on a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade float representing the state. On Saturday, Jett decided to roll rather than keep rocking with the South Dakota float. Let's hope Macy's doesn't put Carrie Underwood on as the replacement to Jett. That's a float wreck waiting to happen.


Fridge Photos

Refrigerators and freezers are a great place to store a side of beef. Most people could probably stand to clear some fridge space to help house a few steaks. A photographer from Texas has been taking photos of people's refrigerators in a photo series titled "You Are What You Eat." The fridges run the gamut with some being stocked to the gills and others looking like a barren food wasteland. "I was hoping to learn about people through their food—refrigerators are a private space—but more importantly to shine light on how people take care of their bodies and our food supply," says photographer Mark Menjivar.

Pay Up!

Nov 19, 2013

Unless your commodity account was wrapped up in the MF Global flop, you probably haven't heard the company's name mentioned in a while. After all, it was in 2011 that the broker folded, taking customers' money with it. Now the FTC is ordering the group to pay $1.21 billion in restitution to its customers, as well as a $100 million civil penalty. Let's just hope there's enough dough to go around.


The New Cheap?

We've watched corn prices come tumbling down from their record highs earlier in the year. Cattlemen cheer. Farmers lament. It's all part of supply-demand economics. But could corn prices be sitting at a new plateau? In the early 70s, corn prices ranged from $1 to $1.66. Then you'd hear talk of $2 corn, $3, $4, and more recently $8. But in 2013, what is cheap corn? The writers of Policy Pennings suggest "cheap corn" may be given a new definition as prices adjust and new plateaus are established.


Heat and Eat for $1

As farm bill negotiations continue, it's no secret that food stamps are at the center of the debate. Food stamp spending has more than doubled in the past five years, and members of a House-Senate conference committee are scrutinizing food stamp eligibility rules. One such rule that's turning heads is known as "heat and eat." Apparently, if a state gives a resident as little as $1 a year in heating assistance, that person's household is automatically qualified for additional food stamps—up to $1,080 per family on average. Look for the "heat and eat" rule to be part of the food stamp debate, as well as the House's requirements for recipients to pass drug tests.


Carbon Keepers

The idea of ranchers selling carbon credits has bounced around for a few years now, but never taken off like some had hoped. But recently landowners in a select North Dakota area can start collecting payments of $16 to $25 an acre to keep their land in pasture instead of converting it to cropland. Landowners are still allowed to use the land to raise cattle—they just can't till it, which keeps the carbon in the ground. This is the realization of a 2011 grant project with the USDA and Ducks Unlimited.


Two Thumbs Up!

Today we have some great news to report. The Ranchers Relief Fund that was developed after the October blizzard that devastated South Dakota ranchers has now totaled $1 Million. The foundation managing the fund is now taking applications for those who need help.


No Helping Hand?

There's an interesting sign above donation bins at an Ohio Wal-MartPlease donate food so our associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner. Wow, how about that for public relations from the nation's largest retailer? Not exactly what we would have suggested.  When you read a little deeper, the donations are intended for families facing some type of hardship, like a spouse losing a job, etc. Nothing like asking customers for some generosity. How about a little of your own, Wal-Mart?

Oh, Darn!

Nov 18, 2013

Not that we'd wish bad luck on anyone, especially another protein business, but we can't help but grin just a little at this headline: Butterball's turkey shortage might ruin your Thanksgiving. An unexpected decline in weight gain left the company with smaller birds to sell—smaller than most people want to purchase to feed their family. Never fear! Our Thanksgiving isn't ruined. In fact, it just got better! We're a generous bunch, and we are more than willing to give our turkey to the next shopper. There are plenty of wonderful beef options out there. There's nothing wrong with a tasty ribeye on the 4th Thursday of the month. Or a prime rib, or brisket, or ...


A Farm Bill in Santa's Sleigh?

I'm dreaming of a farm bill for Christmas, just like the ones I used to know. Where the congressmen all agree and the President does not flee, but signs the bill into law ... Okay, now that you have that Bing Crosby tune in your head the rest of the day, NCBA's Colin Woodall says we're closer than ever before to a new farm bill, and he predicts it will be wrapped up by Christmas. The nutrition title is still the major sticking point, but Woodall says the commodity portion of the law should be workable in all regions of the country. COOL may also make its way into the mix. 


Headline Training

Since we see many ranchers as the ultimate conservationists, our mouse immediately pointed to the NPR headline "A Rancher and a Conservationist Forge an Unlikely Alliance." An unlikely alliance? What we found, as with many of these unfriendly headlines, is the actual story is not bad. Ranchers are working in harmony with other animal groups to improve their livelihood, and they often improve the environment in the process. But why is this worthy of such a demeaning headline? It seems as though there are a plethora of unfriendly ag headlines. We propose all journalism graduates take an agriculture class or two, and make sure there is some headline-writing homework involved!

Here's a few other eye catching headlines that we didn't write (You might want to scan the story, too):


News Off the Beaten Path

Is there a European in your family? Likely so if you own a dog ...

A woman is arrested for bare-ing all when announcing her nude wedding. Only in San Fran ...

Bad day? Just need to cuddle? An Oregon woman can help you out. Cuddling for hire is her business.

 

Ship Them Water

Nov 15, 2013

One Icelandic entrepreneur has an answer for the drought—let us ship you the water. We've never been to Iceland, but Bloomberg says they've got plenty of water to spare. And one company wants to capitalize on it. There are already plans in the works to ship water in tankers to Europe.

Although the nation-wide drought has seen some relief, there are still regions of the country that are bone dry. Only problem for this "outside the box" thinker? Much of the U.S. that's suffering the most is land-locked by several hundred miles.


Billions in Savings

The CBO, not Citizens Boycotting Obama but the Congressional Budget Office, says they've found a way to save $130 billion in the farm bill. Less than half of that, $50 billion, would come from reductions in food stamps. What else could be on the chopping block? Forrest service programs, school lunches, conservation programs, crop insurance and more. We have to wonder how accurate the CBO's numbers are. Seems like somewhere in the past they've had their fair share of miscalculations.

With all the farm bill and food stamp reduction talk, we stumbled upon a good piece that talks about cooking with less. Way less. One mom explains how she feeds her family with what she can get from the local food bank. Too "wealthy" to get food stamps, but too poor to buy groceries, this blog was a wake-up call. And it puts a whole new spin on food waste, and what we could really be doing with all that extra food we let spoil.


Attaboy!

CNN's Eatocracy stepped outside its comfort zone and published the story of a "factory farmer." The headline read "Big Farms Aren’t Bad." Kudos to the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance for submitting the story. And even more atta-boys to CNN for publishing it!


Move Over, Brazil!

The projected record corn crop in the U.S. just might be enough to bump Brazil from the King of Corn. Last year, the U.S. only exported 18.5 million tons, which was second to Brazil's 20.8. But if projections hold, the U.S. is expected to export 35.6 million tons.  


Saved by the LEGO

Could legos be the future of prosthesis? Likely not for humans, but the lego-leg is working quite well for a turtle. Only drawback, it seems to have slowed him down.

 

Here, Piggy Piggy

Nov 14, 2013

Feral hogs are a huge problem for land owners. Trapping, aerial shooting and hunting have all been methods used to reduce their population. However, each is somewhat labor intensive. But now you can trap your hogs via cell phone. These oh-so-smart traps signal users when a hog is at the gate via a text and photo of the approaching hog. A simple reply by the user opens the gate for the hog. Now that is some porky technology.


Frozen Furry

McDonalds is catching a little heat from a photo of a frozen McRib. The photo shows a box of the popular Mickey D’s menu item looking more like the track off a bulldozer than pork ribs. Apparently the public is in shock! Really? What were they expecting? McDonalds replied saying what made the McRib popular is its "fun" shape. Just like a burger patty is formed to be round and flat, McDonalds forms the iconic McRib in the shape of traditional ribs. For those connoisseurs who thought the McRib was truly a small slab of boneless pork ribs, maybe they should eat some really good BBQ more often.


Stuck on Food

After some farm bill optimism after the government shutdown, it appears the glass is now half-empty. A farm policy expert says that food stamps is the sticking point of disagreements. It’s unfortunate that our nation’s farmers and ranchers are left holding the proverbial grocery bag. We know there was a lot of ruckus after Republicans offered to split food stamps and farm programs, but we also hate to see the lack of a farm bill.


Escaped Aussie

Some West Texas deputies thought dispatchers had been on the job a little too long when they radioed about calls of a kangaroo hopping down the highway. It took several deputies to help the owner corner the 4-ft tall pet before it was captured. For a minute, we thought they might have to call in some cowboys to rope the Aussie.


Wino Idea

Do you ever wish you could invent or discover something that would be adopted the world-over as a great device? Then, you could spend the rest of your life reaping the monetary benefits of it, perhaps on a beach somewhere? Or even your back porch? Well, this Argentinian car mechanic may have just done that. But what he’s developed is a little odd, especially for a mechanic.

It’s a device to save a baby stuck in the birth canal. Apparently this mechanic got the idea from extracting a cork that had fallen in a wine bottle. And he applied the same idea to removing a stuck baby. He says the idea came to him in his sleep. Here’s the kicker—his idea is being hailed by doctors and is headed to production. Hmm ... maybe we should drink more wine after all.

A Dreamer’s Food Label

Nov 13, 2013

Voters in two states have rejected initiatives that would have placed labels on foods containing GMOs, but the issue is not going away anytime soon. In fact, some activists want more on labels than just recognition of GMOs. Mark Bittman, the well-known New York Times food journalist and columnist, has outlined his version of what food labels should contain, including "traffic light" colors green, yellow and red to help guide consumers. Bittman's "dream" label, however, would go well beyond nutrition and dietary information. He proposes labels that would also assign a score to the food’s impact on the environment, how the people involved in producing and processing the food are treated and how animals are treated. All of which sounds complicated and untenable, just what Bittman-wannabe types would embrace.


Farm-to-Gym

A gym is an odd place to find a freezer full of meat, but that's how CrossFit, Inc., a fitness company with members at nearly 7,000 gyms across America, promotes the diet it recommends to go with its workout program. CrossFit is pairing its extreme workouts with what it calls the "sustainable food movement," encouraging members to eat grass-fed, sustainable and locally raised meat. The CrossFit workout is called "punishing," and trainers recommend a protein-rich Paleo diet to restore nutrients. We'll take the diet and a pass on the punishing workout.


Texas-Sized Trouble

Texas' historic drought continues to force a tug-of-war for water resources between agricultural interests and the daily needs of its citizens. Nowhere is that struggle more intense than Austin, a booming city of 800,000 that depends on the Colorado River and its system of dammed reservoirs for water. The two reservoirs that provide water to Austin and surrounding cities, however, only contain about a third of the water they can hold at capacity. Texas officials are rightly worried about how they will cope with the problem if the drought continues next year.


Scenes from an English Farm Show

It's billed as one of England's most important agricultural shows—the Royal Bath & West Show in Somerset—featuring ferret racing and cheese tasting contests. It’s also the place to see some of Britain’s finest and most obscure livestock carted in from across the country. In celebration of the show’s 150th year, here’s a look at some of the most interesting animals and their owners in the competition.

Will Cattle Price Rally Continue?

Nov 12, 2013

All-time cattle price records fell like Congressional approval ratings this fall. Can the trend continue in 2014? You bet, say market analysts. The fundamentals surrounding the beef complex suggest next year could be one of the best for producers. Supplies of cattle and beef will be smaller and grain prices have fallen to three-year lows. If Mother Nature cooperates, it could be a banner year.


Funeral for a Stranger

World War II ended 68 years ago, but there are still plenty of us thankful for the outcome and the sacrifice of those who served. America celebrated Veterans Day yesterday, but possibly the most inspiring story came from England where about 500 people attended the funeral of a World War II veteran they didn’t know. Harold Jellicoe Percival, who was known as Coe, served as ground crew on the famous Dambusters raids carried out in May 1943 by 617 Squadron. Percival, who died last month at 99, never married or had children. It was feared no one would attend his service so the funeral home put an advertisement in the local paper appealing for people to attend. The response was "just remarkable." Thank you veterans!


Judas Wolves

Wolves wearing a GPS collar in Washington state are called "Judas wolves," since they betray the location of their pack. Ranchers and the Department of Fish and Wildlife are using satellite downloads to monitor the location of wolves that may pose a threat to cattle. It’s an expensive project, but an alternative Washington officials and local ranchers felt obligated to use since last year’s strategy – government trappers and sharpshooters – was deemed inappropriate. When word circulated about those tactics, the Department of Fish and Wildlife was flooded with angry emails. The new, non-lethal tracking methods, however, appear to be successful.


 

Food Safety for Animals

Livestock and pet foods may soon have the same protection as human food. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration moved this week to propose preventative measures to protect animal foods from disease-causing bacteria, chemicals and other contaminants. Preventive Controls for Food for Animals is the fifth rule that FDA has proposed this year as part of the food-safety framework envisioned by the 2011 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act that focuses on preventing foodborne illnesses. The FDA says the proposal is important because animal and human health are intertwined.

For Gravy Connoisseurs

Nov 11, 2013

A New Hampshire farmer may have discovered a method for raising turkeys that could change our perception of Thanksgiving dinner. We like Thanksgiving as much anyone—great food with family and friends—but turkey was never our favorite dish. Alas, turkey is the traditional menu and we oblige for a day. Turkey farmer Joe Morette, however, gives his birds beer, which he says makes them fatter, more flavorful and juicier. At least one customer says the "gravy is much darker and much tastier." As life-long gravy connoisseurs, we think that sounds terrific. We're still not eating cranberries, though.


Sizzling Smells

Technology provides us with many gifts, but sometimes we wonder, what took so long? We have smart phones that keep our calendars and videos of our nephew's first birthday. Only now we have what the world has been waiting for—bacon deodorant. J&D Foods is a Seattle company that has launched the sizzling deodorant that is sure to make you attractive to ... well, somebody. Can't get enough sizzle in your life? J&D also offers bacon-flavored salt, condoms, shaving cream, and other stuff that really shouldn't smell like bacon. There's even a bacon coffin that retails for $2,999. You can't make this stuff up!


In Meat She Trusts

We expect Maureen Ogle will receive a lot of criticism this week, so we're going to be one of the first to praise her work. Ogle is a historian whose new book, "In Meat We Trust," explains why much of what Americans think they know about the meat industry is wrong. For instance, she admits the meat industry is enormous but claims its power is limited by narrow profit margins, an impenetrable bureaucracy and elaborate demands from American consumers. She also believes Michael Pollan and other food reformers don't understand the food system.


Regional Differences

America may be a melting pot, but regional differences are not going away anytime soon, according to a new book by reporter Colin Woodard, "American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America." Woodard claims, "Our continent's famed mobility has been reinforcing, not dissolving, regional differences, as people increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities." The Washington Post provides a map showing the 11 cultures with names like "Yankeedom" and "The Left Coast." We think this is an interesting read, though we'd add a couple more cultures by separating Hollywood and Washington D.C. into "Neurotic" and "Delusional."

Elephants and GMOs

Nov 08, 2013

After a partisan week in which GMO-labeling was defeated in Washington state, Democrats were defeated in New Jersey and Republicans defeated in Virginia, we think it is time for some fun on Friday. We'll start with the new issue of TIME magazine, which hits the stand today featuring a silhouette of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on its cover and this caption: "The Elephant in the Room." Whoa, is that a reference to the Governor’s weight? No, says TIME, a tribute to Christie’s "outsized influence." Right.

The defeat of GMO labeling initiative also provided fodder for comedienne Stephen Colbert, who says, "It’s none of our business what we’re putting in our mouths." And, "Questioning what’s on our plates is un-American."


Why We Lost the "War" on Fat

We would agree that a medical student and personal trainer from Iceland is not the ultimate authority on nutrition. However, Kris Gunnars, the founder of the web site AuthorityNutrition.com, provides ample evidence that, as he writes, "The ‘war’ on saturated fat is the biggest mistake in the history of nutrition." His recent article, "6 Graphs That Show Why The "War" on Fat Was a Huge Mistake," is sourced from some highly-respected periodicals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine and The British Journal of Nutrition. Don’t miss chart 5, "The Obesity Epidemic Started as People Reduced Their Intake of Red Meat and High-Fat Dairy products."


Basketball and Bacon?

PETA definitely would not approve of this promotion by Kansas State University’s women’s basketball team, but we sure do. Be one of the first 1,000 fans to enter the basketball arena at Kansas State tonight for the women’s home opener and you’ll receive six free slices of bacon. Mmmm, bacon.


Mysterious Elk Deaths

A New Mexico hunter stumbled upon the remains of more than 100 dead elk back in August, and the event had scientists puzzled. Officials with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish investigated the mysterious elk deaths and ruled out poachers, anthrax, lightning strikes, epizootic hemorrhagic disease, botulism, poisonous plants, malicious poisoning and even some sort of industrial or agricultural accident. The killer was pond scum, specifically, a neurotoxin produced by one type of blue-green algae that can develop in warm, standing water. In this case, the elk are thought to have drank out of a livestock tank. The blue-green algae can be just as toxic to cattle.

The Pink Slime of Oils

Nov 07, 2013

What’s the difference between partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and lean, finely textured beef (LFTB)? The Food and Drug Administration announced today that trans fats are no longer "generally regarded as safe." There are lots of folks applauding this sharp shift in policy today and it will likely lead to the banning of trans fats in baked goods, refrigerated dough products, frosting and a laundry list of other foods. Trans fat is apparently nasty stuff as the consumption of 1 gram a day can significantly increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. So, put down the doughnut in favor of some lean, finely textured beef, which contains no partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.


Oregon's Famous Exploding Whale

Many consider this episode in America’s history the first video to go viral on the Internet. In 1970, Oregon officials had a large, stinky problem on their hands—a dead whale. Highway engineer George Thornton dealt with the problem in a way many men would like to deal with problems—he blew it up. The half a ton of dynamite mixed with the 8-ton whale produced a shower of blubber – all captured on film by a local TV station. Thornton dies this week at 84, leading the video to resurface for our viewing pleasure. We presume the stench is gone by now.


Dirty Money

Voters in Washington State voted down a GMO-labeling initiative this week and supporters were quick to blame the "giant pile of money" that flowed into the state to campaign against the measure. Washington’s measure 522, which would have required prominent labels on GMO foods, lost by nine percentage points, and opponents of the initiative outspent supporters 3 to 1. Nathanael Johnson, who writes for Grist.com, criticized the "dirty money" that he believes tipped the scales of the vote. Ironically, two days later Johnson was sending out a warning that climate change will reduce farm yields worldwide by 2 percent per decade when demand is increasing 12 percent per decade. He points a report by this really smart guy Jonathan Foley, of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment who describes what we need to do to keep ourselves from starving. Pssst! Nathanael ... GMOs!


"National Men Make Dinner Day!"

Every dog has his day, and now so do men who seldom cook. Today is "National Men Make Dinner Day!" This new national holiday has its own web site, complete with a list of reasons to participate, for instance: Since you choose the recipe, it can be turnip-free night. We’re guessing carry-out pizza won’t satisfy the females in the house today. 

Drivers Beware!

Nov 06, 2013

If you're driving in New York, keep your eyes peeled for cows on the road. One driver didn't and was using her cell phone when she hit six—yes six—cows crossing a rural road. She almost hit the two farm workers that were mooooving the cows, too. The offender, Daisy Cowit, was given four separate tickets after the wreck. After learning of Daisy's last name, we wonder if perhaps she was playing a game of tag, as in "Cow-(you're)-it!"


New on the Job

We've never met the Reuters reporter P.J. Huffstuttler, but she is becoming one of our least favorite writers when it comes to ag news. Today, P.J. writes about Cargill's decision to label any beef products that contain finely textured beef. Ok, that's a legitimate news story, the AP version is even posted on AgWeb's site (despite sneering at AP's use of the words "pink slime uproar" in the title). The real issue with P.J. comes not so much from her regurgitation of an AP story but with  an article published last Sunday called "U.S. farm kids lavish shampoos and drugs on their prize cattle." Not only does the article paint a very degrading look at youth showing steers and heifers at major stock shows, it has its fair share of inaccuracies, like comparing beta agonists with human growth hormones. And the title is enough to throw any 4-H momma in a tail spin.

We "googled" P.J…..turns out she just went to work for Reuters as an agricultural reporter. Her bio says "big city girl with farm roots covering ag issues." Why are we not surprised?


The Nays Have It

Voters struck down a ballot initiative in Washington state yesterday that would have required labels on food with genetically engineered ingredients. TIME romantically reports that people "would rather not know what’s in their food." Is it that, or perhaps a little education went a long way and people aren't as concerned about GMOs? Or perhaps they were more concerned with the added stress the labeling would put on their wallets?


Boyfriends, Listen Up

The next time your hungry, been-drinking-all-day girlfriend asks to stop at McDonalds, we’d stop. And at the very least, if you let her drive (remember, she’s been drinking all day), don’t be standing in front of the truck. A Tennessee woman was arrested last week after she ran over her boyfriend for refusing to eat at McDonalds. Apparently she drove over him three times. Wonder what she would have done for a steak?

The Gloves Are Off

Nov 05, 2013

Canada has tried to play nice. They’ve suggested, in a gentlemanly manner, that there could be retaliation from COOL. But playing nice appears to be over. Since the powers that be didn’t listen to the hinting of retaliation, they are now voicing their opinion – bluntly. It’s kind of like the wife who sets the trash near the door for a few days, hinting to her husband to take it to the dumpster. After a few days, it really smells and her "hints" are over when she sets the trash bags in her husband’s recliner. Canada says "this stinks" and it’s time to do something ... now!


Hold Your Horses

Oh, what a difference a day makes. Last week, a New Mexico federal judge threw out the HSUS lawsuit opposing horse slaughter, which gave the go-ahead for processing facilities to open., But a quick appeal from the "we love dogs and cats (insert snicker here)" organization has things back on hold.


Funny Farmers

The musical and video-tech-savy Derek Klingenberg is at it again. This time, he released his own parody of "What Does the Fox Say?" If you need a 3-minute break from e-mails (but not this one), go ahead and hit play. It will bring a smile to your face. Just don’t blame us if you’re humming the tune the rest of the day.


Merlot or Cabernet, Kitty Kitty?

For the wine lovers out there, now you never have to drink alone. A Japanese company has developed wine for your cat. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s a non-alcoholic (aka grape juice) for cats, with a bit of catnip. For just $4 a bottle, your kitty can join in with a lovely cabernet. Can’t you visualize the "Fancy Feast" cat eating out of his fine china, now with a glass of wine? Maybe this is just one more reason some of us prefer a beer.

And while we’re talking about odd food, there’s nothing like glow-in-the-dark ice cream for your child’s next birthday party! Sounds great, until we discover the glowing ingredient is a luminescent protein found in jellyfish.


Grab the Bull by the Horns, Sort of ...

Scientists in Vietnam have a new weapon in the battle of Dengue fever that is spread by mosquitoes. It’s more mosquitoes. With the lack of a dependable vaccine, one scientist has developed genetically modified mosquitoes that are incapable of spreading disease. Interesting perspective on the flying pests. We wonder if GMO blood suckers could be developed to inhibit the spread of other diseases, like West Nile or Anaplasmosis?

 

Church In a Pub?

Nov 04, 2013

Here's a novel approach to increasing attendance in church—bring in the beer. It may be a little early to call this a trend, but there are a small number of church services that have worshippers connecting over a pint or two. In Dallas, the Calvary Lutheran Church sponsors church-in-a-pub, while at the Portland First Christian Church they call it Beer & Hymns. We just have a hard time visualizing "How great thou art" sung on karaoke night, so we’re not expecting heartland churches to adopt this type of service anytime soon.


Bingo’s Been Adopted By a What?!

You may have heard of DINKs—Double Income, No Kids—but the latest childfree movement involves those couples who still opt to raise a four-legged friend. Enter the Double Income, Large Dog Owners couples. We’ll let you put the acronym together.


Lawmakers Target COOL

Could Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations be repealed? That is becoming a real possibility as members of the U.S. House and Senate begin work on a farm bill. COOL became mandatory in 2009, but the law has angered U.S. trading partners, Canada and Mexico. The World Trade Organization has made it clear that COOL is in violation of trade agreements and could impose tariffs and other sanctions against the U.S. At the first negotiating session on a final version of the new $500 billion U.S. farm bill, several lawmakers said COOL should be revised or repealed, in part because of the risk of international sanctions. 


Support Slips for GMO Labeling Initiative

The GMO labeling initiative on the ballot in Washington state is clinging to a small lead as the finish line nears. Support for the initiative has dropped 20 points since September. Forty-six percent of Washingtonians support the measure, 42% oppose and 12% remain undecided, reports the Seattle Times. The paper's editorial board encouraged voters to reject the initiative in an editorial in Sunday's edition, saying, "Shoppers want useful information, not scare tactics."  

Farmland Tells Your Story

Nov 01, 2013

You need to watch this trailer! And, you need to forward the link to as many people as you can because all of America should see this documentary. Farmland is due out next spring by Oscar-winning filmmaker James Moll, who says, "While making Farmland, I found myself immersed in a community of some of the most hardworking, passionate people I've ever met. This film isn't just about what it's like to be a farmer; it's about a way of life. It's also about a subject that affects our lives daily."
Here’s the trailer that provides a glimpse into "Farmland."


How to Retire Daylight Savings Time

You'll be an hour late for church Sunday morning if you don't turn your clocks back one hour before you go to bed Saturday night. Twice each year, we hear numerous complaints about Daylight Savings Time and the disruptions caused by the practice. We have long thought a compromise of moving the clock half an hour and leaving it there year-round was a good idea. But we've found an idea we like even better, courtesy of Allison Schrager, who proposes we not only eliminate Daylight Savings Time, but take it a step further.


In Search of New York’s Lost Cow Tunnels

Hard to imagine now, but livestock were once slaughtered and processed in New York. The invention of the refrigerated rail car in 1880, however, made Chicago the nation's meat packer, and most of New York's slaughtering operations ceased. What hasn't gone away is the legend of the cow tunnels, supposedly built under Twelfth Avenue so the animals could move from their pens along the Hudson River to the slaughterhouses without interrupting traffic on the busy streets. Here's one reporter's story of New York's lost, forgotten or perhaps just mythical subterranean meat infrastructure.


Oklahoma Pig Hunters Take to the Air

Feral hogs are a growing nuisance in much of the U.S., and especially in Texas where the state has allowed hunters to use the aid of helicopters to find and shoot the critters. Now, Oklahoma lawmakers have approved legislation to also allow hog hunting from the air. One aviation company offers packages to hog hunters, but it adds up to some pretty expensive bacon. Prices start at $2,150 per person, which includes guns, ammo, dinner, breakfast and two hours in the air shooting hogs.

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