Saturday, January 31, 2009

MMM-Misleading Milk Marketing

It is time for an educational post-and while I write this something crazy with the animals is probably happening that is worthy of a later post- and I have decided to go milk. Yes, again. What prompted this is my browsing through a Publix circular in the newspaper. On their GreenWise page (which highlights their own brand of natural/organic products) there is a big glass of creamy milk with 2 cookies. Below the picture is the advertised price of $4.99/gallon (so much for tough economic times) and the following ad campaign: "Whether poured on cereal or in a glass, try our Publix GreenWise Market All-Natural Milk. With no artificial or added hormones, you and your family will love the smooth, fresh taste of this wholesome, pure milk."

Allow me to disect this for you.

1. "no artificial or added hormones" Here they are referring to bovine growth hormone (BGH) and also recombinant bovine growth hormone(rbST). rbST was a proven effective and safe hormone that was used sparingly by dairymen to increase milk production by almost 10%. This was used primarily for cows who were on the lower end of the production spectrum for short periods of time. Most dairies in Florida and southern parts of Georgia and Alabama were using this hormone very infrequently before Southeast Milk Co-op ( decided to ban it's use from the dairies participating in the co-op. In other words, if you are living in Florida the milk you have been drinking over the last year is rBST-free regardless of if it is organic or not. BGH's main vice has been that it is reported that the presence of this hormone in milk may cause an increase in our system of Insulin Growth Factor(IGF-1) which is loosely linked to cancer.
-Dale Bauman, a professor of animal science at Cornell University, emphasizes that if IGF-1 is slightly higher in milk from BGH-treated cows, it represents a tiny fraction of the IGF we all produce each day. Bauman reports that we would have to drink 95 quarts of milk to equal the IGF-1 we make daily in our saliva and other digestive tract secretions. Interesing, huh?
-ST LOUIS, Jan. 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Monsanto (Nachrichten/Aktienkurs) announced today that new data from a national study of milk show that marketing claims implying that milk from cows not treated with POSILAC bovine somatotropin (bST) is safer or healthier are misleading. Scientific analysis of retail milk samples gathered from 48 states showed no difference in concentrations of bST, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), progesterone or nutrients in conventionally produced milk and conventionally produced milk labeled as coming from cows not supplemented with POSILAC. No antibiotic residues were found in any samples.


Honestly, I am disappointed they did not mention the antibiotics claim to fame. Here is the truth on that in milk: Organic cows can be treated with antibiotics. They are then removed from the herd for 1 year. Yikes. Conventional cows can be treated with antibiotics. Typically, dairymen remove them from the herd while they are being treated, and until a week after they have finished their round of medication. They perform their own tests on that particular cow's milk to ensure there are no traces of the drugs before they return them to the herd. WHY? Because 2x a day, when the refrigerated truck comes to collect their money, er, milk, the milk is tested. If there is a trace of antibiotics in the milk, the entire holding tank is dumped. Talk about seeing your income go down the drain... So, there are no antibiotics in the milk you drink, organic or not.


And I just have to say that the feel good verbiage that is used on organic marketing is sickening. "your family will love the smooth fresh taste?" Give me a break. If my family didn't love the smooth fresh taste of our conventional milk, I don't think I would be buying it! And here is another one off of Annie's Homegrown Shells & White Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese (which was surprisingly in my pantry! ha! it was on clearance at Stuff-Mart, OK?) "...and to support family farms, use organic milk, butter, and yogurt!" I have a newsflash for you folks. The organic milk, butter, and yogurt that is available to most of us in our grocery stores is NOT FROM A FAMILY FARM. It is from a farm in which the farmers work for THE MAN. The man who owns the giant company. The man who is in charge of what the farmer gets paid for what he grows. I know these people who work for this man. They are all in different situations, yes, but a lot of the time, they are farming organically in order to be able to farm period. Nothing to do with convictions or research. Now if you have access to an organic producer down the road from you or a local farmers market or co-op, obviously you ARE supporting the farmer directly and by all means, support them. Think about this folks, think about what you are believing without really considering the facts. If you go to the GreenWise section of Publix and buy items from there believing you are helping out a quaint little Mom and Pop farm, this is very farm from the truth. (who caught that?)

Please also read this fascinating article:
reference used:

I have heard over and over again, people tell me "Oh, I don't buy organic food except for the milk... you know, because of the hormones." And I just want everyone to know.... you don't have to spend the extra money anymore!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The City Mice

Have you ever read that children's book, City Mouse Country Mouse? Well, it is one of my favorite stories because it really emphasizes the fact that some mice, or people, fit in better in the country and some fit in better in the city. When I officially moved to the country almost 5 years ago, I started calling myself 'country mouse' and my sister, who has lived in Miami for 16 years and loves it, 'city mouse'. And just like the story, the two of us visit each other in our respected living quarters, look around and take it all in, and say, "This is nice.... for you! But I'm happiest at home in the city/country" So a few weeks ago, the city mice decided to venture up the state to visit the country mice. Let me paint the picture for you: The city mice arrive in a sleek German-made wagon. It did get a little dirt on the tires when they drove up my driveway. The mice were all wearing very stylish clothes and were armed with the latest technological devices for travel and entertainment. They brought fine wine and choice foods. They brought various other comfort items that the country mice had heard tale of, but had yet to behold with their own eyes. Everyone settled in, warming in front of the fire as it is quite cold in the countryside this time of year. As our weekend progressed, the city nephew spent most of his time outside, roaming the land, hunting with country uncle, skeet shooting with country uncle, feeding livestock, enjoying the fresh air during the day, and the beautiful stars at night. At one point he asked his mother if they could buy some land and build a house here! City niece also spent hours outside romping in the dirt and woods, and carefully attending the goings on in the pasture. City sister enjoyed relaxing by the fire, chatting with country sister, taking a leisurely ride into town (we took the American made oversized SUV this time),eating breads made from freshly milled flour, and the occasional brisk walk through the fields. The real excitement came when city nephew and country daughter were with country husband when he shot a deer! (This is the second time city nephew has been with country husband when a deer was shot-this is the highlight of both trips for him) City sister was a little bothered by the thought of the shooting.... but she was able to get through it. The last night of the visit, after all the many many hours of outdoor adventures and a real taste of country living, the city mice were tired. City nephew and city sister said to country sister, "Can we please watch TV? We haven't watched TV in days! We are on a media withdrawl!" We all giggled a little and I said, "Sure. You are welcome to scroll through the channels, but remember we only have the major networks." City nephew said, "What is a network?" He looked very disappointed when I explained what it was and that there were only 4 of them. But we turned on the boob tube anyway and gave it a shot.

All in all, the city mice always enjoy their time here. Honestly, they handle farm life pretty well considering where they live and what they are used to. I am very proud of them and proud they were able to endure the country mice way of life. I also have a feeling they were glad to see the bright lights again...

City nephew and country daughter with their deer

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

These boots were made for farmin'

Yes, all 8 pairs of these boots were found on my front porch. No, not lined up. But after I gathered them all together, I laughed and decided that people ought to see just how many pairs of boots it takes to run a farm.
(Just in case you are wondering, size 13)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Where the credit is due

Over and over again, I am struck my what a great childhood my kids are having. And no, I'm not talking about my perfect parenting, their material possessions,or their renaissance experiences. I am talking about the wide open spaces. I am talking about no fences. I am talking about no fear. I am talking about the feeling of fresh air, a vision of a sky full of stars, the smell of livestock, the taste of food that was grown with your own hands. I am talking about the farm. Right now, the young-uns are outside exploring. Each day, when they go outside, they wander around the property making up games, pretending, finding animal paw prints in the dirt, blazing trails, feeding animals, covering themselves in dirt all the while. This was not the childhood I had, but it was the childhood of my husband and all his family before him. Nothing about this strikes him as wonderful or strange. But to me, I take it all in and have to wonder, what type of people will this make them? I know for a fact they will never be bored. They don't depend media to entertain them. I also know for a fact they will be innovative and self-sufficient. They have learned to figure out how to do things and how to make things happen. This of course is the obvious reason for the progress of civilization- we are all where we are because of the survival and perseverance of the people before us. And while we are all capable of contributing to society, I see people with the knowledge of basic survival skills and basic problem solving skills and self-sufficiency as being the people who make the biggest changes for good. I wish I could take the credit for these qualities in my kids. But the credit goes to the great outdoors. The credit goes to the hours and hours that they have spent and will spent simply figuring out life outside the four walls of this house.

I work in nursing homes located in rural areas. The majority of people that I work with grew up in this area on family farms. When they hear that I am the wife of a farmer, and that my children are growing up on a farm, they tell me, "Honey, it's a hard life. But it's a good life. I'm a better person for growing up on a farm." This generation of people is also the generation who were finally able to leave the farm. There were education opportunities available to them which allowed them to move to the city, take jobs working for the man and raise families in neighborhoods. At the time I'm sure it sounded like the dream life. Now, families like mine are in the minority and I hear all the time from city folk, "You are so lucky to live on a farm!" And I can't agree with them more.

In a time in our world where parents and children are forced to alienate themselves from others and be on hyper alert for danger outside of the home, I am ever thankful. My kids are running free, no cars or strangers in sight. Just wide open spaces and plenty of exploring to do.

Thank you farm. Thank you God.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dull Moments Part 3

(If you haven't read my Dull Moments Part 1 and 2, please do! Go back to March 08)

Well, it was a quiet Saturday morning filled with laundry and more cleaning. And also potty training. Hubby was away in the woods in a tree stand somewhere hunting. I should have known that since it has been so long since my last test of true farm- wifery, and since hubby was gone and unable to be reached by phone, that a series of unfortunate events was inevitably going to take place very soon. And so at 9:30 am, the fun began. Daughter and I were busy in the laundry room when I heard son laughing hysterically near the back door. I ignored it-all good Mom's know to ignore laughing since it means that everyone is happy. But the longer it went on, the more I began to wonder what was causing it. Son exclaims, "Scrappy's trying to get in the house!" Scrappy is a 1 year old male goat who lives inside a 5 acre barbwire fenced pasture with his 2 other goat buddies (Sweet Grass and Peanut) and a 18 month old Jersey calf, Sweetums. You can imagine my shock and horror at the sight of all 3 of our goats looking in our back door and all of our windows at that level. They are frolicking, they are eating potted plants, they are pooping on my front porch, they are being the 3 billy goats gruff. My reaction is the typical girl-who-didn't-grow-up-on-a-farm reaction. I started screaming. OH NO! OH MY GOSH! DON'T OPEN THE DOOR! OH NO! GO GET SHOES ON! DON'T OPEN THE DOOR! OH MY GOSH! Daughter was immediately rubber booted up and out the front door-she was on a mission. Son had to get pants and diaper put back on (did I mention I was potty training?) and then shoes and then I had to put my shoes on. All the while I am grasping at straws in my head of what I am going to do. You must understand something here- these goats are very strong, have very long pointy horns, and are, well, stubborn. They have a new freedom and I highly doubted at this point that they would simply march back into the pasture when I gently suggested it to them. So I head out the door, 3 year old son in tow, with no plan what so ever. 5 year old daughter is already running toward the shed where the food is kept- genius. Wish I would have thought of that. I push one goat off the porch and cover the sand box-they were eating the sand out of it. Yes it is true what they say, goats will eat anything. I see my bigonia, it is clipping from my Grandfather and has grown wonderfully. Those blasted goats are drooling looking at it. I start screaming again. GET OFF HERE! NO! GO AWAY! GET! NO! GO BACK! It's no use. They love it out here. Daughter is trying to get the food placed strategically while I attempt to lure them toward her. 2 out of the 3 are interested, so I am hopeful. When we get down to the gate of the pasture, the 600 pound calf is attempting the same stunt that the goats pulled- she has found the place the goats got out. The portion of the fence that doesn't have barb wire has been pushed to the ground, while the barb wire strand is still pulled tightly across. The goats simply hopped over with out a problem. So as I see Sweetums contemplating her next move, I do a quick assessment of the situation. 2 young kids, 3 stubborn goats on the loose, 1 panicking farm wife... the addition of the calf running wild would be quite possibly much, much more than I could handle. The hawk and the snake incidents paled in comparison to what I was imagining would happen if Sweetums went for it. Thank you Lord, thank you precious Lord that she got a whiff of the corn that daughter was throwing into the pasture. She walked away. Whew. Now back to the scene before me: daughter was getting no where with these 3 rotten things. Son was really getting antsy to get in on the action, but I was just so nervous that the goats would really get annoyed by the kids corraling them that it would make it worse. So, I started screaming again. GET IN HERE! JUMP OVER! PEANUT! SCRAPPY! ARGH! WHERE IS DADDY? ARGH! I couldn't do anything further. I took 3 year old inside, daughter requested to stay out with them to keep them from running off, and I agreed. Honestly, she is the best person for this job. When inside, I text husband: SERIOUS PROBLEM. GOATS ARE OUT. FENCE IS DOWN. COME HOME FAST. Then son and I sit at the window and watch what daughter is doing. This situation was beyond me and I simply could not get the goats back in. This is what we saw from the window:

What can I say, I raised a genius for a child. She roped one goat and then attempted to tie up another one. Now, don't think I don't realize the potential of 2 goats tied to the same rope. But it was keeping them close to the pasture, and occupied. In the meantime, I had realized that my throat was sore from all the screaming. I also got a text from hubby: On my way home. Praise the Lord! When hubby arrived, in less than 5 minutes the billy goats were back in the fence and they were so exhausted from their morning that they went straight to nap time. Hubby repaired the fence in no time, and once again the farm wife was back to work inside-where I belong.

So for those of you who still believe that my life out here in the peaceful country is mundane and dull.... I'll give you a call next time I see this at my back door: