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FDA Problems and Solutions

March 23, 2015

Many folks are frustrated with the FDA – what they approve and what they do. An example of this is a recent comment:

fda is just a lobby group for agrichemicals, pharma groups anymore. needs to be disbanded and reformed with no one allowed that has any ties to these groups allowed in upper-level positions. also no money/funding from any outside sources. such a clear conflict of interest.

What if there was no FDA?

600px-Swiss_cheese_cubesWithout FDA there are no recalls for food items that have incorrect labels, possible food allergy contamination and other food safety issues.

Without the FDA there is no longer rules of what can and cannot be used as ingredients in food. There’s no regulation of the drug industry. There’s no advice or guidance on medical devices or radiation emitting products. When you or your child or family member needs a blood donor, there’s no one to screen and test that it’s as safe as it can be. There is no regulation for cosmetics and pet foods – melamine anyone?

Are we willing to throw out the good things done because of approval that some disagree with?

“By the time Sinclair’s book appeared, Americans had been fretting about food safety and debating food and drug regulation for more than fifty years.” Maureen Ogle – In Meat We Trust

The Pure Food and Drug Act was signed in 1906. That puts it the mid 1800s when people started clamoring for food regulation – which has done nothing but increase. Now…now let’s throw it all away because the agency doesn’t do what *I* want?

Shall we, then, also toss out labels, warnings, recalls when food contains allergens? Shall we look the other way when truly harmful things are put into food, because no one is regulating it any more? Many are upset at FDA approval of genetically engineered foods – but does that mean in abolishing the agency there are no standards?

With some wanting to push for legally doing away with such agencies, think carefully before agreeing to such things. They were put in place for a reason, they have specific jobs to do.

And the consequence of having those things not done affect millions.

 

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Liquid Irish Treats

March 16, 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATis more than Ireland that is green in the middle of march! Most of the recipes here at the blog are of the edible kind, but here’s a special treat in liquid form, just in time for dressing in your finest green and talking in an Irish accent (many poorly but forgiven!).

Ireland has brought the Irish potato, as well as many contributions to the agriculture world, food and so much more.

And what’s Ireland without music?! Celtic Thunder knows a little about the Irish musical influence, posted here in remembrance of George Donaldson and for a touch of Ireland.

Here are some Irish treats, in liquid form from Steven Earles, of Eastside Distilling.

“With each successive year, consumers are getting more sophisticated in their beverage choices – they want quality and variety,” says Earles, whose company experiments with a variety of flavors in its drinks, such as Cherry Bomb Whiskey and Below Deck Coffee Rum.

“These days, women, for example, make up a much greater share of the whiskey market, which experienced an increase in sales by half a billion dollars from 2013 to 2014. Much of this new market is looking for a new direction.”

•  Dropkick Murphy Coffee: Inspired from the popular Celtic punk band, this feisty coffee has the buzz and kick many enjoy in kicking off an extended night of celebration.

1 ½ oz. Burnside Bourbon
½ oz. Below Deck Coffee Rum
2 tsp. vanilla simple syrup
Coffee
Whip Cream
Ground cinnamon

In a coffee glass add Burnside Bourbon, Coffee Rum, and vanilla simple syrup. Fill glass with coffee leaving about 1/4 room. Top with whip cream and then a few dashes of ground cinnamon. You can garnish with lucky clovers!

•  Blarney Stone Kiss: A popular attraction in Ireland, the Blarney Stone gives those who kiss it – which requires an acrobatic, back-bending approach – the gift of the gab. The following shooter gives you the same …

1 oz. Burnside Bourbon
½ oz. Cherry Bomb
2 tsp. lime juice
Lime wedge

Add all ingredients to a shaker, chill hard, and serve in a shot glass. Garnish with lime wedge. Since most people won’t be able to kiss the Blarney Stone on St. Patrick’s day, make sure to take this shot and then “kiss” (bite) the lime wedge after.

•  Adult Shamrock Shake: Many of us have fond memories as a child enjoying the McDonald’s Shamrock shake on St. Patty’s Day. Consider an adult version.

1.5 oz. Portland Potato Vodka
1 oz. Peppermint Bark Liqueur
.5 oz. Irish Cream
½ scoop vanilla ice cream
1 scoop mint chocolate chip ice cream

Add all ingredients in a blender a cup of ice. Blend for 10 seconds and serve immediately.

•  Irish Mule: There’s a Moscow mule, made with vodka, and a Mexican mule, made with Tequila – now, here’s an Irish take …

1 ¼ oz. Burnside Bouron
2 tsp. mint simple syrup
Ginger beer
Lime juice
Mint leaves

In a tumbler over ice add Burnside Bourbon, mint simple syrup, a splash of lime juice, then fill with ginger beer. Stir together and garnish with mint leaves.

•  Emerald Elixir: Who says you need a thick and heavy Guinness to raise a glass to St. Patrick? Why not something light, green and refreshing to attract the luck of the Irish?

1 ¼ oz. Portland Potato Vodka
½ oz. Midori
Lemonade
Soda water

In a tumbler over ice add Portland Potato Vodka and Midori. Fill to the top with half lemonade and half soda water.

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Chicken Not So Little and the American Dinner

March 14, 2015
Washington Post photo (click for link to article)

Washington Post photo (click for link to article)

Boneless skinless chicken breasts – it’s been the focus for decades. Now, in an attempt to spread misinformation, activists are hitting informational articles about food to push another round of food fear factor.

The photo appears in the Washington Post with an article about the “insatiable” demand for chicken meat. Demand. Fewer birds, with more meat per bird, is more efficient. It doesn’t always make a demand for the slower growing birds, such as those buff Orpingtons we’re growing for meat.

So here’s the thing, dear reader – you’re buying chicken. Let’s say you’re paying $10 for the dressed chicken – which bottom bird are you going to buy? The one on the left right?! Most folks, with all three priced the same, will go for the bird on the right, as there’s simply more muscle – and more meat – than the bird on the left, which I also suspect is a younger bird.

If they’re all the same age and size, however, genetics plays a big role. There is a big difference between the Cornish cross and the heirloom breeds or traditional broilers, such as the Delaware X New Hampshire that was popular a generation ago.

The comment sections of such articles, however are full of ‘experts’ cutting and pasting ‘proof’ from activist sites such as:

Nothing said here about the hormones and antibiotics and the lack of range free, chicken available.
just blaming the pubic, we need to educate the public to the health problems from eating these bigger chickens. If people new the health costs, they would stop eating the chickens..

We pump our chickens with hormones so that that they can become fat and sexless….and now Americans have become fat and sexless….

Because of the chicken feed. What’s in that stuff? It’s one thing if chickens evolve that way, say over a millennium, but in less than a century?

There often is also comments about getting them out of cages so they can move or being fed GMO food. Here’s some truth.

Ingredients of a feed tag are listed

Ingredients of a feed tag are listed

1. No hormones are fed to chickens. Hasn’t been for over 50 years. And there aren’t folks going into barns of 20,000 birds that all look alike and injecting each bird individually every day, just to deceive you. Antibiotic free is a new niche, but that denies attention to birds that need it. Also, things used in Europe cannot be used in USA antibiotic free designation.

2. Meat birds are not raised in cages. They are typically in large barns or, in other places, in mobile pens in big fields. These pens are moved to fresh ground daily, but the birds themselves are often the same Cornish cross birds used in large barn operations.

3. As above, genetics will determine growth. If birds are fed nonGMO, organic feed of the same type as commercial rations, they will grow the same fast growth.

4. There can be some health issues brought about by fast growth. One way to alter it is slowing down feed consumption, allowing the birds to run out of feed about 5 p.m. until the next morning. This feed restriction can be deemed “cruel” by those who, while wanting solutions, don’t want birds to do without feed. The birds get plenty of feed, just not 24 hours per day.

Purebred Cornish not pushed for weight gain

Purebred Cornish not pushed for weight gain

5. The modern Cornish cross bird was developed from crossing with a breed called the Cornish. These are naturally wide, with characteristic thicker legs than other heritage varieties. This is a breed characteristic, much as a Rottweiler is wider than a Greyhound or a beef steer is wider than a dairy heifer. That is what they are developed for – meat.

7. There are alternatives to the Cornish cross. There are alternatives that look like both of the other birds in the photo. The question is – if they are all the same price, for the same input and effort, which one will YOU buy to feed your family?

Food choices vary considerably. Many don’t like the “old type” birds because they have more texture – they’re more “chewy” as are older when they make the same weight as the larger bird. That younger, more tender, large bird can get that way in less than 2 months. Put another way, would you pay MORE for the other two birds?

We are just one place that has that option of different types of birds, including heirlooms. With those options comes different management, handling, taste and cost. Choose, and finance, what you want!

Irish Traditions – Corned Beef

March 13, 2015

If we think St. Patrick’s Day or Irish food, corned beef is one thing that often comes up. Mid March is a time even those who aren’t Irish look to Irish food, and this is one dish long connected to the Irish table.

 

photo courtesy Colman's Mustard

photo courtesy Colman’s Mustard

Colman’s Mustard Sauce for Corned Beef
5/8 cup water (in which corn beef has been boiled)
5/8 cup vinegar
4 teaspoons Colman’s Dry Mustard Powder
1 egg
4 teaspoons sugar

Mix the egg, mustard and sugar together.
Add the vinegar and beef liquid.
Heat gently without boiling.
Serve hot or cold with hot or cold corned beef.

Food, Breeding Like Rabbits and RelentlessAsYou

March 4, 2015
Glimpses of SlowMoneyFarm - relentless!

Glimpses of SlowMoneyFarm – relentless!

Sometimes it’s easy to get focused here, and sometimes despite it I hear of things readers may enjoy or enjoy watching for. Today I’ve had both!

A little bird told me of a contest from Valent USA that recognizes growers that exemplify relentlessness in every aspect of their lives, specifically in their community and farming operations. The contest will be called “Relentless As You” and five winners will be chosen nationwide, with a $1,000 grand going to the winner’s choice of charities. It runs through, appropriately National Ag Week on March 21. I know there’s other farms who read the blog here as well as non-farmers, and this is a challenge that speaks to me.

So what does that have to do with “breeding like rabbits” in the title? Persistence. Relentless!! It might sound like an easy task – after all the term “breed like rabbits” is met with snickers of how hard can it be? Put two together and a month later there’s 40 right? That’s my turn to laugh now. That’s not how rabbit math works. Rabbit math is kind of like ag math only with an edge and, usually, smaller numbers. It’s sometimes related to sock math – you know how you put 10 pairs of socks in the laundry and 18 socks come out? It’s kind of like that!

You have two does and a buck. A month later you might have two does, a buck and 15-20 babies. Or you might have two does when the buck dies unexpectedly in his pen before breeding! This year my does are stuck on 7. New Zealand white doe in December had 7, then a New Zealand black had 5. MiniRex cross this month had 7, then another had 6 and killed 2 (which, unfortunately, sometimes happens). A MiniRex had 7, then a daughter of that miniRex had 7, then another crossbred doe had 7, then an American Chinchilla had 6, all of which she killed. A brown New Zealand cross first timer had 7, another MiniRex had – yep – 7 then a Giant Chinchilla had 5 and two are white (so have salvation in meat rabbit production).

When you start adding 7 + 7 + 6 + 7 and so forth, it adds up in a hurry! It means a push for space, and some that will be providing meals soon, while others will be sorted to go to an ag day at the end of the month in hopes of selling to others wanting to raise their own meat rabbits. It means in about 3 weeks if we don’t lose any in the 70+ degrees today to mid 20s tonight and if the remaining few due don’t add to it there’s 50+ little mouths that will be adding to the feed bill and between now and then it’s a push to make that happen.

There won’t be sales of all of them – one square little white doe I’m eyeing to pull out and mark to feed for a replacement for an older doe we lost a couple weeks ago. The black litter is growing well and the little fuzzies are looking good so far. The brown doe with 7 had them “on the wire” – although she has a nest box she didn’t know to use it, so we had to put the babies there, get some fur to give a little warm pouch, and place her in the nest a couple times per day so she learns to feed those babies and relax in the nest box.

One feeder rabbit recently “sent to freezer camp” was provided through the sponsor program to someone needing a hand up – a few meals. We’ll have some others that, with continued support, will have a similar use, while others will be sold and others retained, meaning we need to make more cage space. Add to this getting support for our community projects, plus feeding birds, planning seeds and itching to start planting and there’s still more outgo than income.

Our baby Saddlebacks will look like this by fall!

Our baby Saddlebacks will look like this by fall!

Relentless. Keep pushing, keep believing, keep juggling. In transit and arriving, we hope, tomorrow will be Saddleback Pomeranian and brown African goslings. The Pomeranians are a distinctly marked farm goose, while the Africans are common but grow to be noisy “watchdogs” that will be ’employed’ in back, making necessary more fencing before they are grown enough to turn loose. Yes – relentless!!!

As a friend often says when I’m frustrated, “if it was easy everyone would do it.” Farmers of any size must be relentless, and that’s true whether small scale juggling markets and tasks or large scale with a few similar crops and a bigger income/outgo!

Add to the ‘normal’ keeping an eye towards engaging customers both directly, as we do, and indirectly, as larger farms do, there is a relentless pursuit to live, eat, drink, breathe and sleep farming. Yes there is down time. Yes there is watching movies and listening to music and other popular culture, but we all must be relentless because there is hundreds of millions of people counting on having their food choices available and represented.

Even rabbit enchiladas or fresh eggs or hot sauce or specialty peppers. Yes, it’s all important. And it’s why we all must be relentless! If you’re a farm (or know of a farm!), check the contest out. If you’re not a farm, check the entries out and see why we push as we do. While most here are more interested in eating than how it’s produced, there are decisions and campaigns every day that seek to define just that.

Now to get ready for goslings and plan the next round of breeding next week! Seven is a good number!

It’s National CSA Day!

February 28, 2015
Lemon balm and other herbs are included in SlowMoneyFarm CSA shares.

Lemon balm and other herbs are included in SlowMoneyFarm CSA shares.

PITTSBURGH, PA (February 23, 2015): Farms from around the country are celebrating National CSA Sign-Up Day on February 28. The day encourages food consumers to buy a share of their local farm’s harvest for the 2015 season, a buying model known as Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA.

CSA has become an important model to support local agriculture since it was introduced to the United States in the 1980s and since grown to over 6,000 farms across the country. To join a CSA, members buy a share of the harvest in the Winter and Spring and then get a box of local produce each week throughout the growing season.

“CSAs are the most authentic connection between a farmer and eater available. CSA members get the freshest, high quality, seasonal local produce, but they also get a direct connection to their farmer. This model is economically important to farmers, especially small and beginning farmers, because they can grow with confidence knowing that they have a market for their produce ahead of time.”, says Simon Huntley from Small Farm Central, a technology company that works with CSA farms across the country, and the creator of National CSA Sign-up Day.

February 28th was chosen as National CSA Sign-up Day because this day is the most popular day to sign up for CSA shares according to the 2014 CSA Farming Report. Buying a CSA share in late winter is important because farmers are making the capital investments for this year’s harvest now and the CSA model means they do not need to finance these costs with costly credit.

At SlowMoneyFarm – who runs this blog – we have produce, meat and shipped CSA options available. A flat fee up front helps with early expenses and reduces the costs of food item by limiting the marketing needed later. We also have a couple of folks who would like to get a share but cannot afford it – for those who can, sponsoring someone or a box sponsor of $50 allows these folks a hand up (not a hand out) in our community. Purchases and sponsors make it possible to devote time to heirlooms and to doing things like this blog for free.

For eaters looking to join a CSA, a searchable database of CSA farms is available at localharvest.org. Visit our website or Facebook shopping page, or give a shout-out if interested. For those booking TODAY we’re offering a special book to help you make the most of a share, free with each share purchased from us today (any type of share!).

Label EVERYTHING! Really?

February 26, 2015

Label discussions are common in headlines, media and ballot initiatives. How much information do you really want to know about your food? Are you taking steps to find out? Have you considered what it REALLY takes for full disclosure?

Food, Farm, Life Choices

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASometimes I read comment sections and wonder just how much people REALLY want, and if they realize what that takes. A great example came forth recently with a question asked on Eat Local Grown, a Facebook page.

Regular readers already know how I feel about BS labels. And food choices. And transparency. So it was with a tinge of excitement the page posed a question “Q: What should food companies be required to add to labels?” I admit the responses made my jaw drop. I expected GMOs, which was in several. Others wanted books. Among them:

Wilson JA GMOs, country of origin, all ingredients including how the plant was grown, ie toxins

Mike Panicc Listed by name any pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, GMOs, chemicals natural or other, instead of flavoring it should list the chemical process done to flavor it including a list of every chemical in that…

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