Sunday, 10 February 2013

Food Choices

Sometime ago I read this article about how the western love of quinoa has resulting in it being too expensive for the Bolivians and Peruvians who base their diet on it.
"The appetite of countries such as ours for this grain has pushed up prices to such an extent that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia, for whom it was once a nourishing staple food, can no longer afford to eat it. Imported junk food is cheaper."
Think about how that must be altering their lives, especially health-wise.  And if they can't afford their usual foods do you think they can afford medical care if needed?

The article mentions other food crops grown to feed the developed countries of the world that have drastically changes life and ecological health in South American countries.
"Peru has also cornered the world market in asparagus. Result? In the arid Ica region where Peruvian asparagus production is concentrated, this thirsty export vegetable has depleted the water resources on which local people depend."
Then today, this article came across my facebook. The author talks about her time as a vegitarian and learning that just because you aren't eating meat doesn't mean that you are doing the right thing for the environment.
"I visited the Korup National Park in Cameroon, one of Africa’s oldest and most diverse rainforests. In order to get to the park boundaries, I had to walk for miles though rows of glossy tea bushes where old women with baskets tied to their heads were bent over picking tea leaves in the harsh sun. There rising above this sea of green hedgerows of tea stood a single African Zebrawood tree, its shallow buttress roots spiraling out into the rows of tea bushes. Horrified, I realized that this tree was the only remains of a rainforest; this whole tea plantation used to be like Korup."
I'm not going to argue that meat production is perfect either, but there are those out there, both in CAFO and pasture based systems doing their best to care for the animals and environment.  There are also those in both systems who don't care.
Personally, I have friends who run the whole gamut of diet choices, from vegan and vegetarian to those who can't imagine a day without steak and for whom vegetable is a four letter word.  I know those who grow their own food (both veg and meat) and those who have trouble thinking about meat having a face and name.

Each of these choices is ok.  Providing that they understand their choices.  No one way is perfect or the best.  Each has up and downsides. They are all welcome in my home and I'll do my best to feed them a filling meal.  But I will point out and correct when anyone starts spouting rhetoric as opposed to fact concerning their choices. 

I hope that you think about where your food comes from and how it gets to your plate.  Make your own choice, but be educated about all of the underlying factors connected to that choice.
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Monday, 29 October 2012

Monday Movie - Grass Tetany and Minerals

I wrote not long ago about the importance of having forages tested and knowing what you are feeding your animals.  Here is a great video out of Oklahoma State (Go Pokes!) about the importance of making sure that you have the right minerals in a diet, especially with forages that are known to cause problems, like wheat pasture.

While you're there, check out some of the other cow-calf corner videos.   Great little snippets of information on cattle production.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Counting Down

It's about to be crunch time.  I finish my animal research in 5 days.  Then I'll be in the lab and running statistics for about 2 weeks.  Then it's on to finishing the writing, setting a date, and putting the last five years work into the hands of my committee.

I haven't been great about posting regularly lately, more because unless it's fescue or energy balance it doesn't cross my path most days.  So, since I know my brain is going to need a break now and again in the next few weeks I thought I'd ask you what you'd like me to write about.

Any burning questions concerning animal nutrition, research, metabolism, or something else entirely?  Post a comment here or send me a message.  I'd love to know that what I'm writing interests you!

One of my six boys.  There might not be many of them, but they keep me busy!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Cuting Boards

English: Plastic cutting board with slices of ...
Plastic cutting board (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A bit of a change from my usual animals and agriculture theme. A friend posted a link to this blog touting wooden cutting boards as better than plastic, and I had to do some checking.  I figured that my fabulous readers might enjoy the information I found too.

If you're like me you have at least one plastic cutting board in your kitchen.  I love that I can toss it in the dishwasher and it comes out clean right?  Apparently not so!

A wooden chopping board with a chef's knife.
A wooden chopping board (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My mother has always preferred wooden boards for making bread dough, but not for messy foods.  However, several articles I found state that the cellular structure of wooden cutting boards actually wick the bacteria to a centimeter or so under the surface of the wood, thus reducing the bacteria on the surface that might transfer to other food.  You can find a good summary of these (and other kitchen bacterial haunts here). 

Wood is better than plastic especially when the surface gets nicked by a knife or two.  Plastic cutting boards with knife nicks have bacteria present in those cuts even after washing!

If you want to try out a wooden cutting board, you need to know a couple things.  Pine and ash were shown to have the best anti-microbial properties of the woods tested.  Some woods were no different from plastic in bacterial contamination.  For cleaning, I've been told not to use soap on unsealed wood as it (like the bacteria) gets into the wood making food taste soapy.  Also, the same properties that make wood antimicrobial can break down bleach, making it ineffective as a wood cleaner.  What does work, is getting the wood wet and then microwaving it for about 5-10 minutes.  Crazy but cool!

I'll be consider a wooden cutting board soon.  How about you?

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Monday, 15 October 2012

More reasons to test forages

Beyond knowing the nutriet composition of forages it is also important to be aware of harmful compounds that may be in feeds and forages.  Here's a good article on both how and why we need to take extra care to test in drought years like this one.