Tag Archives: agriculture

Saint George Vet: Issues

9 Jun

What are the most significant issues facing your chosen area of study?

There are many issues important to public health. Some of the most pertinent issues of today are zoonotic disease, food safety, and disaster preparedness. Combining talents of veterinarians and public health professions, will help alleviate the effects of these issues on not only domestic fronts, but worldwide.

Veterinarians strive to eliminate disease in animals, especially Zoonotic diseases that are also communicable to people. Treating the effects of disease is essential to combating the spread of sickness, but more effective is avoiding the disease in the first place. Prevention is a crucial element in combating zoonotic disease, as understanding viral and bacterial life cycles can help prevent human behaviors which may promote diseases. Collaboration of agricultural producers, veterinarians, safety inspectors, and law enforcement is critical to eliminating such disease threats.

Food borne diseases are another area of concern to society. Veterinarians and public health officials help educate the public, producers, and politicians making laws to help keep food borne illness and disease at bay. The public health industry also strives to implement environmentally friendly livestock operations. Again, coordination of experts is crucial in combating issues pertaining to keeping the food supply, and the environment, which that food is produced, safe. These efforts lead to better health for citizens and a safe, healthy environment for everyone to enjoy. Efforts to raise agricultural and environmental standards boost the food supply, making food available to more people around the world. Raising the standard of living on a global scale by implementing safer farming practices is a win-win situation for everyone.

Another area of concern to both veterinarians and public health officials is disaster preparedness. Interactions involving emergency forces, producers, veterinarians, and lawmakers can help people in both the United States and worldwide deal with unforeseeable events. Prevention and simultaneous development of standard operating procedures can prepare us for imminent danger. If subsequent damage does occur from the incident, a plan for recovery emphasizing teamwork and communication should be in place.

Important issues such as zoonotic disease, agricultural safety, and disaster preparedness crucial to public health and veterinary medicine can be combated with collaboration of experts in both fields.

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2013 Recap: Best Moments

31 Dec

I don’t want to make my followers crazy by publishing a super-overabundance of posts all the time.  So I had to choose today’s post carefully.  I decided on this all-important last day of the year, I would pick my top moments of 2013 to talk about.  I have so many looking back and looking forward type posts in que through.  I wrote my 2013 resolution results post, but it became very long, so I sperated it into the various sections.  Which made 5(?) posts.  And then, of course I have 2014 Resolutions.  And the music I listened to most in 2013.  But then I have the new 2013 album releases post.  And I want to make a big post about strategies of how I plan to go about accomplishing my 2014 goals.  Maybe I will make a New Year kind of post every day of the month in January.  Because that’s the way it’s looking.  I like it–I hope I doesn’t make you guys irate.  Anyway, without further adou, the very favorite of my moments in 2013, from 10th most important to super-best-time-ever-of-the-year!

10.  Keeping my 4.0 GPA in school.  Very important to me.  And not all that easy to do, so it garners a spot on the big list.  I only hope it will also be here next year too. . . pinna art

9.  Spa weekend & camping in the living room.  Grocery Outlet beauty/grooming items, massage, foot soaks, spa treatments, and healthful cooking.  Home spas are a heck of a lot less awkward with your mate and more affordable at home.  And camping included, sleeping on the air mattress in the living room, eating microwave s’mores, and watching “The Great Outdoors.”  A good time was had!  I had wanted to have theme weekends all summer, with varying items.  We made it to two before running out of ideas, then motivation.  But these 2 were so fun!  We saved money by staying home as well, which I always like.  I will try to start brainstorming now so we can have more this next summer.  I just thought of music.  And a crafty weekend.  There’s the first month for us. Summer Begins 2013 060

8.  Walla Walla big 30th Birthday.  I was really looking forward to this milestone birthday.  This one is probably due to the great anticipation and the weight I placed on this age.  It’s a big deal to me.  And I always love Walla Walla for the wine country and quaint small town feel–as well as the beautiful Palouse views.  The only reason this items fell relatively low on the list is Cool was mixed state, manic, or cycling (who can tell?) at the time and had no money and she acted like a jerkelsteilskin frequently because of the bipolar.  But I looked good, wasn’t at work, and got a true wine tour–so it was still pretty fun. Walla Walla 30th 022

7.  Seeing a moose up close.  Terribly exciting!  It came right in the yard while I was house-sitting for my boss.  And it ranks only 7th, because when it happened, I was worried the aggressing dog was about to DIE.  And on account of that I did not get a (good) picture. moose 1moose 6

6.  Green Bluff.  I think Peach-Fest was my favorite this year, though we got to go relatively frequently.  I like everything about Green Bluff.  The farm feel, picking/eating my own food, taking pictures, and supporting non-Monsanto produce.  It’s my favorite thing about Washington State (even beating the Fremont neighborhood, I think?!), and always a new adventure when we go.  Oh, wait–it couldn’t possibly beat Pike Place Market for WA fave, or adventure, but it’s the best thing Eastern, and a close second (because the Gorge isn’t as cheap or accessable = #3). Green Bluff 2 018

5.  Parasailing in CdL.  Wow!  We sort of did this one on a whim.  And it wasn’t what I expected at all.  No adrenaline was involved, just peace.  I got great pics, and had a really fun time with Cool.  It was really relaxing–until the dip at least!  I would do this one again any time, and I’ll never forget it.

tree and wake

 

4.  Labor Dave weekend, including the concert, tail-gating prior to entry, exploring mid-WA during the first half Selfie Columbia Riverof the day, hiking down to the Columbia River, camping near Feathers, and playing theampitheatre 4 setlist game with Cool.  The whole thing was fun, and I really like that it wasn’t just about drinking, or even music.  We spent a large majority of the day just appreciating the nature of mid-Washington.  Everyone was in a good (and stable) mood and that’s the best.  I love this concert and the time spent with Cool so much.  It’s totally OUR thing.  But next year–SEATS.  There will be no more GA at Dave for us.

 

3.  Clogging at my school’s Talent Show.  Who knew I missed dancing so much?  The thing that made this so great was the fact it was all mine.  I picked the song.  I wrote the dance.  And I rocked the performance.  I felt really great about the whole thing, and am excited to choreograph my next dances when time allows.  Winter break is for getting ahead with textbook reading, scholarship and application tasks, taxes/FAFSA, shopping for a semester, and winter cleaning/organizing.  See what I mean?  Four and a half weeks SOUNDS long, but there’s not enough time.  But when I do, I will be sure to do some more clogging dances.

2.  Bringing Goose home.  Not the actual hotel stay though.  Being sleep-deprived is never my favorite–though Fall finals 118Boise--May 2013 018seeing Boise with my parents and Cool was extra fun (even tired).  So finally!  I get to have all my buddies in the same state.  I missed him very much, and worried.  Also, this little item improved my relationship with my parents exponentially.  I am enjoying having happiness and closeness with them again–I missed that too.  And Goose is beautiful inside and out.  He’s home ❤

1.  Hands down–getting Forster-Fridays “off” of work.  I just can’t convey what a relief this is to me.  So much weight/stress/anxiety was lifted from me when this happened.  I feel so much more uplifted, positive, and hopeful!  Even though I didn’t believe it would actually happen or stick, and even though the social fall out was. . .  Special.  I love being away from that horrid day (most of it–I’m still there for 3-4 hours) even at the cost of having ALL early mornings, daily tiredness, and being locked in this city.  Still, totally worth it.  This is the item that really enables me to quit drinking.  I love my new schedule more then anyone could know.  I would write/say a big thank you to my boss if it wasn’t poking the bear, or jinxing it. It was sort of a chilled out year, but still good.

DMB Gorge 2008

I think I learned that you don’t have to spend a lot of money or take a lot of time away from work to have excellent moments.  I think 2014 will continue along that train of thought:  I have to work all day on my birthday, and Walla Walla is out of the question.  But maybe my parents will follow-though on visiting us, and that’s always a good time.  There will be the big, super-special yearly event of Labor Dave Weekend (with seats!), plenty of Green Bluff, and maybe a trip to The German (if we’re lucky), but other then that, we’ll make our own good times.  Even if it means being HERE for another year.

 

The Grass Is. . . Brown and Wilted

16 Sep

Here’s an old draft to tide you over, my patient audience.  Exam 1 is finished so hopefully, all this crazy in my life will settle and I’ll be more consistent.  I have a doozy of a post very soon!

OK, I’m having a rough time at work.  And the more I’m there, the more I generally do.  But who am I to complain?  Things could be a LOT worse!  Here is a list of jobs that are far worse than mine:

Coal Mining:

-sure, it’s -$60,000-100,000 for work inside the mines, but

-Dangerous!  Life threatening

-long (min 1 hr) commute

-no sun 6 days a week
-can’t see 4″ in front of face
-20 degrees colder
1.5 mi down below surface
-shovel coal for 8 hr days
-no scheduled lunch break–10 min lunch
-coal dust + methane released = 1 spark is a dangerous explosion

-unscrupulous companies that save money by forgoing safety features.
-blk lumgs

-no retirement plan or sick leave when you get black lung and it’s not safe to be exposed to the mines anymore.

Poultry Farm:

-underpaid

-long hours

-dusty!

-hot (birds need about 80 degree temps)

-loud

-a main job is walking through and picking up dead bird bodies

-must work fast

Migrant Farm Worker:

-no stability

-seasonal work

-direct sun for hours

-skin cancer

-being hunched over for hours

-bugs

-stickers

-at the mercy of weather

-long, long hours

-underpaid

-no benefits

-no regulations/standards

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Temptation

28 Sep

It feels just awful.

Fall is in the air.  Green Bluff Apple Fesitval with it llamas and you-pick produce are open and ready for me.  OktoberFests are beginning–I was invited to one and heard about two additional ones.  Hot air balloons–really?!  Invitation to pizza on the patio after work.  Fall brews are on tap everywhere.  I LOVE a festival!!!  There is running to be done–I want to set some PRs in this crisp air.  Horror movie marathons and pizza-baking need to commence.  Cool is ready to play.  I want to play!

And yet.

On Tuesday I have an Anatomy exam.  And I had to work all day today, half a day tomorrow, and all day Monday.  Which leaves the weekend to study.  And it makes me feel like I’m missing out.  Like I’ve always missed out.  When I worked so many hours, every other weekend, and all holidays at Noah’s Ark–I knew one day it would pay off.  When I worked on Chemistry pre-labs, physics practice problems, and balanced diets for Nutrition instead of going out with friends–I knew one day I could have all the fun I wanted.

And yet–I’m here.  I missed out, and yet I’m still back at square one instead of reaping the rewards of my hard work.  And I feel sorry for myself.  And tempted to blow off the hard-core studying I know I should do to get that SUPER-important A on exam 2, A+ in Anatomy, and that 4.0 GPA.  So instead of thinking about all the fun I’m missing this weekend, here is something to remind me of why school is so important:

This time is different from undergrad and pre-vet.

I will have tried my absolute best in this class.

I can draw on my anatomical knowledge in the future.

This will help prepare me for grad/doctorate school.

It will feel good to look at that exam and be confident that I know the answers.

Nothing feels worse then looking at a test and knowing nothing.

Except maybe looking at a poor grade written at the top of your test.

This way, I won’t always have to play catch-up with grades.

It’s MUCH easier to keep an A, then be on the stupid borderline.

My liver doesn’t need all that beer anyway.

I can always study my cheat sheets while taking a walk outside.

I’ll feel rested at work on Monday.

Fall is just beginning.  Even if I miss it–I get a Thanksgiving and X-mas break.

Not going will save money.

I can really succeed at this major in this school, if I put effort towards it.

An exam Tues allows me to get ahead the rest of the wk (when study time is built in to my schedule)

The festivals will feel better if I attend them after I’ve aced the test.

I can move someplace I truly like.

There will be countless festivals and concerts in Boulder.

I can get a job that is satisfying and that takes me places in life.

And I’ll have a better schedule.

One day I can sit back and relax b/c I’ll have made good money at a career.

So, it’s time for me to buckle down.  I can do it, because this is important to me.  I’ve rearranged everything in my life to put school first–so now I just need to do it.  Quit thinking about things I’m missing, and think instead of what a great opportunity and second start this is.  How this is my way out of depressing life circumstances.  And I really do want to do well.

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Guide to Vet Observation

23 Jul

Hello, pre-veterinary hopefuls–this advice is for you.

Getting experience in veterinary hospitals is IMPERATIVE.  You will need to know about this career you so covet.  A lot of kids, at one time or another, want to be a vet–but do you really know what you’re getting in to?  Maybe once you see it’s not all kittens and rainbows, you wouldn’t like it so much after all.  Also, you will need experience hours to put down on the application when you are applying.  Plus, admissions is so super-competitive that you will need to be as well-rounded as possible.  And finally, vet school can only teach you so much–so anything you learn above and beyond your curriculum will give you a leg up.  If you have not gotten your foot in the door, I suggest you do so.  Yesterday.  You can never start too early, or be too competitive of a candidate.

Talk to your local veterinary hospital, go to the humane society, join an animal-related club, even talk to the farmer/rancher down the road.  If you have already observed at one place–do not stop reading this post.  You need varied experience.  Vet schools want to see that you’ve worked in private practice, research, small, large, and exotic medicine.  The more, and wider your body of experience–the better candidate you will be.  Call, ask, beg, write letters, ask people already in the field, utilize your networks to get in the door–anywhere.  Once you get in at one, you will more easily get into others.  Job shadow, observe, volunteer, make a day trip, whatever–just get involved somehow.

*Just remember it’s the GPA that is ultimately THE most important factor*

Here are 6 tips for when you get in the door:

1)  Try to stay for a full day

Veterinary medicine is different every day.  That’s part of what makes it so wonderful and exciting.  So it really is difficult to try to schedule when you are likely to see the most interesting things.  If you are there for an entire day vs. a few hours, you will maximize your chances of seeing a variety of interesting things.  In between said exciting and interesting cases, refer to #3 on this list.  And as part of this one–bring you own snack/lunch.  You may or may not get an exact-timed, scheduled and timely lunch break.  And you certainly do not want to miss the most exciting thing of the day because you had to drive somewhere to pick up fast food.  Besides–when you’re on your feet all day and trying to remain engaged, do you really wanna chow down icky, fattening greasy food?  Bring in high protein food to help curb hunger pangs and maintain your energy throughout the long day.  But a lot of the time the boss will buy you lunch.  If they do–include it in the thank you card that I suggest you write in point #5.

2)  Expect to feel awkward and out of place.

You won’t know anything about the place you’re seeing on your first day there.  It will take time to build a re-pore, establish trust, and get into a routine.  This is expected.  Try to stay out of the way and avoid touching/interfering with things.  When I began volunteering at my local veterinary hospital in 5th grade, the great majority of my time was spent jumping out of the way of the volatile veterinarian. Firstly, just hang back until someone gives you the go ahead, and until you see what is normal around there.

3.)  Be interested!

Yes, you are feeling everything out when you first go to your animal-related experience.  This does not mean, stand there looking bored.  My biggest piece of advice is to maximize your time.  Take a small notebook in with you.  Ask questions!  The adults at veterinary hospitals love to feel important, impart their knowledge, and give advice.  Use this to your advantage and learn everything you can.  And you don’t just have to ask the vets and professionals.  Everyone there will have some useful tips to share.  You can ask the vets about the career, medicine, and veterinary school.  The techs can tell you day-to-day routines, animal care tips, and impart info on potential back-up career plans, and even the younger staff can tell you about the current pre-reqs, ins and outs of the application, give standardized test advice, and maybe even let you know how/where to get a (summer) job.

3)  Once you are comfortable–jump in and help.

With permission, observers and volunteers can file, run and grab things, clean cages, and help with light restraint.  Get in the habit of cleaning off counters once an animal is off of it.  It will just show some initiative on your part.  If you feel comfortable and confident–and the staff you’re working with is handling the big stuff–it’s OK to help.  Learning is multi-faceted and it will cement what you’re seeing and writing if you actually DO things too.  Just don’t get crazy and do anything over your head or without DIRECT supervision/permission.

4)  Compare–but in your head, not aloud–each place you observe.

Keep track of things you liked and didn’t.  Each hospital/place will have their strengths, tips, and awesomeness.  You will also see your share of struggle, weaknesses, and maybe jerks.  Write down what might work for YOU in the future, and things you should remember to avoid iwhen you’re the one running the show.  It’s OK to make private judgements.  But that is what they should remain.  Do not, under any circumstance bad mouth vets, practices, or clients you’ve encountered at other places–especially when going to a subsequent hospital.  It’s unprofessional, makes YOU look bad, and in this world of highly competitive veterinarians that often judge/bad-mouth each other without actually having seen anything in person–needs to stop.  Also, you don’t want to burn bridges.  And you never know what ties these people have to each other.  Veterinary medicine is an insular world.  To a lessor extent, don’t be the annoying newcomer that says, “But  ___________ does it THIS way.”  No one wants to hear it, and vets tend to bristle against change–especially coming from a new person they don’t know well.

5)  Write thank yous.

Your main goal is to learn about the veterinary profession, but your secondary goal in observing/volunteering is to garner support from people on the inside.  Whether it’s a future part-time job, letter of recommendation, or future veterinary partnership–or all of the above–a little appreciation goes a long way in fostering important ties.  If you are given the opportunity (and trust!) to get inside an animal related job, jot a quick thank you note to the hospital (or farm staff, or whatever relevant group of people).

6)  Move on

This is the part I was never that awesome at.  Because veterinary school wants you to both be well rounded and have a 4.0 GPA, after spending time at one place–go somewhere else.  Loyalty will only limit your knowledge (and references).  And getting a full-time job will not garner you more points from admissions, but less.  Right or wrong, they figure if you’re standing there with no responsibilities that you are learning more then if you’re walking dogs or cleaning kennels on the time-clock.  So after you’ve learned what you can, get into a completely different aspect of the animal world and learn everything you can (in a brief span) from them.

I guess I should mention why I am a person you should listen to.  My advice is sound:  I volunteered 633 hours at my local vet hospital, observed for 6 months at a large animal practice, helped vaccinate and Coggins test employee horses, and spent weekends helping at an Animal Sanctuary, and more that I don’t remember without looking it up.  I hope this helps.

Farm Subsidies Are Not Going to Farmers

13 Jun

Don’t worry, I’ll chime in at the end of this post.  But here’s the main issue from “Food Politics,” Marion Nestle’s blog:

Smith VH. Premium payments: why crop insurance costs too much. American Enterprise Institute, 2011.

Since 2007, government subsidies for crop insurance have averaged about $5.6 billion per year, representing over one-third of total expenditures on income transfers and other government payments for programs targeted directly to farmers.

However, about 58 percent of those expenditures have ended up in the hands of agricultural insurance companies and agricultural insurance agents.  In fact, since 2005, on average, the agricultural insurance industry has received $1.44 for every dollar farmers have received in crop insurance subsidies.

No wonder Big Ag wants crop insurance subsidies continued.  Will the 2012 farm bill fix this? I’m not optimistic but will stay tuned.

This is me talking now:  I don’t really understand the farm bill.  It sounds huge and confusing, and I don’t see how it does a lot of good.  I think it would be better to get rid of the entire thing.  Make smaller bills dealing with specific issues.  Give the public what they are asking for and pay attention to health.  I suppose doing it this way would anger a whole lotta good ‘ol boys, lobbiests, and corporations though.  It’s too bad money always has to take precedence over EVERYthing else.

The Wild Hog Situation

3 Jun

Have you ever Googled the news using key words “wild hog”?  There is an overabundance of news about damage done by hog varieties.  I’ve included some, but you know how I’m lazy, so I just cut & pasted the info directly from the articles without appropriately citing them.  Everything  in bold (not much) is mine.  Everything else is swiped off the internet.  Here is some example stories from many possibilities.

Here’s the news:

1.  “They’re nothing like Babe or Wilbur in ‘Charlotte’s Web’” notes a Bloomingdale-Riverview Patch report written by editor D’Ann White. “These pigs are the bane of property owners throughout FishHawk Ranch.  Seen throughout Florida and Texas, feral hogs are also called feral pigs, wild boar, wild hogs or razorbacks.  According to the Department of Natural Resources, these hogs are quickly wearing out their welcome, having tremendous negative impacts on native plants, native wildlife, livestock, agriculture and humans.

2.  “It is a problem, and it is a serious problem,” Supervisor Dan Sturm said Tuesday. “I understand they are big, and they are nasty.”  Sturm said residents have called the town with reports of seeing groups of 20 to 25 hogs of all sizes on their properties. . .  Spotted nine hogs walking in single file by a stone wall along Burr Road on Friday. The hogs, which included a 230-pounder at the lead and a piglet coming up the rear of the line, cut across the road

3.  http://www.nwfdailynews.com/articles/pigs-49982–.html  OK, admittedly, I NEVER click on links on blogs, Facebook, e-mail, or anywhere else because I’m too lazy.  But you should click this one because the story provides a lot of good information, but is too long for me to cut & paste on to this post.

Why it’s real bad:

1.  . . .  “Chewing up habitat, displacing native plants and animals, besting other game for food sources, breeding prolifically. Given the right conditions, a sow can produce three litters a year of up to a dozen piglets per litter.

Just this week, the National Wildlife Federation highlighted the importance of the issue, “calling for state and federal measures to remove feral swine, a highly destructive invasive species that is a growing menace to wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Pigs out-compete any animal that likes to eat an acorn. We’re going to tell our hunters, ‘You know, what if I told you they directly out-compete bear, deer, turkey for acorn mast? A group of pigs can come in overnight and ruin your food plots that you spent weeks and hundreds of dollars to establish.’ ”

How it relates to hog farming and farrowing crates:

These articles and the many like them prove how the Old McDonald model of farming is nothing but a fairy-tale.  It would not work this day in age.

According to the Wiki, “It is the wild ancestor of the domestic pig, an animal with which it freely hybridises.”  Domestic pigs can escape and quite readily become feral, and feral populations are problematic in several ways. They cause damage to trees and other vegetation, consume agricultural crops and can carry disease.  They are omnivorous scavengers, eating almost anything they come across, including grassnutsberriescarrion, nests of ground nesting birdsrootstubersrefuse,[12] insects and small reptiles.  Feral pigs often interbreed with wild boar, producing descendants similar in appearance to wild boar; these can then be difficult to distinguish from natural or introduced true wild boar.

Feral hogs can rapidly increase their population. Sows can have up to 10 offspring per litter, and are able to have two litters per year. Each piglet reaches sexual maturity at 6 months of age. They have virtually no natural predators.

As of 2008, the estimated population of 4 million feral pigs caused an estimated US$800 million of property damage a year in the U.S.[54] The problematic nature of feral hogs has caused several states in the U.S. to declare feral hogs to be an invasive species.

Still think it’s a good idea to let hogs roam freely?  Indoor housing and farrowing crates are for the protection of the hogs, the environment, and people!  Click my other two posts on this issue for more info/opinions.

Spread Too Thin

27 May

Why our food is unsafe.  Well, contributing factors at least.  And yes, I’m “writing” a cheater’s post so that I can have an entry for every day in May, even though I’m too tired to compose something of my own.  These are directly quoted off “Food Politics,” but I’m posting them here because it’s interesting information.  Borrowed info in blue.

From Marion Nestle:
This report repeats what the GAO has been saying since the early 1990s:  There is no centralized coordination to oversee the federal government’s overall progress in implementing the nation’s food and agriculture defense policy.  Because the responsibilities outlined in this policy (HSPD-9) are fragmented and cut across at least nine different agencies, centralized oversight is important to ensure that efforts are coordinated to overcome this fragmentation, efficiently use scarce funds, and promote the overall effectiveness of the federal government.  Reminder: the present food safety system is mainly divided between two agencies: USDA (meat and poultry) and FDA (everything else).  Centralized oversight of food safety? What a concept.

And scary fact #2–or additive scary fact:  FDA can only realistically inspect a small percent­age (less than 3 percent) of the enormous volume of food products arriving at U.S. ports of entry, making it crucial that the Agency focus on ensuring that food products meet U.S. standards before they reach the United States.

Scary indeed.  I’ll add more commentary–or make another post when I’m not so tired.  ONE more day off 😀

Pink Slime–> Late yet still Relevant

17 May

I think it’s a very Native American practice.  Really.  I would eat “pink slime” any day of the week.

But before my commentary–what exactly is it?  Pasted directly from the Wiki:

Pink slime, also known as lean finely textured beef (LFTB[2] and boneless lean beef trimmings (BLBT),[3] is abeef-based food additive that may be added to ground beef and beef-based processed meats as an inexpensive filler.[4][5] It consists of finely ground beef scraps, sinew, fat, and connective tissue, which have been mechanically removed in a heated centrifuge at 100°F (38°C)[6] from the fat into liquid fat and a protein paste.[7][8] The recovered material is then processed, heated, and treated with ammonia gas[1] or citric acid to kill E. colisalmonella, and otherbacteria. It is finely ground, compressed into blocks, and flash frozen for use as an additive to beef products.[9][10] The term pink slime was coined in 2002 by Gerald Zirnstein, who at that time was a microbiologist for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service.[7] Some state officials have objected to the nickname, saying that “lean, finely textured beef is the proper name.”[11]

In the United States, the additive itself cannot legally be sold directly to consumers. However, it can constitute up to 15% of ground beef without additional labeling,[9] and it can also be added to other meat products such as beef-based processed meats.[9] Prior to the invention of the disinfection process, beef scraps could only be sold as pet food or as an ingredient for cooking oil.[4]

And of course, I fully realize Wikipedia is not the greatest source.  It isn’t necessarily fact-based, and it’s certainly not peer-reviewed.  BUT what is the first place everyone looks for info?  That’s right–the Wiki.  So the entry is a good overview of what most people are told about the product.

Shame on the media for stigmatizing it.  Shame on people in the general public for getting grossed out rather then exploring the consequences of eating or not-eating it.

I commend producers and scientists for being ingenious enough to utilize products that would normally get tossed or wasted.  “Pink slime” is good for the environment.  It means landfills are not getting filled as fast.  It means an animal didn’t have to give up its life so someone could take 4 prime cuts of meat and toss the rest of the carcass in the garbage.

And I know a lot of people are going to get down on me for saying this, but this is MY blog so I’m going to anyway.  I think the whole labeling movement is extraneous.  There you have it.  Here’s why:

Labeling costs a bunch of money.  And I don’t know if anyone else has noticed but we are in a recession.  I think that money would be better spend on EDUCATION (more of this solves about every dilemma you could ever come up with), law enforcement and safety workers, health-care, small business start-ups and job creation, bettering the roadways, Native American people–in general, fixing marginalized and forgotten people/communities, better animal regulation (I’m looking at YOU puppy mills), *insert a long, long list of bigger priorities here*

Not only does labeling cost loads of money, it takes time to implement.  And there are logistical concerns.  Ever noticed how much information (and marketing) is already on a label?  How do we get any more facts on there while keeping it easy to see and understandable?  Labels are only so big.  And how long do we give companies to over-haul their product’s image?

Also, it requires regulation.  And who will do it (and with what money will we pay them?)?  The FDA, USDA, EPA are already busy, diluted, and ineffective enough without that added responsibility.

You’re really not going to like this point.  I would argue that the general public is not educated on agriculture.  See Wiki justification above.  I mean, the average person has never been to an actual farm (or any facility) in the basic and essential steps of food production.  It is easy to complain about agricultural practices when you don’t know what animal/food production entails.  It’s easy to look down on hormones, additives, procedures, and the like when you don’t understand WHY they are used.  To criticize, people must know the chemistry, biology, biochem, economics, and logistics behind current practices.  I am arguing here, that the general public does not have enough information to make well-informed decisions about food cultivation.  Instead they tend to jump on the latest bandwagon from the loudest media-hype.

Lastly, the public only seems to want food ingredients/hormones/additives/processes they DON’T like to be labeled.  Once any entity goes through all the trouble of labeling their product with whatever, the public will SEE what is in said product and stop buying it.  What company would agree to spending a fortune, taking extra effort, painstakingly disclosing every last fact about the ingredients and processes that go into formulating the product–only to LOSE business?

So pink slime–I’m for it.

Know the Science Before You Stigmatize

7 Dec

It never fails to surprise me how little the general public knows.  It seems marketing suffices for true education in several realms.  Women’s Studies is a big one.  That’s not the point of this particular post, so I’ll move on.  Food is another huge area where people know little from scientifically proven evidence or direct experience, and instead glean what they can from hype.

Examples include:  Organic food, an exploding industry.  There are no long term (or any) studies proving its superiority over regularly farmed food.  Cage-free eggs.  It sounds like a good idea right out of Old McDonald’s Farm, but wandering chickens (crowded or not) often turn cannibal and so must be de-beaked.  Which is worse, living in a cage or cutting off body parts?  And, the “natural” label.  It is purely a marketing tool unsubstantiated and unregulated by anyone.  Don’t forget, poison like arsenic is perfectly natural.  So the word has little meaning when applied to food.  Popular debate now is “natural” sugar vs. high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  HFCS is getting a really bad rap in public arenas.  And traditional sugar growers have every reason to perpetuate that.  They get large government subsidies and of course do not want to share.  They also want all the soda companies, candy manufacturers, and other unhealthy sugar sellers so use THEIR sugar, not any alternative.  So before you make a judgement, here’s the biochem:

Sucrose: a double sugar of 50% glucose and 50% fructose linked together.

HFCS: a syrup of about 45% glucose and 55% fructose, separated
The 5% differences are biologically insignificant and the body can’t tell them apart.

So the next time you know something and lean to make a shopping decision question yourself.  Do you know this information through a valid scientific fact that has been published.  Or have you just been inundated and brainwashed by marketers hoping you’ll purchase their product.