GMO: For or Against?

14 05 2011

This documentary-like show presents both sides of genetic engineering through two narrators. It is not only informative but vastly interesting. I will post a part of the episode each day to keep you on your toes! Comment about what you did or did not know, what you found interesting, if you agree or disagree. Happy watching!


The Root of the Problem

13 05 2011

This video is of a childhood favorite. For many, the stars of the video are well-known and obvious. They used to be popular across the rural United States.

However, today it seems farms are becoming more and more niche-oriented and less diversified. Only one of these farm friends were ever on my farm and then, only for a 4-H project not as a commodity. You don’t see this type of farm anymore, the type of farm my Dad grew up around:

Regardless of farm animals’ prevalence, or lack thereof, the prevalence of child that do not know a chicken from a duck or a pig from a cow is alarming. We talk about educating adults about corn syrup and genetically engineered organisms but we fail to start at the root of the problem-the children that grow up to be the ag-illiterate.

This problem is not relegated to Farm Bureau and check-off organizations. It is every agriculturalist’s responsibility to educate everyone, of all generations, wherever they go. Strike up a conversation at Toys R Us or the grocery store. Bring your animal to an elementary school classroom. Your conversation could make all the difference.

Silk, Farmers’ New Best Friend?

12 05 2011

We all know how the weather can affect our mood. By the time Februrary comes around I usually feel as dreary as the skies. However, in a few months sunshine kisses my arms and I feel content and happy.

Sunny Day

The same goes for textures-and I don’t just mean scraping your knee on asphalt. Think of how silk feels against your skin.

Well, this a topic that has caught the attention of researchers. The things we touch affect our decisions, they found. Smoothness is associated with ease and roughness is associated with difficulty. How did they reach this conclusion? People who completed a puzzle with sandpaper pieces described an interaction between two other people as more difficult and awkward than those who completed the exercise with smooth pieces.

What can agriculturalists learn from this? Farmers, break out the silk boxers when it comes to buying seed or going to an auction.

J. Ackerman, C. Nocera, and J. Bargh (2010) Incidental haptic sensations influence social judgments and decisions. Science, 328, 1712- 1715.

Manure: Recycling the Formerly Unrecyclable

10 05 2011

It used to be manure was used to help grow trees, not replace them. However, engineers with the USDA Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, WI are changing this arrangement.

They are working to create building and packing materials from manure. The infamous house of cards may soon be a house of manure-only literally.

The goal of the laboratory is to create efficient, sustainable alternatives to wood. The cellulosic fiber of manure is similar to that of wood, making it the perfect replacement candidate.

Like the increase of demand for corn to make ethanol, soon manure may become all the more valuable.

Researchers say what goes in really does go out, meaning cows that eat more forage make more profitable manure. Meaning more cows eating less corn. An interesting parallel for lumber jacks and cowboys.

For more information go to this link.

Post Four on Meat: Can’t Argue with Science… or Can You?

6 05 2011

There are those that choose not to eat meat and those that do. But one thing is undeniable, the facts that should prompt that decision. A dietitian, I feel, is a reliable source to provide the science behind meat.

A Dietitian’s Perspective

“I think food fads, generally, are untested in terms of their long-term effects,” said Dietitian and Professor of Food Science M. Susan Brewer.

These fad diets are not typically based on science but on emotional appeal, Brewer said.

“Many believe Meatless Mondays will take care of all their problems including the potential heart disease issues, the high-fat diet issues and the ‘I will be nice to animals’ issues—when in reality it is a lot more complicated than that.”

Heart disease and cholesterol are dietary issues. Brewer said it’s not just meat, it’s all that fat and the French fries that create these problems.

“To make the presumption that meat is the culprit, is underestimating the contributions of everything else,” Brewer said. “If you didn’t eat meat on Mondays and you just ate nothing but chocolate chip cookies and doughnuts, would you be better off? Probably not.”

Brewer said fad diets, like Meatless Mondays, are problematic because the foods removed from the diet add value of some sort.

For example, animal products provide the only source of B12, Brewer said.

While vegetables contain iron, especially dark leafy vegetables, it is not the most absorbable form and plant materials bind up the iron making it unavailable compared to iron from meat, Brewer said.

Anemia, iron deficiency, is primarily a problem facing teenage girls and young women in their reproductive years. Brewer said is hard to get enough iron on a regular basis without removing meat from the diet once a week.

“For someone who is restricting their meat intake or their animal product intake, they probably do need to be cognizant of how they are going to get those nutrients into their diet,” Brewer said.

Vegetables do not provide complete protein that supports growth and reproduction with the right amino acids in the right proportions, Brewer said.

“That isn’t to say you can’t put them together from this category of vegetables and that category of vegetables and come up with a complete protein, with a complete amino acid profile,” Brewer said. “You can do that. But you do have to know what you are doing.”

Vitamins can be acquired through supplements. While supplements were not meant to replace vitamins in the diet, supplements are now the only source of those nutrients for some individuals, Brewer said.

According to the American Dietetic Association, the correct portion is the size of a deck of playing cards. Portion size, choosing leaner cuts of meat and leaner preparation methods of meat and are important considerations in lieu of removing meat from the diet, Brewer said.

“There is a contingency group out there that would like it to be meatless Mondays and Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thursdays and Fridays—this is a starting point,” Brewer said.

So there you have it. The facts and the science behind meat.

Post Three on Meat: Got beef with Meat?

2 05 2011

Okay, so here is the beef industry’s perspective on meat and going meatless on Mondays.

“Looking At It from a One-Sided Beef Position”

The Meatless Monday campaign puts beef in the same category as tobacco, said Trevor Toland, president of the Illinois Beef Association and producer of 41 years.

There is a heavy negative connotation associated with beef, Toland said. “The publicity shouts to the public that something is wrong with meat,” Toland said.

Beef has 29 lean cuts, Toland said. “You don’t have to consume large amounts of fat to enjoy beef,” Toland said. “Everyone needs a balanced diet, but beef should definitely be a part of that.”

A 154-calorie, three-ounce serving of lean beef has 51 percent of the recommended daily value of protein, 38 percent of zinc, 37 percent of vitamin B12, 26 percent of selenium, 14 percent of iron, Toland said. “There is a lot of value in a simple three-ounce serving of lean beef.”

To equal amount of zinc in a three ounce serving of steak, one would have to eat 13 three-ounce servings of salmon, Toland said. Likewise, Toland said, one would have to eat seven skinless chicken breasts to equal the amount of B12.

“Beef is this potent package of those nutrients,” Toland said.

Practices like Meatless Mondays cost the family “considerably more” than a three ounce serving of beef with nutritious side dishes, Toland said.

Toland said he does not foresee the Meatless Mondays campaign as a threat to the beef industry—however, if the negative press and influential Meatless Monday testimonials continue then the industry would be damaged and that is “very unfair.”

“Thankfully many people enjoy the taste of beef,” Toland said.

A lot of land is used to produce beef cattle, a valuable protein source, which could not be used for anything else, Toland said.

“I just want people to know that cattleman really care about this country and the food we provide,” Toland said. “We really care about our land because that is what makes it possible for us to make a living and we really care about our product—a safe, wholesome, nutritious product we are really proud of.”

Are you proud of the meat product you produce or are you proud that you limit your consumption of meat? We should all be proud that we are doing what is best for our bodies, minds, and hearts. That includes eating healthy, knowing you are doing what’s right, and helping others to do the same.

Your Part Post on Meat: Part 2

29 04 2011

Today, I wanted to post part two of my meat article to facilitate  more discussion from viewpoints across the meat-no-meat spectrum. I hope you continue to post if you agree or disagree with this campaign that is working to promote meat on Mondays. Are their methods effective? Do you have any other suggestions? Is this something you would like to be involved in somewhere else in the country? Let’s make some online conversation.

The Flip Side

In response to the negative publicity, University of Arkansas’ organizations, Block and Bridle and Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, began promoting Meat on Mondays—a college-wide educational campaign about the importance of meat in the diet.

Block and Bridle President Crystal Ahrens said, the Meat on Monday campaign is “not so much an attack” as an attempt to stop the campaign before it grows more popular.

The campaign involves distributing free packets of beef jerky and silly bands in the shape of steers and ZIP (zinc, iron and protein) on campus and at the Arkansas State Fair.

The Arkansas Beef Check-off and several other sponsors provide financial and moral support for the campaign. “The support has helped us rally,” Ahrens said. “It let us believe not only in our message but that it can be done.”

Ahrens said, agricultural industries will always attract negative publicity because people aren’t educated. “We can’t ensure success in our industry without educating, and continuously educating.”

Thoughts anyone?

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