Archive for November, 2012

USDA advising organic farmers to get insurance against GMO contamination | The Bovine

http://thebovine.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/usda-advises-organic-farmers-to-get-insurance-against-gmo-contamination-of-their-crops/

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Here’s the latest email campaign I just composed. Some wild stuff soon to be going on around here.

A Battle of Biblical Proportions

Everyone; Christian, Jew or not, I believe is pretty familiar with the story of David versus Goliath. If you aren’t, here’s the condensed version and you can read the full version in 1 Samuel 17. The Army of Israel was going to battle against the Philistines. They came to an agreement that the battle would be decided between their two best soldiers. Little did the Israelites know that the Philistines had a secret weapon, a giant name Goliath. None of Israel’s soldiers were brave enough to face this giant, none except a boy named David, a shepherd boy. He was so small, no armor would fit him but that didn’t deter him. None the less, he gathered 5 smooth stones from a brook and walked onto the battle field to face a giant who was fully armored save his face. David placed a stone in his leather sling, which he would use to defend his sheep from wolves, whirled it overhead and let his stone fly. His aim was perfect and the stone struck the giant just above the bridge of his nose. Goliath fell dead and David then beheaded him with his own sword.

 

I share this because we are embroiled in a very similar confrontation except the giant is a behemoth so big those who stand against it are as small as mites. The main body of this beast is chemical agriculture and the head is a multinational corporation named Monsanto. Monsanto has unleashed a demon on us all and it is Genetically Modified Organisms. GMOs have been in the food system since 1996 and in this short time in our history, we can hardly find a way to make our diet GMO free like we could couple of decades ago.

 

Around the world in other countries, laws have been passed requiring the labeling of foods that are comprised of GMOs, but since no such law exists in the US, Americans can’t make an informed decision about what they eat. Nearly all products on grocery store shelves have derivatives of corn and soy, and these two crops are 90+% GMO. It’s really too late to try to hammer out how we got to this point, but we must focus on how we can get ourselves out of this mess.

Well so what can you do? Is buying organic or “greenwise” enough? No, not really. These organic companies are all subsidiaries of the companies that are using GMOs. Therefore, when you buy “conventional” organic foods, you’re still supporting the conglomerates. The only way to really change the landscape of our agriculture system is for everyone to quit focusing on the initial dollar amount and think long term. Plant a garden and grow something and get it from a non-GMO seed company. Find a farmer who only raises non-GMO crops and his animals are pasture raised and only receive non-GMO feed. If the farmers you meet say that they want to but the cost is too high, support him anyway. Drive business his way so that when he sees there really are people who care about the food they eat be his champion when he announces that he’s taking the steps necessary to be GMO free, organic or not. This means a different way of thinking and a completely different way of thinking.  If you need further convincing, there are a number of documentaries about GMOs and corporate agriculture, such as King Corn, Genetic Roulette, Fresh, and one of the most widely known ones is Food, Inc. Some can be found for free in the web or for a small nominal fee.

 

Still Here

Yes dear faithful reader, we are still here. If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve seen that we have been ridiculously busy. But for those of you who only follow us here must think we’ve dropped off but that is far, far, far from the truth. So here’s a quick summary of what’s been going on here.

Bovine: In order to keep milk flowing, you gotta make babies. Cows do not just spontaneously give milk. Their normal lactation runs for about ten months or so after giving birth. This was something that we probably didn’t give enough thought to. At first, we just figured we would artificially inseminate but that’s not as simple as one might think. The simplest way to breed a cow (or any animal for that matter) is to have a bull. So we started searching, and searching, aaaaand searching. We were just unable to find one that fit our budget as well as our desire to improve our herd. Then we learned of a Mini-Jersey bull that might be for sale. I called and YES! he was for sale, so we got him. We’re a little behind the game though. Normally you’d give your cow a 30-45 day break before she was due to give birth and start a new lactation, it looks like our cows are going to get about a 6 or 7 month break. Oh well.

Fowl: All kind of crazy stuff here. We have one last batch of broilers growing out on the pasture. We’ve processed all of our old laying hens for stewers. We replaced them with young Rhode Island Reds. We have 125+ Black Austrolorp chicks in the brooder for a future laying flock. We also scored a small flock of heritage turkeys to raise for Thanksgiving and Christmas. To top all THAT off, we stockpiled 3 tons of non-GMO feed for all these birds. Next year we will be exponentially increasing our poultry production to keep up with the growing demand.

Pigs: We have pigs now! YAY! We’ve decided to start raising Large Black pigs (yes that’s the name of the breed) because they are a pig that will graze on pasture without being too destructive. We also acquired a Tamworth to grow out for ourselves.

Rabbits: Nothing really new here. We’re still trying to get ourselves more productive in breeding and raising. Keeping them on pasture has been a real challenge since they do dig and we’ve lost a considerable amount of productive time chasing and catching escapees.

Garden: After spending hours prepping and planting only to have chickens destroy it, I’ve about given up on the hopes of any type of strawberry crop next spring. So a lot of focus has been going into chicken control. I recently met with another farmer who practices biodynamic farming and is raising enough food on one acre to support himself. After seeing his place, I’ve been REALLY encouraged at what we can do with 7+ acres. I hope to be able to drastically increase our vegetable production next year.

So there you have it in a nutshell. Now back to work.