Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Continuing story

Just in case you're worried it's been forgotten, here's the brief update on the abandoned pig farm in Pennsylvania.

No honesty

I could've probably labeled this post "HSUS" since it would've been a synonymous title, but who really would've wanted to read a post with that title? Let's talk for a few minutes about the past couple of weeks worth of reports and commentary stemming from the ADSA e-newsletter I receive. Feedstuffs does a really great job of combining relevant articles and attracting attention to critical issues in their assistance to this e-newsletter and the last couple of weeks have been especially good so I'm just going to have time to share briefly the best of the lot, because I think that these all link together nicely.

It wasn't too long ago that HSUS released yet another video of a bunch of alleged poultry abuse and neglect on a farm in Texas. Well, the UEP invited reporters to visit this same farm on an unguarded tour of the whole facility. They were free to ask any question, take any picture and record any video. Of course, HSUS didn't solicit any of this media for their own benefit, but I think this reporter would argue that's because it all turned out to be a lie. (And in case you think it's possible to clean up a farm's act in that short of time, let me just say it can't happen. It would've been easier to just go out of business and restart than to clean up a bad act that fast).

I recommend you to read both parts of this farm visit, starting with an introduction and then more of the specific critiques in the second one. The reporter's best statement in the entire thing might be near the beginning when he says that he felt betrayed by HSUS for having been giving such faulty media for release and coverage. So it seems that nobody really likes being played, not even the media.

Of course, while we're in the habit of discrediting HSUS and their claims, we probably ought to also examine the new reports about foodborne illness incidence in the US. With new reports just released, indicating significantly lower illness occurrence than previously cited, that takes just one more bite out of the dog.

Finally, let's take a look at HSUS's past work. Prop 2 in California still sits as a relatively useless piece of legislation that is more of a legal excuse to neglect animals than it is a regulation for improved care of animals. And this is why a farm in California has petitioned for a true ruling on what this law means. If they'd have had a Care Standards Board, these things might've been more clearly defined by experts in the industry who care about animal care, rather than self-obsessed activists with little regard for the animals they steal money on behalf of. For a video feed on the chicken farm who petitioned for this clearer legialation, click here.

Share this...

... with anyone interested in reading what an objective personality had to say about their tour at one of the largest meat packing companies in the world. She really got in and saw the whole process and wrote what I would consider a stark contrast to the lies spread around by the HSUS and other scamming organizations. But don't hear it from me. Read what this dietitian and "Food Network" host had to say.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm still a skeptic...

... but this is the best anyone's been able to make him sound yet. Maybe now that Kasich is governor he's just finally able to hire good PR staff.

All I really want to know is how he thinks that removing regulation will decrease the incidence of the "few bad apples". If they can't be stopped with regulation, then how do you expect to put them out of business and stop them from ruining it for the rest of us? And the better question (usually posed by the opposition) is if the good farmers are really the "good apples", then why is the regulation a problem in the first place? Maybe the "common sense" that Kasich intends to add back to Ohio government should include simple common sense in the administration of already existing good legislature.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The end of a boycott

I knew this was coming, but it still feels a bit weird for me to say that today I went back to Chipotle and ate a huge burrito with some fantastic chips. I've been craving and when Amanda suggested it today, I finally made the leap and returned to the light. Let's be honest, the food there is delicious.

For those of you still holding out, you might call me a traitor. However, I did some reading on my own over the past few months and while Chipotle's own intentions are not clear besides the obvious desire to sell product and make money, it is clear that they have limited intentions in supporting HSUS. Of course, since Chipotle doesn't in fact support HSUS, I have little bone to pick with them and thus I was able to justify breaking the fast and consuming their good food today.

It took a while for everything to come out of the wash on this issue, and I think there are still a lot of people in the dark, but it was really when I started going back through the compiled readings I did for my previous blog post and then the outlandish claims by Humane Watch on the issue that I realized some points had truly been pushed too far. So let me put it plain and you can do your own reading and make up your own mind.

Last year when HSUS was campaigning heavily (and often sub-legally) for their ballot initiative which disregarded the people of Ohio's opinion, Chipotle was named as one of their campaign contributors. In the backlash that ensued, I became one of the boycotters, despite claims by Chipotle themselves that they didn't financially support HSUS. However, I can now understand where Chipotle's own views did come into play with their donation to HSUS's campaign. While they don't support the organization, they do and have for a while now supported the use of higher standards of food production than are standard in the industry right now. I can respect this because it is a company choice, and frankly, the consumers are paying for it. Further, Chipotle's food prices aren't unreasonable and so I am willing to pay for it as well from a "I like their food and flavor" standpoint. Chipotle supporting the HSUS campaign was just their way of saying that they stand by their viewpoint on animal production and they wanted to put a financial backing on an issue which supported their viewpoint.

Where Chipotle went wrong is that they have assumed many things that aren't necessarily true. They assumed that the ballot was really as well-intended as HSUS proposed it was. They assumed that the ballot would really effective improve animal welfare. They assumed that the lies that HSUS was pushing around about the ineffectiveness of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board were true. They assumed that the methods of livestock care supported by HSUS truly improve animal welfare. None of these things are true or have been shown to be true, and some quite to the contrary. But I can't fault a company for good intentions and they differ from a company like Yellow Tail because their contributions were for different reasons.

And so I ate Chipotle today...

Antibiotic resistance continued

For those interested, the FASS hosted an antibiotics webinar last week and it is now posted online. I apologize that the notification slipped through the cracks or I would've posted it ahead of time. Regardless, there are interesting discussions to the same extent as other articles and research I have previously posted. What we really need though is to take the talking to the next level of action towards a change.

On a totally different note, who on earth thought that they could steal cattle and get away with it? This isn't the wild west, fortunately for the perpetrators who are in jail instead of being dealt with the old-fashioned way. If you really want a laugh, read the ignorant comments below the story.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

LED Sheep

Courtesy of Amanda, here's a light-hearted sheep video to spice up the blog for the holidays. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Symposium uploaded

For any readers interested, the symposium is finally uploaded and available here. I especially recommend listening to both Grandin and any others that interest you. All of them are worth the listening if you have the time.

Finals Week Fun

There's nothing quite like the life you get when you've been freed of the books and studying chaining you all quarter. Even getting up EARLY this week hasn't been able to put a damper on my mood although a severe cold is doing its best. So let me tell you about a couple of my days back in the research loop so you can understand what I do, and maybe also give you an idea of the efforts we put in to protect the food chain.

Yesterday I was up before dawn thought about the day. We met on campus and left in the truck around 5.30 to head North to a pig farm where we would be collecting samples starting at 7.00. This research is specifically for finding ways to better handle and treat pigs so that they are less stressed on a daily basis. Not only is stress reduction important to the consumer, but it is important to the farmers because they want to keep their animals as healthy as possible.

After sample collection, helping to save a pig from the abuse of its pen-mates and saying goodbye to the farmer, we were headed back to campus. I grabbed a quick shower and then hung out until I had a meeting in the afternoon. After the meeting I went downstairs to learn how to make the plug-ins for the thermometer we use in some experiments. This was frustrating work, but thankfully all I was doing was learning so in the time I made 1 successfully, Katie had made 5. At the end of a 12 hour day, I went home to Amanda and finally got to relax for the rest of the evening before an early bedtime in preparation for this morning.

This morning was pig slaughter/harvest. Because it's the end of the quarter, there were less students on the floor, but their vacancy was taken up by some researchers and their visiting colleagues from my alma mater who were collecting liver, jejunum and duodenum samples for a variety of research purposes. This just goes to further emphasize the critical value of animal by-products in the world around us.

My job this morning was to singe the hair and scape any remaining hair from the skin of the pig. Hair can harbor bacteria which can later infect people, and even though we don't eat the skin, the skin comes into the meat lab where food products will be fabricated, so it's crucial to make sure we keep the area as sterile as possible. The removal of hair is so important and time-consuming that half of the crew today was dedicated solely to this purpose, with me at the end of the line, singing what hadn't already been spun off the skin or shaved by 4 people with knives. Following the end of harvest, we then proceeded to scrub down every inch of the facility, sterilizing and sanitizing the living daylights out of it to prevent any bacterial growth before the next time we use it.

For the rest of today, I'll be reading journal articles on subjects that potentially could be in my field of research next summer. All just a couple of days in my life...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Praise from the Secretary

I think it's really wonderful to be involved in the industry that USDA Secretary Vilsack cited as "leading this country's recovery". Everyone needs and deserves to be able to eat and America's farmers should be proud to have that responsibility. Those numbers don't look too bad either.

Also, for a really great read building on that blatantly erroneous (no wonder they struggle to stay in business) New York Times cheese article, read this...

It's nice to see that HSUS is doing great things with its money. Especially seeing as how they just won that community refresh funding from Pepsi for saving cats and dogs.

And that's all for today. I hope it's a great one for you!

Antibiotics discussion

The State News never supports healthy discussion that disagrees or might sway readers against their own self-proclaimed liberalism. However, in the interest of freedom of speech and thought, I will post mine here for your benefit in response to the latest antibiotic opinion column. All I did below was compile research published in journals. That's not just going to Google and copying the first article you see. Journals are refereed by research peers who don't usually have the same viewpoints as you, but they check to see if you have researched and concluded in a way in which is scientifically justifiable. Enjoy.

"For a picture of how banning antibiotics will play out, I refer you to the case of Denmark which is now standing out some years from when their bans were put in place in the mid-90's. Their bans were pushed for by the media, the consumers and the politicians, yet the ideological benefits of banning the antibiotics are either not present or non-convincing from a statistical standpoint. This is important when you weigh out the fact that the number of hog farms in Denmark are anticipated to dwindle from 25,000 to 5,000 by the year 2015. Not only have the benefits of banning antibiotics not been seen as they were promised, but now the industry has moved on, leaving people without jobs and without a better prospect in life, which far overshadows the fear of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

"What the contributor in the most recent antibiotic opinion column fails to observe is that there are different types of bacteria. Growth-promoting antibiotics counteract gram-positive bacteria while the bulk of the rising number of antibiotic resistant cases are caused by gram-negative bacteria. Banning growth-promoting antibiotics which are fed on a daily basis will have no impact on the resistance of gram-negative bacteria because of how differently the bacteria function. The faulty reasoning contributing to the bans resulted in outbreak infections increasing instead of the consumer anticipated decrease. Even in the case of those bacteria which could increase in resistance, there has been a rise in their infection rates post-ban as well since the growth promoters also contribute to a cleaner kill floor with less GI ruptures, etc., since they are keeping the GI tract healthier.

"In the end, in an antibiotic free Denmark, there has been in increase in infection and no change in resistance. Just because the consumer always gets what they want, that doesn't mean they are always right or that life will get better for them. They are just ignorantly blissful because they have swallowed sugar-coated lies."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

This is why I blog

Sometimes I blog because I want to share thoughts, but then other times, this same blog can serve as an outlet for my inner monologue, those thoughts that I want to shout out but better judgment helps me retain.

Such is the case today as I read the Farm Sanctuary's latest post. Frankly, I don't mind linking you to their posts because I think that their compassion for animals is admirable, and their efforts are almost reasonable enough that I would frankly rather them get the attention than other less deserving organizations. But what I do detest is the active use of a plethora of emotional words in their blog in order to blind the public from considering the rational truth of a topic.

Yes, there are farmers that fail to care for their animals in the way in which they should. But this aggravates the rest of the farming population as much or more than it does the people who complain to the media about it. And these same aggravated farmers are the ones who continue to care for their animals in the best way that they can, and the best way that science has shown them to, while they actively pursue the weeding out of those few bad egg farmers in the batch. Nobody wants to do business with a bad farmer, but just the same, none of us want to have a bunch of activists trying to cram lies down the throats of the public, which is why we'd rather fix the consumer concerns ourselves with proper self-regulation and research-proven techniques for better animal care.

Deceitful propaganda didn't end up serving the needs of it proponents in the past nor will it end with the success that animal activists are wishing for. In the end, the truth will be known for what it is, and it's best for animal activists to stop exaggerating their lies beyond reason.

But for today, I had this blog for my out-channel of frustration so I have included below what I decided not to post in a comment box:

"Merciless and violent slaughter? Your use of emotional words proves your inability to accurately, rationally and logically assess a situation, and/or it demonstrates your willingness to blow fact into the wind to drive readers toward your venomous embrace."

As an after-thought, I'm not sure I would actually even want to have a merciful employee on the slaughter line. If they were merciful, does that also mean they would be prone to regret and not do a proper job, thus leading to a more painful and incorrectly performed kill?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Feminism and Veganism

Courtesy of Jackie, I have the chance to get just a little bit more vocal and opinionated today. MSU recently had author Carol Adams in to talk about how closely linked feminism and veganism are in the modern world. Of course it would make sense that the same people who are unwilling to accept that they have been more than equals in the US for a long time now (why else would I as a white male be a minority?) would be the same people who might want to align their efforts with another irrational underdog in the way of veganists and their avid animal activism. What they fail to realize is that while veganism and animal rights may be a current topic of debate, focusing on feminism merely degrades women in today's time since most women are functioning as equals in the modern world unless they try to make a big deal about being a woman. It's only once a woman advocates feminism that they actually degrade their value in the public's eyes, because it proves that they can't get out of the past and move on to accept the new status that they've been arguing for for decades.

Adams also talked about the pornography of meat. I would be lying if I told you I was attracted Lady Gaga in her photos of the meat dress (gag). Does that mean I don't like to eat meat? No, I love to eat meat, and have never before linked women and meat together in my life, and I doubt I'm in a minority here. But I can tell you one person who has Lady Gaga as his profile picture right now, for who knows what reason.

And then who better to represent MSU on the subject of Feminism and Veganism that SPAR and their very own Mitch Goldsmith (President of MSU SPAR). Of course, he's not actually a female, despite the fact he's pumped up on estrogen from high soy consumption as a result of his veganism, but since he thought he could get a word in on stopping meat consumption he stuck his face in the news this week and the liberal State News obliged as always.

Now, I had no doubt Mitch would eventually find himself in a leadership role in this radical organization. He's rude, inconsiderate, highly opinionated, unable to exhibit intelligence or debate intelligibly and has a major that could only result in his placement in a sub-standard organization campaigning for something unreasonable (animal rights). (Disclaimer - there is a difference between animal welfare and animal rights, I support greater welfare, but animals rights is a ridiculous concept in terms of economics, philosophy and general practicality).

The last time Mitch and I ran into each other wasn't exactly a positive interaction. I patiently waited for over a half hour as he continuously ignored me in my attempt to ask a question of the PETA VP. His mistake would in turn be costly as it gave me the time to formulate a much more pointed question which ended with the PETA VP Dan Matthews embarrassing himself at his own pep rally.

Veganism (as a form of activism as it was proposed by Carol Adams according to the State News) and feminism only have one thing in common. They are both supported by radicals who make little or nil logical sense in their attempts to propagate viewpoints that do nothing but insult their intelligence. Feminism had a place in this world once, but combining it with veganism only detracts from both causes. Feminism combined with veganism only portrays women as the weaker sex who refuse to accept the ultimate reality that it takes life to support life. Veganism (and animals rights) combined with feminism results in an even less legitimate concept in animal rights by joining forces with an outdated concept which no longer applies to the modern world (the only part of the world where veganism and animal rights can attract favor).

Catchy Titles (duplicate post)

In an effort to capture a larger readership, I have been trying to work on my ability to attract attention with just the blog title. Mind you, that still means I need to retain attention within the blog, but that will come next. First I just want to trick you into reading my ramblings. So I've been roaming the web looking for catchy titles so that I will learn how to better attract attention to my own blog.

None does a better job of this than the video I embed below. The title got me interested immediately and then the picture (people dressed as polar bears) made me click and listen to the movie. In the end, I actually want to make some notes about this movie and my thoughts that surround it. I think this is characteristic of many activist groups - they are much better at capturing the attention of the public and blinding their reasoning with wittiness and emotions. This all starts with a title.

First off, congratulations to the group for capturing my attention and getting your point across. While your point lacks originality, the costumes are definitely a nice change from the nude protesters that frequent my own industry. But then I have to ask you, what exactly makes this a peaceful protest? You have trespassed private property, stormed control of the companies machinery and then locked yourself to the equipment. Does this really mean the protest was peaceful, just because you didn't assault the workers?

And then the locks. Nothing quite like a New York City bike lock to imply you mean to stay hitched for a while. I don't think there is a cause in the world for which I would lock my neck in a grip like that to anything. It's not that there aren't causes that I firmly believe in, it's that there is no way you'll catch me willingly placing myself into a position of such weakness. And as a final thought, I offer this video as a counter-point to why Polar Bears are going extinct. Thanks Gail!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Ohio Ag Director

With the new Kasich change-up, a lot of things have to be determined in the next year to see how things will shake out. One of the new items of importance in Ohio agriculture is of course a new Ohio Agriculture Director. Regardless of the credentials of the incoming staff, one has to wonder how it will work out with HSUS and whether we will see the return of a ballot issue again next year. Of course, the last thing we need right now is to re-enter that uncertainty we had this summer with the ballot issue on the horizon and illegal signature collectors all over the state.

I can appreciate that Zehringer looks to be a hard-line director for Ohio agriculture, but hopefully he and Kasich can also work some moderation in there to keep us on the track towards gradual progress. Otherwise, all of the hard work we've put in towards progress in the livestock industry will be wasted.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Vilsack on Colbert

For those of you interested, you can hear how the Colbert interview of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack went down. Frankly, that cheese head looks a but more like Dick Cheney to me.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Tom Vilsack
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

Egg farm visit blog

This blogging mother decided to talk about the opportunity she had to visit a modern egg farm and see how her food was made. Thanks to the Animal Agriculture Alliance for sharing this link. What a great way to tell people about agriculture! If you want to make a visit, ask, and it can be arranged for you. If you've made a visit, contact me because I'd love to share your story.

Refresh Finalists

Thanks to those of you who voted, but sadly, the results of last month's Refresh voting are not reflective of your good intentions.


There's not a day that goes by where I don't either hear about doomsday predictions for the world or about how we're trying to increase our sustainability in the current world. I would agree that the environment and the state we maintain this world in are very important. This is why I have been such a big proponent of recycling, conservation and research for more sustainable future ever since my days in 4-H (which is where I was first introduced to the importance of the subject). Heck, I even took environmental science classes during my undergraduate career even though they were out of my major because they were subjects that interested me. However, when I was looking at the OSU Sustainability website and taking their survey today, I think there are still some items to consider which they aren't fully considering.

One of these is the organic and buying local initiative at OSU for their food supply. These two are so often lumped into the group, something that authors like Michael Pollan haven't done enough to distinguish, when in fact they are starkly different and can have quite a varying impact on the environment.

Sure, buying local is good, but it's not just good because of the transportation costs. Ideally, every area would be able to produce what people need, but this isn't possible or practical right now. It's important to consider that sometimes the larger, more distant farm is more economical and also more environmentally friendly in the long-run because they are better able to afford and enact environmental conservation business practices, as well as condense production to the extent that the impact on the environment is still reduced compared to strictly local production after adding in transport impacts. This is why for the time being, buying local is a good thing, but don't expect to be able to buy everything local because it all can't be grown local, and it's really ok to buy some stuff that is shipped distances as well. Different parts of the world have different specialties when it comes to food production and this production sharing allows us to have the opportunity to live healthier and to benefit from regions that can raise some food products more economically. It all just comes down to considering how we can best use the land we're given.

And then there's organic production. Organic farming seems like the utopic heaven of farming where we don't impact the land with "bad" chemicals and we only grow what we can do more naturally. Well, half of these myths are created by the ignorant public and media, and most of the rest are propagated by those who stand to profit. I'm not against organic farming as a consumer choice, but it's important to realize that this also can impact disease control and always results in less production on the same amount of space with the same amount of labor and resources. Is less efficient production really good for the environment?

As agricultural research leads to more environmentally beneficial stewardship techniques, I am sure we will see a combination of the concepts in GMOs, organics, local-growns, grass-feds, free-ranges and conventional farming techniques. But in the world we live in now, none of these are a perfect solution to the challenges we face, so I caution against doing what OSU seems to have done by jumping on the local and organic bandwagon and claiming that they are thus helping conserve our environment.