Tag Archives: CN&R

Emotion more than science but both needed | Blog | Blog | Feedstuffs FoodLink

As you all know, over the past month I have been on a quest. This quest involves our local weekly entertainment paper. All I am asking this paper to do is their job, report the facts about all types of agriculture. Surprisingly, this quest is not easy. But I have learned a great deal, I’ve gained lots of new followers on this blog and even better, I have column ideas!!!

Typically, I’m a huge believer in science. But I wasn’t always like this. Before I earned my bachelor’s (of science!) degree, I was that girl that would do almost anything to get out of taking a science class (unless it was an animal science, those were ok). Once I was in college and realized that all science related to each other, whether it is animal science or inorganic chemistry, I sucked it up and learned! Science is freaking cool, and super beneficial when used for good.

But I do understand the “science is scary” mentality. It’s like riding a new horse on a new ranch, the potential for disaster is everywhere. However as you become a better and more confident rider, and your horse settles into its surroundings, you can appreciate the beauty of your ride. Science is the same way, the more you learn about it and the more you understand it, the more you can appreciate and use it.

Our real life, next door neighbor wrote in to the editor of the paper I have been questing with. Now oddly enough, I believe this neighbor and I are very similar. We both want access to a safe, sustainable and healthy food supply. We both are pasture based. We are both multi-generational producers. However I think I am more pro-science, and they are more pro-emotion. Here I’ll post their letter and let you decide for yourself.


Letters for April 19, 2012 Chico News & Review

I’m not going to comment about the content of their letter (Although I do find it worth noting that FLTB is not a way for the meat industry to cover shoddy practices. It’s a way to safely use the whole carcass, therefore increasing our sustainability). If you are curious about the claims she makes and want information to refute or affirm her claims, let me know, I would be more than happy to provide peer reviewed, science based information. Ms. Albrecht’s letter was an excellent reminder to me that emotion will probably always triumph over science, therefore providing me with inspiration for this month’s column. Is it possible for agriculture to find a balance between science and emotion?

(Click on this picture and it will take you to my column) http://www.feedstuffsfoodlink.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=124ECF05FDF84451B3E79A337664CA3C&nm=Blog&type=Blog&mod=View+Topic&mid=67D6564029914AD3B204AD35D8F5F780&tier=7&id=C7EBCDD3664247DB80AB070528FD8E1A

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Filed under Ag, Beef, Feedstuffs Foodlink, food, Media, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized

Earth Day 2012

For most farmers and ranchers, everyday is Earth Day. Talk to any farmer or rancher, they are always worried about the environment, it’s “too hot, too dry, too wet, too much sun, not enough sun, too much wind, too many weeds,” I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea. However, there is an actual Earth Day, that people not in agriculture, celebrate and acknowledge. I wanted to participate in Earth Day too, but I had choose between staying here on the Ranch, or going to watch my Boyfriend play in the Chico News & Review Cammies.

My little garden with the fake fence that the deer laugh at.

Since I’ve been so critical of the CN&R’s ag reporting, I thought it best to practice what I preach and use the ag degree and basic knowledge of plant science I have acquired to lessen my carbon footprint and to celebrate Earth Day by planting some food. I know the Cammies would have been an awesome time, but since I am a rancher, and the environment is life to me, I felt that planting my garden was a better use of my rare day off. Even though all local music is important to me, and I am trying to lead by example, I’m sure the CN&R will forgive me for living the dream.

Every year, in the spring, without fail, I get spring fever. I break the old VISA out, head to Home Depot, and spend enough money to ensure I’ll stay at my in-town job for another year. About mid-June, right about when everything is ready to harvest, the bane of my existence, rats with horns, (the deer) break into whatever ugly, booby-trapped, excuse for a fenced in garden I have, and eat all things. Then they poop on the bare earth and run away into the night, gleefully laughing and burping cucumber burps.

I planted 2 different types of radishes. They both have the same amount of days until harvest, so it will be a surprise every time I harvest!

I swear, I’m never, ever, ever going to plant another thing until I have a proper fenced in garden, or greenhouse, or move to town where people don’t have to deal with the damned deer. Every year, about mid-April, the cycle starts again. Sigh.

Hundreds dollars and three years later, I’m getting a whisper better at the deer control. As you recall last year, I went a little crazy buying dwarf citrus trees and planting them in up-cycled cattle supplement tubs. My logic behind the tree planting was the deer wouldn’t eat them! The deer ate them. Several rolls of wire and tree cages later, the deer can’t eat the trees and they just happen to form a convenient fence that does a decent job of keeping the deer out. I’ve also added a wire fence around my raised bed, making it even harder for those damned deer to get in, and next weekend, it’s getting a lid!

I love supplement tubs! They make the perfect radish bed.

Now my grand plan is to continue planting trees as the cattle continue to eat their supplements. In another year or two I should have enough containers to plant a tree fence all the way around my yarden. Until that time, I am continuing with the ugly, booby-trapped ultimate-fail, garden.

So be ready for a blog I will write in a couple of months where I swear I’m going to get tags and have garden-finished venison for dinner.

My poor citrus tree fence. The trees are slowly recovering from the vicious deer attacks of last summer.

As a reminder, gardening is hard work. I’m hot, sweaty, sun burned, cranky, and I have a blister. Remember that when you feel guilt about not having a garden! There is a reason why people stopped doing it. Incidentally, if you chop jalapeno peppers the night before, and wear your garden gloves the next day, the sweat from your hands will activate the pepper burn from the night before. And there is nothing you can do about that once it happens (protip: wear gloves when you cut hot peppers! For the love of God).

But on the flip side, gardening is fun! I burned so many calories, I can have a milkshake later if I want to, I’m going to have really yummy veggie’s later this summer (or rather the deer will), and this is an excellent reminder to myself that not everyone wants to or can garden and it is really incredible that we have that choice.

The Boyfriend's "new" saddle.

Ok, off my choice soapbox, and back to Earth Day. Like I mentioned above, in honor of Earth Day, I finished my garden (I mean, is a garden really ever finished?), and my boyfriend and I oiled saddles (that way we can use horses to check cows and not ATV’s).

Isn't this a neat old saddle? Look at the brass horn.

One cool method of gardening I would like to share with you is growing potatoes vertically instead of in a plot. Since I only have a small raised bed in my yarden, I try to maximize my growing space by using  a lot of containers. Also anytime I can add to my deer fence, I’m game. You can google this method and find some really great tutorials. I’m going to give you the quick and dirty cheat-sheet here.

Potatoes growing up!

I made a cage of  up-cycled wire and cultivated the earth inside of it, placing the sprouted Yukon Gold potatoes in a circle in the cage. I covered them in soil and when they sprouted, I lined the sides of cage with paper, and I added mulch to cover the vines.

The vine covered in mulch.

I will continue to do this, letting the vine grow, building the cage with paper and covering in mulch, until I reach the top of my cage. When that happens, expect another blog about how to harvest them and some yummy recipes. Happy Earth Day!

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Filed under Ag, arts & crafts, food, Humor, photos, Ranch life

The Continuing Quest; CN&R

I enjoy learning. I enjoy a challenge. I also LOVE to “stir the pot”  or “push the envelope”. Mainly because this is how I learn best. Getting outside my comfort zone often forces me to think about a subject in a way I never considered before, which usually leads me to a new point of view. This method of learning isn’t always easy for people, but like that Thomas Dewey quote says, “Minds are like parachutes – they only function when open.”

As many of my readers are aware, I’ve been on a quest lately. This quest involves one of our local papers, the Chico News and Review. For as long as I can remember, they have held an “alternative” view about agriculture. Maybe “alternative” isn’t the best word to use, perhaps “negative” would be a better word? Regardless, we are entering our third week of publicly asking CN&R to do their due diligence and report the facts when they talk about agriculture – unfortunately it looks like we are getting the opposite effect.

One of my biggest “beefs” (lol, get it?!), are the sources CN&R use in their paper, in regards to agriculture. They are less then awesome, factual, or science based. For example, I’m willing to bet Farm Sanctuary is not going to provide the best, fact based, and relevant information when it comes to animal agriculture. Same with Grist.com, in all of my many years in agriculture I’ve never once found myself saying to the cowboy next to me, “did you read that well done, fact based article about cattle production in Grist?”

Ms. LaPado's response to Jenny Dewey's (of Chico Locker and Sausage) letter to the editor.

I think a great example of what I am talking about here can be found in this week’s edition of the CN&R. Instead of doing any independent research about the topic, or even verifying the validity of the reported information (you know, like calling the plant that makes LFTB, or interviewing the meat scientists that made themselves available to her), Ms. LaPado regurgitated less than factual information from other media sources. She didn’t even research what LFTB actually looks like, she used a stock picture of mechanically separated meat (MSM), which is chicken. Chickens (poultry) and cows (beef) are two different species, Ms. LaPado.

It’s sad, and I hope I mis-read this, but in a way, I feel like Ms. Lapado’s column tried to “slime” our local butcher shop, Chico Locker and Sausage. This might be a good time to remind Ms. LaPado how supportive Chico Locker is to our local community. Chico Locker has always been very generous with their knowledge and time. In addition to giving demonstrations to our local Weston Price Foundation, they are also incredibly supportive of our local 4-H and FFA groups. They also are one of the few family operated slaughterhouses in our area. Without Chico Locker, this community of local farmers and ranchers would be in a world of pain. My point is, this is a local business that rallies around our community. Trying to portray Chico Locker as the bad guy for providing truthful information to our community, is just wrong and in really poor taste.

The other article that grabbed my attention immediately was about GMO labeling. Well, in addition to a letter to the editor that supports GMO labeling.  California is being threatened with potential legislation that would require labels on food that contain GMO ingredients. The article states that Safeway refused to allow paid signature gatherers to harass their customers. The article didn’t mention that Trader Joe’s did the same thing. Or that food labeled organic is already GMO free. Or that forcing us to label GMO food will make food more expensive. Or that GMO food has been proven safe again and again.

Heck, I even asked the CN&R if they called the manager of Safeway to get their side of the story. And I asked why they didn’t include Trader Joe’s in the article, because they did the same thing. No one responded.

No response, yet.....

Like I mentioned above, we’ve had this little movement going for a couple of weeks now. And it seems to me that the CN&R is enjoying this, it’s like a game to them. They don’t seem to care that beef prices are down, hurting family farmers like me, they don’t seem to care that people are out of jobs because beef plants are closing down. They don’t seem to care that there are repercussions from their actions. That really scares and concerns me.

From Butte County Farm Bureau (another wonderful resource!)

Butte County’s main source of venue is agriculture. We have two agricultural colleges. Hundreds of family farmers and ranchers live, work and die here. So this makes me question – what is behind CN&R’s response?

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Filed under Ag, Beef, food, Humor, Media, Rants, Uncategorized

My Continuing Adventures with CN&R

Oh Chico News and Review, bless your hearts.

If my readers missed last week’s blog about this local little paper, let me get you up to speed. The CN&R and I have a long history together. For years now, I’ve occasionally written in asking the Editors to provide a more balanced view about agriculture, with very little success.

The CN&R has a tendency to print anything from Farm Sanctuary as fact, they rarely do any independent research, and when they do talk to local farmers or ranchers it tends to be only from a certain segment of agriculture. Years ago, one of the current Editors informed me, that she too, lived on a walnut ranch and supported agriculture. That surprised me. Why on earth would she let her paper attack her friends, neighbors, family and community?

Butte County has a wide variety of agriculture, from hydroponics to cattle ranchers, from organic to traditional, from artisan to commercial. And all of these hard working farmers and ranchers contribute to the success and quality of life in our community and should be celebrated, not attacked by the very community they support and feed.

This paper claims to be our “independent alternative news & entertainment resource”, which is great, in theory. I think we all can agree that mainstream media has slowly been decaying. It feels like a lot of our media outlets are less concerned with reporting the facts and more concerned with ratings and advertisers. So theoretically, an alternative paper could have the opportunity to do good. Unfortunately this isn’t the case here.

Last week, one of CN&R’s reporters, wrote her column about lean finely textured beef. It was poorly done. Several people from our agvocate community wrote in to the Editor in an attempt to provide better resources to this reporter. Jenny Dewey from Chico Locker and Sausage had her letter printed. Score one for local farmers and ranchers! But to my dismay, as I read further into this week’s issue, it became apparent that our attempt to provide facts to this paper only encouraged them print more fallacies. Am I surprised? No. So what did this week’s edition contain you ask? Well let’s see….

– A letter to the Editor from PETA (we all know how hard PETA works to support our farmers and ranchers).

Letter from PETA

– The flawed study done by Harvard that claims red meat causes cancer.

(please see this blog post by Dr. Travis Arp it explains the science behind this study) Here is the conclusion if you don’t have time to read through the whole thing:

– And more on lean finely textured beef.

So basically what happened, and maybe I’m wrong, but several farmers, ranchers and other industry professionals wrote to the CN&R providing them with resources, facts and information, straight from the source. Instead of using these factual resources the CN&R chose to continue to muckrake and fear monger.

I don’t want to play this game with this paper. Agriculture is not a game. This is our life. It is our family, friends, home, job, religion even. In a county like Butte, in a community like Chico, we should not have journalists printing such untruths and rumors. It’s embarrassing to everyone involved.

The only thing I can do is provide another point of view on this blog. Writing letters to the CN&R Editor is obviously a waste of my time. I feel like my time would be better spent gathering research and providing truthful and factual based information to my readers so they will have the tools to refute poor information. Hopefully, since both the California Beef Council and California Cattlemen’s had enough time to read and suggest edits for my blog, they can offer their assistance to the CN&R too. It would be wonderful to connect industry with some media!

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Filed under Ag, food, Media, Rants, Uncategorized

CN&R, Pink Slime and Good Reporting

During California’s last election, there was an initiative that was poorly written and harmful to California’s egg industry, prop. 2. Most of our local papers advised voters to educate themselves about the issue and realized this was an initiative written and supported by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). As my very smart readers know, HSUS is for the most part, not what they seem. But that is for another blog post.

One local paper, The Chico News and Review, supported prop 2. Basically they fell victim to the excellent marketing campaign (baby pigs are cute!). Also this paper loves to quote anything our local Farm Sanctuary says as truth, even if it isn’t. Well, I bet you all would be surprised to learn I started a letter writing campaign asking them to use better resources when talking about local agriculture. I actually just found the e-mail exchange, I should post it, it was funny!

The CN&R did get an ag intern from our local University and things were a lot better. Then the intern graduated, and things went back to normal. It became apparent to me, that this paper only cared about their own agenda, not the community, not the local farmers or ranchers, not the animals, not the land. I went on to law school, and didn’t have time to write a letter every time skewed facts or misinformation was printed. I also started this blog in hopes of getting some good information out there. Plus it’s common knowledge within this community that the CN&R is not the best place to get news.

With all the bad media coverage going on about, well, pretty much everything, I think it’s time that the agricultural industry step up. We need hold the media responsible when they do their job poorly. These reporters need to understand that their fear mongering does have a direct impact on our livelihoods and familys. And that is not ok.

This week’s edition of the CN&R spurred me into action. I’m posting the article for you to read and I’m posting my letter to the editor. Feel free to use my letter as a template if this article upsets you as much as it upset me. Again I’m not telling you to eat burger made with LFTB. I believe it is incredibly important to have choice in our food supply.  Using fear and fallacies to limit that choice is a new low and should not be condoned. 

Dear Editor,

Your recent article regarding “Pink Slime” in the Green House Greenguide was very disappointing. Instead of reaching out to local experts to gather facts, educated opinions, or doing any independent research about lean finely textured beef (LFTB), Ms. LaPado used hyperbole to demonize a product and company that she is apparently unfamiliar.

Butte County is an agricultural community, in an agricultural state. Many of Butte County’s local farmers and ranchers, that you claim to support, work tirelessly to combat sensationalism like your “Pink Slime” article. Promoting this type of misinformation to the public and our consumers only hurts the very family farmers you claim to champion. Do you expect readers not be alarmed when the very title is “Soylent Pink”?

What surprises me the most, however, is as someone who reports about sustainability, Ms. LaPado never mentions why LFTB is used. Cattle-people like myself would have to raise anywhere between 516,000 to 654,000* extra cattle per year to produce same amount of beef if we did not use the lean beef trimming, which is simply beef that has been separated from the fat in beef trimmings and not “basically offal swept up off the slaughterhouse floor” as Ms. LaPado claims. Using the whole beef carcass is instrumental to improving sustainability. It would take a lot of natural resources to produce all those extra cattle.

Ms. LaPado also failed to mention that three out of four BPI plants have closed due to the repercussions of incomplete journalism, leaving thousands of people struggling in an already uncertain financial economy. The “corporate beef giant” BPI, has a very solid food safety record and clean facility. Noted food safety attorney, Bill Marler, even reiterated that fact. Did BPI need to show more transparency? Absolutely. People have the right to full disclosure in our food supply. But did BPI deserve this smear campaign? No.

As I mentioned before, many local farmers, ranchers and processors work incredibly hard to make ourselves available to newspapers, blogger and journalists. We are also lucky enough to have two agriculture colleges, and several slaughterhouses in this area, it’s not hard to find a good resource about meat or beef. In fact, Chico Locker and Sausage Company at http://chicolockersausage.com operate a very informative blog about current meat issues. My blog, thebeefjar.com also contains information about modern beef production. I also noticed the CN&R on twitter. Twitter makes available a wealth of knowledge through #agchat, and the ability to connect with industry experts in one tweet.

In the future, I sincerely hope you use educational resources available to you and do your due diligence by using factual information.

Thank you,

Megan Brown

6th Generation Cattle Rancher

*According to Dr. Jude Capper

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Filed under Ag, food, Media, Rants, Uncategorized