July 2011

Eat Sh*t and Die -pt. 2

backyard chickens

two of my ladies

Read Part 1
Picture this:
Put a chicken in a cage that is so small that she cannot even flap her wings.
Make a row of these cages, side by side, down the length of a huge ‘barn’ (more of a factory than an actual barn.)
Now, make more of these rows, cage to cage, until most of the floor is covered.

“So what?” you might be thinking, but we’re not done.

Next, stack cages on top going up as high as you can, row after row.
100′s of 1000′s of cages.

“Now wait a minute” you might say- “You told me not to put my tomatoes too close together, as it will encourage disease. Wouldn’t the same thing happen to these chickens?”

Yepper… it does.
The solution: Factory Farmed chickens (the ones in cages are the egg layers) are force fed antibiotics- whether they are sick or not, as without it they would all get sick.
Some of them still do anyway.

“Alright- now just hold on…” you might continue, ” my own Doctor won’t give me antibiotics unless it’s needed, certainly not for any ‘just in case’ kind of deal.”

You’re right.
There’s a reason antibiotics aren’t sold over the counter like aspirin.
If we took them too often, the bugs that make us sick would mutate until the antibiotics no longer killed them off.
It’s survival, and micororganisms are good at it.

“But then, wouldn’t the same thing happen to the chickens?”

Bingo.
And it is happening.

Factory Farmers feed so many antibiotics to their poultry that they need to change what and how much they give them on a regular basis to keep the animals alive.

But here’s the worst part, the “Die” part:
-Because the birds are fed these antibiotics regularly, the bugs that make them sick are mutating faster than they otherwise would.
-Influenza, the bugs that give us ‘the flu’ are carried by birds, usualy they are found in large flocks of birds that are in close quarters. When this flu mutates so that it can readily be transmitted from birds to human, many of us will die.
Very many.

Read this excerpt from the Center for Disease Control, linked below:
“There is little pre-existing natural immunity to H5N1 virus infection in the human population. If H5N1 viruses gain the ability for efficient and sustained transmission among humans, an influenza pandemic could result, with potentially high rates of illness and death worldwide.”

So now you know some of what is going on.

“It’s always possible to wake someone from sleep, but no amount of noise will wake someone who is pretending to be asleep.” — Jonathan Safran Foer (Eating Animals)

I highly suggest you read the book “Eating Animals” – it is a compelling, wonderfully written hands-on account of what is happening to our sources of meat, and how this affects everyone.

Don’t pretend to be asleep- your life may depend on it.

What you can do
The current H5N1 Avain Flu Pandemic possibilities
Change does happen

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Categories: factory farms, you are what you eat

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Eat Sh*t and Die -pt. 1

baby chicks

these are the lucky ones

When I was growing up in the 60′s, we only ate chicken on Sundays.
Beef or pork during the week, fish (of course) on Fridays-
For chicken we had to wait.

Why? It was too expensive.
“Hard for me to even fathom” SaveTheWorld said recently, when I was telling her this.
“Now it’s so cheap.”

How could this have happened?
Simply put, Factory Farms.

Picture this:
A Factory Farmed chicken (and turkey) raised for meat is given the minimum amount of room and food it needs to grow, and has been bred to grow as fast as possible.

I won’t get into the details of this now; but after a short, painful and gross life- they’re off to the slaughterhouse.

I’ll not tell you some of the horrible things I have read that happen to many of these birds, I’ll let you know how to get the rest of the story.
For now, I want to address one part of the blog title- “Eat Sh*t”

The way in which these birds are ‘processed’ causes them to end up with fecal matter in their body cavities.

Prior to packaging, each of these birds gets put into a water bath fondly known as ‘Fecal Soup.’

It varies, but up to 11% of their weight can be absorbed from this infested water- just look on the label, it’s there.

fecal soup

absorbed water is not the whole story

Let me just mention here that this is not necessary- but this water adds weight.

Weight=Money, and money is what it’s all about.

It is after all, and foremost, a business.

dirty water

Let’s think about it.
The correct portion for a serving of meat is 3 oz.

In this country, we consume closer to 5 oz. at a sitting.

Say you eat chicken or turkey 4 times each week, maybe twice for lunch and twice for dinner

20 oz. x 11% = 2.2 oz. x 52 weeks=you may be consuming about 14 1/3 cups of fecal water each year.

Eewww.

A friend of mine asked, “Does that include the name brand chicken? Aren’t they better?”
Au contraire- they are some of the worst offenders.

So, when you take your kids through the drive-thru for nuggets, you are feeding them Sh*t.
Or, maybe you like your Sh*t with a side of cole slaw and a biscuit?

I must say here that this isn’t all the farmers fault at all- they’d argue that they are just trying to make a living meeting the demand for meat this country, and the world, insists on.
Don’t buy it.

I mean, literally- don’t buy it.

If we bring down the demand, the farmers won’t need to produce the meat this way.
Actually, they don’t need to produce it this way.
It’s just cheaper.

Buy from a local farmer if you can, or eat less.

If enough of us work for change, change will come.
We don’t have to Eat this Sh*t anymore.

Read more- you really need to know the truth:
Eat Sh*t and Die, pt. 2
Chicken Fecal Soup
Time Magazine on Fecal Soup
Find a Local Poulrty Farm
Meat Prices and Consumption over 25 Years

Categories: factory farms, you are what you eat

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Locavore Day #14 Happy Animals

happy buffalo

happy buffalo

Today is Animal Rights Day on Facebook.
O course, the rights of animals should be looked after every day; but for today, many people are vowing to do something a little extra.

Maybe they are becoming vegetarians, that’s a big step.
Perhaps they are donating to an animal rescue shelter, that’s an important thing to do.

I always adopt from shelters, and I eat very little meat.
So what I am doing extra today is to talk to y’all about Happy Animals.

Let me tell you a story-
A friend of ours had a Dairy Farm many years ago.
This gentleman also has a very distinctive (and loud) voice.

There was one day I was at the local fair, admiring the Livestock Exhibition, when all of a sudden one group of cows started Moooing- then I heard his voice.
Apparently, so did they.

Talking all the while he was walking, he approached each and every one of them and petted them and spoke to them.
Happy Animals.

happy chickens

happy chickens

There are many farms, both dairy and meat, that raise their animals that way.
They truly care for them, not just as a commodity.
These animals live happy lives.

Not all animals raised on farms do.

Now you might argue that if we didn’t raise animals for meat, they would live happy and free lives.
I’ve seen what nature- a fox once and a dog another time- can do to animals that are free.
Specifically, my ducks.
Nature isn’t always pretty.

But that’s not my point.
There are many animals on Factory Farms that are not happy.
When you buy that meat you are, unknowingly, supporting the mistreatment of animals.
This is most often the case with birds- chicken and turkey, but It’s also in some of the other meat we eat.

If you want to see for yourself, buy meat from a local farmer.
You can taste the difference.

We recently bought some beef burgers at the Farmers Market-

Comparative Cost:
Local Store preformed Burgers $4.69/lb
In store Frozen Bubba (brand) Burgers $6/lb
Local Farmer’s Burgers $6/lb.

Ok, we’re in.
Let me just say, the taste was incredible.

It made me think- why do people put so many things on their burgers-
Catsup, relish, mustard, onions, lettuce, tomato, cheese, steak sauce, bacon…?

These patties needed nothing.

Mandolin was amazed when he cooked them:
“There was like no fat at all, no shrinkage.”

eating local

buy it local

Why would these burgers taste and be so different?
Why would milk from the local dairy taste so much better?

Happy Animals.
Cared for, fed well, treated like animals should be treated.
Is that too much to ask from all of our farmers?

Well….maybe.
More on that subject tomorrow.
And I’ll warn you- that won’t be pretty either.

My 100 Days of eating locally.

Categories: locavores

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Happy Puppy Cookies

Note: This is a repost from another blog I had, that I recently shut down.
If it sounds familiar, thank you! You must have visited that spot,too.

These puppy treats are simple to make, healthier for your dog than some off the shelf treats, and will save you money as well.
They also make a great gift for the dog in your life and the dog lovers as well.

puppy cookie supplies

puppy cookie supplies

Mix all dry ingredients thoroughly:
1/4 cup dry milk
1 1/2 cup flour (I use a mix of white and wheat)
1/2 cup instant Maypo (instant otmeal)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Add:
1 egg
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup oil

Mix and form into a dough ball.
Turn onto floured surface and roll to 1/4 inch thickness. Add flour if needed so dough is not sticky.

Cut cookies and bake on foil or parchment paper 325 derees F until crispy and light brown, about 30 minutes depending on the size of the cookie.
Let cool.

puppy cookie dough

puppy cookie dough

puppy cookie cutters

puppy cookie cutters

Left-Right: Our dog “Mandog” size, my friend’s Border Collie size, teaching our dog tricks size, Mr and Mrs Jones’ dog size. ;-)

big puppy cookies

big puppy cookies

Icing is optional but does make it look festive.
SaveTheWorld came home from work and smelled the treats baking.
Somewhat disappointed when I told her what they were, she commented:
“Gee, you can make me some Happy Child Treats.”

big happy dog

big happy puppy

This recipe makes about 2 doz. cookies.
The egg is good for the puppy’s coat, and the oil will help prevent shedding.

Variations:
You can use any flavor instant oatmeal instead of Maypo.
I also made a batch subbing part of the flour with corn meal and adding one finely chopped jalapeno.
Mandog loves hot peppers.
What NOT to use
Chocolate, Onions (inc, onion powder in bouillon powder), raisins. If you have any doubt about an ingredient, ask your vet.

Categories: gifts from the garden, Keeping up with the Joneses, Recipes

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Dirty Rotten Blighters

tomato early blight

the beginnings?

If you look on the Internet, you can find tons of great- and often detailed and scientific- information on blight.
No sense in me repeating that.

So, here’s the basics:
-Early Blight is caused by a fungus in the soil
-It affects potatoes and tomatoes
-If untreated, it will absolutely affect your harvest

early blight on potatoes

and on the other side of the garden

How to help prevent it:
-Keep records of what you plant where. Don’t plant any tomatoes or potatoes where any tomatoes or potatoes were in the past few years. If your garden is small, this can be accomplished by using containers and putting in fresh potting soil each year.
-Keep your soil healthy. Just as a healthy body can fight infection better, so can a healthy soil.
-Water at ground level. This helps prevent fungus in the soil from getting splashed up on your plants.
-Prune your tomatoes lower stems. These are the ones that will get blight first because they are more likely to get splashed during rainfall.
-Always give your tomatoes some kind of support to keep them off the ground.
-The best way to prevent blight is to mulch heavily around the plants. You should be mulching your potatoes anyway. Newspaper covered with straw or other mulch prevents soil splash on tomatoes.

pruned tomato plant

pruned and waiting for better mulch

Treatment:
-Fungicide
Whether you treat your garden organically or not, you’ll need to kill any fungus.
I’m heading out, Neem Oil in hand…
Because I knew better, but didn’t take all the steps I should have.
Arrgh.

Further reading:
Organic Fungicides
Early Blight or Late Blight (or Leaf Spot)?

Categories: faq's, gardening

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How to Make Feta Cheese

homemade feta cheese

all you need

I picked up some goat’s milk at the local Farm Market and set about making feta cheese.
I looked on the Internet for ‘how to’s’ and found two with very similar instructions.

homemade feta cheese

strain through cheesecloth

Sometimes I wonder if people just copy from each other without actually trying the directions out, because neither one of them were right.
Somewhat put-out that I had just spent over an hour with no cheese as a result, I got back on the Internet and looked for a video- to see for myself that someone used the directions they were giving.

homemade feta cheese

squeeze out excess moisture

I found the one linked below, and really making the cheese was as simple as the gentleman shows.
As per his instruction, I heated the milk to a boil, stirring constantly.
I added half vinegar and half lemon juice- a little different than what he suggests.
Heaven forbid I do exactly as I’m told.

homemade feta cheese

the taste was so fresh

I did see the milk curdle, as the video shows; and I strained through a cheesecloth lined colander.
I added the herbs first- dried basil and oregano, but just a little.
Then I went very light on the salt.

Just as anything homemade tastes better- this cheese was improved as well by the freshness of the goat’s milk.
I’d describe it as akin to the store tomato vs. the homegrown tomato.
Really.
Not only that, store feta cheese is $11.99/lb.- this was $5.00/lb.

Needless to say, it didn’t last long- I’m going back to the farm market today to get some more goat’s milk.

watch this video

I made another batch the next day that was part goat milk and part cow milk.
It came out much drier, perhaps I boiled it a little too long.
What was fun was that when I added the salt, it formed a kind of rind- makes it interesting.

Now I’m curious ro see if it will work with the flavored cow milk we got last weekend- hmm, what would a strawberry cheese taste like?

Categories: locavores, you are what you eat

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Berry Good Syrups

homegrown strawberries

breakfast just waiting to happen

In order to start the new strawberry bed last season, I painfully pinched off all blossoms; and spent my summer in Strawberry Withdrawal.
This year I happily harvested a lot of strawberries and was in Strawberry Heaven.

homegrown strawberries

four cups strawberries

There are tons of recipes for making syrup, some involve using corn syrup -which I avoid as it’s not good for you, and most likely GMO now anyway.
Other recipes call for water and lemon or orange juice.

I approach making fruit syrup the same way I do making Fruit Brandy- simply sugar and berries.

homegrown strawberry syrup

get your pancakes ready

For Strawberry & Blueberry I use 1/2 cup sugar per 4 cups sliced berries.
For Raspberries I use 3/4 cups.

Slice or crush the berries and mix with sugar.
Set aside overnight to draw out the juice.
That’s it.

I do can mine, as you see in the picture above, by heating the syrup/berries and then processing half pint jars for 10 minutes, pints for 15 minutes.
This is not a certified canning recipe though, so try it at your own risk.
The syrup does freeze very well.

strawberry shortcake

strawberry shortcake on homemade wheat biscuits

I froze the last of the strawberries, and am freezing raspberries- when the blueberries come I’m going to try a Triple Berry Syrup.
Mmmm…now I’m hungry.

Categories: Recipes

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Locavore Day #4- Eating Consciously

home canned foods

eating in color

I remember once hearing Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon talk about eating habits-
Yes, I know I am dating myself.

Johnny said there are people who Live to Eat, and people who Eat to Live.
He was the latter and Ed was the former.

I’ve always been a person who considers eating merely a necessary thing to do, until I met my husband who thinks more like Ed did.
So when Mandolin is off from work, we Live to Eat, and when he’s not here for meals, I eat mostly to survive.

fresh eggs

fresh eggs from the Ladies

Now I’d say there are also people who eat Consciously, and those who eat Subconsciously; that is, not knowing how there food got to the point where they purchased it.
Again, I’ve been both to some extent.

I first became concerned about what was in food when my son was little, and ‘borderline hyperactive.’
I found that if I kept him away from artificial preservatives and colors, he was calmer.
That’s when I started gardening and canning.

I’ve become more conscious of what is in my food over the past year or so, after SaveTheWorld started sharing information on things such as Factory Farming and GMO’s, and I began looking further into it.
In part, this is what led me to these past first 4 days of eating locally, and more consciously.

home preserving

Raspberry Vinaigrette, Mixed Pepper Salsa, Spiced Red Cabbge

Now I know I have an advantage in this challenge, that’s why I decided to go for 100 days instead of the usual 30.

Here’s what I have on hand:
Eggs, Golden Nectar Juice and Garden Blend Tomato Juice, Applesauce, Victoria Rhubarb Sauce, Apple Butter, Spiced Cabbage, assorted Jams and syrups, pickled and honeyed onions, dry beans, veggie soup base, blueberries, pancake dry mix, Tomato-Basil Soup, Salsa, Raspberry Vinaigrette.

Currently from the garden:
Strawberries, Lettuce and Spinach, Peas, Raspberries, Herbs

Found at Farmer’s Markets or Farms so far:
Pork and Buffalo (chops, burgers, sausages, hot dogs), Maple Syrup, Honey, Milk and Butter, I made Cheese from the milk

Produced within (about) 100 miles:
Crowley’s Cottage Cheese, Dannon Yogurt, Wishbone Salad Dressing, Arnold’s Bakery Products, Entemann’s Pastries, Tetley Tea, Russell Farms Flour

homemade feta cheese

homemade feta cheese

I use MapQuest to determine how far away products are made. Many come up just under, like Tetley Tea at 98.8 miles, and some just over, like Russell Farms Flour at 106 miles. I figure they average out, and perhaps over the next few months I’ll find something closer.

So now, for example, Pancakes with Fresh Strawberry Syrup is a Locavore meal for me; or Pork Chops simmered in Applesauce with Mixed Greens Salad drizzled with Raspberry Vinaigrette.

raspberry

very local raspberry

Hmmm…sounds much more like Living to Eat, doesn’t it?

Categories: locavores, Recipes, you are what you eat

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Creamworks Dairy, Waymart Pa.

riverside farm waymart pa

visitor parking area

When I posted that I was going to eat local (at least) until October, my friend told me about this dairy farm.
They are only about 30 miles from my house and their products are sold in stores even closer to us.

riverside farm waymart pa

the main barn

It was a beautiful day and we were ahead somewhat in that direction, so we took the detour to visit the farm.
Everything was clean and neat and the family very friendly.

creamworks waymart pa

themed statuary

One of the owners, Amy, took the time from her chores to talk to us.
She mentioned that all of her kids were ‘out on the farm somewhere, working hard and not complaining. I did promise them a good hot meal and a dip in the pond afterwards.’

She went on to touch on topics such as government regulation of milk prices, and how they are glad to be
free of that roller coaster ride.
She also mentioned the importance she places on a college education for all her kids, and how they love the farm and want to stay a part of it.

creamworks

fresh butter and milk

Their roadside stand is open ‘sunup to sundown, seven days a week’ and we enjoyed picking out some fresh made milks and even butter.

creamworks

colorful flavorful

The flavored milks came as a delightful surprise.
Although I’m partial to Chocolate, the Mocha flavor tasted like Irish Cream- imagine that in your coffee.

And just check out these prices:

creamworks waymart pa

seriously inexpensive

Really, not long ago I paid $4. 69 for a half gallon of ‘organic’ milk at the local grocery.
Here, I got to see the pretty cows that gave the milk- and it wasn’t transported 100′s or 1000′s of miles.

Many farm markets sell milk and the prices are similar to this- check it out in you area:
USA map of Farm Markets
Creamworks Dairy on Facebook
Where’s Waymart, Pa.?

Categories: locavores, you are what you eat

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Man-Man Makes Buffalo-Buffalo Burgers

free range buffalo

I know where my food is coming from.

The first meat we ever ate that was locally produced was buffalo from this small farm.
The animals are beautiful, I must say; and it makes eating them difficult for me.
It does help to know they were raised happy, healthy, clean, and truly cared for.

free to roam buffalo

free to run and play

For my husband, it means more that he knows the food is a safe source of protein.
After the research I’ve been doing on factory farming, even Mandolin (who’d eat almost anything) is thinking twice.

happy animals

happy animals

Buffalo meat needs to be cooked at a lower temperature for a longer period of time than beef.
It does have a different taste, but I don’t think it is too ‘gamey.’

SaveTheWorld’s boyfriend, who hunts (isn’t that ironic!) liked the buffalo breakfast sausage a lot, though Mandolin did think that it needed a little something (that’s the Chef in him.)

For Day #1 of Eating Locally, Mandolin made these for dinner:

Buffalo-Buffalo Burgers
2 Buffalo Burgers
Homemade Hot Sauce or Buffalo Sauce
Bleu Cheese Dressing
Bleu Cheese Crumbles
Celery
Rolls

Mandolin marinated the burgers in Buffalo Sauce the night before, and cooked them slowly on the grill.add thin slices of bleu cheese

buffalo burgers

start with dressing and chopped celery

The garnish is 3 homegrown spiced cherry tomatoes from a jar given to us by Mr. and Mrs. Jones.

buffalo burgers

top with burger and garnish

And a little more bleu cheese completes the effect. 
The dressing I picked was Wishbone brand, 108 miles from home -the closest I’ve found, so far.
The Bleu Cheese was manufactured by boar’s Head in NY,NY -about 100 miles.
Arnold’s Bakery made the buns, they’re in Horsham, Pa -99.8 miles away.
Celery from our garden.

Everything else I ate yesterday was local, but not nearly as exciting as dinner was!

…and why exactly is he called “Man-Man?”

Categories: locavores, Recipes

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