Saturday, February 27, 2010

Government Weatherization Program is a Snow Job

The stimulus program also known as the American Recovery Act has a provision for winterizing houses, but so far the program hasn't been too productive.

The Energy Department which runs the program told ABC News that so far it has spent $522-million dollars on the program to winterize 9,100 homes. Do the math and it works out to $57,362 for each home fixed up so far. Are they insulating with stacks of dollar bills?

This program is part of the $5 billion worth of Obama administration stimulus money that was going to rapidly create nearly 90,000 jobs--green jobs--throughout the country. It was meant to kill two birds with one stone, get people to work in a rocky economy and make thousands of homes more energy efficient.

With the winter the nation has faced, winterization last fall would have been a good thing. The program has only spent about 1/10 of the funds allocated back when it was passed. They've had to figure out prevailing wage for winterizing projects. And they've gotten bogged down in a bunch of government created hurdles.

So I'm proposing we eliminate the weatherization red-tape in favor of duck tape.  I'm creating the "Red Neck Winterization Kit".

Send me a check for $499.99 and I'll send you a kit to winterize your home. Using bales of straw, sheets of plastic, and a few roles of Duct Tape, you can make your home or trailer snug as a bug just in time for spring.

We can do it for a fraction of the cost of those taxpayer funded programs. Maybe I'll even apply to get certified as a government approved vendor. But that would mean I would have to raise my price, so you better order now.

(Shipping is included.)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Have you looked at the list of HSUS supporters lately?

Probably not.  I don't think I ever have looked at the list of corporations who support the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). 

But there are companies you do business with on this list and you may want to rethink that. 

Pilot Travel Centers is the most recent to come under attack from the ag industry.  I'm sure a lot of truckers hauling grain and livestock stop there to fill up, but I hope they don't any more.

Here's a link to a longer list of companies supporting the HSUS, but here are some of the companies you know:
  • Bank of America
  • BB&T
  • Microsoft
  • Harland Clark-probably prints your checks
  • Land Rover North America
  • Oreck Vacuums
  • Petco
  • Petsmart
  • Xerox
This week agvocates are concentrating on letting Pilot Travel Centers know that we don't approve of their donation.  My main page has a number of links and ideas that you can use to tell Pilot how you feel.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dear [yellowtail], your letter was nice, but...

Our friends at [yellow tail] have figured out they made a mistake, and I believe they are trying.  But I'm a little underwhelmed.

It's easy to send a letter saying we messed up.  It's a nice letter. 

They could have advised Tiger on his apology and it might have went better for him.  But after such a firestorm from the ag community, couldn't they--shouldn't they--make a similar donation to a pro-ag group? 

If you haven't seen it here's a letter they sent explaining their donation.

Dear Kay Johnson Smith, Animal Agriculture Alliance:

I am writing to thank you for your feedback regarding our [tails] for tails program.

The spirit and intention of our donation to the Humane Society of the United States was for the celebration of animals. Being farmers ourselves we support those who care for their land and their environment, just as we do. We are proud of our rural heritage and value a solid relationship with agricultural communities around the world.

[yellow tail] is committed to the plight of animals in need, and we know that animal welfare groups work in different ways to advance their cause. We are interested in the welfare of animals, and in financially supporting animal welfare causes that provide direct care services to help animals, not on taking positions on any animal lobbying issues. We pledge to you that any future support for animal welfare will go to organizations specifically devoted to hands-on care, such as rescue, sterilization, feeding, or disaster assistance.

Like the wines we produce, we are friendly Australians who enjoy bringing people together, and look forward to doing so through our annual spring and summer promotional campaign "[tails] around the barbecue" and our "holiday enter[tail]ing" campaign. We very much value your opinion and wish to thank-you for your honesty.

[yellow tail] customer Service Team

It's a nice letter, but anyone can say they're sorry. Actions speak louder than words. And offering up your annual BBQ promotion doesn't make me feel like the company is exerting an effort.  So I'm still going to avoid drinking their wine

So what do you think? Am I being overly critical? Or being too harsh in what I would like to see them do to make amends?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Going green and becoming a vegan could soon be mandatory in Cambridge, Mass.

The city’s Climate Congress is sorting through recommendations that will be submitted to the City Council to reduce green house gas emissions in the city which is home to Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Some of the proposals put forth by their Climate Congress include:
• Elimination curb side parking and “congestion pricing” to reduce car travel
• Some sort of a carbon tax
• Taxes on plastic and paper bags.
• Ban production and distribution of bottled water
• And coercive taxes to promote vegetarianism and veganism, complete with "Meatless or Vegan Mondays."

How enacting these restrictions, punitive taxes and tactics in one city will solve a “global crisis” is beyond me.

The bright minds who live there have decided that what they could do is a drop in the bucket. But they are determined to lead by example since the rest of the world isn’t doing its share.

There is also a proposal to institute a tax or tariff on the purchase of non-regional food. Maybe that means they’ll be taxing tofu and soy milk.

This time of year, I wonder how much food is actually raised in that region.

The population of the Boston Metropolitan area is approximately 4.4 million people. Farm Bureau says the average farm feeds 155 people, meaning that it would take 28,387 farmers to feed that city. There are just over 6,000 farms in all of Massachusetts.

How productive are those farms? Seventy-six percent sell less than $25,000 worth of goods each year. Nearly half of all farms (43%) sell less than $2,500 worth of products each year.

I’m sure those scientists have higher IQs and much more book learning than I do, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they have some fancy equation and technology that can get their regional farms to produce what they need to feed the region.

My math says the Boston area including Cambridge goes hungry if they have to rely on the local farms to feed them. I think even a fifth grader can come up with that conclusion.

There is a proposal to invest in local greenhouses to grow their vegetarian/vegan food supply, but the scientists are arguing now about whether it’s better for the environment to go that route or continue to ship food in from other locations.

The scientists are also arguing about whether they can get the public to comply and how much any of the taxes could hurt development and commerce in the community.

Now I don’t pretend to be smarter than the guys at MIT and Harvard, but I assure you eliminating parking spots and taxing people for driving will hurt business.

What happens next? The Commission will meet the first week of March to determine what to recommend to the City Council. After that who knows, but I am afraid their so-called book sense will trounce common sense.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I Never Dreamed that Vegans would hate PETA and the HSUS too.

Dear readers: I was shocked to learn recently that vegans and vegetarians may hate the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) more than most farmers and ranchers do. Obviously we dislike those groups for entirely different reasons. But I wanted to learn more because I always assumed that a vegan was a card carrying member of both organizations. I couldn't have been more wrong.

It may seem odd for me to give my blog over to an animal activist to talk about her goals for the animal rights movement. I believe it is important for us to learn more about their way of thinking just as we would like them to understand where we're coming from. And I wanted to learn more about the issues they have with these groups.

I know many of you won't agree with my guest author Khaetlyn, but I ask any comments you leave to be respectful. I would like to get more insight from vegetarians and vegans. There are things we can learn from each other. Please keep reading--Jody

I despise People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society of the United States. Those loud and obnoxious animal people with their silly antics, who are only trying to get publicity and donations for their organizations, make me feel ill to the point of nausea. No, I am not a rancher or a farmer. I am not a vivisectionist. I am not a zoo keeper. I am a vegan, and I support animal rights.

I would not cage Jade the cat and force her to have babies her whole life, and when she is too worn out from the constant cycle of breeding, slaughter her and eat her flesh. I would not force Diesel the dog into submission to perform unnatural tricks for the sake of people's amusement, nor would I kill him to wear his fur and skin. If I would not inflict unnecessary suffering, such as the aforementioned acts, upon the cat or dog with whom I share my home, why would I do these same things to other animals? This "moral schizophrenia" as animal rights philosopher and author Gary L. Francione (photo above right) calls it, is unjustifiable as there is no morally significant difference between a cat, dog, cow, or chicken. Indeed, if we were to do to cats and dogs the things we do to animals raised on farms or in labs, it would be a felony offense. 

But what if we made it better? What if we improved their conditions? Would it not it be better if Diesel had a bigger cage? Would Jade not feel better if her throat was slit more quickly and efficiently? No. Humane slaughter is still slaughter. Kind confinement is still confinement. Their exploitation should be abolished, not merely regulated, according to Francione.

So what about their "rights?" When the term "animal rights" is used it really only means one right, or the right not to be the property of someone else. Francione states that as long as animals are considered property, the interests of the property owner will always outweigh the interests of the piece of property, so we cannot really take animal interests into consideration until their property status is abolished. Animals are sentient creatures; animals feel pain, pleasure, and a wide range of emotions. They have an interest in continuing life free from pain and the tyranny of human dominance and corporate greed. They are someones, with individual personalities and family bonds, but as long as they are still pieces of property, they are nothing more than production units and are reduced to mere commodities.

How do I convince people that animals have rights? How do I convince them that going vegan is the first thing someone must do to be consistent with the principles of animal rights theory, as stated by Francione? Well, I do not throw paint on them, for one, and contrary to popular belief, abolitionist vegans and animal rights activists do not want to pass legislation concerning the legal status of animals or how they are treated. I do not bomb the buildings of farmers or lab technicians, nor do I threaten to harm the employees who work there. I agree with Gary L. Francione when he states that non-violent and creative vegan education is the best and most effective way of showing people the importance of abolitionist animal rights theory and understanding how to practice it in every day life.

I do not see non-vegans as my "enemies" but rather as potential dinner guests with whom I will share my mashed potatoes, vegetable stew, and lemon-vanilla cupcakes. They need not worry about getting their windows smashed with a crowbar or their coat ruined by red paint at my house; leaflets, patience, compassion, and a well-stocked kitchen are my weapons of choice.

About the author:
Khaetlyn Grindell is a 16 year old abolitionist vegan and animal rights activist living in South Carolina. She is a staff member of the Eagles View Newspaper and Quill & Scroll literary magazine at Greenwood High School. When she isn't writing and spending time on human and animal rights or political affairs, she enjoys drawing, painting and reading non-fiction publications.

To read more of Francione’s thoughts go to his website.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The way to a man's heart is through his stomach

Guys may wait until the last minute to figure out what to buy for Valentine's day, but this girl has waited until the last minute to figure out what to fix for Valentine's day. 

We're going out with both sets of parents and my grandma tonight.  But that's not a very romantic celebration so I'm trying to figure out what to fix at home on Sunday night. 

The options for dining out in a small town are limited.  And while I like our little restaurants, none of them have the right mood for V-Day. So I'll be cooking at home tomorrow

Here are some great ones I've found . I think any one of them will be a hit with Daryl.  Hope they help you if you're in the same fix that I'm in. 

Steak Diane
Ribeye Steaks with Blue Cheese Butter and Mushrooms
Flat Iron Steak with Herb Butter
Pomegranate Steak with Quinoa
Grilled T-Bone for 2

Side dishes are pretty easy, cheesy scalloped potatoes, stuffed mushrooms, and I'm making chocolate dipped strawberries for dessert. 

If you haven't made them before they are so easy.  I dip my strawberries in melted Hershey's Hugs.  Pop 'em in the fridge for 10 minutes and you've got a great treat that seems way more fancy and difficult than it really is.
Please add your own links to favorite beef recipes that are a great treat for Valentine's Day or any other time you need to get to your man's heart through his stomach.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

We're not on drugs

Katie Couric's reports on CBS this week have given people some inaccurate ideas about the use of antibiotics on farms and ranches. 

If you aren't familiar with raising livestock, and watched her reports you may think that farmers and ranchers are feeding their animals antibiotics as part of every meal and injecting them with antibiotics every day.  That's not the case on our ranch. 

Currently none of our animals are on antibiotics.  We can't remember the last time we had to administer antibiotics for an illness.  We think it may have been a year and a half ago.  We do use antibiotics they are prescribed by our veterinarian.

Antibiotics are expensive. They are not something we gleefully give or over-use in our operation.  We're a small operation, but it's true that even large operations use them judiciously. 
We do vaccinate our calves on our place. These vaccinations are given when the calves are small, just like you immunize your children against a variety of diseases. Our calves are vaccinated for:
  • Blackleg which causes swelling in the legs, neck, and back and results in death.
  • Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheits is also called Red-nose. It is an acute contagious viral disease and is the main cause of Shipping Fever. This results in runny nose, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
  • Bovine Virus Diarrhea is an infection causing numerous problems such as damage to the digestive and immune systems, pneumonia, the inability to move and diarrhea.
The cows and bulls are vaccinated once a year for:
  • Lepto which results in abortions.
  • Vibrio which is an infectious bacteria resulting in infertility. It is considered an venereal disease.
All cattle are given a wormer--just like your pets need--for control of parasites in the liver and the stomachs which will cause weight loss and disrupt proper digestion.

Without vaccines and antibiotics we can't ensure the health of our herd or those of our neighbors.  The CBS report kept talking about antibiotics being used to make animals grow faster, but the language they used was a little misleading.  Antibiotics don't promote growth.  Sick animals don't grow.  They must be well to grow. 

Consumers should be assured that numerous precautions are in place to keep drugs from entering the food supply. Farmers and ranchers are aware of the time it takes for an antibiotic to leave an animals system.  And all drugs have gone through rigorous testing before they are allowed for use in food animals. 

We know of farms that use antibiotics therapeutically. We don't want to speak for larger operations, but have seen a variety of research that shows that the use of antibiotics in those operations reduces illness and prevents death.  So we believe it to be a sound process for insuring animal well-being.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Antibiotics have a place in meat production

"In order to reduce animal pain and suffering, to protect the economic livelihood of beef and dairy producers, to ensure the continued production of foods of animal origin, and to minimize the shedding of zoonotic bacteria into the environment and potentially the food chain, prudent use of antimicrobials is encouraged."—from the American Veterinary Medical Association. (AVMA)

When did antibiotics get such a bad wrap?  You and I take them--some of us beg the doctor to give them to us when we get sick, so why do consumers have such a misunderstanding of how they're used? 

It's because farmers and ranchers haven't talked about how necessary they are to a safe food supply, not to mention how they ensure animal welfare. 

Here are some great links with a wealth of information about the safety and necessity of antibiotics.  Please share them with consumers or use them to craft a response the next time you see a media report that doesn't share all the facts. 

National Milk Producers Federation
A growing body of evidence shows … the responsible, professional use of (antibiotics) reduces pathogens in and on foods, enhancing animal welfare while not contributing to resistance.

Animal Health Institute
For more than 40 years, antibiotics approved by the Food and Drug Administration have been used to treat sick animals, prevent illness and maintain the health of animals. Livestock and poultry producers rely on these products so they can provide U.S. consumers with the safest food possible. Several layers of protection have been put in place to ensure antibiotics are used to keep animals healthy without harm to public health.

National Pork Producers Assn.
Current and future availability of safe and effective animal health products are important to pork producers, who depend on these products to maintain healthy and productive animals and to help producers protect public health and animal well-being.

The Beef Board
Like humans or pets, when calves or cattle become sick with a bacterial infection they are given therapeutic doses of antimicrobials. Medicated feed containing small amounts of antimicrobials also sometimes is used to prevent diseases such as bacterial scours, liver abscesses and shipping fever. The practice keeps animals healthy.

This link contains the AVMA’s general guidelines for the prudent therapeutic use of antimicrobials in beef and dairy cattle.

The Animal Ag Alliance has a number of helpful resources on animal health too.
Illinois Farm Bureau has a helpful site too.

Tomorrow Katie discusses what happened in Denmark when they outlawed antibiotics.  Wonder if she'll highlight these points:
•Danish Government reports show an increase in a variety of human, antibiotic-resistance illness, including a 10-fold increase in MRSA since the ban was put in place.

•A U.S. congressional fact-finding mission to Denmark last September found no scientific evidence that reducing antibiotic use in agriculture resulted in public health benefits in that country.
•Denmark recently experienced one of the worst salmonella outbreaks in Danish history

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Some do’s and don’ts for valentine gift giving

When it comes to picking the perfect gift for your sweetie, Valentine's Day is always tough for guys and girls.  But thanks to the animal rights activists we have a handy lists of dos and don’ts this year to help guide your purchases. 

If you buy anything supporting these companies and individuals, you are supporting an anti-agriculture agenda and working to put farmers out of business. 

Hopefully you haven’t been living under a rock and know by now that you shouldn’t buy [yellow tail] wine for your valentine. They’ve pledged $100,000 to the HSUS and don’t care that farmers and ranchers don’t like it.

Times are tough and instead of a romantic candle light dinner maybe you were planning on sharing a Sonic Brown Bag Special with your sweetie. Don’t do it. Sonic recently caved to the HSUS and will be serving cage free eggs and using pork products that come from farms that don’t use gestation crates.

Sorry, but no Beatles albums for your honey. Sir Paul is promoting Meatless Monday. So that knocks out his solo stuff too.

A few more things you shouldn’t bring home to your valentine:
  • No Carrie Underwood--she also gave $100,000 to the HSUS
  • No Willie Nelson--he has spoken out in support of feral horses
  • No movies with Alec Baldwin--he narrates some of the HSUS videos
  • No Dave Matthews Band--Dave is against corporate hog farming
  • No Victoria Principal Cosmetics
  • No Brittney Spears Cds--as if you would buy those anyway
There are a ton of individuals and corporations under attack by animal activist groups. I encourage you to show some solidarity for others under attack.

Buy a season of 24: Keifer Sutherland is under attack for owning the cattle he got scammed out of

If you need some tunes, consider Kelis the R&B singer who told PETA off last month. Even if you don’t like here music, she’s a celebrity worthy of supporting.  Maybe the Zac Brown Band in more your style.  They got a bucket of tofu from PETA as a protest against their chicken fried song.  So eat some fried chicken too.

Do skip the nice dinner in favor of supporting some of the food corporations under attack
  • Domino’s Pizza
  • IHOP
  • Steak and Shake
  • Jack in the Box
  • Kroger
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken
  • McDonald’s
  • Petsmart
  • Brookstone
  • Lowes
Want to see a list of vegetarians and vegan celebrities: click here

Thursday, February 4, 2010

So you’ve wanted to become an agvocate but didn’t really know what to do.

Here’s your chance to jump in.
Yellow Tail wine just pledged a $100,000 to the Humane Society of the United States.
During the past 2 days, other agvocates have spoken up on a variety of social media sites. Instead of listening to our outcry, the company manipulated the donation stipulating it would only go for animal care.
That makes my blood boil even more. And it should make yours boil to.

What’s more, YellowFail is deleting negative comments from us on their FaceBook page and gleefully announcing how they’ve appeased us.

Well they’re wrong. And we need to get fired up. 
Here are a few things you can do:
  • Tell YellowFail you aren’t buying or drinking any more of their wine on their Facebook page
  • Send YellowFail an email directly
  • Tell your favorite restaurant or liquor store that YellowFail is hurting farmers
  • Plan a protest outside of a major liquor store or distributor location--it only takes 5 or 6 farmers to make a point and get news coverage.
  • Add comments to other Facebook Pages talking about the issue--YellowFail can’t delete the comments if they don’t own the site.
  • If you see anything on mainstream news outlets about this--make a comment.
If you plan a protest and want to get some media coverage. Contact me. I would be happy to help you contact the media. And I would be happy to put some talking points together for you.

We all have to speak out the 500 agvocates that have already mobilized need your support.  We've drawn a line in the sand.  But we need backup.  We definitely have their attention but we need to see this through to the end.

Please post other ideas you have regarding how we can speak out in the comments.

P.S.  I guess we should have seen this coming VegNews, a vegetarian lifestyle magazine, picked YellowFail as the 2009 Veggie Award Winner for Favorite Vegan Tipple. This is the largest vegetarian survey in the world.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Food Rules could kill your Super Bowl Party

Michael Pollan, who calls “our nation's most trusted resource for food-related issues,” has been making the rounds promoting his new book "Food Rules".
I’m oversimplifying and cherry-picking, but the rules are:
• Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food
• Don't eat anything with six or more ingredients
• Don’t eat anything with ingredients you can't pronounce
• Avoid foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup
• Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot...There are exceptions --- honey --- but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food
• Always leave the table a little hungry
• Eat meals together, at regular meal times
• Don't buy food where you buy your gasoline
• Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk
• Limit your snacks to unprocessed plant food

These rules are pretty simple, and would probably make the person following them more healthy.

But following them will also undoubtedly screw up your Super Bowl party and ensure none of your friends will EVER come back to your house for the big game.

So while plain chicken wings (who wants plain wings?), and veggie trays are fine, so many of your favorite party foods break his rules:
• No pizza—unless it’s homemade and natural
• No chips
• No ranch or French onion dip from a carton
• No brats or little smokies
• No Chex Party Mix
• No sweets
• No Velveeta and Rotel—other cheese dip is iffy

Pollan would have you only eat junk food you cook yourself. Even if you’re a gourmet, you’ll be too worn out from making bean dip by hand and baking wheat crackers to enjoy the game or the fellowship. Please note that your crackers have to be wheat because “the whiter you’re bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.”

He wants meat used only to enhance flavor and condiments should be avoided.

Remember this is the guy who since the publication of his "Omnivore’s Dilemma" has promoted eating local whenever you can. In my neighborhood the only local food this time of year is meat. He has contended for a long time that eating anything made from corn is like eating crude oil. There goes the plain un-salted popcorn.

We all need to eat more veggies.

We all need to eat less processed food, but this guys’ agenda is to have us eating fresh meat and veggies coming from local growers 100% of the time.

That may be realistic in Pollan’s home state of California. It’s not very realistic for the rest of America or the rest of the world.

The food you serve for a Super Bowl party probably isn’t a good illustration of the food you will eat during the rest of the week, but it is a good illustration of the types of food that Michael Pollan would like to have banned entirely.