Because that’s one of the top search terms that brings people to my blog. I was surprised — I kind of assumed some of my more controversial posts would be what drew people in. I mean, they do. But apparently … Continue reading
I’ve been told more than once that I am a bleeding heart; I have a crusader complex, where I instantly want to become the voice for those who can’t speak up for themselves. (Which, oddly enough, has led me to … Continue reading
I’ve been a little swamped lately prepping for my big move to Kansas City, which happens THIS FRIDAY. (If you’re confused about the dates, I was supposed to start at my job on June 25th, but we bumped it back to July 9th because my apartment would not be available until the 7th.) I’ve been packing, taking inventory, and tying up loose ends here.
I have a million and one thoughts I’d love to blog about regarding the move, work, agriculture, and a slew of other things, but instead, I’ll take a few moments to address tomorrow, the 4th of July. Continue reading
(Because he’s fantastic and helped me think of a catchy title of this post…I have to give a shout-out to my pal Zach Hunnicutt. You’re one cool cat, Z-Dawg.)
I’ve spent a lot of time in fields. I know a lot of fields like the back of my hand, and that trait was learned from the farmers who introduced me to said fields. Once upon a time, when I heard the words “St. Anne” used in regards to a field, I thought of clay, terraces, flooding, and a 40-foot difference between the highest point of the field and the lowest. “The 60″ was distinctly different from “the 40″ and to confuse “Brown’s” with “Johnson’s” was downright wrong. These are all “names” applied to specific fields on the farm I used to work on. Continue reading
California is the “land of plenty.” Seriously, go there, and you will find yourself drowning in delicious and amazing produce of all types. If it grows, chances are it’s grown somewhere in California. This is especially true in the central California region, spanning from Sacramento at the north edge down to north of LA. This region, often referred to collectively as “Central Valley,” hosts a fantastic variety of agricultural operations.
If it grows, you will find it there.
I’ve blogged about specialty crops in the past. The fact is, “specialty crop” is a loose term that can be applied to just about anything that isn’t a major commodity. These “major commodities” tend to include corn, soy beans, wheat, rice, and cotton. I was rereading some older posts today and realized I never revisited that conversation about specialty crops. Well, I’ve decided to do so, in the form of a list. Here are some specialty crops that I simply cannot live without:
The agricultural year is dictated by seasons. There’s planting season, there’s harvesting season, there’s calving season, lambing season, farrowing season (in some cases). The seasons are different in agriculture than in everyday life. It’s much more complex than spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Spring can be divided into several different mini-seasons, based on what crops or animals you raise.
Well, for a lot of farmers, it’s Poo Season.
Happy Spring, everyone!
It’s that time of year. Baby animals are being born all over farms and ranches across the country. Planting will be underway soon. Sludge (better known as “water n’ poo”) is being applied. Spring is in the air.
Recently I held a poll about what folks would like to see more of on this here blog. One of the winners was specialty crops. I found this interesting, as I didn’t clarify the crop as being animal or plant, but also because it’s one of the areas I know least about. Granted, having raised rabbits, I’ve been a “specialty producer” in the past. However, that led me to wonder, “What defines a specialty crop?”
Is it something we don’t encounter in everyday life? Is it something we do, and take for granted? Just out of curiosity, I Googled “speciality crops” and the first result was to the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. Their definition goes as follows:
The Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act of 2004 and the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 have defined specialty crops as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).” Eligible plants must be intensively cultivated and used by people for food, medicinal purposes, and/or aesthetic gratification to be considered specialty crops. Processed products shall constitute greater than 50% of the specialty crop by weight, exclusive of added water.A detailed definition of specialty crops was also developed for the purposes of this program and other U.S. Department of Agriculture programs.The tables below list plants commonly considered fruits and tree nuts, vegetables, culinary herbs and spices, medicinal plants, as well as nursery, floriculture, and horticulture crops. There is also a separate list of ineligible commodities. These lists are not intended to be all inclusive, but rather to provide examples of the most common specialty crops. This web page will be updated as U.S. Department of Agriculture receives new questions about the eligibility of various crops.
What did I learn from spending over half a week as a vegetarian?
For starters, being a vegetarian, especially a new one, is hard. I didn’t have the experience or refined taste to tap into the full resources of vegetarianism. I tried new foods, and while they weren’t all bad, many of them were hard to stomach. Perhaps that’s because my body is so used to a protein-rich meat-based diet. Either way, getting all the essential nutrients I needed was difficult. I know I was on the low end for protein and was all but missing out on several B vitamins, iron, and zinc.
My second major point is that we take food for granted. I’m not referring to just food in general, but the variety of food we have at our fingertips. We live in a country where we can build a salad of arugula, iceberg, or romaine lettuce, or even spinach. (I list those because they are what’s offered in the cafeteria, so I became most familiar with them.) We can choose to be vegetarians and still have ample resources of protein. We have the luxury of pork, chicken, beef, turkey, tofurkey, soy burgers, bean burgers, mushroom burgers, imitation chicken, vegetarian beef-substitute…we have the agricultural industry to support those choices.
If it weren’t for the fact that somewhere in the U.S. someone is growing lettuce right now, I probably would have starved for four days. The same goes for apples, melons, cucumbers, carrots, oranges, and several types of berries. There are wheat farmer all over the country who worked hard year-round to produce the grain that helped stretch out my meals. I support local fare by all means, but being a vegetarian would have been much more difficult without an amazing nationwide agricultural system that provides nutritious and delicious fruits, vegetables, and grain all year round.
So, next time you sit down to a meal, whether it’s entree’ is meat or not, think about how fortunate we are.
Think about the amazing agricultural industry that made that meal, vegetarian, omnivorous, vegan, or even “meatarian,” possible. One, two, three, or several people along the line worked very, very hard to produce that food for you, from the start of production all the way up through your consumption.
Regardless of the food system, ideology, or mentality you claim as your own, we should all be a little more thankful and a lot more conscientious in regards to our food.
I learned that from four-and-a-half days as a vegetarian. I look forward to continuing my omnivorous journey with a brighter, more conscientious outlook and a rejuvenated thankfulness for farmers and ranchers all over. Thank you.