Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The lies we are fed......


                                                                THE FARM

10 days since last post and still have significant snow issues. Portion of the lane down to the farm is still blocked with a 3-4 foot drift, about 70 yards long....it's hard to be patient and wait for a sufficient amount of it to thaw but until I do I am unable to clear the yard, get to the barn with the tractor or deliver my new bull. In a normal year I would be fixing fences, a 3-4 day job, but have to wait for the wires to emerge from the snow. I'm counting and re-counting bales, will be out of hay on May 26, keeping fingers crossed herd will be on pasture by then, if it dries up quickly.
On the other hand, animals still looking pretty good after their hardest winter yet, even #338 a 14 year old cow is looking better, so perhaps a stay of execution....oops, harvesting!

Reviewing the data on my new Shorthorn bull, passed his sperm quality test, has good marbling and satisfactory rib eye size on ultrasound....his progeny will be for the grass fed beef market but the main reason is to produce daughters (Angus/Shorthorn crosses) to be kept in the herd for maternal cows. Breeding Red Angus cows with Shorthorn produces a Durham Red a new composite breed with the best qualities of both, then rebred to Red Angus for the optimal beef animal. Most of herd has been bred by AI to another Shorthorn, followed by an onsite loaner Shorthorn before the Charolais bull came back to the herd. Picture will follow when he gets here, for now here's some girls (Photo today).

                                                                                                                                                                 THE FOOD

 The lies, mis-truths, deceptions we are told and its not just from politicians.

One needs to look someone in the eye, ask hard questions and observe their actions otherwise those that wish to sell you a product or a dream remain to be proven. You can choose your own examples and experiences and I will illustrate one such case although there are many to choose from in the food world including horse meat in commercial ground beef in Europe, steak which is mechanically tenderized causing sickness from E.Coli 0157 and retail or fast food burger composed of meat from tens of animals.

Wagyu beef better known in the West as Kobe beef is portrayed as a pampered product of animals that are massaged daily and fed beer or sake. True Kobe beef only comes from the area around Kobe in Japan and costs a fortune, for example $175 for a 10oz. rib eye steak, it is as rich as foie gras which is an apt comparison. However these Japanese beef farms are very difficult to visit and you won't see the cattle on pasture. The farms are very small, there is very little pasture land in Japan, so the animals , often just one animal, are kept tied up in a stall for 3-4 years (veal gets off lightly at 6-8 months confinement). The massaging is to alleviate the arthritis from this confinement, brushing is to remove the caked manure on the hide and beer is to stimulate the depressed animals appetite so they can continue to put on weight like a Sumo wrestler. Wagyu beef in N. America is very rarely true Wagyu beef and are not confined in the same manner. 

Cattle are social animals, herd animals and become stressed when they cannot exhibit their normal social characteristics. On my farm I always wait until I have at least two animals to transport even though at times it is inconvenient, never dealing with a solitary animal. If they lie in their own manure the rain will wash it off or they will rub against some structure to achieve this and they are never confined save for a couple of minutes a year during their health check.

So, is it a lie, being economical with the truth or deception where you can spin a story from deprivation and confinement to one of pampering and extraordinary care. You should know where your food comes from, most of the time it is not possible and one shouldn't beat yourself up on that, however if you have a choice then make the informed choice.

next time, something lighter....how to cook steak!

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