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Interesting Healthy Food/ Cool Farming Books...

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  • Interesting Healthy Food/ Cool Farming Books...

    I just finished a couple of books you might like. They cover the modern "food chains" and an interesting farmer's alternative approach to it all.

    The 1st is "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pallin. He covers the three major ways we can get our food today. The 1st is "Big Agriculture". I found it quite fascinating how corn pretty much drives everything. I think a movie just came out (King Corn) that covers a lot of this.

    Next he covers the "Big Organic" world. It also was quite eye opening. For instance he went and checked what an "organic, free range chicken" really was. What was surprising was how little difference; except price of course , there was between the big commercial producers and the organic ones. Both lived seven weeks before slaughter, both lived in huge houses with thousands of birds, etc. The organic birds did not receive antibiotics and such though. The free range part? Just another example of a lobbied for reg favoring the business. A chicken can be called free range if it has the OPPORTUNITY to range. The letter of the law says that after 5 weeks (and two to go!) these chickens must have the opportunity to walk around outside. So their immense hootches have a small door in each end and a narrow grass strip that runs along one side of the building. Of course by then they're used to being inside (which is also where their food, water, and friends are) so they basically never go outside. And the producers certainly don't want them to. Since they haven't had antibiotics and are so jammed together large die offs are common if any disease breaks out. But hey; they could go outside and that's all that counts. Ka ching! Organic, free range chicken; that'll be $2.59 a lb please.

    Finally he hunts and forages for a meal. Kind of funny as he is total City Boy. Until his boar hunt he's NEVER shot a gun, etc.

    The most interesting part for me was when he spent a week with Joel Salatin (Polyface Farms). Joel has a 400 acre place in Virginia with about 100 acres of pasture that he raises cows, pigs, chickens, etc. on. He's written several books on his approach that are available on Amazon. He takes a real natural approach; cows are herbivores and therefore should eat herbs; not corn. It is interesting that we now take "corn fed" beef as a good thing. Here is food that a cow never normally eats and requires all the stuff we find bad about Big Ag: mass feeding ops, drugs out the wazoo, huge manure lagoons, etc. Joel just raises grass. Period. He moves his cattle (he raises 100 or so at a time) daily. Each day they go to a section of virgin pasture and graze it for just one day. He uses some light, portable electric fencing and says it takes just 15 minutes a day to do the moving as the cows just walk to the next grazing area. 3 days after the cows have grazed the area he puts in his mobile chicken house. They break up the manure, eat the now fat fly larvae (which mature in 4 days), any bugs hanging around, and spread their and the cows' manure efficiently. In the winter he keeps building up the cows shelter area by putting layers of straw and corn over each layer of manure. The decomposing helps heat the place and a 3 or 4 foot deep layer builds up. In the spring he puts the cows out to pasture and then brings in hogs to the manure/hay/corn "pie". They evidently love the partially fermented corn and completely mix and aerate the stuff as they root out the corn. The result is ready to use compost that required no human or mechanical effort. Same with the cows. I was pretty impressed; this is all covered in his book "Salad Bar Beef" if you are interested. He also covers the many laws and regulations that keep small producers like him at a real disadvantage, covered in "Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal".

    All in all interesting reading if you're at all interested in the topics.
    Save America!! Impeach Obama!!

  • #2
    I'm in the process of reading "The Omnivore's Dilemma" right now. It's a great book, with some very important information most people don't ever think about when they're eating their Big Mac. Pollan's new book "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto" is on my to read list. And I've been wanting to read Salatin's "Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal."

    Another good book on the same subject I read awhile ago is Nina Planck's "Real Food: What to Eat and Why." She gives lots of good information on the health benefits of real food (or non-industrial processed foods), and all the health problems industrially processed foods cause. "Real Food" is a convicting eye opener which has changed the way I eat and think about food.
    "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."


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