Archive for the ‘vegetarian’ Category

Are Vegetarians Happier?

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

Beef and chicken gyro with brussels sprouts and fruit salad

I recently saw an article posted on Facebook from The Huffington Post called “Vegetarian Diet Could Make You Happier and Less Stressed, Study Shows”. I consider myself an optimistic, healthy and happy omnivore, so I decided to take a look.

The article states that embracing a vegetarian diet could make you happier and less stressed because of fatty acids in meat and fish. It states that “diets that include meat and fish are higher in arachidonic acid (AA), an animal source of omega-6 fatty acids. Much of the meat Americans eat today is quite high in AA: The average omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid profile of modern grain-fed meat is 5 times higher than grass-fed meat.”

Shalene McNeill, who has a Ph.D. in human nutrition and is executive director for human nutrition research at the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, acknowledges that “if you feed (cows) grass, you can slightly increase the omega-3 content, but if you look at it in terms of a whole diet, it’s not a significant advantage to human health.”

Though I experience stress (usually self-inflicted), running has become a great outlet for me. Personally, I would become very grumpy (and stressed) without beef, pork and poultry as a regular part of my diet. I think it’s safe to say as a whole, Americans are increasingly overfed yet undernourished so it’s essential that we get the most nutritional value from the food and beverages we enjoy. I enjoy meat. I’m not turning vegetarian.

What are the benefits of consuming meat? Since meat contains a great deal of protein, it repairs and promotes the building of body tissues and produces antibodies that will protect the body from infections, therefore strengthening the immune system. Since meat contains all the essential amino acids, it ranks as one of the best sources of protein.

Meat is rich in iron, zinc and selenium which results in forming hemoglobin that transports oxygen to different parts of your body, tissue formation and metabolism, and breaking down fat in the body. Meat also contains Vitamin A, B and D which promote good vision, stronger teeth and bones as well as support the central nervous system.

What do I think is the biggest benefit of meat consumption? It tastes excellent. Therefore, it keeps this girl happy, healthy and loving life!

Additional Resources:
Kansas Beef Council
Kansas Pork Association
National Cattleman’s Association
National Pork Producers Council


Food Day- 365

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

A couple weeks ago I noticed something different about the bananas I picked up at the grocery store. They had a sticker on them advertising some sort of holiday, called “Food Day,” taking place on October 24. Naturally, being an advocate for agriculture, I was instantly curious.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has launched Food Day, a campaign to “change the way Americans eat and think about food.” CSPI says that Food Day is designed to “encourage people to support healthy, affordable food grown in a sustainable, humane way.” Sounds like a slogan for agriculture to me! Farmers want to produce healthy food for their families, their communities and the rest of the world. We all want affordable food. Farmers and ranchers are practicing sustainability and humane animal welfare daily.

On the Food Day website, there are six key points outlined as goals. I’ve got beef with some of these points and would like to go through each of them to share some thoughts.

1) Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods.

Of course! Farmers and ranchers want to provide the world with safe, healthy and affordable food. Remember that these folks feed their families the food they produce.

2) Support sustainable farms and limit subsidies to big agribusiness.
Farmers were the first environmentalists. With today’s farming techniques, it’s possible to have great yields, while improving the soil and protecting the environment. By caring for the land and the environment, farmers can continue producing great crops that help provide quality, safe food. Often times, farm land is passed down through generations so growers want to ensure that their land is well cared for. I won’t get into subsidies but Caci, a farm wife from South Carolina, explains farm subsidies further on her blog.

3) Expand access to food and alleviate hunger.
Farmers and ranchers support efforts to alleviate hunger in our own country, as well as across the globe. You will find that these folks donate to food banks and a variety of charitable causes. Here’s just one example. Today, one farmer produces enough food in one year to feed 156 people. If we relied on the food production systems of 1950, as some are suggesting, approximately 150 million people living in the U.S. today would be without food. That’s everyone in the 13 largest U.S. states, hungry! Additionally, placing restrictions of the U.S. food system that limit the ability to produce the food we need will increase the cost of food and limit healthy, affordable food choices for all of us, including those who can least afford it. Today’s food system works to address hunger and food insecurity, and to meet the challenge of feeding a growing global population.

4) Protect the environment & animals by reforming factory farms.
Wait, what exactly is a factory farm? As Chuck Jolley, a Kansas City freelance writer wrote for The Pork Network, “Those big, bad, evil factory farms? Most of them are run by your neighbor, his wife and kids. Maybe there are even a few grandchildren lending a hand. And they offer employment in areas where there aren’t a lot of other opportunities. They are the leading businesses in rural America, producing billions of dollars worth of goods at a scant few pennies on the dollar. They feed most Americans and a stunning portion of the rest of the world and, hopefully, your neighbor, his wife and kids can go to bed at night, satisfied with a job well-done and a lifestyle they love.”

As Dawn Caldwell, a Nebraska producer writes in her blog. “Regardless, if we have 10 or 10,000 animals, if we don’t treat them well, they won’t treat us well. It takes a special kind of person to own or work on a farm – there aren’t many of us left here in the U.S. We are a few proud folks doing our best to continually improve farming methods and products for a rapidly growing population.”

Today, 98 percent of all farms are owned by individuals, family partnerships or family corporations. Actually, just two percent of America’s farms and ranches are owned by non-family corporations. Size shouldn’t define a family farm or “factory farm”. If global food production is to more than double by 2050, there’s enough work to be done by both large and small farms.

Like you, farmers and ranchers expect every ounce of their food to be healthy, affordable, and most importantly, safe. That is why they go to great lengths to care for their animals. Not only is the right thing to do, but animals that are threatened or sick simply will not produce as well as healthy animals. With constant temperature monitoring and on-call veterinary care, America’s farmer and ranchers pride themselves on adhering to the strictest quality assurance and certification standards.

5) Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids
The farmers I know are supportive of free enterprise. Parents are best equipped to make nutritional decisions for their families. The agricultural community wants to continue an open dialogue with consumers. If you have questions concerning the production of your food, ask a farmer. Here is a list of producers who would be happy to address your questions and concerns.

6) Support fair conditions for food and farm workers.
Agriculture is a vital part of our lives and our economy. U.S. agriculture and related industries account for one in 12 jobs nationwide. We want to provide fair wages and conditions for all workers.

Food Day conversations and activities will be taking place across the nation on October 24 but farmers and ranchers are speaking up about the food they produce every day. Now, more than ever, farmers are noticing the disconnect between agriculture and the consumer and are doing something about it. Join the conversations on Twitter regarding food production by following #FoodD, #FoodDay365 and #CGconvo. Below is a list of resources that may be helpful in answering your questions about food.

Registered Dietitian’s Food Day Pledge Takes Aim at What’s Wrong With Most Advice

Shouldn’t Every Day be Food Day?, The Center For Food Integrity

Real Farmers, Real Food

Food Dialogues, U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance


Cause Matters, Connecting Gate to Plate

Sigma Alpha Sorority Promotes Ag at KSU

Guest post by Beth Holz

Growing up on a diversified farm I witnessed my uncle, father and grandfather working early mornings, late nights, and every weekend. My grandfather never went into retirement, he spent everyday on the farm, up until the day he passed in his nineties. When physical labor was no longer plausible because of his age, he was in the office discussing markets, animal care, and business strategies. He devoted his whole life, with pride, to the farm-a lifetime of hard work to feed the world. This is quintessential of agriculturists across the nation.

As a gesture of thanks the Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority at Kansas State University wanted to educate and remind students of all farmers do. On Thursday March 31, sorority members hosted a “Give Thanks to Agriculture” display at the student union. The display included a grocery cart containing over 90 loaves of bread, depicting the amount of bread from one bushel of wheat.

Over 200 t-shirts showed the use of cotton, and a diagram of 156 people demonstrated how many people one farmer feeds. In addition, commodity groups,  including the Kansas Corn Growers Association and Kansas Grain Sorghum Association, donated gear and educational materials to hand out to students. Furthermore, students had the opportunity to write a message and sign flip charts thanking a farmer. The campaign went beyond the walls of the union. Sigma Alpha members, decked out in pink t-shirts with the slogan “Give Thanks to Agriculture” stamped across the front, handed out fliers with various agriculture facts and statistics across campus. The girls focused on the side of campus where agriculture classes are not held, in an attempt to reach those not as familiar with farming and ranching.

Not only did this campaign give Kansas State students the opportunity to show gratitude for their food, fuel, and clothing, it was valuable to the sisters of Sigma Alpha, myself included. The support that we received from different agriculture groups and businesses was astonishing. When I see how excited agriculturalists are about education and awareness, it makes me want to continue spreading the word. The more we support each other as advocates and offer our many resources, the more people we can reach with positive messages.

I felt honored this week to be apart of an event that shows thanks to farmers. Farming is a time consuming, back-breaking, high risk job that the world depends on for survival. If you ate, got dressed or used a vehicle today, don’t forget to thank a farmer and spread positive messages about agriculture.

Beth Holz is a Junior at Kansas State University Majoring in Agriculture Communications. She is originally from Grand Junction, Iowa, where her family have fed cattle and raised corn for 4 generations. Beth was involved in the operations, as well as involved in the 4-H program on the state level.

She is involved in several agriculture clubs on campus, such as Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority, Kansas State Dairy Judging Team, and Agriculture Communicators of Tomorrow. She enjoys the agriculture industry, and has enjoyed her internships with AIB international and The Kansas Soybean Commission.

She plans to graduate in May 2012, and pursue a career in the grain industry, or at a full service communications firm.

Let’s Celebrate!

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

St. Patty’s Day is Thursday but I’m wearing green today. Why you ask? I’m celebrating National Ag Day!

This morning corn, wheat, soybean, and grain sorghum growers in Kansas gathered for the annual “Wake Up To Kansas” pancake feed. Growers made breakfast for the legislators in Topeka as a thank you for their continued support in agricultural issues.

I say that I’m celebrating today, but really I celebrate farmers and ranchers every day-each time I open my refrigerator, when I brush my teeth (toothpaste is made with corn), when I pull on my leather boots and all the times I fill up with ethanol on my way home from work.

If you were stopped on the street asked what you know and thought about farmers, what would you say? Here is what the folks in NYC had to say. I wasn’t surprised by the answers given. Your first thought was likely, “Silly city people. They don’t know anything about agriculture.”

I encourage you to remember that these answers don’t just come from the big cities. Many in rural communities are just as disconnected when it comes to farming and agriculture. Today, less than 2% of Americans farm. In 1910, 98% of America’s population were farmers.

The gap between the farm gate and the dinner plate keeps getting larger. With technology and social media, advocates for agriculture have the resources and the opportunity to close the gap. More than ever, people are concerned, interested, and curious about where their food comes from. Farmers and ranchers- let’s continue to show them wholesome, American, family farms- just like yours. Consumers- keep challenging us and asking questions. And don’t forget to thank a farmer for producing feed, fuel, food and fiber!

KS Corn Facebook
KS Grain Sorghum Facebook

Oprah’s Vegan Challenge

By DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

Tuesday afternoon I sat down with my pen and paper to watch Oprah’s Food 201- The Vegan Challenge. For those of you who remember my article “Rejected by Oprah,” you know that I have been an Oprah fan for years, but it had been a while since I had watched her show.

The last time I wrote about Oprah I was fired up about guest, Michael Pollan spreading mis-truths about modern ag production. What made me even more angry was that my comments to Oprah about these assumptions where not only deleted but that I was banned from making any additional comments to her Facebook page.

During Oprah’s Food 201 show, she encouraged her staff to sign up for a week-long vegan challenge. 378 employees signed up for the challenge. Some fell off the bandwagon, some decided to continue to be vegan (or “veganish”) but for all, it was an eye-opener.

There’s a lot that I actually liked about this show. I enjoyed watching as Cargill opened up their plant in Fort Morgan, Colorado to investigative reporter, Lisa Ling and showed that they are committed to treating the animals with dignity and respect. The cattle are harvested carefully and Ling said she was impressed that everything ran like clockwork. Ling says she will continue to enjoy eating meat but that she has a new appreciation for the animals.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again- many consumers are completely disconnected from the food chain. That’s why it’s important for farmers to continue to make the connection of how our food gets from the farm gate to the dinner plate. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and other forms of social media have all proven to be valuable resources for farmers and ranchers to get their message out in this day of age.

I laughed to myself a few weeks ago when reading a friend’s blog who left Iowa for a few months to be Ag Education student teacher in Houston, Texas.

She writes: “My first week here I went with a couple students and Mr. Arkadie to some surrounding elementary students to host livestock petting zoos for students. One group of 2nd graders came out of the building and the principal told the teacher they were to visit the lamb first. The teacher nodded at the principal and said “the lamb? Ok, which one’s that?”….I wish I had this story to tell three months ago when people were asking why on earth I thought I needed to go to Houston to teach agriculture education.”

The disconnect, however, isn’t happening just in the cities. It’s also taking place in our rural communities.

Let’s take this vegan challenge a step further. I enjoyed Mike Haley’s blog post about the challenge in which he stated, “In essence to fulfill Oprah’s challenge I began to make a list of things I would have to sacrifice for the week.  I began with the logical answers of steak, chicken and milk.  Then I started thinking about the definition of a vegan, I would have to give up all animal products, so I broadened my list to include gelatin, lanolin, rennet, whey, casein, beeswax, stearic acid, and broccoli. So I know what you are thinking, “why can’t a vegan eat broccoli?”  Well as I made out my list I noted stearic acid was a byproduct of animals, a byproduct that makes tires.  Tires are used by the farmer that grows the broccoli, by the truck driver that delivers it to the grocer, and would require that I walk to the store in…. I guess bare feet as even rubber shoes have animal products in them.   So in essence I could grow the broccoli in my garden using organic methods and fertilizing it with manure; oh wait that is an animal product as well.”

That, in its self, really puts the importance of animal agriculture into perspective don’t you think?

Also check out:
There Is No Such Thing As a Vegan
Oprah Goes from Godiva to Vegan

From Farm Gate to Dinner Plate

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

Social media allows me to read and skim numerous headlines and articles relating to a variety of topics throughout the day. One article in particular, caught my attention yesterday- Teen saves pet chicken from slaughter at school.

Whitney Hillman, a student at Concordia, Kan., High School, was enrolled in an animal science and food production class. She was given a chicken to raise as a part of the class and on slaughter day she grabbed the chicken and headed to a getaway vehicle driven by her stepfather.

Hillman said “I got two days in-school suspension, but I don’t care”. “They made him my pet and then wanted me to kill him. I couldn’t do that.”

Hillman says she didn’t know that raising and slaughtering a chicken would be a part of the class until it was too late to drop the course. However, I’m curious what she expected from the animal science and food production class.

In a written statement, Concordia Principal Greg Errebo said, “We come from an agricultural part of the nation, and our students need to understand that food doesn’t magically appear on our plates at home or in a restaurant. Animals are used to feed us, and there is a process in the raising of those animals from birth to consumption.”

I agree with Errebo that it is extremely important for youth and adults alike to understand food production and where our food comes from, however its important wherever you live. After all, we eat.

Animal agriculture teaches young people pride, perseverance, work ethic and leadership. The way I see it, the teacher was trying to communicate the same lesson that 4-Hers and FFA youth learn the first time they enter the sale ring with the animal that they have fed, cared for and prepared to show. It’s hard for youth to say good bye to a friend, someone they have spent a great deal of time with. It’s also vital that they realize however, that their animal will go to feed a family who needs the nutrients the animal offers.

In order for us to survive, organisms must perish- be it a tomato, the grasshopper hit by a combine during harvest, or a chicken. Today, this lesson isn’t easy to learn, let alone to teach. Chicken didn’t just appear at KFC and that steak you had last night wasn’t a miracle. Farmers and ranchers care for their animals and produce a safe and nutritious food supply for us all.

If you haven’t checked out Michele Payn-Knoper’s Gate to Plate Blog , I encourage you to do so. Those of you who are in agriculture- continue to share your story. For ideas on how to do so, check out our “Agvocate” post.

Additional reading:
New Way to Help Chickens Cross to the Other Side


Farmers and Ranchers Care for Animals in Order to Produce Safe and Abundant Food Supply

By: Kiley Stinson, Intern

I recently had the opportunity to take in some of the most fascinating and historical landmarks of our country when visiting our Nation’s Capital in Washington, D.C.  It was truly a remarkable experience, and puts our American History in a whole different perspective once you’ve been. If you’ve never been, I encourage you to go.

After braving the heat for several hours, in an attempt to cool off we checked out the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Coincidentally, across the street sits the United States Department of Agriculture building. While trying to weave in-and-out of a cluster of people, I noticed the young woman walking in front of me stopped and picked up a pretty colorful magazine. To my surprise in bold lettering the heading read “Go Vegetarian, Go Vegan.” So who were the culprits with their logo clearly printed on the front cover? PETA. All it took was one flip of a page to see the lies and misinterpretation of information attacking animal agriculture. Animal rights activist groups such as PETA and also the HSUS quite frequently use facts and information out of context in order to frame farm animal production in a negative manner. These groups effectively get the attention of young hearts by using emotion through words, photos and videos that show animals being abused and neglected and often include so called “testimonies” by celebrities and professional athletes.

So what did the articles have to say this time? In highlighted text, phrases such as “many pigs go insane from extremely crowded conditions in factory farms, and compulsively chew on the bars of their pens.” A lot of folks might not realize this, but pigs chew on everything! Especially young pigs, I know this from raising pigs on my farm. It’s not uncommon to see a pig chewing on a panel, your shoes, a stick or even a marshmallow! This just goes to show that just because a picture shows a pig chewing on the panel of a pen, doesn’t mean that animal is in danger. You can’t believe everything you see. It’s common practice by farmers and livestock producers to keep their animals in a pen to protect them harmful predators. Whether that potential predator is a coyote, a cat, or actions taken as a preventative biosecurity measure to ensure that their farm stays clean and free of disease. It’s all done to provide a safe and healthy food supply for consumers. If animal rights activists are so appalled to the idea of young animals being kept in a pen, were they not one of the millions of kids whose parents used playpens when they were growing up? Play pens protect children from wandering off away from their parents, and provides a safe place to nap, play or snack.. Hmm… sounds similar to how farmers keep their animals safe and happy.

The challenge? Many will believe almost anything on television or in a magazine, even if the message isn’t even close to being accurate. Many families are no where near as self sufficient as their ancestors once were. Many men and women don’t know how that corn, lettuce or hamburger got to their table. This isn’t just an issue in urban cities either. It’s happening in your community. Families are several generations removed from their family farm.

How can you help? Talk. It doesn’t matter if you’re a farmer, livestock producer or the consumer. Tell your story, talk about how much you care, how far you go out of your way to see that what you are producing or eating is safe and wholesome. Write a letter to the editor. Let your neighbors and coworkers know about how good those sirloin steaks and corn on the cob was last night for supper. Talk to your child’s school board about the importance of ag education. Join a social network. Call a farmer or rancher and ask if you can have a tour. I almost guarantee they would be just as excited as you, if not more to talk to you about their livelihood, and the lifestyle that they are oh, so proud of!

Temple Grandin addresses animal welfare
Factory Farms EXPOSED

Don’t be misled

Assault on Agriculture
Become an Advocate for Agriculture
The Animal Rights Agenda
What is the Humane Society of the United States?