The Older Brother Goes Shopping and Replaces the Entire Government

Well, The Younger Brother is a smart guy and all of that, but still hasn’t figured out that I’ve got the keys to the kingdom while he’s busy moving and has disconnected his computers. It’s like when the neighbors go on vacation and forget to lock the gate to their pool. And leave the bar refrigerator unlocked. Well, not unlocked maybe, but the key is under a rock next to the slide.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, speaking of people being off-line, you may have heard that with the impending debt and borrowing fiasco, the politicians are saying entire agencies may shut down if they can’t come to an agreement to keep spending money we’ll never be able to repay. The FAA, the FCC, the EPA, etc., etc. The whole alphabet soup would just stand down. Including the USDA.

Sorry — having a moment enjoying the thought. Of course, we’re being told how scary it would be with no USDA. Since factory farming and food processing and packaging operations wouldn’t have any government inspectors, it wouldn’t be possible for us to get any food. That’s because without government workers on the scene, the food industry would be able to carry out its evil plot to poison all of us.

Maybe that wouldn’t really happen, but how else would Americans be able to get obscenely bad nutritional advice? Who is going to pass out subsidy checks to our friends in the grain industry? Who’s going to artificially prop prices up, then pass out food stamps and WIC cards because food costs so much? How is it possible to find food without the government on the job?

I don’t know the answer for the first three, but found an answer to the last one Monday.

You’ve probably heard the old adage that “grandchildren are your reward for not throttling your kids when they’re teenagers.” Well, I got invited to go with my daughter and son-in-law and my two little “rewards” to a Kid’s Day tour of Veenstra Vegetables, an organic vegetable farm a few miles outside of town. It’s a chance to show little kids how and where real food comes from.

Veenstra Vegetables is on 16 acres that Garrick Veenstra and his family live and work on. Andy Heck is Garrick’s business partner on the operation and has a plot of his own where they grow most of their tomatoes.

Here’s Garrick’s “office”…

We got started by piling onto a hay wagon so Andy could take us on the “morning commute.” Amazingly, we all managed to get on and made the ride out to the tuber patch without mishap, even though there were no seat belts or air bags. Maybe it would be okay for the National Highway traffic Safety Administration to take a few days off.

 

Here’s a mound of Mother Nature’s fertilizer. Notice there’s no meth heads trying to steal it, so the DEA can stay home.

Also, it doesn’t kill all of the earthworms and micro-organisms that make real food real. As a matter of fact, they actually live in the stuff. And we didn’t have to have special training and wear hazmat suits around it, so the EPA can take a breather.

Here’s what some of that real food looks like, by the way. Sure, there’s some weeds in there, but real food is about balance. You’re not trying to annihilate everything besides your crop, just maybe put enough of a scare in them so they don’t takeover the neighborhood (the wall of corn in the background is where the neighbor’s farm starts).


Andy took us out to where some of their yellow potatoes where ready for harvest, and the kids got to do the two things they do best – explore with inquisitive joy, and get dirty!

Fortunately for everyone involved, no one from the Labor Department was around to witness this flagrant exploitation and violation of child labor laws.

While the kids were busy expressing their kidness, the worms were busy expressing their wormness as high efficiency aeration, fertilization, and soil enhancement specialists. Somehow they managed to develop these skills without a Department of Agriculture grant.

Then we all headed back into Garrick’s office, where he proceeded to teach the youngsters about seeds and planting. Here’s his high-tech, state-of-the-art organic planter. It already exceeds all recommended fuel efficiency standards.

They all got to see and feel different seeds, and Garrick seemed to have effectively imparted this knowledge – actually, the kids were captivated — without any credentials from the Education Department. I checked to make sure as we moved on to the next area of the tour and sure enough, there was No Child Left Behind. Hmmm.

The next stop was under a tent set up next to the chicken pen (we’re still in hot and humid mode), where Garrick’s daughter gave the kids a lesson on chickens and eggs (with an able assist from a nice woman from the Extension Service, so it wasn’t a total government-free morning).

Then all of the kids got to give some feed to the chickens and do a little “free-ranging” along with them.

The fence is portable so the chickens and coops can be moved frequently. They leave behind a piece of ground that has been scratched, aerated, fertilized, and cleared of bugs; and the chickens regularly get the fresh forage and tasty bugs that make free-range eggs so much better than the ones from the mega-mart.

It also reduces the amount of feed that has to be purchased, and prevents chicken-specific pathogens from getting a foothold. As the chickens are moved off a parcel, Mother Nature’s sterilization protocol – time, lack of a host, and sunshine – goes to work.

Last stop was a gentleman (I’m sorry I forgot to get his name) who works with Mother Nature’s little sugar factories.

As low-carbers, we shy away from sugar in all of its forms, but if you want something sweet, this is pretty darned paleo. It was also pretty darned good. Besides little samples of fresh honey, he also let us sample chunks of honeycomb from a colony he’d been called to remove from a grain bin the day before. Amazing. As Tom posits in Fat Head, maybe Mother Nature does know what she’s doing.

For my “learned something today I had no idea about” category, this apiarist said that bee colony collapse disorder hasn’t reached Illinois. In fact, most of the reported cases are among huge commercial beekeeping operations operated as pollination services. He also said these operations feed the bees – get this, fellow Fat Heads – HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. Holy crud. They also usually destroy all of the bees at the end of pollination season, because it’s more profitable to sell off all of the honey and start with new bees next year. Yep, bees are factory farmed!

Well, anyway, that ended our day at the farm. It turns out we can get all of the food we need without the EPA, DEA, NHSTA, or even the amazingly bad USDA.  I was going to suggest to Garrick that maybe he could wash the entire farm down every day with industrial strength bleach like the factory food processors do, but thought I might want to get invited back some time.

I did buy a carton of Garrick’s eggs before leaving. He can sell them on the farm, but not at the Farmer’s Market (too many regs and paperwork). In case you don’t get out much, here’s what real eggs look like.

I just read that farm fresh (never refrigerated eggs) will actually keep longer out of the refrigerator if you don’t wash them  — just turn them every day or two to keep an air bubble from letting the shell get porous (just rotate the whole carton upside-down or rightside-up on alternate days).

Today, I went down to the Veenstra’s Vegetables stand at the local Farmer’s Market and picked up ingredients for tonight’s dinner (“Sara’s Awesome BLT’s”).

As you can see, it looks like you can get real food without the feds inserting themselves into every single transaction everywhere.

If the feds do shut down, however, it might not be so easy at the local mega-mart, where most of what they sell has to pass through all of those agencies. In that case, it would be good if you already knew some of these folks. There’s probably a local market somewhere near you. I’d suggest you check it out, if you haven’t already. Today would be good.

And here’s what it looks like when you buy fresh and local. That’s lamb sticks for snacking in the package (like Slim Jims – very good).

The lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, and red onion are for the BLT’s. Yes, red onion. There’s even more. I’ll fill you in later if Tom hasn’t found out I’ve been playing in his sandbox again.

See you in the comments!

Cheers,

The Older Brother


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104 thoughts on “The Older Brother Goes Shopping and Replaces the Entire Government

  1. Peggy Cihocki

    I’m curious to know how you make BLTs without bread. Lettuce? I love BLTs, and so does my hubby, but we haven’t had any since we gave up bread.
    Awesome post, and awesome farm. We do have access to farm fresh produce and cage free eggs (I hope that means they roam free?) that have bright yellow orange yolks at our local (twice a week) Farmer’s market and I get all my eggs and most of my fruits and veggies there. It’s great.
    I hope the USDA does shut down–permanently. An end to the grain subsidies would be AWESOME!

    Here’s wishing on the USDA, and about 2/3 of the rest of the collective imbecile that is our federal government bureaucracy.

    Cage-free, pastured, free-range, etc. tend to mean what the proprietor wants it to mean. My advice is to read up a little, decide what you think it should be, then ask your vendor so you’re getting what you want.

    Pastured, in my mind — and the way Garrick does it — means the birds roam within a penned area that gets rotated regularly for the reasons I mentioned in the post. Joel Salatin points out that a chicken marketed with any of those labels can still be restricted to a small area that becomes a dirt-pan pathogen breeding ground.

    The very best way is to go out and have a look and talk with the farmer at their operation. If they don’t want you to see it, you don’t want to buy it.

    On the BLT’s, I’m planning on sneaking another post in, but the short answer is I’m gonna cheat and go open face. If you can’t do bread at all it won’t be as much fun, but if you allow yourself the occasional indulgence, this shouldn’t be too bad and passes my “is it really worth it” test.

    Stay tuned.

    Cheers!

  2. john

    On one hand it’s great that there’s stuff like this, and on the other, it’s disheartening that it’s rare. Even at my local farmers’ market, the eggs are from “organic vegetarian fed” chickens, whatever that means.

    Since whole food low carb, I’ve found that things like honey and maple syrup taste extremely sweet, to where I would never eat it like I did when I was a kid. A tiny bit goes a long way for things like cheese plates or tea.

    In our area, it seems to be expanding. Instead of the one market on Wednesday and Saturday mornings from the last couple of years, there’s a new one on Thursday evenings (with more pasture-fed meat producers) and a couple at local farm and home parking lots.

    I believe the “vegetarian” chicken angle means that, unlike factory farmed animals, they aren’t fed the remains, processing waste products, and offal of their expired comrades. If a chicken is free-ranging/pastured, it sure isn’t a vegetarian — ask any bug they happen to come across!

    Agree completely on the sweet stuff. Really like a little sometimes, but can’t take much.

    — The Older Brother

  3. Elenor

    Glad you came to the sandbox!! Great pix!

    Thanks. I had no idea I was going to be able to sneak back in so soon!

    Cheers.

  4. TPSW

    Wonderful job of pointing out how we do not need (or want) much of the bloated bureaucracy that is the US government. Certainly we do not need their “help”.

    Indeed. Somehow their cures always seem to be exponentially worse than the alleged disease.

    — The Older Brother

  5. Nowhereman

    “I believe the “vegetarian” chicken angle means that, unlike factory farmed animals, they aren’t fed the remains, processing waste products, and offal of their expired comrades. If a chicken is free-ranging/pastured, it sure isn’t a vegetarian — ask any bug they happen to come across!”

    Which is why the birds have gizzards, because they need something to process what they ingest as they scratch and peck up grubs and other insects. This whole “vegetarian fed” routine is just more nonsense, only from the other side of the political spectrum. The best eggs and chickens are ones that are allowed to range free, if possible, and do what chickens do naturally.

    “Agree completely on the sweet stuff. Really like a little sometimes, but can’t take much.”

    Ditto. When I first started Paleo all those many years ago, after the first few months, the big thing I noticed was that lemons of all things started to taste as sweet as any orange or candy ever had to me. It was weird and took some time to adjust to that, but it also came with the realization that my tastebuds and body were healing after years of abuse.

    In addition to the occasional tiny bit of honey in my tea or with my fruit, I do get agave nectar, which makes for a good natural honey substitute, depending on the brand, and where it’s made. Honey or agave nectar on almonds or other nuts is also yummy!

    If you’ve seen my other posts, you know I don’t have a problem with the ocassional Splenda or other sweetner, even sugar, although I’m becoming very aware of how much HFCS is inserted into our diet via processed foods.

    Cheers.

  6. robin

    Unrelated to this post, but I thought it was nice to see someone with such practical regard for Morgan Spurlock and his new flick. This article greeted me in New Zealand this morning and I thought it might give someone else a smile too. 🙂

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=10741320

    And in reply to this post, looks like your family had an awesome day out! So good for kids to see where their food comes from and understand the food cycle. While driving past some pastured cows my nearly 3 yr old told me that’s where milk and burgers come from.

    I enjoyed that. Spurlock seems to have a knack for making friends wherever he goes.

    I’ve always thought all kids start as knowledge sponges that schools have varying degrees of success at discouraging. All of the kids at the event were young and just soaking it all up. Hope for the future.

    Cheers!

  7. Peggy Cihocki

    I’m curious to know how you make BLTs without bread. Lettuce? I love BLTs, and so does my hubby, but we haven’t had any since we gave up bread.
    Awesome post, and awesome farm. We do have access to farm fresh produce and cage free eggs (I hope that means they roam free?) that have bright yellow orange yolks at our local (twice a week) Farmer’s market and I get all my eggs and most of my fruits and veggies there. It’s great.
    I hope the USDA does shut down–permanently. An end to the grain subsidies would be AWESOME!

    Here’s wishing on the USDA, and about 2/3 of the rest of the collective imbecile that is our federal government bureaucracy.

    Cage-free, pastured, free-range, etc. tend to mean what the proprietor wants it to mean. My advice is to read up a little, decide what you think it should be, then ask your vendor so you’re getting what you want.

    Pastured, in my mind — and the way Garrick does it — means the birds roam within a penned area that gets rotated regularly for the reasons I mentioned in the post. Joel Salatin points out that a chicken marketed with any of those labels can still be restricted to a small area that becomes a dirt-pan pathogen breeding ground.

    The very best way is to go out and have a look and talk with the farmer at their operation. If they don’t want you to see it, you don’t want to buy it.

    On the BLT’s, I’m planning on sneaking another post in, but the short answer is I’m gonna cheat and go open face. If you can’t do bread at all it won’t be as much fun, but if you allow yourself the occasional indulgence, this shouldn’t be too bad and passes my “is it really worth it” test.

    Stay tuned.

    Cheers!

  8. john

    On one hand it’s great that there’s stuff like this, and on the other, it’s disheartening that it’s rare. Even at my local farmers’ market, the eggs are from “organic vegetarian fed” chickens, whatever that means.

    Since whole food low carb, I’ve found that things like honey and maple syrup taste extremely sweet, to where I would never eat it like I did when I was a kid. A tiny bit goes a long way for things like cheese plates or tea.

    In our area, it seems to be expanding. Instead of the one market on Wednesday and Saturday mornings from the last couple of years, there’s a new one on Thursday evenings (with more pasture-fed meat producers) and a couple at local farm and home parking lots.

    I believe the “vegetarian” chicken angle means that, unlike factory farmed animals, they aren’t fed the remains, processing waste products, and offal of their expired comrades. If a chicken is free-ranging/pastured, it sure isn’t a vegetarian — ask any bug they happen to come across!

    Agree completely on the sweet stuff. Really like a little sometimes, but can’t take much.

    — The Older Brother

  9. Phil C

    Hey “older brother”,

    That was very cute showing your kids where free range eggs come from and how to pull potatoes out of the ground. Now, since meat is such a staple food of the paleo diet, the next step would be to show them the slaughtering process. Cows, pigs, chickens, etc. Spare nothing. Have them watch pigs and cows bleed out alive and then get skinned, gutted, and cut up. Have them watch the chickens on the assembly lines get hung upside down and then have their throats slit until, then tossed into a vat of boiling water to de-feather them.

    Sound gruesome? Why? I’m sure you are indoctrinating them into eating meat on a daily basis, might as well show them where it comes from. Anything else would be hypocritical.

    Grandkids. Didn’t you get it?

    They won’t be viewing any assembly lines because I’m wanting them to be exposed to real food, not factory food. Although I have to be honest, that’s more over concern for their health than the chickens. Us meat-eaters are weird that way.

    I do want them to see the slaughtering and butchering process someday, so they’ll appreciate the complex interaction of life and death. As understood by grownups, not malnourished idiots who must maintain resolute childish ignorance to not recognize the entire ecosystems that are destroyed along with the topsoil in order to provide them with their sanctimonious bowl of health-destroying grain. And when I die, I want to be buried on some land without chemicals and not too deep, so I can feed the earth and bugs and plants and maybe even animals back.

    They’ve already seen the fish we’ve caught being cleaned, and saw my last season’s deer after it was gutted and still seemed to enjoy the deer salami as much as the rest of us. Oh my gosh — you know, now that I think of it, it did turn their hair white!

    Nice try. Have a nice day.

    — the Older Brother

  10. WSB

    They don’t wash their eggs in Europe, so they are not refrigerated at the grocery. They just stack them up on pallets in the center of the aisle.

    Store-bought eggs here need to be refrigerated at home because they have to be washed before leaving the factory farms, then refrigerated to get them all the way through the logistics/distribution/shipping channels and on to the local or mega-markets shelves.

    Cheers!

  11. Elenor

    Glad you came to the sandbox!! Great pix!

    Thanks. I had no idea I was going to be able to sneak back in so soon!

    Cheers.

  12. TPSW

    Wonderful job of pointing out how we do not need (or want) much of the bloated bureaucracy that is the US government. Certainly we do not need their “help”.

    Indeed. Somehow their cures always seem to be exponentially worse than the alleged disease.

    — The Older Brother

  13. Nowhereman

    “I believe the “vegetarian” chicken angle means that, unlike factory farmed animals, they aren’t fed the remains, processing waste products, and offal of their expired comrades. If a chicken is free-ranging/pastured, it sure isn’t a vegetarian — ask any bug they happen to come across!”

    Which is why the birds have gizzards, because they need something to process what they ingest as they scratch and peck up grubs and other insects. This whole “vegetarian fed” routine is just more nonsense, only from the other side of the political spectrum. The best eggs and chickens are ones that are allowed to range free, if possible, and do what chickens do naturally.

    “Agree completely on the sweet stuff. Really like a little sometimes, but can’t take much.”

    Ditto. When I first started Paleo all those many years ago, after the first few months, the big thing I noticed was that lemons of all things started to taste as sweet as any orange or candy ever had to me. It was weird and took some time to adjust to that, but it also came with the realization that my tastebuds and body were healing after years of abuse.

    In addition to the occasional tiny bit of honey in my tea or with my fruit, I do get agave nectar, which makes for a good natural honey substitute, depending on the brand, and where it’s made. Honey or agave nectar on almonds or other nuts is also yummy!

    If you’ve seen my other posts, you know I don’t have a problem with the ocassional Splenda or other sweetner, even sugar, although I’m becoming very aware of how much HFCS is inserted into our diet via processed foods.

    Cheers.

  14. Underground

    HFCS is so cheap and easier to store and process than cane sugar it’s in almost everything it seems as a “flavor enhancer” at least. Even things that you don’t think of as sweet, like sausage and other processed meats.

    I’m curious to know if you or anyone else here has had success with making mayonnaise with coconut oil? I’ve seen some recipies that use 50/50 coconut oil and olive oil. I haven’t worked up to actually trying it yet, but it would be nice if it doesn’t taste too weird. Mayo is a good base for a lot of things.

    That would be perfect for those BLT’s.

    I tried a blender version of homemade mayo and it didn’t work. The secret seems to be patience — when it says add the oil drop by drop, they mean drop by drop. If you try to go too fast, you get an ugly mess that isn’t emulsified. Saw one Google thread that mentioned an emulsifying blade available for a food processor. I’m sure I’ll give it another shot pretty soon.

    I also got several Google results concerning coconut oil. If I get the olive oil version to work, a coconut oil version would be fun to try.

    Cheers!

  15. Mark. Gooley

    Of course, agave nectar is very high fructose syrup, just not from corn. My gut instinct is to just divert it back to tequila making…

    Born in Decatur, now trashing the town’s biggest products… no, I don’t mean Caterpillar machines…

    When we were kids and regularly driving back to Decatur for family get togethers, you’d know you were within ten miles of Decatur by the smell of the grain and oil processing. We’d complain “yuck, smell all of that pollution!” Dad would say “smell all of those jobs.”

    It comes down to what Jacob Sullum said about McDonald’s towards the end of Fat Head — ultimately, McDonald’s doesn’t care whether we want french fries or salads. They just want to make a profit fulfilling our perceived needs. And they’re very good at it. ADM (to whom I assume you’re referring), Monsanto, Cargill, et. al. are the same. They’re very successful companies full of smart, hard working people out to maximize their companies’ profits by being leaders in their industries. It’s up to us to change the signal they’re getting (personal) and the rules that distort the markets they’re leading (political).

    Cheers!

  16. robin

    Unrelated to this post, but I thought it was nice to see someone with such practical regard for Morgan Spurlock and his new flick. This article greeted me in New Zealand this morning and I thought it might give someone else a smile too. 🙂

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=10741320

    And in reply to this post, looks like your family had an awesome day out! So good for kids to see where their food comes from and understand the food cycle. While driving past some pastured cows my nearly 3 yr old told me that’s where milk and burgers come from.

    I enjoyed that. Spurlock seems to have a knack for making friends wherever he goes.

    I’ve always thought all kids start as knowledge sponges that schools have varying degrees of success at discouraging. All of the kids at the event were young and just soaking it all up. Hope for the future.

    Cheers!

  17. Phil C

    Hey “older brother”,

    That was very cute showing your kids where free range eggs come from and how to pull potatoes out of the ground. Now, since meat is such a staple food of the paleo diet, the next step would be to show them the slaughtering process. Cows, pigs, chickens, etc. Spare nothing. Have them watch pigs and cows bleed out alive and then get skinned, gutted, and cut up. Have them watch the chickens on the assembly lines get hung upside down and then have their throats slit until, then tossed into a vat of boiling water to de-feather them.

    Sound gruesome? Why? I’m sure you are indoctrinating them into eating meat on a daily basis, might as well show them where it comes from. Anything else would be hypocritical.

    Grandkids. Didn’t you get it?

    They won’t be viewing any assembly lines because I’m wanting them to be exposed to real food, not factory food. Although I have to be honest, that’s more over concern for their health than the chickens. Us meat-eaters are weird that way.

    I do want them to see the slaughtering and butchering process someday, so they’ll appreciate the complex interaction of life and death. As understood by grownups, not malnourished idiots who must maintain resolute childish ignorance to not recognize the entire ecosystems that are destroyed along with the topsoil in order to provide them with their sanctimonious bowl of health-destroying grain. And when I die, I want to be buried on some land without chemicals and not too deep, so I can feed the earth and bugs and plants and maybe even animals back.

    They’ve already seen the fish we’ve caught being cleaned, and saw my last season’s deer after it was gutted and still seemed to enjoy the deer salami as much as the rest of us. Oh my gosh — you know, now that I think of it, it did turn their hair white!

    Nice try. Have a nice day.

    — the Older Brother

  18. WSB

    They don’t wash their eggs in Europe, so they are not refrigerated at the grocery. They just stack them up on pallets in the center of the aisle.

    Store-bought eggs here need to be refrigerated at home because they have to be washed before leaving the factory farms, then refrigerated to get them all the way through the logistics/distribution/shipping channels and on to the local or mega-markets shelves.

    Cheers!

  19. Underground

    HFCS is so cheap and easier to store and process than cane sugar it’s in almost everything it seems as a “flavor enhancer” at least. Even things that you don’t think of as sweet, like sausage and other processed meats.

    I’m curious to know if you or anyone else here has had success with making mayonnaise with coconut oil? I’ve seen some recipies that use 50/50 coconut oil and olive oil. I haven’t worked up to actually trying it yet, but it would be nice if it doesn’t taste too weird. Mayo is a good base for a lot of things.

    That would be perfect for those BLT’s.

    I tried a blender version of homemade mayo and it didn’t work. The secret seems to be patience — when it says add the oil drop by drop, they mean drop by drop. If you try to go too fast, you get an ugly mess that isn’t emulsified. Saw one Google thread that mentioned an emulsifying blade available for a food processor. I’m sure I’ll give it another shot pretty soon.

    I also got several Google results concerning coconut oil. If I get the olive oil version to work, a coconut oil version would be fun to try.

    Cheers!

  20. Mark. Gooley

    Of course, agave nectar is very high fructose syrup, just not from corn. My gut instinct is to just divert it back to tequila making…

    Born in Decatur, now trashing the town’s biggest products… no, I don’t mean Caterpillar machines…

    When we were kids and regularly driving back to Decatur for family get togethers, you’d know you were within ten miles of Decatur by the smell of the grain and oil processing. We’d complain “yuck, smell all of that pollution!” Dad would say “smell all of those jobs.”

    It comes down to what Jacob Sullum said about McDonald’s towards the end of Fat Head — ultimately, McDonald’s doesn’t care whether we want french fries or salads. They just want to make a profit fulfilling our perceived needs. And they’re very good at it. ADM (to whom I assume you’re referring), Monsanto, Cargill, et. al. are the same. They’re very successful companies full of smart, hard working people out to maximize their companies’ profits by being leaders in their industries. It’s up to us to change the signal they’re getting (personal) and the rules that distort the markets they’re leading (political).

    Cheers!

  21. TonyNZ

    Red onions are uncommon in the US?

    If you have the time (and the land) then growing your own is pretty rewarding. Can’t wait til my daughter is old enough to get in the garden planting veges.

    There was some furore a while back with a NZ company sending eggs to a US Antarctic base that they didn’t accept because they hadn’t been washed and sealed or something…

    And on the “Spurlock is a tool” bandwagon, it was the ad on the (then) Documentary channel advertising Fat Head ripping into Spurlock that made me go “I hate that guy, this’ll be good.” I’ve been frequenting the blog ever since.

    So in one sense, Spurlock is a “marketing tool.”

    The little blond in the pictures is my first granddaughter. She can’t wait to run out into my backyard garden when they come over, to pick any cucumbers that have showed up (I trellis mine a la Square Foot Gardening). It’s become a routine where I tell her “okay, now let’s not eat them until we take them all inside and wash them off,” then she looks me straight in the eye and takes a big bite. We’ve got about a 25% mortality rate on them before they reach the kitchen!

    We pickled some last year. She helped with some, so those took twice as long, but what a great experience.

    — The Older Brother

  22. TonyNZ

    And Phil C. I saw animals slaughtered when I was 6 and have slaughtered my own since.

    They roam around in pasture and are shot in place, followed by bleeding. The whole process is very quick and much less stressing on the animal than the abbatoir way.

    I’m happy with my meat-eating ways.

    Seems these folks always assume we’d all faint at the idea of participating in the procurement of our food. Like they would. They apparently think it’s due to a highly sensitive empathy for all animals, but my theory is it’s just the iron deficiency.

    Cheers!

  23. Ruth

    For mayonaise I find olive oil too strong. We make ours with a mix of avocado oil and either duck or goose fat. Mild and very delicious! Just need to take it out of the fridge for a few minutes before using it – like butter.

    It’s a good thing my breakfast (sausage and farm fresh eggs, of course) was almost ready when I read your comment. I almost drooled all over the keyboard trying to imagine duck fat mayo!

    Cheers.

  24. TonyNZ

    Red onions are uncommon in the US?

    If you have the time (and the land) then growing your own is pretty rewarding. Can’t wait til my daughter is old enough to get in the garden planting veges.

    There was some furore a while back with a NZ company sending eggs to a US Antarctic base that they didn’t accept because they hadn’t been washed and sealed or something…

    And on the “Spurlock is a tool” bandwagon, it was the ad on the (then) Documentary channel advertising Fat Head ripping into Spurlock that made me go “I hate that guy, this’ll be good.” I’ve been frequenting the blog ever since.

    So in one sense, Spurlock is a “marketing tool.”

    The little blond in the pictures is my first granddaughter. She can’t wait to run out into my backyard garden when they come over, to pick any cucumbers that have showed up (I trellis mine a la Square Foot Gardening). It’s become a routine where I tell her “okay, now let’s not eat them until we take them all inside and wash them off,” then she looks me straight in the eye and takes a big bite. We’ve got about a 25% mortality rate on them before they reach the kitchen!

    We pickled some last year. She helped with some, so those took twice as long, but what a great experience.

    — The Older Brother

  25. TonyNZ

    And Phil C. I saw animals slaughtered when I was 6 and have slaughtered my own since.

    They roam around in pasture and are shot in place, followed by bleeding. The whole process is very quick and much less stressing on the animal than the abbatoir way.

    I’m happy with my meat-eating ways.

    Seems these folks always assume we’d all faint at the idea of participating in the procurement of our food. Like they would. They apparently think it’s due to a highly sensitive empathy for all animals, but my theory is it’s just the iron deficiency.

    Cheers!

  26. Bex

    Excellent! Thankfully, no shortage of decent farms and farms shops near me, but that 4th pic down is basically how my allotment looks – I just try to keep the ratio of food plants higher than the weeds…not that I always win!!

    I figure as long as the weeds aren’t out-competing the veggies for nutrients, they help control evaporation and give the bugs something else to pick on.

    — The Older Brother

  27. LCNana

    Hi, B’bro…great post and nice pics…love the little blonde cutie! Here in Ontario we have a terribly short growing season – here it is almost August and we won’t have field tomatoes for at least another two weeks. Of course we can buy “factory tomatoes”, or those trucked thousands of miles from Mexico…..so maybe the only way to eat real, good, food here in the north is to can, and freeze, when things are around in the markets.

    This is a major pain, and can be tricky, but how wonderful if these skills could come back into our kitchens. I have started to dry tomatoes and apples, but I’m not sure about canning yet!! Good to see ya…keep it coming.

    I’ve done a little canning. We’re not living on it, but I wanted to learn. It’s really not hard — jsut aa matter of keeping things sterile and following step-by-step instructions.

    Several years ago I got a great book from the Ball (canning jars maker) company that was an easy-to-read encyclopedia of info. There’s tons of good info on the web — motherearthnews.com would be a great starting point.

    It doesn’t cost too much for the basic equipment. My suggestion would be to jump in and give it a try.

    Cheers!

  28. Ruth

    For mayonaise I find olive oil too strong. We make ours with a mix of avocado oil and either duck or goose fat. Mild and very delicious! Just need to take it out of the fridge for a few minutes before using it – like butter.

    It’s a good thing my breakfast (sausage and farm fresh eggs, of course) was almost ready when I read your comment. I almost drooled all over the keyboard trying to imagine duck fat mayo!

    Cheers.

  29. Dianne

    Holy Beekeeper! Didn’t know they factory farmed bees! So, those little critters are being made sick by HFC. Upsetting and makes sense.

    By the way, my friend told me that washing eggs shortened the time they kept fresh. She gathers hers and washes them right before they eat them.

    When I heard about the bees it was one of those moments where you slap your head and go “du-oh!” (unlike Tom, I know to stay away from desks.) Once I heard it, it was like, “why would I have thought this wouldn’t be a mess?”

    Kind of like, even though all of my life I’ve used a working model of government as useless on its very best days, incompetent on good days, and evil most of the time, I just always figured there was no reason to think they’d lie about fat, cholesterol, grain, and carbs until I saw Fat Head. It was almost embarrassing to think that I’d somehow assumed that in this one area, they could get one right.

    Cheers!

  30. Phyllis Mueller

    A new set of rules that favors large industrial growers and could place small, diversified farms at risk is pending. The National Leafy Green Marketing Agreement, according to Food Democracy Now, was drafted by the largest vegetable growers’ lobbyists in an effort to whitewash their growing food safety problems. It could implement draconian practices that saddle small farmers with one-size-fits-all rules, driving small local and organic farmers out of business with expensive regulations. I think today (7/28) is the last day for comments. You can read more about it here:

    http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/sign/leafygreens/

    This should surprise no one. It’s a basic economic fact that any government agency that is supposed to “protect” us from the vagaries of the marketplace will always and everywhere end up as a captive of the industry they’re supposedly protecting us from.

    One of the first was railroads in the 1800’s. The whiners and activists pointed out that rates where far higher for some short rail trips than cross-country rates. The ICC was born and within a decade rates for short hauls were lower than long hauls. But not because short haul rates dropped. After the do-gooders moved on to their next crusade, rates on long haul trips, now fixed by the government fiat instead of the competitive market, shot up over the “too high” short distance fares.

    It’s never changed — trucking, airlines, telephones, energy, health care, global warming, and — as you point out — farming. When some piece of ag legislation is proposed, your “representative” isn’t going to ask some podunk farmer like Garrick. They’ll learn all they need to know over dinner at a posh restaurant with, for example, a Monsanto lobbyist.

    Joel Salatin tells that when mandatory RFID’s (the little tracking tags) for livestock were proposed, the way it was written, he’d have to buy a $4 tag for EACH chicken on his farm, where Tyson, because they hatch, truck, and butcher in uniform 15,000 count truckloads, would only have to buy one tag PER TRUCKLOAD before they dunk all of them in a fecal soup to pluck and then hose them down with chlorine to try to kill all of the pathogens to which they’ve been exposed.

    Doesn’t that make you feel safer?

    — The Older Brother

  31. Heidi P.

    My son and I were talking about our gov the other day, and I explained the 3 branches to the best of my ability. When he asked me what branch does the usda fall into, I said, well, none of them I guess. There are so many agencies and sub agencies, the gov goes way beyond my understanding. I’m a citizen and a tax payer, and I say, “Do over!”

    So I liked your title.

    The USDA and most agencies fall under the executive (President) branch. Think of it as the branch responsible for “executing” the laws passed by the legislative (Congress) branch. Not that the Constitution really has anything to do with anything anymore, which is what was supposed to be protected by the judicial (Supreme and lower courts) branch.

    If your son is old enough to start learning how government really works, you may want to explain that the correct answer is that the USDA fails under the executive branch.

    — The Older Brother

  32. Bex

    Excellent! Thankfully, no shortage of decent farms and farms shops near me, but that 4th pic down is basically how my allotment looks – I just try to keep the ratio of food plants higher than the weeds…not that I always win!!

    I figure as long as the weeds aren’t out-competing the veggies for nutrients, they help control evaporation and give the bugs something else to pick on.

    — The Older Brother

  33. Denise

    I’ve had success making homemade mayonnaise using light olive oil. I put the ingredients right into an empty pickle jar and mix with a stick blender. It does take a long time to dribble the oil in and mix and dribble, etc. but the end result is worth it. A trick to thickening it is to add some yellow mustard (or more if your recipe started with some). I did this for chicken salad, and just cut back on the mustard in the finished product.

    I’m going to give that a try. Thanks.

    — The Older Brother

  34. LCNana

    Hi, B’bro…great post and nice pics…love the little blonde cutie! Here in Ontario we have a terribly short growing season – here it is almost August and we won’t have field tomatoes for at least another two weeks. Of course we can buy “factory tomatoes”, or those trucked thousands of miles from Mexico…..so maybe the only way to eat real, good, food here in the north is to can, and freeze, when things are around in the markets.

    This is a major pain, and can be tricky, but how wonderful if these skills could come back into our kitchens. I have started to dry tomatoes and apples, but I’m not sure about canning yet!! Good to see ya…keep it coming.

    I’ve done a little canning. We’re not living on it, but I wanted to learn. It’s really not hard — jsut aa matter of keeping things sterile and following step-by-step instructions.

    Several years ago I got a great book from the Ball (canning jars maker) company that was an easy-to-read encyclopedia of info. There’s tons of good info on the web — motherearthnews.com would be a great starting point.

    It doesn’t cost too much for the basic equipment. My suggestion would be to jump in and give it a try.

    Cheers!

  35. Dianne

    Holy Beekeeper! Didn’t know they factory farmed bees! So, those little critters are being made sick by HFC. Upsetting and makes sense.

    By the way, my friend told me that washing eggs shortened the time they kept fresh. She gathers hers and washes them right before they eat them.

    When I heard about the bees it was one of those moments where you slap your head and go “du-oh!” (unlike Tom, I know to stay away from desks.) Once I heard it, it was like, “why would I have thought this wouldn’t be a mess?”

    Kind of like, even though all of my life I’ve used a working model of government as useless on its very best days, incompetent on good days, and evil most of the time, I just always figured there was no reason to think they’d lie about fat, cholesterol, grain, and carbs until I saw Fat Head. It was almost embarrassing to think that I’d somehow assumed that in this one area, they could get one right.

    Cheers!

  36. Lori

    From Monday’s Wall Street Journal:

    “Crop Prices Erode Farm Subsidy Program. The grain market has done what decades of political wrangling couldn’t: slash farm subsidies. Corn and soybean prices have risen so high that the main subsidy program’s price targets don’t trigger any payments.”

    In today’s political-economic climate, it would be impolitic to raise the subsidies.

    There’s even been a move afoot to kill off the ethanol subsidies. Some of the corn state politicians are trying to avoid it by proposing a bill that “kills” them — by guaranteeing payoffs.

    It’s possible that the continuing collapse of our government has got enough people paying attention that the farm programs could be killed, but I still think the smart money is betting otherwise. One can dream, though.

    Cheers.

  37. Phyllis Mueller

    A new set of rules that favors large industrial growers and could place small, diversified farms at risk is pending. The National Leafy Green Marketing Agreement, according to Food Democracy Now, was drafted by the largest vegetable growers’ lobbyists in an effort to whitewash their growing food safety problems. It could implement draconian practices that saddle small farmers with one-size-fits-all rules, driving small local and organic farmers out of business with expensive regulations. I think today (7/28) is the last day for comments. You can read more about it here:

    http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/sign/leafygreens/

    This should surprise no one. It’s a basic economic fact that any government agency that is supposed to “protect” us from the vagaries of the marketplace will always and everywhere end up as a captive of the industry they’re supposedly protecting us from.

    One of the first was railroads in the 1800’s. The whiners and activists pointed out that rates where far higher for some short rail trips than cross-country rates. The ICC was born and within a decade rates for short hauls were lower than long hauls. But not because short haul rates dropped. After the do-gooders moved on to their next crusade, rates on long haul trips, now fixed by the government fiat instead of the competitive market, shot up over the “too high” short distance fares.

    It’s never changed — trucking, airlines, telephones, energy, health care, global warming, and — as you point out — farming. When some piece of ag legislation is proposed, your “representative” isn’t going to ask some podunk farmer like Garrick. They’ll learn all they need to know over dinner at a posh restaurant with, for example, a Monsanto lobbyist.

    Joel Salatin tells that when mandatory RFID’s (the little tracking tags) for livestock were proposed, the way it was written, he’d have to buy a $4 tag for EACH chicken on his farm, where Tyson, because they hatch, truck, and butcher in uniform 15,000 count truckloads, would only have to buy one tag PER TRUCKLOAD before they dunk all of them in a fecal soup to pluck and then hose them down with chlorine to try to kill all of the pathogens to which they’ve been exposed.

    Doesn’t that make you feel safer?

    — The Older Brother

  38. Erik

    I loved reading this post because this is the way I live, day in and day out, interning on a small organic-produce CSA this summer. No bees or chickens this year due to a couple unfortunate circumstances, but plenty of delicious veggies and no-nonsense living.

    An interesting note on the weeds: two of our most prolific weeds are amaranth and purslane, which both happen to be significantly more nutritious than most of our actual “food” crops.

    Amaranth leaves makes one of the most nutrient-dense leafy greens out there (up there with kale and swiss chard), grows big red roots that can be used like beets, and when they go to seed each plant produces thousands of high-protein (better than quinoa), toxinless seeds that make a superior replacement for traditional grains. A little carby for many readers, perhaps, but for a physically demanding lifestyle I find carbs have their place.

    Purslane is a juicy, tasty plant that has a very high omega-3 fatty acid content. Granted, it’s ALA and thus less useful to the body than the DHA and EPA from fish and grass-fed meats, but it’s still more nutritious than most of the food crops.

    This brings up the topic of cultural perceptions of “food.” Both of these plants were utilized as food crops in the past (and still are in some parts of the world), but have fallen out of use here mostly due to their lower compatibility with industrial food processes. Since marketing has been functionally replacing “culture” in our society since at least the 50s, most americans have no awareness of either plant being an excellent food source. Against the industrialized might of wheat and corn, Amaranth seed certainly didn’t stand a chance.

    Perversely, you can now find Amaranth products (usually labeled “ancient grain” or something fruity like that in ignorance of the fact that wheat, barley, and corn were domesticated thousands of years earlier) sold at high prices in health stores. Where I live in upstate new york the roadside ditches are full of tall, robust amaranth plants and if you make a garden you’re likely to grow as much amaranth as whatever it is you plant. Most, though, will pull it and toss it aside as a weed. Amazing how backwards we can get once we let people with other vested interests generate our culture for us…

    Interesting insights. Gallagher said in one of his comic bits that “if you try to kill it and it lives anyway, it’s a weed; if you try to keep it alive and it dies, it’s a plant.” Sounds like we can amend that to add “if it doesn’t require chemicals and mono-cropping, it’s a weed.”

    Thanks for chiming in…

    — The Older Brother

  39. Heidi P.

    My son and I were talking about our gov the other day, and I explained the 3 branches to the best of my ability. When he asked me what branch does the usda fall into, I said, well, none of them I guess. There are so many agencies and sub agencies, the gov goes way beyond my understanding. I’m a citizen and a tax payer, and I say, “Do over!”

    So I liked your title.

    The USDA and most agencies fall under the executive (President) branch. Think of it as the branch responsible for “executing” the laws passed by the legislative (Congress) branch. Not that the Constitution really has anything to do with anything anymore, which is what was supposed to be protected by the judicial (Supreme and lower courts) branch.

    If your son is old enough to start learning how government really works, you may want to explain that the correct answer is that the USDA fails under the executive branch.

    — The Older Brother

  40. Sabine

    Great post!
    And you can try a bacon weave in place of bread for BLTs!

    Great idea. I’ve got a couple other options (including outright cheating!) and pictures for my next intrusion.

    Cheers!

  41. Denise

    I’ve had success making homemade mayonnaise using light olive oil. I put the ingredients right into an empty pickle jar and mix with a stick blender. It does take a long time to dribble the oil in and mix and dribble, etc. but the end result is worth it. A trick to thickening it is to add some yellow mustard (or more if your recipe started with some). I did this for chicken salad, and just cut back on the mustard in the finished product.

    I’m going to give that a try. Thanks.

    — The Older Brother

  42. Lori

    From Monday’s Wall Street Journal:

    “Crop Prices Erode Farm Subsidy Program. The grain market has done what decades of political wrangling couldn’t: slash farm subsidies. Corn and soybean prices have risen so high that the main subsidy program’s price targets don’t trigger any payments.”

    In today’s political-economic climate, it would be impolitic to raise the subsidies.

    There’s even been a move afoot to kill off the ethanol subsidies. Some of the corn state politicians are trying to avoid it by proposing a bill that “kills” them — by guaranteeing payoffs.

    It’s possible that the continuing collapse of our government has got enough people paying attention that the farm programs could be killed, but I still think the smart money is betting otherwise. One can dream, though.

    Cheers.

Comments are closed.