This barfblog posting really gets to the core of the question "do you know where your food comes from?". Barfblog.com is a food safety blog produced by Dr. Douglas Powell, an associate professor of food safety at Kansas State University. On his site, Dr.Powell is described as "passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey." I think that the reference to hockey is code for being a Canadian, and Dr. Powell peppers his blog with many Canadian references (often in a humorous way).
|Beef and lamb chilling at Sunterra|
|Lamb processed on Saturna - inspector on left|
|Our lambs are raised and finished on grass|
|Lambs finished in Alberta feedlot on barley|
Sometimes it is apparent that the abundance of negative information gives people some equally negative and sometimes wrong ideas about agriculture. Thirty years ago the only two books I found on agriculture in a mainstream bookstore were "Merchants of Grain" by Dan Morgan and Three Farms: Making Milk, Meat, and Money from the American Soil by Mark Kramer. The first book described the seven families and five companies that control the world's food supplies, and although the book first appeared in 1979 little has changed. The second book addressed the technological changes that influence modern agriculture and the people who farm. These themes and players are still written about, thirty odd years later. Now there are many books about farming and food written by many "experts", and the negative messages often are directed at farmers themselves, and the media jumps in to any hot topic and for the moment, the hot topic is food. So the way I see it, instead of "let's find out how farmers produce our food" this movement is saying " let us warn you about what the farmers are doing to our food"!!!!! Yikes!!! Well, we are in the thick of lambing - 36 lambs so far - and as I make sure each lamb is with his mom, and his mom is getting her share of the food, I am reminded that we are looking at another 100 ewes yet to lamb. I have to do this twice a day, seven days a week, rain or shine or snow, whether I am sick or not. I have to fix fences, harvest the hay, truck it and stack it in the barn, truck in feed, truck the finished lambs to market, sometimes truck lambs to be slaughtered, pick up the packaged lamb and deliver it, and keep predators away. I have to keep medicines on hand to treat animals when they need it. And always, I have to just watch them - observe how they behave, what are they trying to tell me? There is more to farming than meets the eye, and that is all part of knowing where your food comes from. I don't think most people want to know all the details. They may consider the welfare of the animals, but most put price, quality and safety as a priority. Animal welfare? Standards of animal care are an ongoing topic of study and discussion by farmers, animal scientists and veterinarians. If only animals could talk!!