let's talk farm animals

Where is the transparency at Burger King?

By: Leslie Ballentine, Farming and Food Commentator

I was as surprised as anyone to hear the news last week that Burger King in the U.S. is making an exclusive move to purchase “cage-free” eggs and pork within five years. It has certainly dominated the news. Even my urban friends (knowing I work in agriculture) have brought it up the past few days. Sadly however I haven’t been able to provide answers to some of their questions.

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Posted by FFC on April 30th, 2012 :: Filed under eggs,Food,Housing,HSUS,Retailers
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Battle of the sexes

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

Just when I thought I had heard it all, the Globe and Mail recently carried a feature on “gendered meat”. What you ask (as did I) is such a thing? Well apparently there is a demand by some Canadian consumers for selecting their meat based on whether the animal is male or female.

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Posted by FFC on April 23rd, 2012 :: Filed under Chickens,Consumers,Food,Misconceptions,Pork,Retailers
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“Pink slime” – What’s in a name?

By: Leslie Ballentine, Farming and Food Commentator

“Pink slime” a pejorative term for boneless lean beef trimmings has been getting a lot of attention from, food advocates and US policy makers in recent weeks. Called “lean finely textured beef within the industry,” the ground beef filler is reportedly not used in fabricating meat in Canada. Never-the-less, the hoopla is spilling over our border and is another example of how a name can affect the industry. 

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Posted by FFC on April 2nd, 2012 :: Filed under animal by-products,Consumers,Food,Food safety,Meat/slaughter plants
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Are grass-fed cows better for the earth?

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

It’s no wonder there’s a growing perception that farms which feed cattle on grass for their entire lives, are better for the environment than farms that finish their pasture-raised cattle in feedlots with grain. The image is that the grass is always lush and plentiful and the cattle self feed themselves with little dependence on machinery or other energy consuming equipment. Whether or not science has confirmed this perception is another story.

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Posted by FFC on March 13th, 2012 :: Filed under Beef cattle,Environment,Food,Misconceptions,Retailers,Sustainability
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I Occupy Our Food Supply everyday

Guest blog: I farm with my father and grandfather on 2,300 acres of land in northwest Indiana. Scott Farms grow corn, soybeans, popcorn, and wheat. I graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Soil and Crop Management in 2003.

Today is the day.  The Occupy movement is going to occupy the food supply.  According to the occupiers and Farm Aid president Willie Nelson large corporations have too much control over our food.  I won’t deny that there has been a lot of consolidation in the food and seed markets over the years, but that seems pretty common and big does not equal bad as some occupiers would have you think.

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Posted by FFC on March 6th, 2012 :: Filed under Crops,Environment,Food,Innovation and technology,Regulations
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Animal rights vs. religious freedoms

By Leslie Ballentine, Farm and Food commentator

In December a plan for an outright ban on ritual slaughter methods in the Netherlands failed to pass the Dutch Senate. The bill and the issues surrounding it garnered world-wide attention by Jewish and Islamic communities, the meat processing and retail sectors, and animal activists. Government diplomats also became involved.

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Posted by FFC on February 13th, 2012 :: Filed under Activism,animal handling,Food,Meat/slaughter plants,Regulations
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Why are you choosing organic?

Guest Blog: Lisa McLean, Agricultural communicator

I am fortunate to surround myself with a number of strong, intelligent, critical-thinking friends. Many of them are also parents, and all of them want the very best for their families. 

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Posted by FFC on February 7th, 2012 :: Filed under Consumers,Food,Media,Organics,Speaking out
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The Ick Factor

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

A Toronto hospital is asking for donations of human placenta to repair and reconstruct damaged eyes.  I’m sure most non-doctors would consider this disgusting and give it high marks for the Ick Factor. Superficial communications can often create the Ick Factor and the Ick Factor often influences our opinions. Agriculture and food production can be subject to the Ick Factor too.

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Posted by FFC on January 31st, 2012 :: Filed under Animal care,Beef cattle,Food,Misconceptions,Urban Myths
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Harvest 4 Hunger

by Patricia Grotenhuis, lifelong farmer and agricultural advocate

Hunger relief efforts by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank have been given a big boost by a group of farmers, who set a world record in the process.

Although there were several date changes due to the weather forecast, on October 5, 115 farmers combined a 160 acre soybean field simultaneously in Perth County, Ontario in an event called “Harvest 4 Hunger”.  The crop was harvested in 11 minutes and 43.9 seconds, according to the release sent by the organizers.  Although it was not fast enough to beat a Manitoba wheat harvest record as the fastest harvest ever, it was a great effort.

More importantly, though, it raised approximately $250,000 for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank to use towards fighting hunger around the world, exceeding the $200,000 goal set by event organizers.

Following the harvest, an auction was held to sell the soybeans.  The release also states the first bushel sold to the public brought $1000, and the first two lots of 1,600 bushels sold for $36 per bushel to the grain trade, which is well above market value.  It is estimated the yield was 8,000 bushels.

In addition to the crowd of approximately 3,000 people who watched the event, there were also two fixed wing aircraft, three helicopters and many video cameras documenting the harvest. 

Once the final weights of grain are known, organizers will have a more accurate total for the amount of money raised.  On the day of the event, lunch was available by donation to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, and the public can “donate a bushel” for $20 on the Canadian Foodgrains Bank website. 

The link for the website is: https://secure.peaceworks.ca/cfgb/donate/donation_make_form?notes=Donate%20a%20Bushel to donate a bushel.

Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a partnership of Christian churches and Christian-based agencies.  It is active in hunger relief efforts in developing countries.

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Posted by FFC on October 12th, 2011 :: Filed under Canada,Consumers,Education and public awareness,Farm life,Feeding the world,Food,Media,Sustainability of the family farm
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Why hormone-free labels and other claims don’t really tell the story

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

I just read a news feature by a Vancouver Sun reporter who, for personal reasons, has looked into the food labels that appear on our grocery shelves.

His story arose after seeing a milk carton labeled “hormone free” and purchasing local organic chickens, “worth the premium, my wife said, because, among other things, they were hormone free.” He wanted to check it out for himself and so went onto Google and into stores to do some research of his own. By his own admission his research confirmed both his suspicion and his “ignorance”.

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Posted by FFC on October 10th, 2011 :: Filed under Chickens,Consumers,Dairy cattle,Food,Misconceptions,Organics,Turkeys
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