[NAFEX] You Think You Got Pest Problems? OFF-TOPIC

Mark & Helen Angermayer hangermayer at isp.com
Mon Aug 20 11:20:48 EDT 2007


Thanks Steve and Rivka for your thoughtful comments.

Rivka wrote:
"Mark, did you start off raising pigs outdoors, and switch to confinement?
If so, did you notice a difference in the flavor and texture of the meat?"

I started off in confinement (actually the first pigs I raised were in an
old milk barn for 4-H, but that doesn't really count).  I have seen and are
familiar with outside, semi-confinement, and total confinement operations,
but I've not personally raised pigs outside so I can't comment much about
the taste of pig meat from dirt operations.  However, I would expect it to
be more flavorful because of a more diverse diet.  That's certainly my
experience with eggs.  With regard to the flabby texture though, it's
probably more of a function of how the animal was slaughtered vs. what was
fed.  Animals slaughtered under stress exhibit what's called pale, soft,
exudative meat (PSE), or under long periods of stress Dark, Firm, Dry (DFD).
Genetics also plays a role, as some animals are more stress prone than
others.

Rivka wrote:
"I would say the real *problem* is the unbelievably cheap farmgate food
prices. You're entirely correct that many farmers are just barely getting
by, even if they are running large operations; and many can't manage even
getting by, and go out of business. This is at least partially because many
customers, though apparently perfectly willing to pay large extra amounts to
buy produce already cut up into pieces, hamburger already formed for them
into patties, and much of their food precooked; and also perfectly willing
to pay several times the price of a pair of basic jeans to get the brand
they prefer; are entirely unwilling to pay what it costs to produce quality
in the food to begin with."

Boy, I have mixed emotions about this.  In one sense I agree with you.  The
amount of materialism, consumerism, marketing, etc. in America disgusts me a
little, and cheap food (and other cheap goods) have made that possible.
Still, I think we Americans (or the developed world in general) have been so
well off for so long, we've forgotten what scarcity of food is like.  As
such, some peoples' vision of what farming should be is 50 years old and if
we go back to practices 50 years old we'll have yields 50 years old.  Then,
I think with 300 million people, we would see scarcity.


Steve wrote:
"The most effective tool to address the various negative impacts of
competition driving production costs down to the lowest common denominator
is regulation and enforcement.  This is not perfectly efficient, but it
gives all producers a (more) level playing field. Not all aspects of a
regulatory scheme need to be run by the government:  organic agriculture
certification is privately run, but at some level there must be a government
stick waiting in the wings to enforce the regulation/law.  There are other
complementary forms pressure for change (think baby seals, whose harvest I
didn't necessarily oppose) or boycotts of sweatshop products, etc., but
ultimately voluntary programs are not sufficient because low price outweighs
consumer concerns--one physically can't educate one's self about even a
fraction of the environmental and moral aspects of one's purchases. And some
(read most) consumers want the lowest possible price even knowing the issues
involved because they don't believe that their own behavior makes any
difference.  Nonetheless, sometimes huge purchasers can have a direct effect
on production methods as a result of broad, but vague, social pressure:
McDonald's demand for better conditions for its suppliers' laying hens or
Wal-Mart's requirement that packaging materials be reduced by 10% for
products it purchases are two good examples."

I see what you're saying and it's a much larger question.  I agree pure
laissez-faire doesn't work  Of course the problem with solving things
politically is that special interests (environmental and welfare groups, as
well as business) can force policy decisions that have a big (although
sometimes unobvious) impact on regular folks.  If people want change, I
prefer examples like the ones you list (McDonald's, Walmart).  It seems to
me more consumer-driven.

Rivka wrote:

"I agree that most farmers aren't greedy. I think in fact most greedy people
are not going to become, or remain, farmers; the amount of work, attention,
skill, and investment it takes to succeed in any kind of farming will, in
current society, bring you higher financial return doing all sorts of other
things. As with any large group of people, there are of course exceptions.
Blowing up entire groves of trees to try to get rid of a bird problem is
certainly unusual behaviour."

You hit the nail on the head.  Farming is not what you do, it's who you are.
I only sold out and quit because of a severe back injury, and in fact I
still haven't quit, as I'm now trying to farm my backyard, with fruit trees
:-)

And I agree, using a bomb to get rid of birds seems excessive.

Mark
Zone 5 Kansas








----- Original Message ----- 
From: roads end farm
To: North American Fruit Explorers
Sent: Monday, August 20, 2007 7:31 AM
Subject: Re: [NAFEX] You Think You Got Pest Problems? OFF-TOPIC



On Aug 19, 2007, at 10:00 PM, Mark & Helen Angermayer wrote:


  Being in the swine industry for many years


Mark, did you start off raising pigs outdoors, and switch to confinement? If
so, did you notice a difference in the flavor and texture of the meat?

Much of this is a matter of personal taste, of course. I buy, whenever
possible, meat from animals raised at least partly outdoors by small-scale
farmers. Although it's not my only reason for doing this, I have noticed
that when I do get standard grocery meat (presumably from confinement
operations), the meat, while often more tender, seems to me to be tasteless
and often bad-textured. I once got some brand-name pork that I can only
describe as having a flabby texture. I've never bought the stuff again.


the real benefit is the unbelievably cheap food prices.


I would say the real *problem* is the unbelievably cheap farmgate food
prices. You're entirely correct that many farmers are just barely getting
by, even if they are running large operations; and many can't manage even
getting by, and go out of business. This is at least partially because many
customers, though apparently perfectly willing to pay large extra amounts to
buy produce already cut up into pieces, hamburger already formed for them
into patties, and much of their food precooked; and also perfectly willing
to pay several times the price of a pair of basic jeans to get the brand
they prefer; are entirely unwilling to pay what it costs to produce quality
in the food to begin with.

Note that I said "many" customers. It's true that there are people eating
almost nothing but beans and rice because they can't afford anything else.
There are people who, because of their finances, have no access to cooking
facilities, and are stuck in a nasty trap in which they can't save by doing
their own cooking. And there are certainly also people who will pay for
quality; some of whom have trouble finding it. But I think there are very
many people, at least in the USA, who have no idea what either a tomato or a
pork chop can taste like; as well as some who just don't care. And I don't
have a lot of sympathy for people who have six cases of soda pop in the cart
but complain that the fruit costs too much.

I agree that most farmers aren't greedy. I think in fact most greedy people
are not going to become, or remain, farmers; the amount of work, attention,
skill, and investment it takes to succeed in any kind of farming will, in
current society, bring you higher financial return doing all sorts of other
things. As with any large group of people, there are of course exceptions.
Blowing up entire groves of trees to try to get rid of a bird problem is
certainly unusual behaviour.

--Rivka
Finger Lakes NY; zone 5 mostly



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