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

road's end farm organic101 at linkny.com
Tue Aug 21 09:51:29 EDT 2007

On Aug 20, 2007, at 11:20 AM, Mark & Helen Angermayer wrote:

> Thanks Steve and Rivka for your thoughtful comments.

And thank you for thinking about them and for responding to them 
thoughtfully. We need badly to be able to have such discussions with 
everyone actually considering what the other person said, not just 
walling off our heads and sticking determinedly to our own positions.

>  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.

Mine with eggs also; and with other meats. Very much so with chicken.

I wonder whether the greater chance to use the muscle isn't also a 

> 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).

Ah. Thanks much for the info. "Pale, soft, exudative" sounds like a 
good description of it. (Another good description of it would have been 
"Yecch!" But I wonder how many of the other customers noticed.)
> 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.

I think you're right about that; much of the population of the US has 
had no real hunger in their family history for several generations, and 
can't imagine that this could ever happen to them. I strongly suspect 
that part of my interest in food and in the production of it comes from 
the fact that my father nearly starved to death as a child (in Poland 
in the 1920's).

That of course was due to war; as a very high proportion of world 
hunger is today.

>  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.

I don't think anyone is suggesting that we "go back to practices 50 
years old"; at least if that's taken to mean, "do everything the way we 
did it 50 years ago", rather than "select the best technique based on 
what we know now", which may result in combining techniques used many 
years ago with others developed only recently. Intensive rotational 
grazing, for instance, was as I understand it very rarely if ever 
practiced 50 years ago, but I believe does both increase production and 
decrease parasites, while improving the pastures.

However, if we're ever in a state of actual food scarcity in the USA 
(from your "300 million people", I assume you mean the USA), I don't 
think we'll be able to afford confinement production. (Correct me, 
please, on any of this if I'm wrong; I'm not really a livestock person, 
and it's possible that I've got something wrong here.) Confined animals 
are usually fed grains as a large part of the diet, aren't they? Humans 
can digest grains directly; if people are starving, running the grains 
through livestock first isn't the best way to go. There's a lot of land 
in this country that can grow quite good pasture, but that, because of 
steep slope and/or rocky or shallow soil, isn't suited to grain or 
vegetable production. (If the pastures are managed to do so, they can 
also sustain quite a lot of wild species, which doesn't happen in a 
feedlot; and the manure becomes a benefit rather than a problem.) 
Livestock can also be grazed on fields in cover crop as part of a 
rotation, giving additional yield from those fields while fertilizing 
them for the next crop and (at proper stocking rates) improving the 
health of the soil; helping make it possible to raise vegetables and 
row crops on soils not suited to doing so in continuous production. 
Cattle and chickens, at least, can digest quite a lot of stuff that 
humans can't, and turn it into meat that humans can benefit from. While 
as I understand it the digestive system of pigs is a lot like that of 
humans, I think they can also eat things, such as acorns, that humans 
can't eat, at least without a lot of processing. Can they also digest, 
for instance, clover?

Confinement-raised meat isn't cheaper because the feed source is 
cheaper; it's cheaper because it requires less human labor. Under our 
current economic setup, in the US human labor is priced higher than 
natural resources. Corn-fed meat is really a luxury item; available to 
us specifically because we're producing more corn than the humans can 
eat directly. Of course, if we start burning the corn all up in our 
cars instead, that's likely to change.

> 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

I hope your back gets better. And that the backyard farming goes well.

Finger Lakes NY; zone 5 mostly
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