Friday, October 22, 2010

Thoughts and what's going on Part 1

Hello Everyone!  I hope that all of you are having a great week, and hopefully a very productive or rest filled weekend.
I first want to take time to thank all of you for your most kind and thoughtful words of comfort for Ya-Ya, you do not know how much it meant to me to receive your comforting words.  This really hit me very hard, and I still am going through the "I should of done this or that" bit, but each day does get better and I keep busy so as to not think too much on it.  I miss her terribly, and I have to get through this daily but it will get better.

I get news on the computer like I'm sure a lot of you all do also.  The other day, I got a news article that hit home here especially.  And I also think that it does tie into what all of us are doing, living a simple lifestyle and eating more local produce and products and fair trade.
I am located in one of several very big agricultural states in the nation.  In this article, it talked about the Big "4" packing plants for beef.  These plants are:  Tyson, Omaha Beef,  Swift, and JBS. which is an Argentina based Big Ag corporation.
JBS had taken over the Greeley CO plant after it closed several years ago.  It used to be a Monfort packing plant years ago, then Swift, then JBS.  This is funny also, as Nebraska has laws in place for having foreign companies being in Nebraska, and JBS is located in Grand Island NE, which used to be a Swift plant. Anti-trust laws?
In this article, it mentioned that beef producers are not getting good prices on beef, and that eventually the beef will be of much poorer quality in a few years to make up for the poorer prices that producers are getting.  The other fact of this article mentioning is the fact that there are only 4 plants that buy beef from all producers, thus limiting the playing field for competition in the market for ranchers and producers to get a fair price for beef.

This goes deeper than the article relates to in the fact that producers are producing beef, generally for export to over-seas markets, generally Japan, South Korea, etc.  Japan has put a halt to Nebraska beef because of BSE, which is a chronic wasting disease in the brains and spine cords of bovine species.  Japan found spinal pieces in boxed beef several years ago, and stopped the export of beef from Nebraska to Japan in one fell swoop. The other other reason is:  the economy is very devastating now as people, including me cannot afford beef.  This may seem totally off of the wall to all of you, but I live in beef country, and I cannot afford beef.  It is surprising that beef here is unaffordable to a lot of people here.  I am not sure what beef is in other areas of the country, but here, a pound of 90% lean  hamburger is $5.  A small T-bone is $15-$20 each.  An arm roast is $20.  I would be interested in what beef runs around the country.  Now, this beef is not pastured humane beef, it is  the beef that is finished in the feed lots and processed by the one of the big 4 plants.

I guess why I am talking about this is, the ability to purchase fair humane raised beef or pork or chicken, for those who do eat meat, and why it is so important to find and support local farms and ranches who do this and be able to make a decent living and bring to your table, a healthy product at a fair price to the farmer and the family and very fair to the livestock who give their lives to us.

Then this goes on also to the government, who now wants to kill the small farm or ranch, because the Big AG, Big Farm, Big Mega corporations is whining that the small producer is dipping into their big profits and making life a pain for them. I would suggest going to another blog I read, I have it listed in my blog reader list. It is A Year without Groceries, Her name is Rachel and she has a very interesting blog about being self reliant and not going to the grocery or buying groceries for a year.  She is experimenting with using only local purchased products for her family, and buying pastured, local meat.  On her blog a few days ago, she listed a number of companies who used to be small companies who cared, and are now bought by Big AG, or Big Corp and don't care about you or your families health any more.   The list will surprise you. Please read her blog for more information.

I am on a rant again, sorry. :^)

Over the weekend, I will do part 2 as this can grow into quite a large thought on food and who controls it.
I have to run errands today, so I will post sometime over the weekend, and I want all of you to think about this and give thoughts.
Till this weekend, have a great Friday, and upcoming weekend.

As Always,


  1. Although I live in the UK ("Welsh Wales" at present), there are strangleholds on our producers put in place by the big supermarkets (Tesco being one of the worst). Dairy farmers are going out of business daily because they just cannot survive on being paid less for their product than it costs to produce it . . . There is now talk of a huge super-dairy of thousands of cows which may never see the light of day, let alone taste grass. It is all WRONG.

    Like you I support local produce and prefer to buy local well-raised meat, although finances sometimes dictate otherwise. I know that Monsanto has a stranglehold over seeds which can be sold (all F1 hybrids if they have their way) and that many people want diversity, which is how it should be.

    I look forward to your next blog with interest.

  2. Firstly, I want to say that I know something of how you feel about losing a pet--I sometimes am hesitant to admit just how much my animals mean to me and that the death of one is very devastating. For many days after I imagine I can see that cat or dog or horse out of the corner of my eye and I look for them in their usual places. It takes time to adjust.
    J and I grew up in dairy country in New England. We tried to make a dairy farm work--a moderate sized one as things were then.
    We struggled for a decade before we realized that hard work and dedication were not the equal of a big mortgage, high costs of seed, fertilizer, equipment, taxes--and the price of milk to the producer was never in line with production costs.
    Now in retirement here in KY we are trying to be as self-sufficient food-wise as possible. As you know, its a lot of work.
    I prefer to buy staples such as grains/cereals, raw sugar, honey, etc at a Mennonite-owned bulk foods market about a half hour drive from here.
    We are raising [or buying at the produce auction] all that we can in the way of fruit and vegetables. Our years' beef was raised by our son and D-I-L in WY--butchered and put up by them. J. conveyed it here in a freezer on the back of his truck!
    With the cow-share [see my blog post about Dory the cow] we have milk, butter and cottage cheese--first batch today. It takes work, learning, and a dedication--as in canning 16 qts of applesauce today when I really didn't feel like it!
    I don't think we can make much dent in the greed of the big corps nor can we wake up masses of people to the poor quality of what they are buying at the supermarket. We can only do our best and share our ideas and hope to inspire others to make the changes that may be possible in their own situations.
    We may be "preaching to the choir" here as many of our blog readers are already in tune with these concepts, but just maybe we can inspire someone else to a new way of thinking about what they eat and where it comes from!
    Sorry such a long-winded comment--you got me going!

  3. I composed quite a long-winded comment--I think blogger whisked it away. I'll check back and see if by chance it was saved.

  4. The price for hamburger here in NJ from the big 4 is $3.50 a pound for 90% lean.

    I agree with everything you have written. I truly struggle with how to handle the situation. Here in NJ we can not get healthy beef unless we have it delivered from out of state as a half or whole steer. That means a couple thousand dollars at one time. I don't remember the last time I had that much money to spend on anything!

    Organic dairy is a little easier to find. Our local grocery has butter for $5 a pound and milk cheese for $8. Again, not very affordable for a family.

    We raise chickens for eggs and meat and grow most of our produce. I would love to be able to raise beef and dairy but that requires land which requires money.

    I don't know what the answer is. I look forward to part 2.

    Blessings as your heart continues to heal.

  5. This is a subject very dear to my heart. We operated a very small Mom and Pop dairy here until we retired in 2004. I love almost every minute of it. We were not forced out and made money. We bought all feed and hay.

    We raise our own beef so I don't pay much attention to prices. I will make a point to do so and let you know.

    We pay more for dairy products than Iowa (where my sis lives) and can't figure why. We have a large DFA (maybe the largest dairy co-op in the US, certainly a large one)processing plant in town, yet we pay more for the milk! Figure this one out, they ship our milk out and bring in milk from Texas! If you could hear the convoluted way milk prices are figured it would drive you to drink! I finally gave up on it.

    Have you checked other stores? Your beef prices sound outrageous.

    I licked the dairy thing when I bought Willow three years ago.

    I will be looking forward to your next blog and will be checking the link on this.

    Thanks for this one.


  6. I sent you an e-mail trying to find your blog, but found it on my own finally. Love your blog and will be following it. I also tracked down the blog "a year without groceries" from your list and will be following that also. Thanks for joining up with my blog.