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April 17, 2014

Let's Give Away A Gooseberry Patch Cookbook!

This is an awesome cookbook I have already made tons of recipes - all of which have been hits in this house!

When Gooseberry Patch asked me if I would like to try a cookbook and then give one away it was pretty much a no brainer for me!  Some of my favorite go-to recipes are from them and this one intrigued me as I hope to be a little more organized at meal time during planting this year {let me live my fantasy for a while please}!!

After spending way to much time looking thru the book, drooling on the pics and postie noting the recipes I liked I picked three that I thought would make a great meal - borrowed a couple of crockpots from my Mom, fired them up one morning, my house smelled amazing all day and after supper everyone in my house was full and the crockpots were empty!

In all honesty I had a fourth crockpot going that day with a dessert from the cookbook but I am pretty sure it was operator error that caused it to not work out so edible but I am definitely trying it again!

So this book was fun to look through with all the pics-my food doesn't normally turn out like the pretty pics but anyway!  The only thing I wish this book would of addressed is the size of crockpot that the recipe used - I realize there are tons of crockpots but just as a gauge this would of been nice.  I put the cheesy corn casserole in more of an upright crockpot and it could of used a little more time than if I would of put it in more of a shallow oval shaped one, which I suspect by the cooking time is what the recipe writer must have used.


Win yourself a copy!

Leave a comment with how many crockpots you own and your email and you will be entered!

The contest will run for 10 days, in which time I will be posting 3 of my favorite recipes from this book - so on Satuday April 26 I will pick a winner at random!


Gooseberry Patch did provide me with a cookbook, but all photos, reviews, and opinions are my own!

April 13, 2014

Consumer, Technology & Nostalgia OH MY - Part 5

Anything new and different is constantly scrutinized and attacked by someone. There will always be those who don't like something, but choosing the way to express your opinions and beliefs can make it easier for others to listen and potentially learn.

Jonathan Sparks, a farmer in Westland, Ind., sums up how many who live day in and day out in the midst of production agriculture are feeling:

"It's amazing the things we learn about ourselves as we grow older. I made a choice at a fairly young age that I wanted to do what my father and his father did for a living. I wanted to be a farmer, something I have never regretted, but recently I have been told things about myself that have me a little concerned.

For one, I have learned I'm a greedy corporate pig, pillaging money from my own government to pad my astronomical profits. It gets worse though, not only am I pillaging from the government but I'm also responsible for the obesity 'epidemic' by producing corn that is turned into corn syrup and consumed by unsuspecting Americans.

Oh and the GMOs we use – let us not forget about how we are abusing our environment and creating some kind of 'Franken food.' And meat production, where do we start – antibiotics, growth hormones or Heaven forbid you house livestock inside, away from the elements and the predators.
How did this happen? What has changed that production agriculture has been deemed a menace to society by some? Nothing really, other than what the public asked for.
The last 100 years has seen changes like no society has ever seen in food production. Advances in technology and science have been astounding.
My grandfather, who passed away more than 20 years ago, would be in awe of the tools I have to produce food. My father would probably be impressed with the changes we've seen since he left us just a few years ago.
Agriculture has continued to do what is asked of it – produce an abundant and safe food supply for our country as inexpensively as possible.
No wait … somewhere in there we became responsible for producing for a large part of the world. Increasing the demand for what we should produce and using much of the same acreage to produce it!
What changed is that we in farming have become the most efficient food producer in the world. American farmers increased production 93.87% from 1948 to 2011, while inputs rose a slight 4.41% during that same time period. Why did this increase in productivity happen?
Simply put, in my opinion it was necessary for American farmers to keep increasing output and efficiency to survive.
In 1950, the U.S. population was roughly 150 million people. Of that 150 million people, 25 million were farmers. In 2012, the U.S. population had grown to 313 million, while the number of farmers had dropped to 2.1 million. The marketplace demanded that producers increase efficiency or they found another means to sustain their families.
So with all that said, what is the face of modern agriculture? One word comes to my mind – families. Family owned and operated farms account for 96% of all farms. But our business structures may differ – some may be sole proprietors, some have "Inc." or "LLC" behind their names. We are, for the most part, one thing: families working together to produce food, fuel, and fiber for our country and our world, hopefully scratching out a living for ourselves in the process.
The risk in agriculture is greater than ever; the costs of inputs, fuel and machinery continue to climb while prices fluctuate and yields depend greatly on Mother Nature. This makes the risk management tools which are sponsored by the government of even more important to the well-being of our families.
As for science and technology, these advancements bring benefits that are weighed heavily by producers. GMOs have been proven by science to be safe, and our families consume products produced with biotech grain, just the same as yours. The livestock sector of agriculture continues to produce more meat with fewer inputs and less impact on our environment.
Farming isn't an occupation; it's a way of life. We champion sustainable methods of production. Why? It's all about family having something to pass down to the next generation, and with 2 million farmers, that next generation is more important than ever."

Farmers are intelligent, hardworking and passionate about what they do – it has been said for years that farming isn't just a job, it is a lifestyle. When the methods of modern agriculture are attacked, it can feel like a personal jab to those living it every day.

Nostalgia - Farming Deserves More Respect Part 4

"They are bi-coastal experts on agriculture, armed with a touching nostalgia for a life they never lived."

Consumers in our business are a given, we provide an essential component that all humans require.  Technology is ever changing, has and will be something every industry deals with.  But name one other industry where nostalgia plays such a pivotal role.

This line - "they are bi-coastal experts on agriculture, armed with a tough nostalgia for a life they never lived' - is so poignant.

People love connection.  Connection to things, to other oeple, to happy situation, even to tragedy.  Tell someone you live, work or own a farms and nine times out of ten they will speak of their Grandpas or Uncles farm from when they were a kid.  People love connection and connection brings about nostalgia.

Nostalgia is a big puzzle piece in the perception of agriculture.  Everyone wants cheaper better food at their fingertips but raised just like it looks in Norman Rockwell pictures, the way they remember their visits or envision a relatives farms.  Today's farms are to look and behave nostalgic but Wal-Mart is to have everything they need regardless of the season.  They want their food raised by a man in a backyard garden but available in abundant quantities at reasonable prices - there is a disconnect and nostalgia plays a huge role in this disconnect.

Shopping for a new car no one ever walks in, looks around and says "do you have anything without an airbag or air-conditioning because that is the kind of car my Grandpa drove" - no people want the advancement and technology that science and research has provided.

"Know this about me, and most farmers: We're in this for the long haul." says Hurst. "If I'm using a new method or a new technology, I'm convinced that i's not only the right thing for me, but for my grand kids as well"

We depend on the land, we buy our food from the same places you do.  But what consumers see is us doing it differently than our great grandparents or their great grandparents and because this triggers their perception of nostalgia they tend to assume it is negative.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing!  In Chris' office hangs no less than 25 pictures of our family's farming over the last one hundred years.  I hope that one day if my kids decide to farm that they appreciate the past, understand the present, and accept the future - I don't expect them to do things exactly the way we do them today nor will their kids do things the same as them

April 8, 2014

Technology - Farming Deserves More Respect Part 3

"Our critics are convinced that technology applied to personal communications devices and medicine is a net good, but science applied to growing things is freakish, unnatural and dangerous."

Farming Deserves More Respect By Blake Hurst

Hurst, a Missouri Farmer wrote "Farming Deserves More Respect" as an opinion piece that appeared on The Kansas City Star website and quickly made it rounds within social media.  I have read his article so many times I almost have it memorized and every time I read it - consumers, technology and nostalgia lead out at me - these three play a massive role in the agriculture industry.

Consumers are a given, we produce food and fiber, they eat and like to be clothed.  But I don't think many farmers thought that part of their job would be communicating with consumers when they don't directly sell end products.

But technology has always been at the forefront of agriculture, it is required to keep the industry, any industry, moving forward.  However it is viewed so differently in this industry by those looking in.

Technology is constantly critiqued yet demanded by people.  Just like Hurst states, it is accepted in all areas except one of the most vital for survival-feeding the human race.

Technology in agriculture is ever chaninging, sometimes it moves faster than imaginable.  But farming is one of the most conservative industries out there.

The use of technology is essential to agriculture today.  The American Farmer produces 362% more food with 2% fewer inputs compared with 1950 according to The American Farm Bureau, that is thanks to technology.  As the population of the world continues to increase technology to help feed them will be required.

"We adopt change very, very slowly, and don't invest in new technologies without plenty of proof that they make sense." writes Hurst.  "Our commitment to the place where we live is strengthened by the presumed tenure of our residence."

The acceptance of technology for every farm is different, this is what makes our industry work.  There are those willing to be on the cutting or bleeding edge, adapt easily and willing to try things as they become available.  And those a little slower, it works.

"Know this about me, and most farmers: We're in this for the along haul.  If I'm using a new method or a new technology, I'm convinced that it's not only the right thing for me, but for my grandkids."

Decisions made on farms are not made lightly, we rely on the land year to year for our income - it is in our best interests to care for it continually.

The Series:

April 3, 2014

Consumers - Farming Deserves More Respect Part 2

"Consumers have every right to be curious about how we raise their food, and I'm more than glad to spend the next year talking about why we do the things we do." states Hurst in his article.

Farming Deserves More Respect  By Blake Hurst

Consumers are obviously a given in our line of work, we grow food and they eat.  But let's be honest, the majority of farms don't sell direct to consumers and therefore the need to communicate directly with them isn't something that receives our immediate attention, nor is it something we thought we ever would need to do.

"But those of us out here in the agricultural hither lands are ill-prepared to joist with eloquent journalism professors, celebrity chefs, and multimillion-dollar propaganda campaigns from franchised burrito stands.  Seed corn gimme caps, blue jeans and a stubborn refusal to darken the door of a gym are inadequate tools when your industry is the cross hairs of Dr. Oz, Oprah and Mark Bittman, food writer and farming critic for The New York Times." - and Hurst is right.

But in today's world of instant 'knowledge' via the internet maybe conversing with consumers might be one extra task farmers need to put on there ever growing to-do list.

I saw a tweet the other day:

and I agree whole heartedly - but I wonder for every person 'gluten free' advertised food has helped how many people who don't need 'gluten free' has it affected simply from a marketing stand-point.  How many people buying and eating 'gluten free' food actually know what gluten is?  Or just because the product implies it is 'free' of something means that it must be better for you?

Marketing gimics are part of the game but it is a game between the processor and the consumer with the producer paying the price.

Social Media is making communicating with consumer a little easier.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogging are all great ways to share with consumers directly from our barn, tractors and offices.  Letting them know we aren't only growing food for their families but for ours as well is a powerful statement when it comes directly from the source.

Not all consumers are farmers but all farmers are consumers!

"Know this about me, and most farmers: We're in this for the long haul.  If I'm using a new method or a new technology, I'm convinced that it's not only the right thing for me, but for my grandkids as well."  -Hurst

Want to know what I think about the technology aspect?

April 2, 2014

Consumers-Technology-Nostalgia: Farming Deserves More Respect

An article circling social media caught my eye not too long ago:

Farming Deserves More Respect

"What concerns farmers is the growing concensus that the way we farm is nothing less than a crime against nature, nutrition and all that is good and true."

What a simple statement - Farming deserves more respect - but so true.

Hurst's piece appeared in the The Kansas City Star opinion section of their website.  Not only is the article interesting and a must read but the comments are as well, all six pages of them!

I have been in the midst of production agriculture my entire life and this article resonated with me - 44 years of agriculture and I still learn something new everyday and only add to the love I have for this industry.

I have read his article multiple times and while what he writes is near and dear to my heart, from a farmers view three themes jump out at me - consumers, technology and nostalgia.  These three play a massive role in the agriculture industry.

"Consumers have every right to be curious about how we raise their food, and I'm more than glad to spend the next year talking about why we do the things we do."

"Our critics are convinced that technology applied to personal communications devices and medicine is a net good, but science applied to growing things is freakish, unnatural and dangerous."

"They are bi-coastal experts on agriculture, armed with a touching nostalgia for a life they never lived."

Blake Hurst wrote words that almost every farmer thinks - he wrote beautifully, well spoken, from the head and felt with the heart.

Read the article - farmer or consumer or both - it is well worth your time.
What to know what I think about these three?

March 5, 2014

I am proud to be a dirt farmer.

Standing in the same room as an FFA Advisor and hearing him say

 "There are no plows in this county and really we could all live without dirt farmers."

 might of set me on edge!

I stood there stunned silent (odd I know), watched my nephews face turn 4 shades of red as he shuffled me out the Ag room door! My mind reeled, I got hot under the collar, I vented, I slept, I asked my nephew if maybe he was joking, I took a shower and the words flowed-so now I write!

Dear FFA Advisor,

Ummmmm what????? I work really hard at not taking comments out of context so if I did I apologize. However since I was witness to the conversation I don't think I did, so I have to say:   "what the......, are you serious?"!!!

I will start with the fact I come from generations of 'dirt farmers' and proud of it! I married a sixth generation 'dirt farmer' and look forward to the day my kids, if they choose, become the seventh!

I took what you said personally, I can get sentimental about it, I can show you pictures of mine and my husbands family 'dirt farming' generations back and today, I can tell you about life daily from my perspective on our 'dirt farm' but in all reality that doesn't prove you can't live without us 'dirt farmers'.

I will rely on facts straight from the US government:

Corn: The United States is, by far, the largest producer of corn in the world, producing 32 percent of the world's corn crop in the early 2010s.  Corn is grown on over 400,000 U.S. farms. The U.S. exports about 20 percent of the U.S. farmer's corn production. Corn grown for grain accounts for almost one quarter of the harvested crop acres in this country.
According to the National Corn Growers Association, about eighty percent of all corn grown in the U.S. is consumed by domestic and overseas livestock, poultry, and fish production. The National Corn Growers Association also reports that each American consumes 25 pounds of corn annually. The crop is fed as ground grain, silage, high-moisture, and high-oil corn. About 12% of the U.S. corn crop ends up in foods that are either consumed directly (e.g. corn chips) or indirectly (e.g. high fructose corn syrup). Cornhas a wide array of industrial uses including ethanol, a popular oxygenate in cleaner burning auto fuels.  In addition many household products contain corn,  including paints, candles, fireworks, drywall, sandpaper, dyes, crayons, shoe polish, antibiotics, and adhesives.

Soybeans: Approximately 3.06 billion bushels of soybeans were harvested from 73.6 million acres of cropland in the U.S. in 2011. This acreage is roughly equivalent to that of corn grown for grain (84 million acres in 2011).  Soybeans rank second, after corn, among the most-planted field crops in the U.S. Over 279,110 (2007 Census of Agriculture) farms in the U.S. produce soybeans making the U.S. the largest producer and exporter of soybeans. , accounting for over 50% of the world's soybean production and $3-4 billion in soybean and product exports in the late 2000s. Soybeans represent 50 percent of world oilseed production.
Soybeans are used to create a variety of products, the most basic of which are soybean oil, meal, and hulls. According to the United Soybean Board, soybean oil, used in both food manufacturing and frying and sautéing, is the number one edible oil in the U.S.  Currently, soybean oil represents approximately 65 percent of all edible oil consumed in the United States, down from about 79 percent in 2000 due to controversy over trans-fat. Soybean oil also makes its way into products ranging from anti-corrosion agents to Soy Diesel fuel to waterproof cement. Over 30 million tons of soybean meal is consumed as livestock feed in a year. Even the hulls are used as a component of cattle feed rations. 

I choose these two crops merely because these and our hog operation solely support our family of five.  Dirt Farmers are major contributors to the US economy and to every sector of our industry.  I couldn’t begin to name all the crops grown in the United States but I know I would never presume that I could live without any farmers, ‘dirt’ or otherwise, that work heart and soul to produce what we need to survive.

We, as an industry, face so much adversity as a group that trying to decide who is more important within our industry is immensely counterproductive. We are a team, it is a circle, we ALL need each other and that Sir includes you-what you are teaching and saying to kids is important and has an impact. You are influencing OUR future. I get pride, be proud of where you come from and the contribution you make to agriculture, I know I am, but mutual respect and recognizing that it takes all of us needs to take precedence over individual pride for our industry to succeed!

                                                                                        Jennifer Campbell
                                                                                       Proud American Farmer