Tag Archives: food

Ultimate Test of Sustainability?

Will Your Operation Succeed to the Next Generation?

It’s been said that a farm or ranch is not truly sustainable unless it employs at least two generations. I believe it’s imperative that as producers we recognize that even if we become both ecologically and economically sustainable, but fail to pass our mission and work on to the next generation then we’ve failed the ultimate test of sustainability.

According to the most recent census of agriculture: from 2007 to 2012 there was a decline of over 95,000 farms in America. A quick look at the current trends tell us that most of today’s family farms and ranches will not succeed to the next generation.

I believe there is hope for a bright future.

This hope is not based on wishful thinking but rather a ground swelling of innovative farmers that are indeed beating the odds and are building thriving operations. A few names you may recognize are operations like Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farms in Virginia, Gabe & Paul Brown of Nourished By Nature in North Dakota, as well as Will Harris’s White Oak Pastures in Southern Georgia. These are just a few of the many operations that are shining a bright beacon of hope to the greater agricultural community.

If you visit any of these operations there is a very obvious, but all too often overlooked, common thread of success. Each of these operations spring forth with a multigenerational team of people that bring intellectual diversity to each acre of their land.

Most of us in agriculture are at a road block because we’re too narrowly focused on a production mindset and we’ve lost sight of people and relationships. We must make the critical distinction that people create profits – profits don’t create people.

Those of us pursuing regenerative agriculture understand the value that biological diversity brings to our land, but we often forget about the value that human creativity and diverse intellectual capital can bring to our land.

At Seven Sons Farms we’ve stacked multiple enterprises on only 550 acres. By creating synergistic relations between our land, livestock and people, we are able to employee over 10 full time people as well as several part-time positions. We refer to our team as our intellectual human polyculture:

Human Pollyculture

Any successful leader knows that their organization’s most valuable asset is having the right people in the right place.

Zig Ziglar offered this belief: “You don’t build a business – you build people – and then people build your business.”

If the above statement is true then it begs the question – how is agriculture as a whole doing at building people? The graph below shows a plummeting decline in the number of human minds in agriculture.

The erosion of human capital:

1482013689_5855bbf99fc0d.jpg

SOURCES: Agriculture in the Classroom, 2014; BLS, 2014; NASS, 2014a,b; U.S. Census Bureau, 2014a,b; USDA, 2012

Over the course of time we have eroded much of our land’s precious resources in the form of minerals and soil organic matter. But no greater erosion has taken place than the depletion of human minds from each acre of our land. In the early 1970s we reached a critical point – for the first time in the history of American agriculture the number of human minds per acre involved in agriculture fell to a negative ratio.

Interestingly, it was around this same time period that the farmer’s share of the food dollar began to plummet as well.

The erosion of the food dollar:

There are many factors at play but it only stands to reason that if we want to capture a wider diversity of the food dollar, it requires wider diversity of intellectual talents. This is exactly why at Seven Sons Farms we have sought to foster synergistic relationships with people that enable us to capture a greater diversity of the food dollar.

To sum up the past half century of agriculture, one could say that in pursuit of production, we’ve attempted to trade people for profit. In the end we’ve yielded neither profit nor people.

At Seven Sons we believe that the people connected to the land represent the most valuable asset a farm could ever possess. To illustrate this point, imagine for just a moment if you were to remove Joel Salatin, Gabe Brown, or Will Harris from their respective farms. These farms would look nothing like what they do today without the creativity and vision that each of these leaders bring to the land that they are called to steward. The same holds true for your farm as well. The beliefs you operate from, the vision you put forth and the people you inspire to join you – these are the game changers that will empower your operation to beat the odds and succeed to the next generation.

There are unprecedented opportunities ahead of us…

I believe we have unprecedented opportunities ahead of us when you consider many of the recent breakthroughs in regenerative agriculture as well as the rapid shifts we’re seeing in our food culture.

So if you’re looking to exchange new ideas and be challenged to think outside old paradigms then I encourage you to join myself and hundreds of likeminded people at this year’s Grassfed Exchange in Albany New York.

The very mission of the Grassfed Exchange is to catalyze the exchange of practical knowledge, ideas, and strategies that you can take home and begin applying on your operation. Bring a family member, friend or budding young agripreneur who is looking for their way forward in agriculture.

What The Grassfed Exchange Is About:
Click here to register for the 2017 Grassfed Exchange

Reprinted from Grassfed Exchange

Egg Drop Soup for Liquid Diet

Home made egg drop soup:  (Tan Hua T’ang)

3 cups of chicken stock broth.

1/2 teaspoon salt (use Real salt or something that is 100% salt – check the label)

3 tablespoons cold water

1 tablespoon tapioca flour (cassava)* or cornstarch

2 eggs slightly beaten (farm fresh from pastured hens is best)

Heat broth and salt to boiling.  Mix cold water and tapioca flour; stir gradually into broth.  Boil and stir 1 minutes.  Slowly pour eggs into broth stirring constantly with fork, to form shreds of egg.  Remove from heat; stir slowly once or twice.

You can also make this without thickening it with the tapioca flour or cornstarch if it needs to be absolutely thin liquid.

For best medicine, you need to find a local farmer from whom you can purchase healthy pasture raised spent hens or broilers.  You may have to butcher them yourself.  Cook them down bones and all, pull off the meat bits, then throw the bones and cartilage back into the water and simmer another hour or so.  The goal is to get as much of the chondroitan out of the cartilage and minerals out of the bones and into your broth.  Once done, strain out the bones and let the broth cool.  Chicken fat is quite soft, so if you want to skim it off, you’ll eventually have to put it in the frig or other cool spot so that it will harden on the top of the broth so that you can remove it with a slotted spoon.

Buying chicken broth in the store is NOT the same product as what you are making here.

As always, find certified organic or organically raised ingredients.

This was a big hit with my father-in-law who is recovering from hernia surgery, is very weak, and really doesn’t have an appetite.

However, it’s quite good even if you aren’t sick or in recovery.

Cheers

tauna

*my friend Francoirse raises cassava in DRC!

Find a local producer near you using a handy website search, here are a few:

Localdirt.com

Eatwild.com

Localharvest.org

 

Food Waste in the UK

Speak boldly  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall!

From BBC News Magazine

Viewpoint: The rejected vegetables that aren’t even wonky

There is little doubt this situation is just as bad in the US and around the world.  Yet the big food companies (not food producers) tell us we’ll all starve if we don’t buy their products to produce more food.  It’s a pack of lies.  We waste far too much food.  What we have is a distribution problem and in the first world countries we have so much food that we are incredibly picky.

Food waste is a subject i feel is important – as a cattle rancher and mom, i hear a lot of people complain (in the US) about the high cost of food, yet most producers (meats, eggs, chicken, vegetables, fruit) barely scrape out a living.  The facts are that the cost of production continues to skyrocket, yet, by and large, the producer’s income has remained stagnant while the consumer’s cost has risen only a little.  The margins are very thin and oftentimes only the much aligned farm subsidies provided by the govt are the difference between going another year and losing the farm.  We could utilise our resources much more efficiently and produce a great deal more foodstuffs.  But there is no reason to do so.  Food is so cheap, we would simply lose money.

That huge pile of parsnips that Mr Fearnly-Whittingstall is standing in front of could consumed by cattle or sheep or just returned to the soil to be ploughed back in, but will it?  For sure, the food you throw into your bin at home will go only to the landfill.

Okay, i’ll step off my soapbox now!  😉

Cheers!

tauna

BBC magazine supermarketveg

Yom Kippur

Thankfully, I’ve accomplished quite a lot despite being inside most of the days.  I did mess up by mowing a small bit of tall lawn after my recip cows had grazed a spot about as short as they were going to.  Yeah, i was pretty shut down the next day.  My bad.

I had posted on facebook about building what The Seed Guy calls a lasagne bed.  By that he means to layer brown and green compostable stuff to build soil for next spring’s garden.  I scrounged around for a couple of 16 ft boards and cut a couple of 2 ft boards and lag screwed the four pieces into a long box.  Yes, i know that a 4 by 16 foot bed would be more efficient, but as you can see from my photo, i can only reasonable access two feet because of its proximaty to the propane tank.  Plus, this is plenty big for me; i don’t particularly like to garden and i’m not good at it at all.  But, I like a particular variety of heirloom tomato and my Asian long pole green beans.  I might throw in a few lettuce and spinach seeds early in the season.

16 ft x 2 ft raised bed.  Will start layer with cardboard, then add green grass clippings, then maybe hay or food scraps, then top with a sprinkling of soil and wet it down.
16 ft x 2 ft raised bed. Will start layer with cardboard, then add green grass clippings, then maybe hay or food scraps, then top with a sprinkling of soil and wet it down.

Also, managed to defrost and clean out the freezer amongst a host of other tasks.

Vacuumed out first.
Vacuumed out first.
Frozen food stacked outside while the freezer defrosts.
Frozen food stacked outside while the freezer defrosts.
I like to scoop out the ice before it melts. Much easier to pack out ice, than mop up water.
I like to scoop out the ice before it melts. Much easier to pack out ice, than mop up water.

Yom Kippur!

Starts at sundown and goes until tomorrow at sundown.  A shabbat.

What is the prophetic meaning of Yom Kippur?

Eat ALL of Your Vegetables!

The Off Duty Wall Street article is subtitled, ”

Vegetable Scraps Go Haute: How to Cook Root to Stalk

My comment:

Interesting article – Neat how survival/frugal living/done-for-centuries lifestyles are now becoming ‘haute‘! Doesn’t everyone already do this?! Well, maybe not the fancy recipes, but food should never be wasted. Egg shells and coffee grounds make awesome soil amendments. Whatever parts of plants you simply cannot stomach can be turned into compost or fed to the chooks. Or feed all those scraps to worms which you can use to go fishing. But don’t ever let food go to waste!

and my comment posted to the article on the Wall Street Journal site:

“All the comments to the article are spot on and i can add nothing to them.  I thought most people already knew this stuff, but apparently not if the article is accurate in stating the 40% of our food produced goes to waste.  Then again, I have personally seen family members throw out a bowl of perfectly good fruit simply because one item had a soft spot on it!  I had to choke back my admonition!”

Now go cook or compost those stems!
tauna

The Kosher Animal Rap… Love this!

Toe tapping biblical wisdom!  Click on the ‘view original to get the video.  I haven’t paid to have video available on wordpress!  I think that’s why it won’t play.

natsab

Friend, Bill Sanford, of Messianic Alef Tav Scriptures, sent this out earlier today prompting a terrific conversation he and I had…  What a blessing, but that is another story.

Anyway, we have already enjoyed this rap here a couple times today…  May you be blessed by it.

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