Over-Sensitized Consumers

Desensitizing. It sounds a bit militaristic. I have seen this word used over and over again in reference to killers, terrorists, and those of us who consume meat in a balanced diet. The theory is that those who are constantly around perceived objectionable practices tend to lose their disdain for them. In other words, if you grew up hunting for food, you do not feel as ashamed as others wish you did. You are desensitized to the violence known as feeding yourself. I have some bad news for the self-sufficient. This is not a theory, but a fact. We can trace this effect through past generations, and see a startling reality about food perceptions.

We, who live on this planet as a combined group of beings who consume food to live, are gradually painting ourselves into a proverbial corner. I can be condemned for eating an apple. "Sorry, no, it was not organic". What a self-aggrandizing world do we live in. A generation ago folks pealed an apple, cut out any worm holes, bruises or defects, and ate what was left. Today, those of us who eat apples grown by conventional methods are prompted to feel beneath those who only eat a couple of untouched, pristine apples from the top of each tree. As far as they are concerned, the rest are good for compost piles.

nuggetWhen you buy chicken at the store, is it in the form of fillets or boneless skinless breasts? Have your kids ever eaten bone-in meat? Many haven't. They would be appalled to realize that chicken comes from a...um... chicken. My young niece recently declared her affinity for chicken nuggets. "What part of the chicken is that", I asked. After a short sidebar with her older sister, she exclaimed, "His nuggets!"  Funny? Yes. I decided to drop the explanation until she is substantially older.

A woman recently filed a lawsuit because there was a skinned chicken foot in her store bought boneless-skinless chicken breast package. She claimed mental anguish and an inability to ever eat chicken again. The case should be thrown out. She couldn't eat chicken to start with! My grandmothers, aunts and uncles gnawed a chicken until there was nothing left but the cackle. We need to shed this belief that good food is only available after it has been industrialized.

porksteakThere is a solution. Summer is here. Instead of feeding your kids flavored yogurt and mystery meat with a brown-crust-flavored substance, toss some pork steaks or chicken thighs on the old BBQ grill. (these are still some of the cheapest proteins out there) It doesn't have to be everyday, but think of the stir you will cause in the neighborhood when that seared chicken and hickory smoke smell wafts through the sub-division. Folks will step outside and warily aim their jealous noses into the wind. More importantly, you will be passing on an appreciation for real food to the next generation.



The Forgotten Feast

How did people live before convenience stores, drive-thru menus, and pre-packaged food?  Quite well actually.  You didn't think food always came in a box did you?  Before the days of additives, colorings, and corn syrup debates, the human race thrived.  Food was hunted.  Food was gathered.  Food was relished as a resource that only one's abilities could produce.  Is it possible to subsist today by these methods?  According to Hank Shaw, the answer is... Yes.

The Salt Creek Blog Talk Radio Show is back for another year.  The first show of 2012 focuses on one of my favorite subjects... food!  As if food were not a great enough subject, we will be discussing wild food.  Call in live and on the air with suggestions, recipes or questions.  Hank Shaw is an expert at transforming natural and native foods into culinary delights. 

Hank is the author of "Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast".  He states, "My hope is that the book will help open the world of foraging, hunting and fishing to those interested in food, but who may have never hunted mushrooms or picked up a gun or cast a rod and reel before."

We want to enjoy our food.  Can a diet of foraged grub, wild game, and plants be appetizing?  This time I will answer... Yes!  You will agree after a quick look at Hank's blog "Hunter Angler Gardener Cook" .  The recipes found here are definitely not dried deer on a stick.  You will find an awesome array of tasty foods, from Pheasant Piccata with capers and lemon, to vegetarian fare like Sicilian Sun-Dried Zucchini, sauteed with mint and chile.

Hank has written articles for Field And Stream, Food & Wine,  and other publications.   His blog has received accolades and awards including The Bert Greene Award as Best Food Blog from the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Join us as at 7 Central Time on February 12th, when we discuss "The Forgotten Feast".

Food For Thought

If you do the math, every farmer feeds 155 people.  That is a lot of people!  As the number of farmers continues to decrease, the output steadily rises.  To say that farmers are doing their part is almost redundant.  Everyone knows farmers are out there working hard, but many don't know the process or steps that it takes to get that food, fiber, and other goods out to the consumer.  Misinformation is often handed out by groups such as HSUS or PETA, and competition to gain in niche markets often brings hard feelings between the Ag producers.   Here is the interesting part... Farmers are trying every avenue to both learn from, and inform end users.  The real trouble is connecting these two groups, the producer and the consumer.

Technology is offering a new way to educate each other in the form of on-line communication and social media.  As usual, farmers are slowly embracing change and putting it to the test.  Groups like the Agchat Foundation and the USFRA have become on-line gathering spots for social media Ag discussion.  There are other groups promoting food from farms and chats on Twitter about our food.  We just need to bring them all together.  If you are interested in food or agriculture, please join the conversation by clicking one of the above links.

As a farmer, I am doing my part as well.  I am reviving my web radio show known as Salt Creek Radio with the purpose of helping to connect the Ag producers and consumers with real info about real food.  At one point, almost everyone was involved in agriculture.  Let's get back to our roots.  Let's reconnect with our food.

You need a license for that

The stupidity continues to astound me!  It seems there is a daily barrage of dumb bombs dropping around us.  The animal activists (yes activists, animals do not have rights) are thrilled with this one.  Even run of the mill, Midwest folks have listened to the sobbing liberals so long, they do not know how to use their own brains.  I offer the following as proof...

John Dollarhite, from Nixa Missouri is in hot water with the Feds.  After starting a little business for his son, he was told he would need a license.  Let me point out, he should have purchased the license.  That is our first lesson today.  Don't do things the Federal Government will be interested in!  After a couple years, John and his son amassed a small fortune.  Figuring their profits and losses, at least $200 was made selling bunny rabbits (yes, 200 dollars. and yes, bunny rabbits).  Lesson 2, bunny rabbits, not a highly lucrative business.

Enter the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Dollarhite now faces a possible $90,643 fine.  Lesson 3, governments agencies are going through a financial crunch just like the rest of us.  On top of this, he could be fined up to $10,000 for each violation.  Since he had sold 619 animals, it doesn't take much to see how badly this could cut into his profits!

The story in and of itself is pretty far fetched.  Being from the U.S. though, we are used to hearing unbelievable monetary sums from our government.  The real lesson was learned as I read comments people made concerning this story.  Many made jokes.  Some felt John was in the wrong.   One reader of the Springfield Herald asked why none of the comments suggested the law may be unfair, or that PETA may be involved.  This little bit of patriotic logic was immediately slammed by an obvious tree hugger...  "this has nothing to do with PETA. All this man had to do is follow regulations of animal breeding. get a lic, and follow basic animal protection rights. These regulations are in place to protect the animals. Im sure some of you have a problem with that."

Mentally, I take aim with a slingshot at the hornet's nest over my head and let it fly.  Yes, I do have a problem with that!  Protect the animals from what, being eaten?  Basic animal protection rights?  Where is this animal bill of rights people have become so familiar with?  I don't remember it being ratified!   There are laws that say people can't be cruel to animals, nothing saying animals have rights.   Why do we need a license to breed animals?   They seem to do quite well on their own, without government intervention! 

That, my friends is lesson 4.  Just because everybody repeats what they hear, it doesn't make it right.  Before I get the obvious comment, I will throw in one final lesson.  Rabbits can be harvested in the woods (you will need a license for that too)  They breed there without regulations.  They are safe to consume.  Cook your food completely to the recommended temps.  After all, it is your responsibility to feed yourself.