Modern Farmer http://modernfarmer.com Farm. Food. Life. Wed, 02 Sep 2015 21:05:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3 Free-Range Chicken Creates Huge Traffic Jam on San Francisco Bridge http://modernfarmer.com/2015/09/chicken-san-francisco-bridge/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/09/chicken-san-francisco-bridge/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 21:05:54 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=39287

Are there chicken cages in Alcatraz?

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One brave chicken decided to work around the cluck to find out what happens when chickens really do cross the road. As it turns out, when that road is the Bay Bridge, what happens is a massive traffic jam.

For more than four hours, one feathered fugitive made a truly egg-cellent mess of the Bay Bridge, which connects San Francisco with Oakland. A common brown hen was first spotted early in the morning, at around 5:50 AM local time, wandering around the tollbooth area. Not too big a deal at that time! People were, mostly, amused.

But as the bridge filled up with the usual weekday morning rush hour commuters, the situation turned anything but sunny (side up).

Both commuters and the authorities were unable, at first, to halt what can only be described as a traffic fowl.

But by 10:10 AM, to everyone’s relief, the birdbrains over at animal services managed to capture and subdue the chicken, placing it where all escapees end up: the back seat of a squad car.

arrestedchicken  

No word as yet regarding the eventual whereabouts of the chicken. 

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An Interview with “Eating Up the West Coast” Author Brigit Binns http://modernfarmer.com/2015/09/brigit-binns-interview/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/09/brigit-binns-interview/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 21:03:36 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=39283

We spoke with cookbook author Brigit Binns about writing her new book, traveling the open road, and some of her favorite meals.

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California is as famous for its car culture as it for its culinary innovations, so it makes sense that Brigit Binns, a native of the Golden State and a prolific cookbook author, would combine road tripping, restaurants, and recipes in one neat little package in her latest offering, Eating Up the West Coast.

The book, which nicely combines recipes, travelogue, and a guidebook, is broken up into 12 routes that take the reader from Southern California to Washington’s border with Canada. Binns loves the road, and it shows in the meandering routes she’s chosen. If you can’t make it there yourself, Binns’ recipes will give you a taste of what the coast has to offer (and maybe even inspire you to hit the road, too). We recently caught up with her by phone to talk about writing the book, traveling the open road, and some of her favorite meals.

Modern Farmer: What was the food scene like on your coastal travels?

Brigit Binns: In the old days on the shore it was all saltwater taffy, fried chicken, fried everything. Now, it’s really changing with both worlds existing together. There’s the tattooed guy from Portland who has discovered his own little slice of heaven on the Long Beach peninsula at the southern end of Washington state, where he can get seafood right from the ocean, cranberries from the bogs, and have foragers coming to his back door. But right down the road, there’s the biggest candy bar in the world.

MF: Did you have a favorite route?

BB: I keep coming back to Route 10 [in the book, which starts in Oysterville, Washington and ends in Moclips, Washington]. It was so beautifully unspoiled. The Long Beach peninsula is so gorgeous. It was something I’d never seen before. I’d definitely go back.

MF: What were some of your favorite meals?

BB: There’s a place in Anacortes, Washington, I found that wasn’t actually on my list called the A’Town Bistro. I just had the best dinner. That’s where I had the polenta fries and lamb shanks (both recipes are in the book). The bartender was also the manager and he told me all these stories about the town. That was a definite high point.

MF: Did you find yourself overeating on these trips? 

BB: There were times when I would have to eat six different entrees in a day. It wasn’t very romantic. I didn’t want to insult the chef, so I’d usually ask for most of it to be wrapped up and then I would go and find a homeless person and give it to them.

MF: How did you decide what you’d focus on at the various places you ate?

BB: [My editor and I] had to try and figure out a balance of the dishes and recipes or I’d have ordered Dungeness [crab] macaroni and cheese at every restaurant. I’d try whatever I suspected was going to be the best of a certain high point and make sure I didn’t have too many burgers, too many sandwiches. That’s a lot of what you see at coastal joints. We had to veer off the beaten path in that department, too. That’s why we had Chinese chicken salad from the same place that makes pulled-pork pizza. It was one of the finds at Ribcage Smokery [in Pacific City, Oregon] that wasn’t originally on the list.

MF: Did you ever have a hard time convincing any of the chefs to give you their recipes?

BB: I’m usually able to convince them that there is no possible way a home cook is going to be able to duplicate what they do in the restaurant because they have different ingredients and equipment, different knowledge, abilities, patience, commitment. And by the time it gets into the book, it’s totally different because I’ve been messing around with it. The final recipe doesn’t resemble the one I received from the chef about nine-and-a-half times out of 10. I say in the book if you really want to taste it the way the chef meant it to be, you’ve got to go there.

MF: There’s a great history of writers taking to the road to find inspiration. Did the road help you write or did it make it more difficult?

BB: I love the road. I have an app on my phone so I can record myself and I’m unstoppable. I feel so good when I’m out on the open road, being independent, seeing new things, nothing but time for reflection. It’s a beautiful thing.

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We Have No Idea What Kind Of Cannabis We’re Buying http://modernfarmer.com/2015/09/cannabis-labeling/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/09/cannabis-labeling/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 17:43:53 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=39277

Indica? Sativa? Don't trust what your dispensary tells you—they're just guessing.

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As cannabis becomes a legitimate, legal, and highly profitable crop, scientists are finally beginning to analyze and understand it. And what they're finding is that the long ban has led to consumers basically knowing nothing about it.

As the ban on cannabis lessens, scientists have finally sweeping away the popular understanding of the crop and how it works, which has largely been informed by guesswork and superstition. Case in point: the divide between indica and sativa strains, which a team from various Canadian universities recently examined.

There are three species of plant in the cannabis genus: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. (The latter is lower in the active chemical THC than the former two species, and so is less commonly grown.) Sativa and indica species can be cross-bred, producing mixed strains, but many dispensaries (both legal and not) identify products as being mostly or entirely sativa or indica.

Popular lore holds that the two species have different effects when imbibed. Sativa is allegedly a more active, stimulating species, while indica is believed to produce more sedentary, sleepier effects. But the Canadian researchers delved into the genotypes of a whopping 81 marijuana and 43 hemp samples to find out exactly what heritage they are, and discovered that in many cases, these plants are totally mislabeled.

In fact, the researchers found “only a moderate correlation” between the history of a product as told by a retailer and the product’s DNA history. “For example, a sample of Jamaican Lambs Bread, which is classified as C. sativa, was almost identical at a genetic level to a C. indica strain from Afghanistan,” according to a media release from the University of British Columbia.

The study shows just how poor the state of cannabis labeling is, even as it rapidly becomes legal. It’s as if, after Prohibition ended, we had no idea which raw materials were used to create liquor, how strong the liquor was, or whether the distilling process was done safely. Past studies have indicated that the strength and cleanliness of cannabis is basically totally unregulated, and this new study adds to that list the problem of not knowing a product’s provenance. As cannabis takes its place as a high-value, legal cash crop, it’s going to need some serious regulation to ensure safety and reliability.

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3 Vintage “Modern Farmer” Publications—And What We Can Still Learn From Them http://modernfarmer.com/2015/08/vintage-modern-farmer-publications/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/08/vintage-modern-farmer-publications/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 22:58:16 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=39231

We pride ourselves on being unique, but we have to be honest: There were early-1800s publications that shared our name.

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We here at Modern Farmer pride ourselves on being unique, but we have to be honest: There were other publications that came before us—including one from the early-1800s that shared our name. We thought it would be fun to look back at some of the earlier iterations of Modern Farmer to see what the definition meant then and how it compares to now.

What we discovered was that farmers of the past were worried about many of the same things as farmers of today are: growing the market for their products, trade barriers, and whether the next generation would be ready, willing, and able to take over for farmers who were aging out. They also shared the belief in technology and innovation—but of course, back then it was the latest ploughs and other horse-drawn implements, rather than drones and apps.

Here are three old-time Modern Farmer publications, which, we have to say, had ridiculously long taglines. (Ours, if you’ll remember, is short and sweet: Farm | Food | Life.)

1. Rural Recreations

Or, Modern Farmer’s Calendar: And Monthly Instructor: Exhibiting Under a Comprehensive Form, All the Operations Necessary on a Farm, for Every Month of the Year: as Well as All the Recent Improvements in Agriculture and Rural Economy

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An engine for steaming hot houses from “Rural Recreations.” via Google Books

 

Phew! That’s a name! This British publication from 1802 was written in the midst of that country’s agricultural revolution. It provided farmers with a clear and easy-to-follow guide to make sense of the mass of information being produced by other farmers (including both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson) and scientists who were contributing to a growing body of agricultural knowledge.

Each monthly chapter contained a variety of projects the farmer could undertake. For instance, the January chapter included information on how to drain swampy land and tips on repairing fences; April’s had instructions on sowing spring wheat, and planting carrots and turnips; and the October section described how to build a stable and included tips for digging up root crops. (Tip: use children and old folks for the job.)

There’s still a lot of practical information that can be gleaned from the book, from how to build a fence to the many advantages of planting turnips. The discussions on the “newest” farm implements are just a bit (ahem) outdated.

2. The Modern Farmer

Or, Home in the Country: Designed for Instruction and Amusement on Rainy Days and Winter Evenings

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A Devon cow from “The Modern Farmer” by Rev. John Blake. via Google Books

In 1853, the publishing house of Derby & Miller rolled out this more than 450-page tome by Rev. John Lauris Blake, (1788-1857) an Episcopalian minister. In 1842, Blake—whose family was from New Hampshire—moved west and settled in Orange, New York, in the state’s Finger Lakes region, and he began farming 32 acres. He eventually put pen to paper to help other small farmers with a variety of practical, philosophical, and even aesthetic (the book has lots of poetry) agricultural questions, and he also included advice from a variety of other sources. A graduate of Brown University, Blake stressed the importance of education, science, and civic involvement for farmers and was heavily interested in soil health and good cultivation practices.

“A man who takes money out of his pocket faster than he puts it in will soon have none to be taken out and will be a bankrupt,” Blake wrote more than 160 years ago. “It is so with the farmer who takes away from his soil more than he returns to it.”  This still holds true today.

3. The Modern Farmer in His Business Relations

A Study of Some of the Principles Underlying the Art of Profitable Farming and Marketing, and of the Interests of Farmers as Affected by Modern Social and Economic Conditions and Force

This 1899 work by Edward F. Adams, a farmer, newspaper columnist, and businessman from Santa Cruz County, California, focused on the business side of farming, and claimed to be the first to tackle the subject. Although much of the information is geared towards the ins-and-outs of banking and government regulations at the turn of the 20th century, the general principles still hold true and are worth a look. Adams believed (and, in some ways, it has come to pass) that if small farmers’ business abilities weren’t, “requisite to successful farming under modern conditions” then “farm labor will come to be exploited by able men conducting huge agricultural operations, just as mechanical labor is now exploited by Captains of Industry.”

Adams considered the farmer as primarily a businessman and secondly a steward of the land. He also believed technology was there to help farmers by allowing them to make use of the “discoveries of science to lessen costs of production.”

And we’ll throw in one more piece of advice many may find rings true during this political season: “The relation of the farmer to the politician should be one of profound distrust.”

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Farmers, USDA Gear Up For The Next Bird Flu Season http://modernfarmer.com/2015/08/farmers-usda-gear-up-for-the-next-bird-flu-season/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/08/farmers-usda-gear-up-for-the-next-bird-flu-season/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 20:50:45 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=39226

The USDA is stockpiling enough vaccine to handle twice as many outbreaks as happened earlier this year.

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The latest version of bird flu, H5N2, forced the killing of more than 48 million chickens and turkeys in the US this past year. And it's coming back. But the USDA, as well as farmers across the country, are determined to be fully prepared this time.

This version of bird flu is thought to be transmitted by wild birds on their migration routes north and south, meaning that it’s spread during the spring and fall. This past summer’s outbreak was extraordinarily bad, forcing up egg prices across the country and slaughtering exports to other countries. Though things are stabilizing, we’re merely in the eye of the storm right now. Both farmers and the USDA are preparing for the worst this fall, stockpiling enough vaccine to stop a whopping 500 outbreaks, twice as many as occurred this summer.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted last month that the USDA has what appears to be a very effective vaccine, but the vaccine won’t stop outbreaks from occurring: It’ll simply stop birds from producing more of the virus, retarding the spread. But farmers are reluctant to use the vaccine, for fear that it’ll be seen, by foreign trading partners, as throwing in the towel. Many foreign importers will simply not purchase vaccinated birds. So the USDA isn’t issuing vaccines—it’s simply stockpiling them.

Harvest Public Media interviewed some farmers affected by this summer’s outbreak to find out how they’re responding to the previous outbreak and what seems like the inevitable fall/winter outbreak to come. Some farmers, luckily, are scrubbing and disinfecting their barns and repopulating with new birds. “Fortunately … as devastating as it is, the disease is relatively easy to get rid of,” writes Amy Mayer, speaking to Iowa turkey farmer Brad Moline.

Nobody can say for sure whether bird flu will return with the kind of strength it had during the summer. But everyone involved seems to be going above and beyond to make sure that if it does come back, it can at least be contained.

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How to Grow and Harvest Grains in Your Backyard http://modernfarmer.com/2015/08/how-to-grow-and-harvest-grains-in-your-backyard/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/08/how-to-grow-and-harvest-grains-in-your-backyard/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 19:35:45 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=39214

Bread, beer, and pasta all originate with a planting of grain seed in fall. Be the first on your block to grow your own.

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Fruits, herbs, and vegetables get all the attention among gardeners.

Backyard poultry and goats provide eggs and dairy (and perhaps meat) for some, but what about the staple foods? Wheat, oats, millet, and other grains are actually much easier to grow than most fruits and vegetables, yet we tend to leave those foods to large farms and buy our flour and cornmeal at the grocery store. There is a bit of specialized knowledge needed to grow grains, but there are a couple myths that have turned people off from the idea.

The first is is that you need acres and acres to produce even a few pounds of flour. The truth is that 1,000 square feet—the size of an average backyard—is enough space to grow a bushel of wheat. A bushel of wheat equals 60 pounds of grain, which is enough to bake 90 loaves of bread. Even devoting a row in your vegetable garden to a grain will yield enough to make it worthwhile.

The second myth is that you need special equipment to harvest grains and turn them into something you want to eat. Not so. Traditionally grains are harvested with a scythe, but you can also cut the stalks down with pair of pruning shears or a hedge trimmer. Threshing—removing the grain from the seedheads—is as simple as beating the stalks with a stick. Winnowing—removing the chaff (the papery covering around the grain)—is easily accomplished with a small household fan. A good quality blender passes as a mill for turning grains into flour.

Start a Grain Patch

Grains are divided between those that like to grow in warm weather and those that prefer cool temperatures. The majority fall in the latter group, which includes oats, rye, spelt, and most types of wheat. These are typically planted in early fall and are harvested in late spring the following year. (They overwinter under the snow in cold climates.) Buckwheat, millet, and certain wheat varieties need hot weather to mature and are planted in spring. Some feed stores sell grain seed suitable for kitchen use, but it’s often easier to find it online. We recommend Johnny’s Selected SeedsSustainable Seed Company, and Peaceful Valley Farm Supply.

All grains need a sunny location. Till up the area to be planted to a depth of at least 6 inches. Most grains have low fertility requirements, but if the soil is extremely poor, spread a couple inches of compost over the surface and till it in before planting. In order to distribute the grain seed evenly over the surface of the soil, it’s best to use a seed spreader to sow the seed, rather than try to distribute it by hand. Follow the instructions on the package for the appropriate seeding rate—this will usually be given in pounds per 1,000 square feet.

After spreading the seed, lightly rake the area with a hard metal rake to mix it into the surface layer of soil. Spread a thin layer of straw over the soil to deter birds from feasting on the seed and to conserve soil moisture. Soak the area with a sprinkler to encourage germination and continue to keep the area moist (but not soggy) until the seedlings have emerged. When planting in the fall, cool weather may preclude the need for additional irrigation. Spring plantings will need about an inch of water per week. If in doubt, water whenever the top inch of soil is dry.

Harvesting and Processing

Some warm-season grains mature in as little as 30 days after germination, while grains that are overwintered may need up to nine months before they are ready to harvest. Here are the basic steps to bring your crop from the field to the pantry.

  1. Harvest the grains when the stalks are just beginning to go from green to brown, using a scythe or other tool. Cut them just above the ground.
  2. Tie the stalks into bunches with twine and let them dry for about two weeks in a location that is protected from rain. They may be left to dry on the floor or hung from the ceiling of a barn or porch. You’ll know the grain is sufficiently dry if it’s hard and crunchy when you bite into it.
  3. Spread a tarp or sheet over the floor,and beat the stalks with a wooden dowel to release the grain from the seedheads. (This is called threshing.)
  4. Collect the grain in a large bowl or bucket. Set up a fan at a medium speed (strong enough to blow away the chaff, but not so strong to blow away the grain. This isn’t terribly difficult since the chaff—the papery covering around the grain—is much lighter than the grain.) Drop handfuls of the grain into a second container, allowing the breeze to blow off the chaff as they fall. (This is called winnowing.)
  5. Store the cleaned grain in glass jars in a cool dark place.
  6. Mill the grain as needed with heavy duty blender (like a Vitamix) or a countertop grain mill.

One extra step is required before some grains can be milled, which is to remove the hull. Rice, buckwheat, and oats are examples of grains with a hard outer hull. One method, which is a bit tedious for large quantities, is to run the grain lightly through a blender to crack the hulls and separate them from the grain. You can then sift the hulls out with your fingers or find the right size metal mesh that allows the grain to fall through, but removes the hulls. Fortunately, most grain mills are capable of removing the hulls and some even come with a special attachment for the purpose.

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August 28: Stories That Caught Our Attention This Week http://modernfarmer.com/2015/08/august-28-stories-that-caught-our-attention-this-week/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/08/august-28-stories-that-caught-our-attention-this-week/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 17:00:54 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=39181

Israel says ketchup isn't ketchup anymore, and we need to start growing more indigenous crops. Check out what the Internet taught us this week.

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Take a Modern Farmer-approved trip around the web with the stories that got us talking this week. Bus leaves every Friday, so join any time.

Earlier this week, FoodTank schooled us on how indigenous crops are sustainable and good for the environment. Guess we need to find some hinkelhatz pepper seeds to grow in our gardens.

Over in California, the drought isn’t just drying up land, it’s drying up the jobs as well, reports NPR. More than 21,000 farmworkers are out of work, and the ones who do work are making less money.

Syngenta put the kibosh on its close-but-no-cigar merger with Monsanto, declaring that Monsanto’s $46.2 billion offer didn’t cut it.

FoodBeast shared how Israel’s Health Ministry decided that Heinz ketchup wasn’t tomato-y enough. The Ministry’s requires 10 percent tomato paste, and Heinz comes in at 6 percent. Until requirements change, Heinz’s Hebrew label will read as “tomato seasoning.”

Lastly, Kraft recalled a bunch of turkey bacon on Tuesday due to possible adulteration, which is weird because we always thought that turkey bacon was faithful. Was Ashley Madison involved? Oh, wait. This just means that the bacon may spoil before its “best when used by date.”

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Meet Modern Farmer’s Guest Instagrammers: Green Dirt Farm http://modernfarmer.com/2015/08/meet-modern-farmers-guest-instagrammers-green-dirt-farm/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/08/meet-modern-farmers-guest-instagrammers-green-dirt-farm/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 14:03:34 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=39168

Say hello to Green Dirt Farm, a sheep dairy farm and creamery in Weston, Missouri. They're taking over Modern Farmer's Instagram account for a bit.

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Meet Green Dirt Farm, a sheep dairy farm and creamery in Weston, Missouri. They’re taking over Modern Farmer's Instagram account for a bit. Stop by and have a look!

When Sarah Hoffmann gave up her medical career, she wanted her children to have the opportunity to experience farm life. It was the same type of opportunity she had growing up, even though her father was a career Navy man. While the family moved around a lot, they always settled onto small farms rather than military bases, instilling in Sarah a love for farm life.

Hoffman, 56, originally intended to grow vegetables, but discovered the initial 25 acres she had purchased were better suited for grazing. She instead turned to raising sheep, and along with sheep came a new-found passion for cheesemaking.

Located about 40 miles northwest of Kansas City, Hoffman raises her 70-ewe milking flock on 150 acres, plus land her neighbors allow her animals to graze on. It’s a win-win situation, since they get free lawn care, thanks to Hoffman’s hungry sheep.

The farm produces award-winning sheep-milk cheese, yogurt, and grass-fed lamb. They’re also known for the farm dinners featuring local chefs ​they host on a regular basis.

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Sarah Farrar

Hoffman and her former business partner, Jacqueline Smith, started Green Dirt Farm in 2000. They began selling grass-fed lamb two years later and started producing cheese in 2008. Smith has since left the farm after launching Central Grazing Co., which supplies locally raised, grass-fed lamb to restaurants and grocery stores.

Green Dirt is a sustainable farm and grade-A dairy that’s Animal Welfare Approvedmeaning they’ve passed a rigorous process proving they raise their animals humanely and operate with the environment in mind.

“Our motto is, ‘dirt, grass, sheep, milk, cheese, community,’” says ​Rachel Kleine, a cheesemaker at the farm. “To us, this means that the details that seem to be only of minor importance to our cheese making craft—for example, our attention to the care of our soil—are, in fact, of supreme significance in creating our products.”

Kleine, 26, says elevating small details serves to remind them of their “dependence on the land, the animals, and each other. We believe that happy sheep produce great milk, so we take great pride in the care and well-being of our animals.”

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“Girls on the Ridge at Sunset.” The dairy flock with AJ, one of the Maremma livestock guardian dogs. Rachel Kleine

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Waste into Waistcoats: 3 Ways We’re Recycling Slaughterhouse Scraps http://modernfarmer.com/2015/08/recycle-slaughterhouse-waste/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/08/recycle-slaughterhouse-waste/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 20:00:22 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=39154

There’s a lot of waste that comes from the slaughter of livestock. Here are some innovative ways it's being reused.

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You get your ground beef in a nice little cellophane package, and your pork chops wrapped in white paper by a butcher. But have you ever thought about what happens to the rest of the animal, the parts that aren’t sizzling on your grill or baking in the oven?

There’s a lot of waste that comes from the slaughter of livestock. Forty percent of the animal gets turned into the recognizable cuts you find at the store, while 60 percent of the animal (besides the stuff that goes into hot dogs)—things like bones, blood, connective tissue and other various parts—needs to be either recycled or tossed out, according to The Atlantic. Here are some ways people are taking those leftovers and turning them into something useful.

Something to Wear

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have developed yarn comparable to Merino wool that uses slaughterhouse waste as the base for the material, specifically the collagen from skin, bone, and tendons. The fiber’s creators hope it may one day compete with petroleum-based synthetic fiber. Nearly 56 million metric tons of synthetic fiber was produced in 2013 alone, and the manufacture of that material (polyester, rayon, spandex, and others) is an energy-intensive process. This new (non-vegetarian?) fiber designed by Philipp Stössel, a 28-year-old PhD student at the institute, is still in the testing stage and isn’t yet commercially available.

Something to Run On

The process of turning slaughterhouse waste into biofuel has been around for awhile, but there are some newer innovations worth a look. Scientists at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette have developed a faster and less wasteful way to convert alligator fat into biofuel. Alligator farming has been growing rapidly across the Southeastern United States, and with that comes a lot of waste—15 million pounds per year, according to The New York Times. The new technique uses a continuous reactor instead of a batch reactor, speeding up processing, and doesn’t require a catalyst, which leads to less waste. The researchers are looking into whether other animal fats, such as chicken, pork, and beef, can be converted to biofuel through the same method.

Something to Grow On

In Kenya, a community-based slaughterhouse in Kiserian, just outside of Nairobi, is bottling biogas made from its waste, which it plans to sell to consumers at about half the cost of  traditional liquid petroleum gas. The facility is also converting waste material into a fertilizer for Maasai herdsmen in the hopes of creating faster-growing grass for their grazing cattle. 

There are some who argue meat production is a carbon-intensive process and merely reusing the byproducts of turning a cow into a steak isn’t really solving the problem. But slaughterhouses aren’t going away anytime soon. (In fact, meat consumption continues to ramp up in a big way.) So it’s encouraging that some waste is being reused; but it’s also a reminder that perhaps having a salad instead of a steak every so often isn’t a bad idea.

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Prices for Domestic Wild Shrimp Way Down, Thanks to Foreign Farms http://modernfarmer.com/2015/08/prices-for-domestic-shrimp-down/ http://modernfarmer.com/2015/08/prices-for-domestic-shrimp-down/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 19:20:46 +0000 http://modernfarmer.com/?p=39106

Buy domestic. It's better for the planet, better for the country, and better for your palate.

The post Prices for Domestic Wild Shrimp Way Down, Thanks to Foreign Farms appeared first on Modern Farmer.


Shrimp is one of America's favorite seafood, but a whopping 90 percent of our supply comes from overseas, largely from farms prone to disease and environmental destruction. And that leaves domestic shrimp producers in the lurch, as prices plummet dangerously.

Most of our shrimp is imported from farms in Thailand, China, the Philippines, Ecuador, and Brazil, among other countries. These have varying levels of acceptability; a handful use very responsible recirculating systems, but the vast majority are spectacularly gross. Organic waste, antibiotics, and various chemicals (largely and ironically for sanitary purposes) leach into the groundwater and pollute the nearby waterways. Escapees from the farms also breed, forcing out native species and screwing with the local ecosystems. Costco is even currently embroiled in a scandal for selling Thai shrimp that’s produced, in part, with slave labor. There’s no end of reasons to be wary of cheap imports.

Yet international farming remains the most popular choice to supply our demand, despite that in the Gulf of Mexico we have our own historic, high-quality shrimp industry. In Louisiana and Texas, shrimpers have been pulling in world-class white, brown, and pink crustaceans for generations. Soon enough, that might end. Year over year, prices have dropped an absurd amount; Louisiana shrimpers told The Advocate that their at-dock prices dropped from about $4.70 per pound last year to $1.30 this year. This summer, right up to this week, domestic shrimpers have begun protesting at a higher pitch, demanding stricter regulations, presumably in the form of tariffs, to protect domestic shrimp and block the imported stuff.

Despite the slightly higher price for domestic wild shrimp, they are better for consumers, at least those who care about the planet. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, the largest seafood watchdog group in the country, rates domestic shrimp as near-universally superior in sustainability to imported, and fishmongers also note that the organic domestic product tends to be the tastiest, as well.

Domestic shrimp catch is also down year over year. For the month of June, the Gulf catch is roughly half of what it was in the previous June, according to the Southern Shrimp Alliance. That’s due partly to some lingering effects of 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, but also because market pressures from imported shrimp and high gas prices have forced many Gulf shrimpers out of the market entirely. Bad news for them, and bad news for all of us shrimp-lovers.

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