Friday, July 25, 2014

Farming Fridays!

Let the Pollination Begin!

The soybeans are starting to fill out and begin the process of pollination. So, I'll admit it, I was not actually aware that soybeans had purple flowers until this year. To my credit, the flowers are hid within the bush by leaves and are fairly small. But pull back the leaves and reveal the stem of the plant and you can see the tiny little purple flowers that will, eventually, turn into pods and soybeans.

Can you spot the tiny little  purple flowers?
 According to the North Carolina Soybean Producers Association, pollination works like this:
In July, August and September, the plants bloom. The flowers are small and vary from a white to a beautiful violet or purple. From these blossoms, the soybean plant grows small pods that contain the young seeds. The soybean is a self-pollinating plant, which means that each flower has male and female parts. A single plant can produce seed and essentially clone itself. Soybean plants produce many more flowers than they need, so many flowers never produce pods.
The flowers will eventually turn into the pods where the soybeans
are located.
Unfortunately, it has not been the best year for soybeans here. Summer has been cool and wet. Those weather conditions are definitely not ideal for soybeans. When the soil gets damp and the temperature stays cool, they react by slowing down growth. 

On the other hand, the corn is doing very, very well this year. Passing by so many of our corn fields is fun because they look so uniform, strong, and tall. Although corn benefits from hot days, all the rain has been beneficial. 
Too bad I'm not covering our corn
crop this year -- it looks AWESOME!
 So tell me - how are your crops? Is the situation where you are similar to us here in Michigan?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

UPDATE: Progress On #DitchTheRule Campaign


We have a couple updates regarding the EPA's proposed water rule that would vastly expand the definition of water under the Clean Water Act. In an email update earlier today, American Farm Bureau Federation noted a few positive developments in the #DitchTheRule campaign.

First and foremost, AFBF has responded to each claim that the EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner made with her  blog. Let's just say that Nancy wasn't exactly telling us the whole truth about the proposed rule.... You can read her claims, along with AFBF's responses, by clicking here.

The next bit of news comes out of the House of Representatives. The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee passed H.R. 5078 - Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014. The best part - it was passed by a unanimous voice vote. It isn't a long piece of legislation (they don't read that kinda stuff anyway...), but as you can probably tell from the name, it directs the EPA to ditch the rule and encourages working with state governments for regulatory control. There are currently 43 co-sponsors of the bill in the House. You can click here to check out if your Congressman is on the list.

Over on the Senate side, there is a very similar piece of legislation - S.2496 - Protecting Water and Property Rights Act of 2014 -- which would do the exact same thing. A bunch of Senators have also cosponsored this bill, and you can click here to see that list.

Finally, and most importantly, please be sure to stop by the EPA's website and tell them to #DitchTheRule!

If you have not made comments to the EPA yet in opposition to the proposed rule, make sure you go HERE and do so now. And don't worry, our friends at AFBF offer some nice guidance on how to address your comments. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dairy Kids Have Lower Risk of Developing Allergies

This is a good place for your kids to hang out.
No, seriously.
I love highlighting the benefits of being a farm kid, because there are quite a few! I have pointed out before that kids raised on farms are generally healthier than their city counterparts. But a new study out of Sweden has even better news for kids that grow up on dairy farms:
Children who live on farms that produce milk run one-tenth the risk of developing allergies as other rural children.
The impact is so great, in fact, that pregnant women can help strengthen fetal and neonatal immune systems by simply hanging out at the dairy farm.

Scientists have realized for a while now that children are better off when they are exposed to potential allergens. It is suspected that the exposure on dairy farms is higher than others, but more research has to be done to figure out exactly what factors.

Check more about the study here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Food Babe 101

In the past I've pointed out the lies of several more well known celebrities -- Dr. Oz, Roseanne Bare, and Carrie Underwood are good examples. But today, the "celebrity" I'm going to tell you about is D-list at best and full of more lies than the charlatan known as Dr. Mercola. This spokesperson though has a ridiculous amount of influence considering her marked lack of any qualifications to even warm up a can of soup (which she would probably tell you is poison anyway).

Of course, I'm talking about Food Babe.

Vani Hari, her real name, holds a degree in computer science from University of North Carolina. Prior to starting her blog, she evidently worked as a independent management consultant for Bank of America. In other words, she has no experience or understanding of food, science, or chemistry.

But these days, she spends her time bullying what she refers to as "Big Food" into bending to her will, even (and especially) when more reputable people state that she's wrong. Since she started, she's made some well-known companies change ingredients and cave to her interests, including Chipotle, Chick-fil-a, and Subway. Once she starts a campaign against the company, they routinely sit down with her and discuss her problems. She's also regularly a guest on morning news shows, which feature her as an "expert" on food issues.

One of Food Babe's rules is that she won't eat something if she cannot pronounce all of the ingredients. (What does it mean that I have no idea how to pronounce her name?) Hence, in one of her more well known campaigns, Vani Hari managed to blackmail Subway into removing the chemical known as Azodicarbonamide out of their breads, simply because she could not pronounce the word.

If you aren't familiar with the chemical, Azodicarbonamide has been used in making bread since 1927. According to Josh Bloom at Science 2.0:
It is used for many things because of exactly one property—when heated it decomposes to a number of gasses, which turn into bubbles and get trapped in the matrix of whatever is being manufactured, giving it a foamy consistency. This is why it is used in bread, yoga mats and hundreds of other things. It is considered to be absolutely safe at low doses.
(Source: Science 2.0) And, as he mentioned, it decomposes when heated, so there was not any of it left in the bread. But Food Babe wasn't buying into the science (which is pretty much the standard for her). Rather, she launched a campaign that claimed Subway was using the same ingredients in their breads as is used to make yoga mats -- and who wants to eat a yoga mat?! Just as she's done to countless other "big food" companies, she rallied her blog and Facebook followers - her "army" - to overwhelm Subway with phone calls, letters, and complaints.

No doubt you already know that Food Babe won that battle. Subway removed the chemical from their bread, and now they're running a television commercial letting everyone know that.

Uh oh! Don't tell Food Babe I'm
consuming beer without knowing
the ingredients!
Most recently, Food Babe has taken on beer producers for the "shocking" ingredients beer contains (you can read more about this fight on Forbes). And she's asking Starbucks to use only organic milk (labeling anything else as "Monsanto Milk" -- what?!) .She's also a champion for organic food and, obviously, hates GMOs. Oh, and she was also recently voted Dr. Oz's "healthiest Facebook page." Now you know she's a fraud.

The icing on the cake for Vani Hari is that she gets paid for her scare tactics -- of course, she denies she does any of this for money. (Yeah, riiight.) When her articles and posts reference a certain organic or non-GMO brand, Food Babe sees dollar signs:
Under the program, known as affiliate marketing, she often posts editorial content praising these small brands, including links to their sites where readers can purchase the goods. She gets a cut of some of the transactions, according to the rules explained on some of her partners' websites. Ms. Hari also sells "eating guides" for $17.99 a month and charges for speaking appearances.
(Source: Advertising Age)  Food Babe also has a few other ways to make a few bucks, as discussed in the article. In fact, she's so successful at shaming companies, she was able to quit her full time job a few years ago, and now makes her income from being the queen of fear.

Oh, and she's also ridiculously talented at snapping photos of herself eating something green and laughing it up.

Her Facebook page has nearly half a million followers and she shows no sign of slowing down, cleaning up her act, or learning anything about science. The sad fact is, there are a lot of people that trust this woman. Her "army" is comprised of people that believe "big food" is poisoning us and using ingredients that will kill us, all so they can make a buck. Try to point out the truth and her army, much like Food Babe, doesn't care.

Food Babe is accountable to absolutely no one. Whatever harebrained idea she comes up with is the next big issue, whether she understands the ingredient or not. She'll fire up the shocking blog articles, sick her army on them, and put another notch on her organic carrot stick.

As Joe Schwarcz asked:
When you have a plumbing problem you call a plumber. When you have an electrical problem, you call an electrician. When you have an automobile problem, you consult a mechanic. Why then, when it comes to a food-related issue, which is inherently more complex, would one turn to the Food Babe?

(I doubt it will amount to much, but if you're interested, you can sign a White House petition here. The petition encourages the federal government to investigate Vani Hari for racketeering.)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

Farming Fridays!

Beautiful Bean Footage

After taking a "break" last week, I feel like it has been forever since I've posted a photo of the beans, so here you are. Roll that beautiful bean footage, as they say!

As you can see, the plants are filling out and turning into little "bushes." We can just now see that the flowers are starting to come out (sorry, not a very good picture of it this week). That means that soybeans are ready to go into "production" mode. 

The weather has also been problematic. We had such a wet and cool spring/early summer that some of our fields were flooded right as the beans were starting to pop out. And some fields are quite as full as this one. As a result, that means we might not see the yields that we would like to out of those fields.

But harvest is a ways away for now!