So, it would be one thing to just post all the pretty pictures of farming. Spiderwebs on a sunny frosty winter morning. A purple sunset over the hay paddock. A set of happy healthy quadruplit romney lambs (incidentally, there’s not much cuter). I promise to take lots of these pictures this year – there is much gorgeousness in farming.
But what would be the point in only talking about the good bits? I can’t help but think that if food producers want to bring consumers closer to their food, then its time we share more about our farming lives – the good, the bad, and sadly sometimes, the ugly.
We’ve got rye-grass staggers in a mob of weaner bull calves at the moment. These are young bulls, about 6 months old. The drought has resulted an endophyte fungus at the base of our pasture which basically poisons young stock. It’s causing our cattle to stagger – they have lost co-ordination, and easily fall over. Its horrible, and you don’t want to go near them in case they feel under pressure – you definitely don’t want to try and move them into another paddock. And we’ve had two die 😦 . It sucks alot.
So what do we do? We have bought in some grain meal for them for a couple of weeks, and are feeding hay as roughage. Its not our ideal, we like to run a grass (pasture) only system. However animal health is more important, and a concentrated feed, alongside not trying to move them, is the best thing we can do for them right now, and doesn’t make me think our farm is any less pasture based than what we were last week. Maybe a bit like a family that tries to avoid junk food as much as possible, but then has a week where they end up with takeways twice – it’s ok.
Our kids are home from school due to the COVID-19 rahui. And our 14 year old in particular is relishing in the opportunty to make himself an indespensible part of our team. So far, we have a quad bike trailer rebuilt, and old motorbike being put back together, and a heap of loose fencing tightened and repaired. A win for everybody so far, but I’ve no idea how I’m going to get him to the kitchen table for 9am online schooling in two weeks time.
We have been saturated with Covid-19 this week. And how could that be anything less? My thoughts are with everybody who is experiencing hardship and anxiety.
My thoughts are with those who have lost their jobs. With the solo parents navigating sourcing food and keeping their children safe. For the essential workers still keeping on in the face of some very scary scenarios. For the children whos one safe place was school. And that safe place has been taken away from them.
(My thoughts are not with twats that have so far been unable to stay home for even a few days, or the people annoyed they can’t buy online and continue their addiction to consuming crap they don’t need – what a great time to get that sorted!).
There’s so much I can’t fix right now, beyond looking after my family, and helping out people in our communities that will struggle in the coming weeks and months.
As our farmwork continues through the end of this drought (hopefully!) and our preparations for winter, I think we’ll give GrassFed in the City a bit of a reboot. There’s not a lot of other news going at the moment – so maybe its an opportunity to catch up with non-farmers, and talk about what we do on farm, and why we do it.
Stay calm. Stay kind. Stay safe.
So, yesterday we had our first trolling. A vegan activist chased me around the internet for the afternoon, making uninvited and aggressive comments on a couple of pages she discovered that I follow.
I am a member of a small and interesting facebook group of farmers and vegans (Australian based). It is full of robust discussion, mis-information correcting (on both sides of the animal debate), and the occasional awfulness when someone forgets that farmers are people too – and are just as compassionate and environmentally aware as anyone else.
I am a member of that page, not because I want to persuade a vegan activist to start eating meat, but because if there is someone in that group that is feeling conflicted – maybe they’ve stopped eating meat and their health has declined, or they’ve been hanging out with activists and not finding it a very nice environment to be in – that they have an exposure to farmers through the page and can see that they actually have far more in common with food growers than what they realise – whether that’s around the health of their family, the impacts of growing food on the environment, or contributing positively to society.
So if there’s any other activists lurking here that would like to have a go at me, I’d like to remind you of a couple of things:
1) Have a look at the below picture. You may see a young woman, or an old woman. Whichever you see, you are right. It’s a gentle reminder that we can both be looking at the same set of information, yet see two different pictures. Never invalidate someone else’s perspective – they may be just as right as you are 🙂
2) Farmers are people who grow food. Like teaching, or care-giving, or policing, its not a path to riches, but when things are going well, it is a fulfilling vocation where you feel you are making a difference. Often farmers grow animals as well as vegetables or fruit, and are well versed as to how both play an important part in our food systems and food security
3) There are three key components to choosing whether animal protein has a place in your diet or not – nutritional benefits, environmental impact, and personal ethics. There is science that supports both the inclusion and exclusion of animal protein, and we can always find science that supports our individual biases. Getting into lengthy ‘link trading’ is fruitless (excuse the pun). Talking about what works for you, is fine.
And always remember – its easy to be nasty when you are sitting behind a keyboard – but that’s not what the world needs more of. ✌🏾👍🏼❤️🥰
What’s in YOUR trolley?
I often get asked if I am concerned about studies linking high consumption of red meat with diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Nup. Not at all.
From memory, 5 out of 30,000 vegetarians will get bowel cancer. 6 out of 30,000 meat eaters will get bowel cancer.
I’m pretty confident that its not the vegetables or the meat in our grocery trolleys causing dietary related disease, its the other crap – if you consume soft drinks, takeaways, muesli bars, or ‘healthy’ sweetened yogurt, I don’t think that its meat you should be considering leaving out of your diet.
Hands down, red meat is one of the most nutritionally dense, bang for buck foods you can get.
That said, as a farmer, I’m not the right person to offer dietary advice! There’s plenty of crazy-good dietitians and nutritionists in NZ that do just that. Scientists like Professor Grant Schofield, Dr Caryn Zinn, Mikki Williden, Cliff Harvey (both PHDs too, I just never hear them call themselves Dr…), who publically review the multitude of research papers that are published every year. If you aren’t following these guys on social media, you should.
The latest research is the result of several systematic reviews by an independant panel of scientists that found that there is a “low to very low” certainy of evidence to suggest any negative health outcomes assocaited with meat consumption. The group recommends continuing rather than reducing consumption of meat.
(Full report attached)
Go forth and be NUTRIVORES good people.