Archive for the ‘Shells and Gizzards’ Category

The folks of Sedgwick, Maine have hatched a bold scheme: invoking self rule and ignoring both state and federal oversight and licensing when it comes to producing and selling food to consumers.

According to this recent article, Sedgwick has declared food sovereignty in a four-page document it calls “The Ordinance to Protect the Health and Integrity of the Local Food System.”

One of the more interesting passages from the article is this one, which comes straight from the ordinance:

“We have faith in our citizens’ abilityto educate themselves and make informed decisions,” reads the ordinance, which was adopted unanimously March 5 at a meeting of about 100 residents. “We hold that federal and state regulations impede local food production and constitute a usurpation of our citizens’ right to foods of their choice.”

While surely the good people in and around Sedgwick are capable of making informed decisions, a quick eyeball of the region’s daily paper might just suggest they’re no wiser than any other community. Criminal activity, animal cruelty and other bad decisions make front page news on this particular day alone. So much for faith in the people of Sedgwick – and these aren’t nuances of food safety and production, mind you. These are widely held beliefs and laws that are commonplace to any citizenry.   

Now imagine applying this self rule to, say, daycare operations or dangerous work environments. Who in their right mind is going to suggest licensing or OSHA rules aren’t necessary in these situations? 

Regulations, cumbersome as they can be at times, are designed to provide the guardrails in which to move forward with effectiveness and safety in mind. Bypassing them suggests hubris at the highest level and, or in the case of food processing, a blatant disregard for the consumer.

What’s good for Sedgwick should be good for all communities, right? Certainly this isn’t about an elite group of informed citizens to whom the rules do not apply? 

Bottom line, Sedgwick – you can’t have it both ways.

City Folk Re-Hash Rules of the Roost

Hatched: Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

People in urban cities throughout the Midwest have been bending the rules a bit about keeping the hens out back around.   Some supporters view fresh eggs and pesticide-free fertilizer as being worth the risk while others prefer to keep the layers around as pets or even as part of 4-H projects.  No harm, no foul- right? Well, a few minor banters have caused cities to re-hash their regulations on the backyard roost.  (City’s cry fowl over residential chickens).

When the neighbor down the street fussed to Ludlow city officials to ban the chickens, a Kentuckian by the name of Amanda Lewis decided her chickens were worth the brawl.  While a fellow neighbor backed down and got rid of his two chickens, Lewis appealed her case with the intention of keeping Goldie, Speck, Big Momma and Little Momma around regardless. 

Cases such as this have also pecked their way to city attention in the Ohio cities of Norwood, Montgomery and Fairfield.  Instead of outright banning inner-city poultry, many areas have concluded that a licensing fee or proper restrictions will suffice.  Other areas have simply amended their zoning codes to allow a certain number of hens as long as they are cared for properly and do not become a nuisance or hazard. 

Whether residents agree or disagree that backyard chickens should be allowed or not, the “Urban Chicken Farmer” identity is one that’s not likely to go away anytime soon in some urban cities. While that’s good news for individuals like Lewis, it may have others bawking, “what the cluck?”

Remember when you were in high school? There was always that group of kids at school who stole the mascot of your rival or pulled off the big prank on the day of the critical game. Those were the good ol’ days of happy high jinks when perhaps a stern talking to was the only consequence. Nobody was hurt, and no political message was infused.

Those kids have grown, but have failed to grow up – and now they play out their pranks with an agenda, flip cam and YouTube.  The kidnapping of a Ronald McDonald statue in Helsinki, Finland, McDonald’s restaurant is proof positive of over-age pranksters overstepping the bounds of responsibility and good taste.  

Watching Ronald McDonald get lifted may have its momentary chuckle, but a jihadist-like video demanding answers to the group’s agenda, and then decapitating the mustard & ketchup-colored clown: not so funny. This comes courtesy of a group call the Food Liberation Army, which tries to be funny and serious simultaneously.  It fails on both counts by a country mile.

As tasteless as it is, instead of condemning it perhaps more people should see this ridiculousness and ask – where exactly does the prank end and the seriousness begin? If anything, it’s a snapshot of reality regarding how far some people are willing to go to make their point.

As Meatless Mondays attempts to gain traction for its anti-meat agenda, one national chain is bucking that trend as it busts out a carnivore-themed campaign on the same day of the week.  

Hooters – known for chicken wings among other things – earlier this week began its efforts to beef up the start of the week by offering “Burger Mondays” with six burger and fries options starting at $5.99. While it may not be the only reason patrons frequent Hooters, options such as the More than a Mouthful Cheeseburger, Nacho Ordinary Burger and the Double “D” Burger certainly enhance the meaty menu options for chain’s campaign with the obvious lure of attractive…prices.

Burger Mondays replaces the “More than a Mouthful Mondays” campaign from 2010 to be more deliberate about its beefy options. Certainly the deliberate call out of “Where’s the beef?” in their announcement signals a purposeful approach to go against the grain of the Meatless Monday movement.

It’s safe to say that the anti-meat crowd won’t find Hooters’ effort to reposition Monday all that titillating…

Food service giant to push Meatless Monday

Hatched: Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

It’s a little hard to believe.”

Those are the words of Meatless Monday’s program director explaining in a release how the movement has gone from a sole blogger two years ago to having a global leader in food services sing from its hymnal.  And to his credit, he’s right. It is hard to believe.

According to Sodexo’s website, Meatless Monday will be “promoting and adding the option of a plant-based entrée to its menus each week.” It’s hard to believe that Sodexo has previously failed to offer something such as a pasta dish or vegetable soup as part of the entrée, especially from an organization that refers to itself as a world leader in Quality of Daily Life Solutions.

And it’s hard to believe the option will remain optional considering the campaign push Sodexo will put behind the effort. Also from the Meatless Monday release:   

Sodexo intends to keep its Meatless Monday program fresh by sending out new tool kits to its client reps every 4 months. These will include newly created recipes, promo materials and educational background. It also hopes to launch other fitness and health programs created by The Monday Campaigns.”

That’s quite a commitment for a once-a-week option. As a food service provider, Sodexo surely has long had offerings that don’t include meat that, frankly, could be purchased any day of the week, right?

The Animal Ag Alliance voiced its beef about Meatless Mondays recently, and perhaps it’s the one thing that isn’t hard to believe. Meatless Mondays is quick to make fuzzy, feel-good claims to get people and organizations on board with the program. As pointed out by the Animal Ag Alliance, it even co-opts a once-legitimate reason to forgo meat during war time in effort to advance its anti-animal agriculture agenda in this modern era.

This mirrors another shrewd activist organization that benefits from misconception, but also is known for not biting off more than it can chew. Now that this campaign has sunk its teeth deep into Monday at record speed and acceptance, the question everyone should be asking is – what’s next?

Note to school cafeterias: get creative, not political

Hatched: Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Here’s a smart article taken straight from the playbook of common sense. Want kids to make better food choices at school? Concerned about childhood obesity? Then rethink how food is presented.

It’s not exactly rocket science, but recent results from some school cafeterias could go a long way to quell unrealistic and agenda-driven food policies that attempt to police menus and force feed our kids with foods that they just won’t eat (here’s looking at you, meatless Monday).

With no-cost or low-cost solutions that feed into the idea food choice, consider these surprising results highlighted in the article:

-One school increased salad purchases by nearly 300 percent
-Another school amped up its fruit consumption by 105 percent

Imagine that. Choice over a vegan agenda actually increases the consumption of fruits and vegetables by large margins, while still allowing the ham sandwich and the turkey club a secure place on the menu.

Read the full article to understand the tactical changes to food presentation in the lunch line, then consider these wise words at the end of the article:

Food isn’t nutritious until it is eaten. We don’t improve school lunches by making children take healthier items. When healthy foods are forced upon them, children will resist and dislike not only the heavy-handed approach but also the food associated with that heavy hand.

Now that’s good food for thought.


Hatched: Monday, October 25th, 2010

The A in USDA is supposed to stand for Agriculture, but these days, it might more appropriately stand for Absence.  Touting a desire for healthier school lunch choices, the federal agency responsible for the nation’s farms and farmers, which includes farmers who raise animals for meat, is sponsoring a recipe contest that excludes…wait for it…meat.

Categories available for this national contest?  Kids can choose from the following tasty choices:  whole grains, dark green and orange vegetables, or dry beans and peas.  We’re not suggesting there is anything wrong with any of these not-so-child-friendly choices – but on the plate, not at the center of it.

So is the assertion that USDA believes meat protein is not a healthy lunch selection?  Or is USDA abandoning its commitment to farmers of all shapes, species and sizes?  When you consider the great protein and nutritional assets of meat, and the essential role that protein plays in children’s ability to learn, it seems implausible that USDA would promote a non-meat recipe contest for schools.

And for USDA to leave out meat – when our nation produces nearly 27 billion pounds of beef, more than 21 billion pounds of pork, almost 37 billion pounds of chicken and about 6 billion pounds of turkey – seems like more than just a mere promotional oversight for the nation’s only federal agency dedicated to farming.

What the cluck?

Want to learn more?  To take a chance and submit a meat-based protein recipe to the agency?   Visit for full contest details.

Seeing Is Believing

Hatched: Friday, April 9th, 2010

We’ve noticed that an opinion piece originally printed two years ago in the Arizona Republic is being resurfaced…and that’s a good thing.

Columnist Linda Valdez wrote about her experience visiting a farm where the birds are raised in cage housing for egg production, as well as touring a cage-free operation. These tours occurred after she took aim at the so-called factory farming issue and the perception of negligent animal care on modern farms. Clearly she had a biased opinion going in, which is precisely why this column is important and worth resurfacing.

These are perhaps the most telling lines of her column:

“People think by spending more money on cage-free eggs they are creating a better life for that chicken,” Armstrong says.

I was one of those people. I’ve changed my mind.

While Valdez’s column was published in advance of Proposition 2 passing in California, and subsequently banning cage housing by 2015, it’s obvious that too few Californians got the message.

Before more states follow California’s misguided lead, perhaps we should all do our part to circulate Valdez’s aptly titled column to the misinformed. Her headline says it far better than we could:

Cage-free egg farms peck away at consumer reality.”  

Dog catchers? Check.

Truant officers? Check.

Chicken catchers? WTC?!

Until recently, Miami employed a full-time “chief of chicken round up” because the city was overrun with loose chickens. Consider this another costly and unintended consequence of backyard farming. It’s bad for the birds, communities, the environment, and potentially public health.

Check out the photo in this article to see how just how secure some backyard operations look, fencing and all.

And while Miami expects to save $20,000 by eliminating the bird-busting post, it certainly doesn’t imply that the chickens will stop running amok any time soon.

Let’s leave it to the farmers…not the urban and suburban hobbyists.

If you have children or at least recall being one in the last 40 years, then you’re familiar with Sesame Street – the reliable staple of public television.

It’s hard to imagine anyone having a beef with the iconic children’s show…but then there’s PETA. While it’s unclear if PETA has it in for muppets too, their faux feathers are definitely ruffled over the American Egg Board sponsorship of the program. Why? Simply put, eggs aren’t on their plate and they don’t fit with their radical agenda.

 In November, PETA encouraged its members to voice displeasure over the sponsorship. Recently, they’ve ratcheted up their whining by filing complaints with the FCC, taking a play from the playbook of their deep-pockets brethren. Follow the links to learn more.

From bacon and eggs to Bert and Ernie, it’s good to know some things stand the test of time, even when challenged by radical agendas.

While the animal extremists urge its members to contact Sesame Street to criticize the sponsorship, perhaps a word from the rest of us applauding their efforts to build on a legacy of quality educational programming for children is in order.