Tag Archives: beef

Friday Linkage 10/4/2019

For the first time in forever…sorry, Frozen fans I was just thinking that for the first time in a long time it actually feels like fall.  Within the span of a single work week we have seen the temperatures drop from nearly ninety degrees to nearly freezing overnight.  Welcome to the Midwest during the shoulder season!

On to the links…

The Short List Of Climate Actions That Will Work—It is super easy to explain to people:

  1. Electrify everything
  2. Overbuild renewable energy generation
  3. Integrate electrical transmission across continents
  4. Build hydropower storage systems
  5. Plant a lot of trees
  6. Reform agriculture to capture carbon in the soil

And so on.  None of these actions is hard to grasp or hard to implement.  It just takes political will.

Solar, Wind Are Now Cheaper Than Coal In Most Of The World—The battle has been won.  To win the war we must keep pressing forward.

World’s Largest Wind Turbines to be Built off Yorkshire Coast—It is hard to grasp the scale.  A single turbine producing enough electricity to power 16,000 homes.  Wow.  This is why the UK is transitioning away from coal.

McCharge? Yes, McDonald’s Wants To Charge Your EV—One of the goals of any convenience type purchase—food, gasoline, coffee, etc.—is to increase the number of trips you make to the location.  The more trips a person makes increases the potential that the person will spend more money.  If you could spend thirty minutes on a DC fast charger at McDonald’s while wolfing down a Big Mac it might make you stop.

Volta’s EV Network Gives You 30 Minutes of Free Fast Charging—Think about this as an amenity that draws traffic.  If you have an EV and can get thirty minutes of high voltage charging would you be more likely to stop at that retail location over another?  Probably.

First Gas Station in America to Ditch Oil for 100% Electric Vehicle Charging Opens in Maryland—Someone had to be first.  However, given that EV charging does not require expensive underground storage tanks for a flammable liquid like traditional gas stations I have to imagine that the old model of gas stations is a dinosaur.

Here Is Why Electrification Of Medium/Heavy Trucks Is Important—Representing just 4% of vehicles these trucks are responsible for 9% of vehicle miles traveled and 26% of fuel gallons consumed:

Vehicle Population, VMT, and Fuel Use by Vehicle Class, 2017 Source energy.gov.png

Anheuser-Busch To Deploy 21 BYD Electric Trucks In California—The truck that is delivering those cases of Natty Light may now be an EV.

If Everyone Ate Beans Instead of Beef—One change, half of our greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal.  Simple.

That Viral Study About Red Meat Left Out The Most Important Part—Climate change is the greatest risk to our collective health.  Ignoring its potential impacts when considering the climate change impacts of red meat production is like trying to quantify the opioid epidemic without looking at heroin use.

Amid Rising Demand for Beyond Meat Burgers, U.S. Farmers Can’t Solve This Supply Problem—It has not even been a complete growing season in North America since Beyond Meat went public and meat substitutes became a thing in the United States.

Germany Makes a National Commitment to Rescue Its Forests—There is a massive amount of climate change mitigation potential waiting to be exercised in rebuilding our stocks of forested lands.  As rain forests in South America and Indonesia burn as a result of bad policy it is more important than ever to rethink our relationship to the forests in our collective backyards.

Los Angeles, a City Known for Its Freeways, Is About to Plant a Shit Ton of Trees—I do not know if it is actually a “shit ton” of trees, but it is a start.  Now imagine communities across the United States and the world for that matter doing the same thing.  It is possible.

The Story of The Largest Private Land Donation In History and Creation of Patagonia National Park—Just take a few minutes out of your day and watch this video.  Also, imagine a world where the uber rich like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg spent money on truly bold conservation efforts.

What Would It Be Like to Live in an Era of Geoengineering?—Is it our fate to live on a planet where we have knowingly changed the natural systems to counteract our own collective stupidity?  God I hope not.

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Friday Linkage 8/23/2019

I came back from a week of being totally disconnected from the news media to find that Trump wanted to buy Greenland, Denmark said no, Trump huffed off like a fat little baby, and now he is claiming to be the “chosen one.”  Are we sure that we are not living in some kind of simulation where the programmers messed up the code in some way?

On to the links…

A Republican Firm Is Targeting EPA Staff Who Have Donated to Democrats—This is our world now.  Donald Trump and members of his corrupt administration can break laws with impunity while Republican thugs target career staffers of agencies they dislike.

One of the World’s Largest Banks Thinks the Writing is on the Wall for the Oil Industry—We can all hope that this is the case, but my fear is that even if the decline is irreversible it may take too long for the dinosaur business to roll over and die.  Hell, we live in a country where K-Mart and Sears are still holding on for some reason.

All the World’s Coal Power Plants in One Map—This is the map of opportunity for the energy transition.  Every circle on this map must be eliminated in the coming decade.

The Energy Transition is Underway: 10 Charts Tell the Story—The pathway is clear.  We need to figure out the methodology by which we accelerate the transition so that it is no too late for human civilization.

It’s Official: Wind Power Is Catching Up To Natural Gas—So, you can get clean power with no fuel cost variability for the same price as a power source that emits greenhouse gasses, requires drilling, and has price variability.  No wonder the smart money is betting on wind.

Old Wind Farm Has A Secret Weapon Up Its Turbine Towers—Repowering is a great opportunity.  The infrastructure is already in place.  As it details in the article you can get more total power from a fewer number of turbines while maintaining peak output capacity.  Where is the downside?

Onshore Wind In Europe Could Meet 100% Of Global Energy Needs—We are not at a point where people are trying to figure out how much of a buildout would be required to power the world 100% on renewable energy.  These are exciting times indeed.

Planting Trees Is Good. Eliminating Deforestation Is Better.—I have a radical idea: Why don’t we do both?

Is Grass-Fed Beef Really Better For The Planet? Here’s The Science—The moral of the story is that the issue is complicated and you need to know your farmer.  Buying grass fed beef from a multi-national meatpacking company is just perpetuating a system that got us into this mess in the first place.

Why did Coffee Cups and Soda Cups Get so Big?—I do not go the gas station very much anymore—thank you Nissan Leaf—but on trips I am always shocked by the size of the soda cups that people walk out of the store with.  And the kids!  I see small children carrying a 32 ounce soda of their own.  Who thinks that is a good idea?

Breckenridge gets Electric Buses, Encourages Visitors not to Rent Cars—My family usually skis in Breckenridge once or twice a year and I am really excited to see electric buses on the free city network.  It is amazing that people even bother driving around town in the winter when the bus is super easy to use.

Want to Go Plastic-Free? Start with One Thing.—Everyone should just try to do one thing different today.  The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, right?

Amazon Under Fire for New Packaging that Cannot be Recycled—This is why we just need to buy less stuff and buying less from Amazon is a great place to start.

What the Heck is PakTech?—Those little plastic snap rings for your craft beer are apparently hell in the recycling system.  A group of Minneapolis area breweries have banded together to become recycling sites for these things and are offering money off of beer for people who bring them in.  This is just excellent.

Friday Linkage 11/30/2018

I feel that this article on CNBC.com just about nails the past two years:

Donald Trump’s all-GOP government in Washington ends a two-year run as it began, by struggling to govern at all.

The president who vowed to make America great again has rattled financial markets, reduced farm exports and raised manufacturing costs with his tariff policies. As growth slows, he blames the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates and threatens General Motors for closing plants.

The president who promised law and order, having previously fired the FBI director, fired his attorney general over the Justice Department’s Trump-Russia investigation. The acting attorney general has been openly hostile to the probe.

The president who insisted Mexico would finance a border wall now wants American taxpayers to pay as a condition of keeping their government open. Congress doesn’t intend to build the wall, so the government could shut down next week.

Thus completes the chaotic circle of governance by Trump and the GOP Congress: fanciful promises, contradictory priorities, presidential provocations that Republicans won’t rein in. Voters responded this month by handing the House to Democrats.

Obamacare survived. The better, cheaper Republican alternative never existed.

The infrastructure plan Trump promised business and blue-collar supporters has not materialized. GOP congressional leaders prefer to spend on tax cuts.

Republicans delivered tax cuts, but not as advertised. Proceeds profited the wealthy far more than the middle class and ballooned the budget deficit, with no evidence of giving the economy more than a short-term stimulative boost.

Trump’s abandonment of the fight against climate change has not revived the coal industry, which keeps closing unprofitable facilities. The president answers his own government’s warnings about the climate by saying he doesn’t believe them.

Republican congressional leaders want cuts in Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security to shrink government, reduce deficits and relieve pressure for tax hikes. Trump vows to protect those popular benefits.

Tough executive branch oversight, which preoccupied Obama-era Republicans, vanished when their party won the White House. Lawmakers who talked of prosecuting Hillary Clinton skipped past Ivanka Trump’s use of personal email for government business.

Unlike Obama, Trump has supplied a steady stream of genuine scandal. Cabinet members and senior presidential aides have departed under ethical clouds, while Trump’s former national security advisor and campaign chairman confessed to felonies.

Unprecedented turnover and turmoil hinder White House operations. Trump has filled just over half the administration jobs important enough to require Senate confirmation.

How Republicans attempted to retain power in this fall’s elections exposed the chasm between their policies and public sentiment. Most voters believe the GOP tax cut has not made them better off, so Trump promised a new one.

Republicans who earlier favored repeal ran as defenders of a principal Obamacare achievement — guaranteed coverage for people with pre-existing health conditions. Trump accused Democrats, rather than his own party, of threatening Medicare.

On Election Day, Americans issued their verdict. They cast 9 million more votes for Democrats than Republicans in House races, the largest margin in midterm election history.

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

On to the links…

Trump’s Latest Talking Points on Climate Change Will Make Your Brain Hurt So Bad—This is what happens when a minority of the American people elect a coddled man child with the intellectual capacity of a fifth grader throwing a temper tantrum about chicken nuggets.

The White House Talking Points About the National Climate Assessment Are Demonstrably False—There has to be a special place in hell for Sarah Huckabee Sanders who has spent her time in the Trump Administration glibly lying her way to a position as a commentator on Fox News.

Solar Energy Beats Coal On Critical Infrastructure Resilience—Remember when Rick Perry was going to save coal and nuclear plants by using an obscure national security rationale?  Looks like renewables are good for a resilient grid after all.

US Could Meet Paris Emissions Pledge with ‘Natural Climate Solutions’—Restoration and better management of our natural resources could go a long way in helping us mitigate the worst effects of climate change.  These are not exotic technological solutions waiting for discovery.

Climate Change: Report says ‘Cut Lamb and Beef’—No surprise here, but the evidence is getting to be as damning as that against smoking.  Eating beef and lamb is bad for the environment.  It’s just a question of how bad.

Massive 14-Year Oil Spill Ordered To Be Cleaned As Leaks Continue—It is appalling that this has taken fourteen years and over 150 million gallons of oil to finally come to this solution.

Colorado Joins California Low Emission Vehicle Program In Rebuke To Trump—Our federal government is hamstrung by the fact that the Senate is controlled by a minority of Americans.  However, the states with the most population and dynamic economies can move forward with climate sensible policies.

FedEx is Getting 1,000 More Electric Delivery Vans—FedEx has over 60,000 trucks so 1,000 is not a sea change, but it is a start.

Meanwhile In China, The Electric Mobility Revolution Is In Full Swing—There is a lot to dislike or even loathe about China—Muslim “reeducation” camps in the western part of the country for example—but the command driven economy is really moving forward on electric mobility.

The Case Against Cruises—Apparently, cruises are a disaster for the environment and the communities in which these mega ships port.  I always liked the line about cruises being the penultimate example of “premium medicore.”

Lettuce is Stupid and You Shouldn’t be Eating it Now Anyway—Lettuce is just a refrigerated water delivery vehicle.  Salads are a waste.  Never mind that eating lettuce is about the most likely way to get food poisoning anymore.

Friday Linkage 5/26/2017

Melania Trump may be my new hero.  Okay, maybe hero is a strong word but her refusal to even consent to contact with the flaccid cantaloupe masquerading as the President of the United States is something to behold:

clrkvgoj7vbfxbyd51sv.gif

Damn girl.  What are you feeding the president?

On to the links…

Factory Farming Threatens Public Health—There it is.  The single most important headline I have read in the past few weeks.  No explanation needed.

The “License to Kill” Bill Is As Terrifying As It Sounds—Republicans are going about an orgy of legislation that is designed to make the world a better place for companies that do not mind injuring, sickening, or straight up killing you.  You are worth less than corporate profits in the eyes of Republicans.

Be Compassionate, But Never, Ever, Pity The American Male—After the election of Donald Trump, I still shudder just saying that, the press was filled with reports about how he was fueled by a disaffected group of white males.  Never has a group that has been given so much privilege, squandered so much potential, and been so angry about their own failings gotten so much attention for the fact.  Can we please stop the pity parade?

The Markets Frustrate OPEC’s Efforts to Push up Oil Prices—The market is kicking oil’s ass.  If it is not shale oil production, it’s demand.  If it is not demand, it is something else.

Shale Is Just a Scapegoat for Weaker Oil Prices—It’s the demand, baby.

`Gas Apocalypse’ Looms Amid Power Plant Construction Boom—Why exactly are there any power plants still burning coal in this region?

North Sea Wind Power Hub: A Giant Wind Farm to Power all of North Europe—Imagine power for 80 million Europeans coming from offshore wind.  Wow.

We are the Bicycle Lobby. We are Coming for Your Parking.—The grumpy old men who want to park in acres of free parking after having driven to the parking lot at seventy miles an hour are just going to have to deal with people on bicycles.  They will bitch and they will moan, but they are the past and we are the future.

America’s Cars Are Suddenly Getting Faster and More Efficient—Cars are going faster but doing it using less gas.  If someone tells you that government regulation is stifling innovation they have not been paying attention when they fire up their car.

How a Remote California Tribe Set Out to Save its River and Stop a Suicide Epidemic—When we lose our connection to our past and to our land we lose a lot of what it means to be human.  In a world where forces are trying to privatize all land so that only the rich truly have access and the rest is polluted by industry we need to remember the value of the land in our identity.

Replacing Beef with Beans Would Dramatically Slash Greenhouse Gasses—Rather than put solar panels on our houses, commute by bicycle, or elect politicians who gave a damn the best thing you could do for the planet tomorrow would be to stop eating meat.  Eat beans, pulses, kale, tofu, whatever in place of meat.

Reimagining Tater Tot Casserole

Winter is a great time to dig into unassuming comfort foods like macaroni and cheese or chili slow cooked all day into sweet submission. If you have children like mine than you have run head first into the problem known as tater tot casserole.

Sometime during their formative years someone exposed them to this strange dish of tater tots, cheap ground beef, and cream of something soup. If you slavishly follow a recipe on the internet you will be left eating a 9×13 pan of sodium enhanced flavors brought to you by the giants of industrial agriculture.

The first thing to eliminate was any ground beef that might contain the joys of pink slime or be dosed with antibiotics or just be nasty. This was easy. On my weekly run to pick up a loaf of jalapeno cheddar bread at NewPi in Cedar Rapids I ordered up one and a half pounds of all-natural ground beef. I chose the fattier product because I intended to sauté some vegetables in the drippings.

The other major quibble I had with most tater tot casserole recipes is the use of canned cream of goop soup. Seriously, who thinks cream of mushroom or chicken or celery or onion tastes much better than a jar of processed cheese? The stuff is basically a gelatinous salt delivery mechanism. The easy answer was to replace a couple of cans of condensed soup with a rich béchamel sauce. This is one of my go to sauces when I want something creamy as a base. It comes together in a few minutes and I always have the ingredients around.

A major way I added flavor without resorting to the salt shaker was to use very flavorful white cheddar. A little bit of white cheddar goes a long way in adding a shot of flavor.

I really wanted to do something about the inclusion of Ore-Ida tater tots. Like, I really did not want to give my money to a monster industrial food conglomerate like H.J. Heinz, but Ore-Ida’s tots are the best option. I have tried every bag of overpriced, supposedly better for me, options and every time the result is the same: buck up and by the tots from Ore-Ida. Damn.

In the end, it tasted like ‘Murica!

IMG_0199

Reimagined Tater Tot Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 32 ounce package tater tots of your choice
  • 1 ½ pounds all-natural ground beef
  • 1 decent sized onion diced
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 cup peas
  • 2 cups béchamel sauce
  • Shredded white cheddar to personal preference
  • Salt and pepper to personal preference

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Brown ground beef and break it up into small chunks; Try not to make it into chili sized chunks because you want a little bit of size
  • While meat is browning, toss in diced onion and cook until softened
  • Add corn and peas; Cook until warm
  • Remove from heat and incorporate béchamel
  • Pour into 9×13 pan
  • Top evenly with tater tots; One 32 ounce bag should roughly cover an entire 9×13 pan with a few stragglers stacked on top
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until tater tots are crispy
  • Scatter shredded cheese on top and bake for an additional 5 minutes
  • Enjoy

Total prep time, including making a béchamel sauce from scratch, is about thirty minutes with a thirty five minute cook time. So, you are in and out in under an hour.

Friday Linkage 8/1/2014

August. Damn. Where did June and July go? It sure does not feel like the “dog days” with night time temperatures in the 50s, which I am digging because I have not had my AC on in weeks. It also makes me very anxious for football to start. Yes, I am that breed of American male that really looks forward to the football season. ‘Murrica!

On to the links…

Brewers Association Reports 18% Production Growth for U.S. Craft Brewers in First Half—Let’s start with some good news. Craft beer is kicking ass:

Brewers-Association-Mid-2014-Craft-Volume

10 Reasons to be Hopeful that We will Overcome Climate Change—Maybe, just maybe, there is hope that we can figure out a way to combat the coming climate change in a way that is not akin to sticking out head in the sand. I am cautiously hopeful as I see the deployment of renewables, the retirement of coal power plants, and the increasing efficiency of automobiles. It might not be enough, but it is a start.

Delaying Climate Policies Could Cost U.S. Economy $150 Billion Each Year, Report Shows—The big bugaboo with climate skeptics and outright deniers is that the cost of doing something is super high. What is the cost of doing nothing and seeing what happens? Really freakin’ high.

How to Power California with Wind, Water and Sun—People act like it is a fantasy that we could deploy renewable energy in such a way that could power entire states or countries. Blueprints exist people!

Danish Wind Power to Be Half The Price of Coal and Natural Gas by 2016—Go Denmark!

As U.S. gets Greener, it is Sending Dirty Coal Abroad—So, we now are exporting our dirty fuel instead of keeping it in the ground. Ugh.

Midwestern Waters Are Full of Bee-Killing Pesticides—We have laced the environment with a toxic legacy that will take a long time to figure out. Why can’t we just stop using these chemicals that are obviously so dangerous?

Feds Consider Ban On Bluefin Tuna Fishing As Population Dips 95 Percent—Our voracious appetite for this amazing fish is going to cause the species to go extinct. Stop eating Bluefin tuna people!

Farming The Bluefin Tuna, Tiger Of The Ocean, Is Not Without A Price—I applaud these efforts because it might mean the survival of the species in the wild, but we need to question the wisdom of raising such a voracious predator for wide consumption. Maybe we are the problem.

Be a Patriot, Eat Less Beef—Cows are horrible for the environment, especially when raised in feedlot conditions, and too much red meat is bad for our health. We just need to eat less meat, beef or otherwise.

Produce from School Gardens Increasingly Ends up in School Cafeterias—It’s so cool to see programs where kids grow vegetables for consumption on premise. Too many people do not understand how food is grown or raised. Ask them where a tomato comes from and you will get told, “the grocery store.”

Heard on the Street: E-I-E-I-O—If New York City can adapt and adopt backyard agriculture, well any place can probably do it. Although I am thinking that New Yorkers will somehow find a way to claim that they came up with the idea of urban agriculture first, that they do it better than anyone else, and that you are stupid for thinking otherwise.

Your Giant American Refrigerator Is Making You Fat And Poor—Refrigerators in the U.S. are huge and a lot of people have more than one and a deep freeze in the garage. What the hell are we doing with so much space? Take a minute and really look at all the old food in your refrigerator. It’s probably disgusting.

You Must Read—Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business

Processed foods are an easy target for lovers of food. Processed foods contain lots of salt, sugar, and fat—so succinctly described in a prior You Must Read entry—and are generally nutritionally worthless given the calorie load. However, as we turn our eyes toward making food from scratch we uncover that almost every ingredient we can get our hands on is touched by some vestige of this gigantic soul sucking menagerie known as the modern American food system.

Although the United States has no living memory of epidemic food shortages—the closest being the Depression, but those are much more endemic examples—our food system has been shaped in the past half century or so to pump out calories, regardless of the environmental, economic, or public health consequences.

9781451645811The meat we eat is no different. In Christopher Leonard’s Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business Tyson Foods and its principals are used as the lens through which to witness the transformation of the three major meat products: chicken, pork, and beef.

Don Tyson, the son of the founder of what would become Tyson Foods, may have gotten his start with chickens in Arkansas but his company—through growth and acquisition—is now the single largest player in bringing meat to the supermarkets of America. As consumers we rarely think about the meat we buy because it is not branded and labelled like the foods in the middle aisles. We do not go to the store specifically to buy IBP sirloin like we might Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. This is further obfuscated by the fact that the butcher counter appears to be a place where carcasses are brought in from a local slaughterhouse and broken down into saleable components. This could not be further from the truth. After reading this book I spent some time really scanning the meat in the refrigerated cases and the butcher counter. Imagine my surprise to see big boxes emblazoned with IBP—a subsidiary of Tyson Foods—being brought from the back. Don’t even think about the chicken patty you ate from the drive-through on the way home from work.

There was a time when the country was scared of this type of consolidation. Think about the changes after Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was published. How is it any different now? One giant firm is able to almost single handedly control the price of chicken, pork, and beef in the United States through a series of internal levers. Don’t believe the hyperbole? Tyson Foods has been found guilty in the past of violating the fairly toothless Packers and Stockyards Act. In 2004 the company was found guilty of manipulating the price of cattle, assessed damages of $1.28 billion, and managed to wiggle free when the U.S. Court of Appeals voided the decision. So, even when the company is caught and convicted it does not matter because an Uncle Sam that is bought and paid for will step up to the place for Tyson Foods.

Anti-trust lawsuits are essentially useless anymore because big business is so entwined with the regulators and prosecutors assigned to bring such cases forward. What lawyer in the Justice Department is going to anger every major corporation in America, thus narrowing post-public service job offers from prominent DC law firms, by bringing a case against the meat cartel? What functionary in the USDA is going to spend a career hunting one of these big game targets when it is just easier to accept a job in industry after leaving civil service? The answer is…no one. Combined with the power and agency given to these corporations by the money given to political campaigns—remember, it’s really just speech according to the Supreme Court—elected officials are even worse.

Farmers and ranchers are stuck in the untenable situation of trying to remain independent of a system that has been changed to render the independent farmer and rancher obsolete. Rather it’s a system that turns them into indentured servants and sharecroppers. If allowed Tyson Foods would like to “chickenize” the entire production of meat. This is a system where Tyson owns the chickens and every aspect of production save for the low margin and risky job of raising the animals. In essence, Tyson Foods has outsourced the worst part of their business and shuffled the capital intensive raising of animals to an increasingly indebted farmer who has little or no control over their own fate.

The state of affairs regarding the consolidation of the meat industry and, therefore, where the power resides is best summed up by Leonard’s statement in the final sentence of the book referring to farmers raising livestock in America today:

Tyson is waiting to take their call, and ready to shape their future. [Page 319]

I suppose the easiest answer to the problem is to just stop eating meat at all. Maybe those vegan activists were on to something when I was in college. Heck, we eat too much meat in this country anyway.

Short of going vegan there is only one solution: remove yourself from the marketplace. Don’t eat at fast food restaurants because the meat is sure to come from Tyson Foods or one of its equally odiferous nominal competitors. If you want to eat meat source it as directly from the livestock producer as possible. It seems like this is the solution to a lot of problems related to food production in the United States, but that is because the market is fatally flawed and skewed toward major corporations. The price we pay in the grocery store goes up, yet the price paid to the farmer goes down. Who pockets the delta? Companies like Tyson Foods.