Tag Archives: cows

Friday Linkage 2/17/2017

Is this what it looks like from the inside of a failed state?  The current president cannot go a day without an unforced error blowing up in his face, leaks are rampant, confidantes are completely off message, and the orange master of ceremonies cannot let the smallest slight go unnoticed.  Is it the sign of a completely unhinged personality to respond via Twitter to every perceived challenge to his authority?

On to the links…

Coal-Fired Electricity is at its Lowest since Officials Started Keeping Track—Natural gas and cheap renewables are killing coal.  No one wants to live downwind from a coal plant and the death spiral is on.

The West’s Coal Giant is Going Down—You would be hard pressed to find a more controversial symbol of the coal industrial complex than the Navajo Generating Station, a giant coal fired power plant in Arizona.  With decades of life left in its boilers, its operator is scheduling the beast for shutdown in 2019.  This is a coal plant that burns upwards of 24,000 tons of coal per day.

Wind Energy is Setting Records in the U.S. and Around the World—Wind is cheap, a lot of people work in the industry, and even Republicans are behind the sector as they realize the political suicide of condemning something so popular.  The future may not be as bright, but there is potential for hope.

New North American Wind Power Record Set In Central United States—Over 50% of the electricity served came from wind. Yes it was overnight, but it’s a start.
China Doubled Its Solar Capacity In 2016—No matter what the base, doubling the capacity of anything is a big deal.  There are a lot of problems with China—one party state, authoritarian rule, etc.—but when they decide to go for something, solar in this case, they go big.

U.S. Solar Installations Jumped 95 Percent Last Year—China is not the only one to go big on solar.  We were yuge!

Low Carbon Technologies Now Cost-Competitive With Fossil Fuels—Low carbon technologies are basically mainstream.  Right wing reactionaries can try and stop the flood, but it is over.

5 Possible Futures for the EPA under Trump—This assumes that the Trump administration is not a flaming crater of incompetence by the end of March.

The United States of Oil and Gas—There are some amazing images that show the pervasiveness of oil and gas in our lives.

To Save The Planet, Give Cows Better Pasture—Managing productive rangeland for grazing may be on the lowest hanging fruit we have for helping to mitigate the near term impacts of climate change.

Outdoor Rec Industry Defends Public Lands—Outdoor recreation is a huge—sorry yuge—economic activity that needs to be taken into account when changes to our public lands policy are proposed.  Your elected representatives need to understand the value that you place on these lands.  The companies you patronize need to be reminded of the value that you place on these lands.  The time is now.

This Heatless Habanero Packs All Of The Flavor With None Of The Burn—I am really intrigued by this idea.  Bringing the flavor of a pepper without the heat might convert some of my family members.

The Best Trick for Cutting Down on Sugar—After getting some exercise there is no better or bigger change you can make in terms of your health than cutting down or eliminating added sugar from your diet.


What is this Stuff: Organic Valley Grassmilk

I was at New Pi picking up some lunch—the cashew on a hot tin roof sandwich may be the downfall of my 2015 budget—and had to pick up some milk. For some reason, the milk section was fairly well picked over or containers had been removed for a date issue or cleaning or whatever. I stumbled upon this:


Grassmilk? The container pretty much says it all: 100% grass fed, no grain, non-homogenized, no GMO, no synthetic hormones, no anti-biotics, etc.

Organic Valley, hailing from the small town of La Farge, WI, is a well-known entity in my refrigerator. Lately, I have been buying milk from a more local dairy—Hansen’s Dairy in Hudson, IA—but the concept of grass fed milk enticed me.

Cows were never meant to eat large quantities of grain and, damn it, every video I see of cows on pasture make the animals seem happy as all get out to be “frolicking” in the sun.

I generally do not think of Organic Valley as being “local.” However, some of their producers are very close. Some are in towns like Kalona, Cascade, Fairbank, and Hazelton. I think that I used to pass the farm in Hazelton on my way to southeastern Minnesota to see family. Heck, the headquarters of Organic Valley in La Farge is only a 162 miles from where I live. That is pretty local in the grand scheme of things.

It’s a winner in my book because cows were meant to live on pasture. Being corn fed is not a good thing.

Friday Linkage 9/5/2014

Big changes. The reason I have been somewhat radio silent the past couple of weeks is that I have been “reordering” my life. Nothing major like getting divorced or a death in the family—too much of that in recent years for my tastes. Rather, I decided of my own volition to make some adjustments in my approach to life for happiness and health reasons. I will get to the details later.

On to the links…

22.6% Of Homes Use Solar In South Australia—Damn, imagine if sunny states in the U.S. like California, Arizona, or Colorado approached a number like this? One can always dream.

Solar Makers Set for Record 2014 Shipments on Strong Demand—Why do I foresee a near term future where every headline is about a record with regard to solar?

Propane Made with Renewable Process for the First Time—This is kind of cool. Drop in biofuels are sort of the holy grail of the industry.

Communities Going into Power Business to Cut Cost, Carbon Footprint—Local control means that the communities can decide the path forward for their power generation. If left to private power companies it would be dirty coal. All the time.

Shell Submits a Plan for New Exploration of Alaskan Arctic Oil—After a disastrous initial campaign highlighted by the beaching of its massive drilling rig, Shell is back to try and drill in the artic again. Nothing has changed and this will more than likely end in ecological disaster.

Does Antarctic Sea Ice Growth Negate Climate Change? Scientists Say No—When are people, in general, and climate deniers, in specific, going to realize that it is global climate change brought about by a globally warmer climate. Some places will get wetter while others get drier. Some places will get colder while others get warmer. The dominant theme however is that the climate is going to get weird.

Seeing Discolored Lawns, California Businesses Apply Dab of Green—No matter what happens to the climate at least the invisible hand of the market has figured out a way for you to have a nice green lawn in the worst drought.

Why Coal Is (Still) Worse Than Fracking and Cow Burps—This is an interesting take on the compounds responsible for climate change. Read it and let me know what you think.

Sweden Now Recycles a Staggering 99 Percent of its Garbage—Damn. Regardless of how the Swedes got to this point, it is impressive.

Inside the Rainbow Factory Where Crayola Crayons Are Made—Factory tours are cool. Crayola Crayon factory tours are even cooler.

Thinking About Pink Slime

What price are we willing to pay for meat?  In one sense, I am talking about the actual money spent to buy a pound of ground beef at the grocery store.  In another sense, I am talking about the externalities associated with the production of meat in the modern world.

As a society, we crave cheap meat.  We want ground beef for $0.99 a pound at the grocery store or $1 McDouble hamburgers or steaks large enough to land small aircraft upon.  Our mass food culture is based on the perception that everyone wants to eat large quantities of meat.  In no other place could a scene like the Old 96er in the Great Outdoors be funny to so many people.  In reality, we should be appalled because such a place exists in Amarillo, Texas that serves up a similar challenge.

At our core, we value meat as a symbol of vitality and economic vigor.  Presidents speak of a chicken in every pot as if to symbolize the cooking of meat for dinner as a measure of one’s distance from poverty.  The cowboy is a celebrated national image.  The cow is even the mascot of a large and successful collegiate athletics program.

But, at what cost are we chasing this meat fueled dream?  Well, one price we pay is the existence of pink slime.  It may not be the foamy pink tongue portrayed in one infamous video, but it is no less alarming when described in its actual terms.  Here’s the deal.  Pink slime is the slaughterhouse scraps, floor trimmings, and whatever meat can be mechanically separated from the bones of a carcass that is ground together for a uniform texture.  The mixture is then “gassed” with ammonium hydroxide—the same chemical compound used in everyday household cleaners like Windex—to kill the ever present pathogens.  It is then “cut” into ground beef from more traditional and recognizable sources to reduce the per pound price of ground beef products for price conscious customers.

Pink slime is everywhere.  Okay, stories about pink slime are everywhere but the so-called “lean beef trimmings” used as a filler in ground beef and called pink slime in the vernacular of everyday people is just about as prevalent.  Here is a good list of who sells pink slime tainted meat.  Recently,  Minnesota-based grocer Supervalu said it will no longer sell ground beef tainted with pink slime.   It appears that California-based Safeway has followed suit.

It’s still in our children’s school lunches.  Most distressing is that as objectionable as pink slime may be, it is just the tip of the iceberg according to what some watchers of the food industry see.  Is it this bad:

The controversy over pink slime begs the previous question—at what cost are we chasing this meat fueled dream?  In order to be given the opportunity to purchase a $1 hamburger we were willing to accept the existence of slaughterhouse scraps treated with an analog to a household cleaner and mixed with industrial beef.  As bad as pink slime may be, have people really looked at the conditions that most cows raised for slaughter experience in the U.S.?  It’s not a pretty picture.  Trust me, as the person in Fast Food Nation said, “There’s shit in the meat?”

Never mind that we consume too much meat in this country.  Never mind that the amount of meat we eat is detrimental to our health.  Never mind that the environmental consequences of so much meat are onerous at the very least.  We will continue to crave cheap meat like we crave cheap gas.  I am surprised that Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, or Newt Gingrich are not out on the campaign trail promising to keep a hold of pink slime beef patties until you pry them from their cold dead hands.

What is the solution?  Eat less meat.  Eat better meat.

Less meat is easy.  No one needs to eat a sixteen ounce ribeye for dinner.  Portions are obscene.  Just look at the menu of any Texas Roadhouse.  The portions of the signature sirloin are named in such a way to suggest manhood with the larger cuts being called Hearty or Cowboy.  It’s as if to say you’re not a real red meat eating man if you choose an 8 ounce portion.  Step up boy!

Better meat is more difficult.  It’s more expensive to eat meat that is not “cut” with pink slime or that comes from cows raised in their own feces.  But, we should be eating less meat so the cost to eat meat, in the absolute, should not be going up.  Plus, your arteries will thank you in the long run.

I think about better meat every month when I make a pick-up of an order from Wallace Farms.  Yes, it costs more on a per pound basis to buy meat from someone who lets the animals grow naturally in tune with the cycle of the seasons, feeds them  what their physiology intended, and does not aspire to the scale that requires industrial methods.

Not only is it more humane, but it is meat on a human scale.  I have a hard time wrapping my head around massive slaughterhouses that process thousands of animals a day.  I cannot imagine the horror of the facilities that prepare animals for these abattoirs.  However, a cow in a farm field is something that I can picture.  It is a food system that I can understand in simple terms.  Occam’s razor applied to meat.