Miolea Organic Farm

  (Adamstown, Maryland)
Organic Farming from a City Boy's Perspective
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What you need to know about GMO

To show you how important GMO is to the industrial food complex (IFC) you only need to look at California’s Proposition 37.  It is a bill that would require food manufacturers to label foods made with GMO tainted products.  Why is this important to you?  Because as California goes so goes the Country.  California represents about 12% of the total food consumed in the United States.

The IFC has poured in over 25 million dollars to defeat the referendum.  Monsanto alone has contributed 4 million to defeat the measure.  Coke, Pepsi and others have contributed as well.  People are suggesting boycotting these companies.  I suggest eating healthy.  Eat whole foods that you know do not contain GMO's.  GMO’s have been getting bad press about the ill it is causing in the human being, the environment and the flora and fauna. 

More of us want food that does not have GMO added.  The EU and other countries do not allow GMO in there food supply and there are reasons for that.  To me the bottom line with GMO is that an anti-biotic needs to be spliced into the DNA helix in order for the DNA to accept the modified trait being introduced.  Then there is the actual substance that is being placed in the DNA.  Let me explain, the anti-biotic helps the DNA accept the modification into its makeup say the round-up gene.  Round-up ready corn has the round-up gene spliced into its DNA with the help of the anti-biotic.  Then if we eat tacos, corn chips or whatever is made with the substance that genetic modification is consumed along with the anti-biotic strain.

That is my elementary understanding, I am not a scientist, and I have no empirical facts other then observations.  Those observations are the following:  more viruses are becoming anti-biotic resistant, more food borne allergies are being reported, scientist report environmental impacts like feminization and castration of predictor species and flora is starting to become round up resistant.  In essence making a super-weed that is impervious to weed killers and strain of viruses that are anti-biotic resistant.  Which in turn leads to the need for even more nefarious chemicals to control the weeds. 2.4-D for instance would be used.  2,4-D was the checmical in agent orange.

We are certified organic and GMO drift is one of those things that must be monitored and stopped if possible.  I can tell you it is not possible unless you have a very isolated well-protected field you are susceptible to GMO propagation of your plants.  We take great pains to find out what is being planted around us and when the germination is going to start to take place.  We then plant around that window of propagation.  It is the only way I know how to safely grow food.  Sometimes we will not plant corn a second time due to drift potential. 

The same people that developed GMO technology are the ones that recommended the use in the US food supply.  That fact alone answers the question of is it bad for you.  If it was healthy wouldn't they open it up to transparency just to prove it is not harming the environment or us?

Buy Local:  They do not use GMO.

 

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The Humane Choice

My admiration and adulation goes out to all of those farmers that have big animals and do it humanely.  With winter coming their job caring for the animals becomes infinately harder.  To me, anything bigger than a chicken is a big animal.  Well, maybe except for pigmy goats.  Of course, my rule is to not raise an animal that can take me in a fight.  Although poultry meets that criterion, I refuse to raise turkeys.  Turkeys can get large and are agile, I am just saying. 

The knowledge big animal farmers have to possess and shear dedication is daunting, and to do it all humanely amazes me about them.  The dedication alone makes me think what I do is just playing.  I know I am not but, by comparison, I have it much easier then my counterparts.  Do not get me wrong, shoveling five feet of snow around a trailor, so the chickens can get out. is no easy task. 

When you choose to be a humane farm, in my opinion, that choice is made from one of two motivations; one is reason the other is emotion.  Reason looks at the facts of animal production and takes into account, taste, productivity, health, environmental impact, total cost, rate of return on your investment and workload.  Then there is the emotional decision.  You take into account the health of all the animals, you anthropomorphize to a certain extent and you want to make their brief existence on this earth as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.  No matter the reason an unstressed animal performs and tastes better and they need no or minimal drugs because of the healthy environment they inhabit.  No matter what motivation drives the choice, both ultimately benefit, people, animals and the environment.      

I think when reason comes into play there is less angst when dealing with mortality.  Having talked to colleagues and reading posts here, I know there is grief no matter how slight.  I can see it in the words we all use when describing the loss, be it to slaughter, age and illness or shear economics.  Even with reason your heart is in it, because with reason comes compassion and with compassion comes some amount of strings attached to the heart that will be tugged when a beloved animal leaves.  

I fall squarely into the emotional category.  Mortality was and still is my biggest hurtle.  I did not want any animals, at all, because I knew that mortality, for whatever reason, was going to fall on my shoulders.  I would be the one to bury an expired animal or put one down to relieve its misery or taking the life because of economic reasons.  I was against the notion of animals and concentrated on fruits and vegetables.  We did eventually get into animal husbandry as has been chronicled in our blog.  As I age and mature, in my new role, I can say that my heart is not hardening but that I am getting less unsettled when dealing with mortality.  It still takes a toll and I am reminded of Dr. Temple Grandin’s statement that ordinary people “can become sadistic from the dehumanizing work of constant slaughter.”  We fall way short of anything close to that but the thought is there.

I will tell you since we have gotten our processors license I have stayed away from processing our layers.  I realize this will happen within the next two years and it will not be easy on me.  However, knowing they will be going to the soup kitchen to feed the less fortunate makes me feel better.  That thought is what got us through the first culling.  (See Spent Layers and Humane Farming).  

I do find the thought of processing our own layers appalling and hard for me to accept.  You see our layers trust us to keep them safe.  Yet, this last time their demise will be at my hands not that of someone else.  The hens do actually become pets as much as you try to keep a distance.  When you deal with them everyday, twice a day, they grow on you.  You start to see contrasts and nuances, in each of them.  At most we have seventy birds on the property but some seem to have their own little variance from the others.  Some walk right up to you and follow you around others mill about. 

When we take a tour of kids around the farm, the older layers are my go-to girls.  I can walk up to one pick her up and let them see a chicken up close and personal.  The hen stays calm without throwing a fuss and lets the children pet or touch her.  I will talk about the hen and point out the waddle, comb, beak, nostrils and ears.  I skip the vent unless asked, “Where do the eggs come out?”  I will then point to the hen’s ear and tell them that is how you can tell what color egg the chicken will lay.  I usually get responses from the parents at that point because it is a fascinating tidbit.  Education is a big part of our existence and mission.

No matter why a person decides to be a humane farm the practice is good for the animal, the environment and healthy for the consumer.  As for the farmer, I think that the practices make us all feel good.  Once again, that giving back aspect makes a person feel good.  By providing open spaces, natural grazing and comfortable living conditions we benefit from production, the animals thrive and the environment recovers naturally.

 

 Buy Local: Who is your farmer?

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