Sunday, October 25, 2015

Intensive Farming

I'm currently reading my favourite book of all time - Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. A good point was brought up in it about CAFO's which is the American term for feedlots, but covers intensive piggeries and poultry farms as well.

The powers that be, would have you believe that we need to farm intensively to feed the world. While, it is probably correct that it is a more inexpensive way of feeding the world their protein, it really isn't necessary. I personally believe that the bigger issue with world starvation is political and not because of trouble with the production of food. If more regional centres were encouraged to develop their own local food economy, by growing and processing food locally, there would be less reliance on feedlots. For example, Rockhampton is our local centre (in Central Queensland) and we have two abattoirs that predominantly processes grassfed and finished beef and yet it is very difficult to buy any of that beef in Rockhampton butcher shops. (Or that is labelled as such)

Anyway, not to get into that argument now, needless to say, the general assumption is that we need to have intensively farmed animals as it is an efficient way of producing cheap protein. The following are three of the impacts or concerns that I have with intensive farming.

  1. The ethical treatment of animals - feedlots and sheds have animals confined in small spaces. Those animals in sheds see no sunlight but are protected from the elements of bad weather - feedlot cattle see plenty of sunlight, but also have to put up with the wet season, which will see them standing knee deep in mud! They are packed fairly tightly which is a breeding ground for pathogens so they need to be fed antibiotics - this is beneficial for two reasons - protection from disease and illness, and it also helps with weight gain. Animals were bred to live outdoors, that is why they have feather, fur or hair. They find their own protection from weather in woodlands.
  2. Pollution. Having this many animals in small places creates pollution. Run off from the farms effluent washes into water systems creating problems locally and eventually when it hits the oceans. In contrast, animals on pasture are cleaner, as their effluent enriches the soil. Most soils in Australia are low in fertility so encouraging good animal management on farms will improve soil fertility and therefore increase farm viability.
  3. Health. Animals raised on healthy pastures provide healthy food for humans. They have less chance of carrying pathogens and will have a higher vitamin and mineral content. Cattle and sheep are not designed to eat grain. Pigs and Poultry can eat grain, but they eat an awful lot of grass too. Not all grazing management is created equal though. To receive maximum benefit from the excess nutrients from the animals, pasture needs to be maintained in the paddocks. Bare paddocks are no better than a shed in terms of run-off. Where there is actively growing grass, it has the added benefit of storing carbon in the soil. (another topic for another post).
Which kind of farming do you want to see?

If you would like to read more about ethical Food and Farming, this is a great blog to read. Tammi Jones Food Ethics.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Busy Days

Wow, it's been a month since I've posted. So much for my self imposed goal to post something each day!! Life is just busy! I'm stealing  a little time now, waiting for Kim and Edmund to get back from unloading cattle. I've been showing our french backpackers how to make pasta - they've made the sauce (creamy prawns), and they've also made some "little pillows" which is a deep fried  pasta basically, sprinkled with sugar for desert. And smokos for the next week! Dinner is going to be a carb overload, but I suppose we don't do it very often so hopefully I'll survive!

So what have I been up to in the last month? Apart from working on the pig farm - less backpackers has meant a little more work for me, which makes life a tad busier. Office work, marketing, cleaning, cooking......still needs to be done. Fortunately I love cooking so I prioritize that (sometimes that's not such a good idea!)

I finally dug my turmeric and processed that. I peeled,boiled it and then sliced and dried it, before finally grinding it. My yield was not very good this year, so I don't think I'll have enough to last until next year.

I've dug my potatoes - I don't think I'll give up pigs to become a potato farmer! I can't remember how much money I spent on seed potatoes, but I only got about 5-7kgs so at a guess, they are about $5/kg. Not happy at all! Although they taste pretty damn good.

I have done quite a few other food things: the usual suspects  (weekly)like fetta, yoghurt, sourdough, herman the german friendship cake, and some other things like bacon (not smoked, just cured), halumi, beetroot relish, tomatoes preserved in vacola jars, tomato sauce (pasta sauce to freeze and "ketchup"), mulberry jam and passionfruit wine. The wine is umm....interesting. I'm hoping it will mature!

My garden is looking impressive! I spent some time today wipper snipping. The snakes have been plague proportion almost, and after seeing one in the garden, I think I need to tidy up. We've seen 4 browns and one tiapan, so you can't afford to have too much long grass around. I suppose when you have grain, you have mice and then you have snakes. I just wish they were the carpet snakes and not the deadly ones!

I'm eating spinach, silver beat, NZ spinach, tomatoes, eggplants, cabbage, pumpkin, pawpaw, potatoes, passionfruit and lots of herbs and I've planted more lettuce, spinach, beans, tomatoes and carrots.

Anyway, Kim has returned we've had dinner and surely it's now time to go to bed! I think that that's my favourite time of day.