Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We Are One Big Corny Family

Typing is a pain when your finger is broken. Instead of going 100 wpm with 30 errors, I go 20 wpm with 30 errors. I caught a routine throw from 3rd to (me at) 1st during warmups at last Monday's softball game, and my top joint bent back. Here's a pic from the Illini/Indiana tailgate - if you click on it you can see my fat bandage:

A few adult bevvies at the tailgate eased my pain. : )

I played the entire game like a martyr (fool), and didn't go to the doc til Thursday. They're going to check for ligament damage today. SERIOUSLY, how can you catch an ordinary ball and break a finger??? Getting older is a drag! I'll be out of sports for a couple weeks...but you can bet I'll still be raking leaves. Ahhh, it's that time again on our little old street in Champaign. Last year I put out 81 bags before giving up.

I'm about halfway through a documentary called King Corn, produced by two college friends who move to Iowa to grow an subsidized acre of corn. The first thing they discover when giving a sample of hair is that most of the carbon in their/our bodies is CORN. Carbon is the backbone of every organic molecule in your body, including proteins and fatty acids. How is it we are consuming SO much corn? Let's go straight to the source and use their words - The Corn Refiner's Association:

Refiners separate the corn into its components -- starch, oil, protein and fiber -- and convert them into higher value products.

Corn Sweeteners are the most important refined corn products. Last year, corn sweeteners supplied more than 56 percent of the U.S. nutritive sweetener market.

Ethanol, which is gaining increasing acceptance as a cleaner burning option for motor fuels.

Starch -- a mainstay of the industry and of the U.S. economy Americans rely on corn refiners for over 90 percent of their starch needs.

Corn Oil

Feed Products for animals

Click here to check out the scoop about King Corn - definitely worth watching!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I'm not the biggest fan of Oprah, although I enjoy some of her topics. The women in her audience scare me, frankly. She's grown increasingly pretentious and out-of-touch - I guess that is what happens when you have more money than God. Yesterday, however, I was really excited to see that her topic was animal rights - Proposition 2 in CA. vs. factory farms. If approved by voters next month, the new regulations would go into effect in 2015. They would require cages to be large enough to allow egg laying hens, pregnant pigs and veal calves to be able to stand up, lie down, turn around and to be able to fully extend their limbs without touching the side of an enclosure or other egg-laying hens.

Here is Lisa Ling, investigating a "conventional farm" with 87, 000 chickens under one roof.

Oprah allowed both sides the floor. While I don't believe her show is available online, here are highlights on HER WEBSITE.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wonderful Market weather

What a fantastic weekend! Spent as much time outside as possible, including a great trip to the Market. Saturday was gorgeous and even though there are a few less vendors as the season draws to a close, I still left with a huge bag full of goodies. Most exciting: spaghetti squash. I can't wait to try THAT.

Here's what the squash looks like before cooking - and cut open:
And cooked:

I need to get back to my TFAM habits...I went to the gym for the first time in FOREVER today, and I'd gained 5 lbs. since those three weeks ended. Yikes!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bless The Beasts and Children

California Measure Would Require More Space For Hens

By TRACIE CONE, Associated Press Writer
– Thu Oct 9, 3:59 pm ET

ATWATER, Calif. – At the J.S. West and Cos. poultry farm, half a million chickens are squeezed six at a time into wire cages where they must share 2 square feet of space.

Beneath them, conveyor belts whisk away excrement while 1.2 million eggs travel from hen to carton each day without touching a human hand.

California voters will decide next month whether this kind of operation is an example of factory farming at its most efficient — or the cruel farming practices of producers concerned only about the bottom line.

If approved in the Nov. 4 election, a ballot measure called Proposition 2 would prohibit ranchers from keeping chickens, veal calves and breeding pigs in pens or cages that are too small for the animal to move. It is the farthest-reaching measure dealing with farm animal treatment ever put before voters in any state.

Ranchers would have to ensure that their animals can stand up, turn around or stretch.
But since producers have voluntarily phased out the caging of newborn calves and breeding sows, debate over the measure has centered primarily on California's 19 million egg-laying chickens, 90 percent of which are housed in so-called battery cages like the ones at J.S. West.
The restrictions would take effect in 2015, with violations carrying a $1,000 fine.

Major egg producers oppose the initiative and insist the current method of mass production is the most efficient way to deliver inexpensive eggs. They warn that egg producers will move out of state or across the border if voters approve Proposition 2.

The J.S. West farm in Atwater, about 110 miles southeast of San Francisco, already has delayed expansion plans while awaiting the voters' decision.

"Even if I had money to make all of the changes, we would not be competitive with the rest of the nation," company President Jill Benson said. "Eggs would be outsourced. We don't have the consumers for more expensive eggs."

Opponents have raised nearly $7.5 million, including donations of $100,000 or more from at least 15 poultry producers. Two of the largest donors to the campaign against the initiative face an unrelated federal investigation into alleged egg price-fixing.

Supporters have raised nearly the same amount, including $3.8 million from the Humane Society. Most of the rest has been donated by individuals.

Jennifer Fearing of the Yes on 2 campaign compared the chicken cages to spending "your entire life on an elevator with eight other people."

The California initiative would be the first in the United States to include battery cages used to house egg-laying hens, which currently are being phased out across the European Union because of cruelty concerns.

If it passes, supporters hope it would trigger a national movement aimed at poultry producers.
Supporters of Proposition 2 say it will give small egg-farming operations a better chance to compete. But large egg producers argue that the small farms cannot meet California's demand for an inexpensive source of protein. Even the large producers can meet only two-thirds of California's demand, Benson said.

State law already requires that animals in enclosed areas have adequate food and water, plus room to move freely.

"I do not perceive that there is suffering," said Julie Buckner, who heads Californians for SAFE Food, which is fighting the proposition.

Benson, the egg company president, said the health of their hens is of foremost concern to farmers.

"Ask them how they know our chickens are unhappy," Benson said. "They're making emotionally based decisions about what chickens want."

About 10 percent of California's eggs are produced by cage-free hens, and Benson's operation is no exception. Although specialty eggs are the largest-growing segment of the market, producers say demand for the more expensive cage-free eggs has not kept up with supply.

The proposal picked up support Wednesday from The New York Times, which urged other states to adopt similar restrictions.

"No philosophy can justify this kind of cruelty, not even the philosophy of cheapness," the Times wrote in an editorial.

"To a California voter still undecided on Proposition 2, we say simply, imagine being confined in the voting booth for life. Would you vote for the right to be able to sit down and turn around and raise your arms?"

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Getting creative with STEEL CUT OATS

Holla out to my friend, Linda Root, from Bone Gap IL! She's been following the blog and had some great suggestions for steel cut oats. I love them but honestly can't squeeze in the cooking time on a busy morning (when I've overslept as usual):

"I thought I'd also pass along a tip for cooking your steel cut oats that I use all the time. Aren't they just the best? You can cook them in the crockpot....1 cup oats to 4 cups water or I've read apple juice is good too. Add in any spices that you like and a dash of salt.....add any fruit (chopped apples, raisins, dried cranberries etc.) about 1/2 way in the cooking process. They should take about 3 hrs. on low. I do this on the week-ends and then divide them up in portions and they keep in the fridge for at least a week, sometimes even longer, depending on what I've added to them. Sugar-free Davinci Vanilla syrup is great mixed with them too! I've even added some canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices once and they turned out really good!"

Crockpots rate in the top 5 of great inventions, in my book.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

One leg on the wagon, one leg off...

Sorry I haven't written. I'm still not sure where my blog is going, but I really do want to keep writing. I felt terribly guilty (well, maybe just a little guilty) after a Homecoming weekend trip. I ate more bad stuff than I have in, obviously, weeks. I was rotten - a blooming onion was involved, which is like trans fat crack. It was almost like some creature was unleashed on Saturday. I was hungry the entire day and ate one thing after another.

Now it's an effort to get back on track. Since I couldn't shop at the Market over the weekend, I'm out of most of my fresh staples and just sort of getting by. I did pick up some free-range chicken from Schnuck's for fajitas the other night - $8.99/lb. While I am willing to pay extra to guarantee that the chickens were provided outdoor access and not treated cruelly, I think I could find less expensive options.

Here's an example - Sonrise Farms, located in Vermilion County, Illinois, approximately 25 miles northeast of Champaign-Urbana and 20 miles northwest of Danville. They sell beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and eggs directly to customers. The chicken: $2.25/lb.

Other great local farms selling their stuff (click on name to go to website):

First Fruits Produce - Mahomet

Moore Family Farm - Watseka

Tomahnous Farm - Mahomet

Thursday, October 2, 2008

You CAN eat "junk food"...

I was working on music stuff after getting off the air today (contrary to popular opinion, *most* radio people don't just leave when they're done with their shift), and a coworker laughed when she spotted me eating chips and salsa. "Now you couldn't get THAT at the Market!!" I turned and annoyingly (cause I KNOW I'm obsessive) said, "Actually...I bought the salsa from Kuntry Kettle at the Market, and the chips are organic and from Strawberry Fields." I rambled (calling it "doing the Sarah Palin" these days...although I think I made sense), and my friend's eyes understandably glazed over a little.

You have to watch your delivery and attitude when you talk food with people who aren't quite as into it as you are. I guess that applies to any topic, really - but food is a delicate issue for a lot of reasons. It's pretty easy to find interest and get a positive reaction when you rave about farmers markets and the goal of eating locally/seasonally, but when I say ANYTHING about factory farms or slaughterhouses or chickens in crates...well, you know how that goes. It's really uncomfortable. I don't want to be THAT person, but then again someone has to be.

An underlying thought in almost all of the books I've read is that most people have no idea where their food comes from, and a great number DON'T WANT TO KNOW. They don't consider how far it's traveled (e.g. bananas or grapes, especially in the winter), and they REALLY don't want to think about the fact that their chicken breast used to be a creature crammed in a cage.

With regard to the first issue, a new law could change that for the better. Click here.

And the second? Not sure how to help with that.