Archive for the ‘Grass Farms’ Category

The Bazaar Truth

October 29, 2011

Harpers Bazaar Magazine published by Hearst Magazines is a leading women’s fashion magazine. Since being thin is fashionable and compatible with the clothing that they advertise they often feature articles under the heading Bazaar Diet. The article in the November 2011 issue titled “Eat your Way Thin” included many foods to avoid. Foods to eat included: “Organic free range chicken, turkey, and eggs and grass fed beef, bison and lamb. For quality protein avoid mass produced meats. Factory farmed animals are kept in close quarters and fed things they aren’t supposed to eat like corn, soy and hormones. This fattens them up quickly but also makes them sick so they are given antibiotics. When you eat the meat you ingest what they eat” Wendy Schmid the author of the article got most of it right except that the “free range label does not preclude confinement production. A better term is pasture raised for chicken as well as beef and other red meat. She apparently is not aware of recently published long term epidemiology studies by Harvard University and the World Cancer Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research which concludes that many cancers, heart disease, obesity and diabetes are caused by over-consumption of factory farmed beef, pork and processed meat. She is apparently unaware of record oxygen dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay in 2011 caused by nutrient contamination of all Rivers East of the Rockies mostly from corn production and Factory-Farm manure. It is encouraging to see a major publication begin to understand the truth about our failed Industrial Food Production System.


Pyrolysis- A Chance for Current Ag Survival?

October 16, 2010

Francis Thicke in his book A New Vision for Iowa Food and Agriculture has a chapter on Pyrolysis, which he defines as a process of heating biomass without oxygen to produce combustible fuel and a product called Blochar, a soil amendment, which increases soil fertilitory while sequestering soil carbon. You will recall our reference #52, a study by the University of Illinois, which found that every Midwestern State except one was losing soil carbon. If you look at the photos from Rodale Institute our reference #53 you will see visually that our widely used two crop agricultural system using chemical fertilizer causes depletion of carbon ie. organic matter/fertility and becomes highly erodible over time. In addition the only two studies ever done on manure spillage around chicken CAFOs in Maryland showed that spillage of manure after 20 years of operation caused aquifer nitrogen levels 200 times the normal background level of 0.3 mg/l which USGS has found to be 35% of nitrogen contamination in Delmarva aquifers. Pyrolysis of CAFO manure helps solve many of these problems and is the minimum that must be done if the CAFO concept for animal protein production is to survive. If the industry will not support this essential minimal first step it will accelerate its demise into the dustbin of history as predicted recently by a leading scientist. Note that the highlighted post provides a way to contribute to the Francis Thicke campaign in Iowa. A vote for Iowa is a vote for Delmarva which has a similar land use profile.

Francis Thicke- Grass Farmer Runs for AG Sec.

October 15, 2010

Francis Thicke is a grass based dairy farmer and also certified organic farmer. He has written an excellent book on sustainable agriculture which includes a detailed technical explanation of the pyrolysis of animal manure and many other sustainable practices that must be adopted if industrial agriculture is ever to be compatible with air quality, water quality and human health. This in itself is not unusual because many farmers have reached the same conclusions as Francis Thicke. What is unusual is that Mr. Thicke is running for Agricultural Secretary in the State of Iowa, which many of us look at as the flagship of unsustainable agriculture. There are many interesting tapes on this post including a debate between Mr. Thicke and his opponent the current Secretary of Agriculture and a corn and soybean farmer. Sustainable agricultural advocates Michael Pollan, and farmer Joel Salatin are also taped. Iowans are just beginning to become aware of the destruction caused by industrial agriculture despite the fact that their water treatment plant in DesMoines was forced to install the worlds largest nitrate treatment plant years ago. Many other wells and water supplies are severely affected not only by nitrate but also by pathogens, antibiotics, arsenic, growth hormones and etc. The nitrate level at this plant is 5 times that of our Choptank River in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. However we are on our way to catching Iowa with nitrogen pollution up 63% in the last 8 years. I did have the opportunity to speak to Mrs. Vilsack at a recent Red Cross fund raiser and expressed my admiration for Mr. Thicke a fellow Democrat. Her husband Tom is US. Secretary of Agriculture and former Governor of Iowa. You will recall that he opposed the Gulf Hypoxia Task Force fertilizer reduction recommendation in 2000. She said that Mr. Thicke would not win. I sent him another donation when I heard that. Nothing could be more positive for the future of food and agriculture than a Thicke win or even a close election in Iowa.

2012 Farm Bill

July 25, 2010

July 24 2010

Dear Mr. Abrams, (Assistant to Congressman Kratovil)

Thankyou for your call about genetically modified seed. I hope that you have had an opportunity to visit our website and blog. I know the far-reaching consequences of our food system are complex and not easily fixed but as a member of the House Agriculture Committee the Congressman is in a position to bring about desperately needed change. As Vaclav Smil pointed out, what started as a shortage of manure sourced nitrogen was quickly satisfied by an overabundance of nitrate production during and following World War II. As shown on our reference graph43 for the Choptank River, nitrogen application increased 8-9 times beginning in the 50’s as pasture was eliminated. As the graph shows the results were catastrophic for Choptank water species. The same nitrogen increase and catastrophic result occurred Nationwide as the 2000 Gulf of Mexico Study31 shows. This powerful scientific report recommended a reduction in nitrogen application for the Mississippi watershed which encompasses more than 40% of the US land area but it was rejected due to pressure from powerful agricultural interests. Since 2000 the medical and public health community realized that corn based products both meat and processed food, are unhealthy and the cause of our increasing obesity and diabetes epidemics. The good news is that both the environmental and health issues can be solved by producing and consuming healthy food. Your committee must stop subsidizing high nitrogen need corn and high fat animal and high sugar/fat based processed food and start subsidizing locally produced vegetables and pasture based meat products. You should be supporting low chemical usage in all production. You should make it less cumbersome to qualify for the organic label, which has now been extended to dairy products. The label requires that these animals eat a minimum amount of grass, which produces a leaner animal, and which requires less nitrogen-based corn and less manure clean up. All confinement house manure must be processed.

We are fortunate to have 2 grass-based farms within 40 miles. Neither St Brigids in Kennedyville nor C&J farm in Seaford grow corn or use chemicals and they receive no subsidy while growing healthy food. Current government policy encourages the production of unhealthy food grown using large amounts of environmentally destructive chemicals and without controls on animal manure all of which is overwhelming aquifers and surface water and destroying water species. Congressman Kratovil is in a unique  position to change all of this in the 2012 Farm Bill and we wish him luck.


July 1, 2010

Nutritionist Walter Willett states that there is a consensus among nutritionists that America’s obesity and diabetes epidemics is caused by an excess of corn based processed food and corn fed red meat. He also was asked his opinion by the Washington Post on Americas decreasing longevity based on the National Cancer Institute’s study of red meat consumption. Fred Kirchenmann and his fellow scientists at Iowa State University state that there is a need for basic change in industrial agriculture. They propose crop rotations which include pasture and forages and result in substantially less corn and chemical application and much less exposure to erosion. CBF’s restoration scientists who are restoring historic Antietam Creek propose changing corn based CAFO dairy farms to pasture based dairy farms. Three of the oldest agriculture organizations in the Country representing 11,000 scientist and students published Grasslands-the future of sustainable agriculture. Almost a year ago the Wall Street Journal in an opinion titled The Fat of the Land wrote “call the 19% of Kids who are obese in America the children of corn”. They now follow up with a solution opinion titled “Ordering Up Beef That Roamed the Range”. The article reports on a taste test of prime cuts of beef from 5 ranches in the SW, Midwest, and Western US. All tasters agreed that the meat was less greasy and more tasteful than supermarket beef. They also point out that healthful grass fed beef is only 3% of beef sales in the US. If readers have any interest in restoring water quality, stopping massive erosion and improving their health they should only buy grass fed meat. All 5 of these ranchers sell product by mail. We buy pasture-raised veal and beef from St Brigids in Kennedyville MD and beef, pasture raised eggs and chicken from C&J in Seaford DE. These pasture-based grass fed producers can be reached as follows:
Baldwin Grass Fed Beef (800) 896-4857 Hearst Ranch(866) 547-2624 La Cense Beef (866) 442-2333 Ridge Run Longhorn Ranch (575) 666-2697 Alderspring Ranch
St. Brigids (410) 648 5753

C&J Seaford DE. (302) 629-8194

Open letter To My Sister Jean

May 23, 2010

I recently spent some time with my sister and I probably talked about the damage that our current corn based meat and dairy production system is doing to our health and the environment. She called me and said do you know that grass fed ground beef is more than $5 per pound? I said yes but it is a real value at that price. I could tell by the silence on the line that as a widow watching her expenses she was a complete skeptic. So I thought I would share with her and our followers the value she would receive for an average 20%  premium for grass fed beef.

Health advantages:

Grass fed beef is 7 times lower in saturated fat than corn fed

Grass fed beef has substantially higher omega 3 than Corn fed

Grass fed beef is the only natural source of cancer fighting CLA

Grass fed beef has no antibiotics and does not destroy our ability to fight infection

Grass fed beef has no growth hormones with its yet undocumented health effect

Corn fed cattle are inherently high in e-coli, which can be deadly to humans

Also see our reference #16 from the National Cancer Institute

Scientists are just learning the adverse affects of atrazine, a chemical widely used in weed management by industrial agriculture. Is atrazine the major cause of high cancer rates in Iowa and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland?

Environmental and other advantages:

Corn production for animal feed is 50% responsible for advanced eutrofication of rivers East of the Rockies and the  destruction of Gulf water species. The other 50% is processed food and ethanol.

Unmanaged CAFO manure and corn production used for animal feed is more than 90% responsible for Chesapeake Bay pollution and major species loss.

Shortcuts in corn cropping diversity resulting in 2-crop or less rotations is the direct cause of top soil erosion affecting future soil productivity and the resulting sedimentation of all rivers and estuaries East of the Rockies.

Corn fed cattle are abused in CAFO’s

Jean. I know that many of these issues do not affect you living in Nevada and you have never seen the horrible conditions in a CAFO or seen the documentary FOOD INC. or see daily the destruction of our Creek but don’t you think that every citizen who buys these industrial products with knowledge of the damage to our water and soil assets and to the animals themselves bears some responsibility for this destruction which can only be described as a National disgrace being ignored by responsible regulators.


April 23, 2010

Yesterday on Fox evening news there was an announced EPA ban on Meat showing a steak package with an X. The announcement was followed quickly with a disclaimer to the effect that while meat production was the primary cause of violation of  the clean water act there was no fomal EPA action against meat production. Clearly the EPA nutrient load charts for the Chesapeake Bay identify the meat producing and dairy CAFO’s of rural Pennsylvania and the chicken CAFO’s of Delmarva as the primary source of Chesapeake Bay pollution but this announcement on the 6 o’clock news was a false alarm.

Meat Eaters-Cheap Skates

April 20, 2010

When the EPA nutrient load maps came out last fall clearly showing the cause of Chesapeake Bay water quality decline, I thought that once a problem is so clearly defined a solution can not be far behind. Not so! The problem is far from a solution. I believe the reason is that most meat eaters are also cheap skates and will not pay a little more for grass fed meat and dairy. Why else would grass fed meat not be on supermarket shelves in the East allowing people to make their own choices. If you happen to live in Berkeley California this is not the case but so far the most affected Eastern States are far behind in presenting solutions. And of course when was the last time that Burger King advertised grass fed burgers.

I don’t mean to imply that the Chesapeake Bay watershed is the only area of the Country that is suffering the effects of CAFO meat production. Georgia, Arkansas, and Alabama produce more than double the number of chickens as Delmarva. The former grasslands of Eastern Colorado are now cattle CAFO’s. I have asked EPA to produce a Nationwide nutrient map which I will publish when available. In the meantime stay tuned to this site which will continue to identify grass farms and pasture based farmers  Don Kerstetter

ST BRIGIDS FARM-in Kennedyville MD

April 17, 2010

Despite being a dairy farm which has the potential to be a significant source of Chesapeake Bay nutrient pollution and despite that it is located smack in the middle of the deepest red nutrient pollution area of Delmarva, St Brigids Jersey dairy and veal farm is not polluting the waters of Chesapeake Bay. How can we be so sure? Owners Bob Frey and Judy Gifford have gone to extreme lengths to find out. They participated in a North East Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant to determine thr nutrient balance on their farm. The following is the calculation.

Total for farm Total per ac
Tons N /yr Lbs N per ac
Nitrogen Inputs 14.5 525.5
Imported Feed 9.2 334.6
Imported Bedding 0.2 6.7
Imported Animals 0.0 0.0
Imported Fertilizer 3.8 137.2
Legume Fixation 1.3 47.0
Nitrogen Outputs 5.7 209.1
Animal Products 3.4 125.4
Cash Crops 0.0 0.0
Manure/Compost 2.3 83.7
Balance (Potential Loss) 8.7 316.4
Other N Flows
Manure N Produced (animal intake – prod) 13.9 503.9
Manure N after Storage (measured) 4.8 176.4
Manure N Applied (Stored + Import – Export) 2.5 92.7
Manure N Avail to Crop (Applied -Field loss) 0.9 32.4
Total N Avail to Crop 6.0 216.7
Total Crop N 7.9 288.0
Non-Legume crop N 5.9 216.0
Total Feed N Consumed 17.1 622.6

The report indicated that they had a positive balance for nitrogen  because they had to import grains to satisfy the high nutrient need of lactating cows and their acreage was insufficient to provide sufficient forage hay year-round. They now haul away the collectable manure. While they were confident that their pastures were not leaching nitrogen into aquifers because the grass is capable of scavenging sufficient excess nitrogen from the manure. They also checked their aquifers for nitrate which is the only way to be sure.

It would be wonderful if every farmer showed sufficient concern about the potential for nutrient pollution to do a nutrient balance study and take appropriate action. If that happened voluntarily all the money being spent by the government and others would be saved. If that happened the Nations topsoil would not be destroyed and the waters would not be polluted and species destroyed. Congratulations to St Brigids for their leadership.

We have asked another expert with USDA to check the probability of nutrient balance in the pastures of St Bridgids. His opinion will be posted under comments.

Last time I checked the pricing of St. Brigids products they were reasonable compared to supermarket products. We will do a later pricing post.

St Bridgids veal and beef is available at the farm and several area restaurants including Brookes Tavern in Chestertown MD.


March 24, 2010

The Pew Commission Ref #1 stated that CAFO food products were not cheap except to the consumer because of government subsidies, and the cost to our natural resources such as our soil and estuaries like Chesapeake Bay. So it is interesting to compare the cost to the consumer. Yesterday I went to Walmarts to compare C&J prices.

Walmarts price for chuck roast was 4.78/lb versus 4.25 for C&J

Walmarts price for Delmonico steak was 9.54/lb versus 8.00 for C&J

Walmarts price for Angus beef patties was 3.50/lb versus 4.50 for C&J

Walmarts price for bulk lean ground beef was 3.78/lb versus 4.25 for C&J

Walmarts price for Egglands best organic eggs was 4.08 versus C&J 4.00/doz. note Walmart had large eggs for 1.50/doz.. These eggs are produced by hens who  live? in a small cage and are fed antibiotics, arsenic growth enhancer, and who knows what else. This system of egg production was condemned by the Pew Commission as being one of the worst examples of mans inhumanity to animals. This system of egg production is now banned in California and other States. Anyone who eats these eggs with knowledge of how they are grown should be jailed as an animal abuser.

Considering that the beef has 7 times less saturated fat, is high in CLA and omega 3 and is grown in a way that builds topsoil, and is nutrient neutral, what a value! The only downside is finding these farmers. The eat wild website can be helpful in this regard. Just go to the related links on our website.