PETA Round 2: Never be silent

(Originally Published April 9, 2014)

“Never be silent” are words taken right out of co-founder and President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Ingrid Newkirk’s mouth and presentation to Penn State on Wednesday, April 2nd. Though she preaches this, and clearly follows it, she doesn’t seem to appreciate it when others follow this rule as well.

It was advertised around campus that Newkirk would answer any and all questions students may have. However, once she started receiving backlash, this PETA co-founder seemed that it would be the professional thing to do cutting us short after three questions. Sara Kitchen, a great friend and classmate of mine, didn’t agree.

We approached Newkirk and asked her the following three questions, and were bewildered by her responses, which were filled with ignorance and hostility.

Q1. What are PETA’s goals when the world population reaches 9 billion people? Are we all to be vegans? And if this is the end goal, how do we do this in an economical, profitable and sustainable way?

RESPONSE: Yes, people will still eat if we take away meat from our diets. And of course it will be better in all three things you mentioned. Animal agriculture is responsible for polluting water, releasing unwanted gas into the air and deforestation. Vegans use the least amount of energy and water, you know.

Q2. What will happen to the animals if we eliminate animal agriculture?

RESPONSE: Well you have to stop artificially inseminating them, and then we won’t be producing billions of animals each year. They will phase out. I don’t think you care about your animals *waves her hand in my face*, it’s just an excuse for what you’re doing to them. It’s something that’s been programmed into your mind, you’re just a business. Do you take the calves away from their mothers for safety? How would you feel if I did that to you, “for safety?”

Q3. How will this affect our economy? Agriculture generates billions of dollars to the United States economy each year, not to mention thousands of jobs.

RESPONSE: The economy will have to change. We used to have slavery and horse drawn carriages you know.

Throughout her responses, both Sara and I would try to respond with the rhyme and reason behind all of our practices, but she would bring down us down without letting us finish. In fact, we weren’t able to do more than start a sentence before she would interrupt and start another argument. Not only was it slightly discouraging, but very upsetting that a woman of her status and popularity would act so childish. In fact, to highlight her level of professionalism, I would like to leave you with this last exchange between Newkirk and I:

Newkirk: I don’t think you truly care about your animals. It’s a business, and it’s for profit.

Me: How can you accuse me of not caring about my cows? Is it not possible to have morals and emotions tied in with your business?

Newkirk: I don’t even know what you mean by that.

Sure you don’t Ingrid. I guess they didn’t teach you how to use insanity and outrageous beliefs to battle an opponent with reason, practicality and reality… did they?

PETA Round 1: The Presentation

(Originally Published April 4, 2014)

On April 2nd, 2014 Ingrid Newkirk paid Penn State a visit. Who is Ingrid Newkirk? The co-founder and president of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. When you hear that, what do think it means? People who are advocating for the humane treatment of animals is what comes to my mind. Which is a rule and concept that ANY man or woman who is a true agriculturist knows and abides by. However, that’s not what PETA is promoting.

Anyone who follows PETA knows that their claims are absurd and outrageous. What they lack in their marketing schemes and accusations is reality, reason and practicality. And you can be sure that Ingrid was not lacking in any of those three qualities. But what she lacked in common sense and reality, she made up for with a charming stage presence, pleasant sense of humor and a British accent that was impossible to hate.

Throughout her presentation, she used examples of cruelty towards animals that we ALL could agree with. Videos showed hair being ripped off of screaming rabbits, workers violently throwing new born calves into a truck and sheep being kicked in the head during shearing, among others. Even I felt a pang of hurt for the animals she was projecting. However, I was more bothered by her following approach tactics:

The Holocaust, Slavery and Women’s Rights. When you compare the way humans treat animals as “slaves” to Hitler sending Jews to concentration camps, slave in the fields picking cotton and women fighting for voting rights, that’s taking it to far. Or how Ingrid compared farmers taking calves away from mothers to times of slavery when white men and women accused black women of not being capable of feeling maternal love and taking away their newborns. Ingrid Newkirk stooped down to the level of torture, inequality and racism. How on God’s great earth is that even a fair or valid argument? Are we sick, racist people as agriculturists and farmers? I think not.

Calling out The College of Ag. There were a solid 4 or 5 times during Ingrid’s presentation that she would begin with phrases such as, “This is for the College of Ag” and “Ag students should listen to this” or the “Pay attention to this ag students.” For one, that’s rude, ignorant and unprofessional to do in a presentation. Two, the Penn State College of Ag was the majority of your crowd. I don’t believe it’s fair to call out and point fingers and young men and women who spent their evening RESPECTFULLY listening to your outrageous view points and over done presentation. I also think it’s total crap that when their was an individual who laughed in the crowd, Ingrid automatically made a hinting dig at the “ag kids.” How do you know what college or area of study they were associated with?

One sided story. You may be thinking, “Did you really expect anything different?” Yes and no. I expected the co-founder and PRESIDENT of a world renowned organization to have the respect for herself and the poise in her presentation to at least ACKNOWLEDGE another side of a story. For example, a student made a comment at the end of her slide show, saying a statement to the effect of “I agree that animals should be treated humanely, as do all students in the College of Agriculture. However,  I don’t agree with the way you go about promoting your cause. It’s not practical and just wrong.” She retaliated by stating, “You ag students and ag organizations love to only show one side and pull out the negative stats about the deaths and put downs in our animal shelters,” and then proceeded to show us a video on the positives of PETA animal shelters. Just real quick Ingrid…. that didn’t even remotely address his comment and isn’t that EXACTLY what PETA is doing? Only showing one side? Sounds a little hypocritical to me.

Only answering 3 questions. I just spent an hour and a half listening to your presentation. Every time a hand was raised in our area (which judging by the sea of camo, was clearly the “ag kid” side), we were ignored. You, a HUGE public figure with a HUGE opinion, have a personal responsibility and OBLIGATION to answer every one’s questions… or at least more than 3. Maybe it was the number of questions she didn’t answer, or the way she would look our way and blatantly ignore our raised hand. Either way, it fueled my spirit and fired to lock her down for a one-on-one conversation.

Maybe I have too much faith in humanity, or maybe I was hoping for a more professional and rational experience with someone as powerful as Ingrid Newkirk. However, I was highly disappointed. But now I know how PETA accomplishes their goals first hand. Emotion, wit, charm, celebrity support and pictures of sick, sad puppies. Keep on keepin’ on PETA, because the Penn State College of Ag is ready to call out your bluff again and again… and again.

Got Milk? Cause you need it!

(Originally Published February 18, 2014)

If there is one thing that gets under my skin, it’s ignorance and stupidity. When people preach “facts” that aren’t really facts. I mean, who are we, to go around spreading around information that is 100% complete and total crap? Well that seems to be the theme of whatever poor lost soul posted the image and facts with Got Milk? Throw it away.


While I wish I could find the evil culprit behind this stone cold, false, wrong and crappy junk, I would like to set this mystery punk straight. Here’s a few REAL facts about milk, nature’s most perfect food.

1. Milk is dairy, and dairy is irreplaceable in your diet. Without dairy, you are depriving your body of essential nutrients it needs to survive. Whether it’s milk, yogurt in a breakfast smoothie or string cheese as an afternoon snack, these products provide magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and 48% of your daily value of protein… ever heard of Osteoporosis? You should probably start pouring a glass of milk with dinner and sprinkling a little extra cheese on your pasta.

2. Not only is dairy an essential part of your diet, it’s beneficial to other aspects of health and wellness as well. From now on, when you work out (or look at the equipment and consider that exercise like I do) have a glass of white or chocolate (my favorite) milk afterwards. Your abs at the beach will thank me in a few months.

3. If you’re not convinced that milk is important, maybe you need to think about some of the kids in your life. It doesn’t matter if their your own children, nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, students… they’re a part of the 100% of children who need the bone-building calcium and other nutrients in milk their bodies need to survive.

4. So you only like chocolate milk? That’s totally ok. Chocolate milk is still just as beneficial. In fact over the last 5 years the added sugar in flavored milk has been reduced from 4 tsp to 2.4 tsp per serving.

5. If you are a low fat or fat free kind of person, there are lots of dairy items available that fit your diet requirements. There are also lactose free products, and I’m not talking about almond or soy milk (throw that shit out). I’m lactose intolerant actually, and according to every doctor I’ve ever talked to it takes 4-6 hours for someone to react to dairy, not 30 minutes, in case you’re wondering about this milk hater’s credibility. The lactose free options are just as satisfying and provide your body with what it needs, and are still real dairy products.

6. Fun fact: If you cut dairy out of your diet, think twice. Instead of three glasses of cold, delicious milk, you’re going to have to replace that same amount of calcium with 21 cups of chopped broccoli. Unless you’re a rabbit, that’s not enjoyable. And if you think that sounds appetizing, drop what you’re doing and go eat a cupcake, NOW.

6. Now for the touchy subject… hormones. All milk has a very small amount of hormones. But hey, want to know something funny? Milk from cows who are treated with the hormone rBST show the same normal range of hormones in their milk as a cows that have NOT been treated with rBST. Says who, you ask? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and other respected and trustworthy health organizations say so.

7. Why is rBST used? Some farmers give it to their cows as a tool to help them produce more milk. However, some milk companies have started offering rBST free milk, NOT because it is healthier. ONLY because it is in response to what the market is demanding. Milk, with rBST or rBST free, is wholesome, nutritious, safe AND YOU SHOULD JUST DRINK IT OK.

Milk comes from the cows on our farms to you consumers as a delicious, fresh, pure and SAFE product that ensures the health and well being of your body. Next time someone is slamming a soda and tells you to ditch the milk, you should probably just ditch them.

Wanna know more about what I’ve told you? Check out these sources:

Farmers are real people too, ya know

(Originally Published February 12, 2014)

In the dairy industry, we talk a lot about “reaching out” and “creating trust” with consumers. But at the same time, we’re constantly fretting over the progress we have or have not made with our attempts at public outreach. So what is it that we’re missing? Why do we, as farmers and industry advocates, feel like we’re taking one step forward while our consumers are taking two steps back the other way?

In my experiences at school, I’ve never been able to get used to the reactions of my peers to us “farmers.” Wait… I come from a dairy farming background? NO WAY… Yes way. I, Rebecca Shaw, grew up feeding calves, cleaning poop out of pens and finding excuses to keep me out of the milking parlor. But why is that so hard to believe? Are others more willing to listen to me, as a farmer, now that they feel a similar peer connection?

For us to tell our story, maybe what we need to do first is show our consumers that we’re not that much different than they are. In fact, we’re exactly like them in some ways. Farmers are consumers that shop at the local super market and members of a community who serve on the school board next to you. Farmers are parents, little league coaches, dance moms and fans starting chants at a high school basketball game. Farmers travel the world and may have a few beers or virgin cocktails along the way. Farmers stop at Dunkin Donuts for a fancy latte and Sheetz for a tank of gas and the latest Cosmo magazine (or maybe that one is just me…).

My point is, that people are more willing to listen and create a connection with those who they can relate too. Other than having a 24/7 job that requires a person to cancel dinner plans last minute, skip a few years of vacation here and there and wake up around 4am every day (including holidays), farmers really aren’t that different from their consumers.

More than a Farmer: I’m an Environmentalist

(Originally Published February 5, 2014)

Though this may only be a 12 credit semester, it has proven to be one of my busiest yet. All but one of my classes are discussion based and require readings, papers and prepared debate material. The main idea of these courses are based around the many similar questions. One being, “How can we feed a world of 9 billion people without destroying the environment?”

I’m all about feeding the world and the new technology we’ve created to do so. However, I am NOT all about people criticizing farmers for not caring for their land. As said by a very good friend and former colleague Kelcie Degenfelder, Farmers are the best stewardess to the land! In order to prosper the farmer needs to take care of the land.”

Unfortunately, not all people like to think that. After a pretty heated debated in an International Agriculture class on this topic, an ERM (Environmental Resource Management) major approached me and said,

“I like the environment and you like cows and farms… can we be friends?” 

As silly as something like that sounds, it gave me the idea for this “More than a Farmer” idea. I couldn’t stop thinking about this girl’s question while I was on a field trip last Saturday to learn about a biodigester on a nearby dairy farm.

Schrack Farms, located in Loganton, PA, runs a biodigester off of his herd of 1,000 milking cows and around 400-500 dry cows and heifers. For the past 7 years, his biodigester has run at a 99% usage rate, fueling the entire farm, only needing half of the electricity produced. The remaining 50% is then sold back to the grid and used by the surrounding towns and communities.

Schrack Farms_cows eating

These cows and heifers are producing manure and waste that is then pumped into a biodigester, and the burning of the methane gas creates electricity. The leftover waste is put to good use as well. The solid matter is dried and used as bedding for the cows and the liquid left over is used on fields as a fertilizer for the soil and its crops.

Schrack Farms_digesterSchrackFarms_digester engine

All during the visit, our tour guide, manager and partial owner of Schrack Farms, made it clear many times that he is not only a farmer, but a stewardess to the land as well. Without adequate soil, he has no farm. So, by implementing this biodigester he has turned waste into a number of beneficial solutions throughout his entire farm, from his cows to his crops.

My point is for you to remember…

We are farmers. We are environmentalists. We are making a difference. Poop happens, and sometimes… poop is excellent.

Food Inc: Round 3

(Originally Published January 27, 2014)

If you’ve been keeping with the Cow Chronicler (and if you haven’t, this is awkward) you’d be expecting my last and final post with regards to the movie Food Inc. Well folks, here it is… and it’s another step in the right direction to making a difference.
Before our last class discussion even began, I walked into a class already debating… well only one person debating with everyone surrounding him. Yea you know that kid who said I let my emotions get the best of me? He was back in full force (also interrupting my stupid-expensive McLanahan’s dinner) telling people “Monsanto is out to get everyone. They don’t care about us. They know exactly the effects their products have on people.” (Referring to Agent Orange, GMOs, etc). Before I could even respond, our professor cut him off to hand back our survey results. It’s probably a good thing she did before I threw away all of my class and dignity and chucked my turkey wrap at his head.

So, in preparation for class we were instructed to complete a response survey created by me and two other classmates, also known as the “Farm Girls.” The results (including anonymous quotes from classmates) are as follows:

  1. Who do you feel that the film Food Inc. is attacking?
    • 83% Corporations
    • 4% Farmers
    • 0% Consumers
    • 13% Other
      • “Both corporations and farmers. Corporations are mainly to blame, but at the same time farmers are compromising their values and the food supply for monetary gain so that they can continue to support their farms and families.”
  2.  What was the most important issue brought up in the film, Food Inc.?
    • Food safety and disease prevention
    •  Corporations are controlling farmers and the market
    • Putting unhealthy products into the market without considering the health of consumers
    • Industrialization and modernization of today’s agriculture
      • “Personally, I believe the most important issue brought up during the film was the lack of overall consumer knowledge and the hurdles that are placed out there to keep information at bay and harder to obtain, whether it is for a consumer or agriculturalist. I believe there is a strong movement that needs to be attended to working towards a more ‘glass case’ environment in terms of our food production.”
  3.  While watching the film Food Inc., did you find the portrayal of any practices, technologies, farm operations, etc. hard to believe?
    • The Monsanto controversy
    • Organic being healthier than everything else
    • Ammonia being used in meat packing plants
    • Chicken farming practices and techniques
      • “I am not sure if I would describe it as ‘hard to believe’ – however, I believe that some of the imagery chosen for the documentary was chosen in order to best hook an audience by tugging at their heart strings, very similar to the tactics taken by Chipotle in their Scarecrow commercial released in the Fall of 2013.”
  4. Modern agriculture has no glaring problems
    • 0% Yes
    • 100% No
  5. After the film, Food Inc. did you go look up information about the topic discussed?
    • 50% Yes
    • 50% No
  6. Are there any technologies used in modern day agriculture that you believe address environmental or human health issues negatively?
    • Waste entering our water supply
    •  Pesticides, chemicals and other unnatural ingredients
    • Over use and reliance on GMOs
    • Fast production and “efficiency” tactics
    • Use of antibiotics in animals
      • “There is a long list of things in modern day agriculture that affect the environment. We have pollution issues in water from fertilizer run-off and soil eroding into the water. There are numerous other things, but we are slowly starting to correct them. There are not as many health issues today as there were in the past. The biggest issue now is just to produce healthier food, and produce enough to feed the worlds growing population.”
  7. Are there any technologies used in modern day agriculture that you believe address environmental or human health issues positively?
    • Waste management plans implemented by farmers
    • The use of GMOs
    • Increased production of food allowing us to feed the world
    • Sanitation in food processing companies, eliminating harmful bacteria
      • “There are many things that have positively influenced environmental concerns. Such things as methane digestors convert methane in manure to energy (like electricity) and reduce the methane put into the air. Also, I believe modified crops have allowed higher yields and disease resistance which has lead to more food for the growing population.”

So, simply put… a lot of these answers reflect issues us as “agvocates” face every day. People think antibiotics are bad, GMOs are the devil, corporations are trying to take over the world… yada yada yea we get it, you hate the modernization of agriculture. And we were debating and forth for an hour, everyone with good (but different) points and opinions. But what we DID all agree on as a class is this; Food Inc. was simply portraying that modern day is bad and organic is good. HOWEVER, if you pay very close attention, you’ll realize this guy (for lack of a better expression) shits on organic production as well (when Stonyfield sold their company and their products ended up in Walmart). Basically, anybody who goes “big” is bad.. very very bad.

At the end of class, whether or not any minds were changed from the beginning to the end, one point was made clear… if us “farm girls” want to make a statement, we need to try something else. We can argue all day in the agricultural community that we’re doing what it takes to reach out to consumers, but if the consumers disagree… are we really doing what it takes? A soon-to-be film major put it perfectly:

“Before Food Inc. I never would’ve cared or had an interest in what I’m eating at all, and I know the same is true for the general consumer. The fact of the matter is, people are in love with convenience and it’s hard to get them away from it without scaring them out of their seats. It’s why the news broadcasts extremes, not happy mediums. It’s why activists ignore points that count against them. The point is to build up a big enough problem that people want to do something about it…..In class people mentioned a lot of discussion that was happening in the community of agriculture, but nothing really happens when you’re preaching to the choir. You’ve got to get your message out to the public and in a way they want to see. People always talk about wanting to back to the good ol’ days but no one really means, why would I drive a half hour into the farmlands when my grocery store down the block has tomatoes and for less. So instead I think moving forward is the way to go. Digital media has made so much information sharing possible. For example the protests in Egypt were aided and organized through facebook. Prof. Ostiguy mentioned that she likes to know her farmer, I think a lot of us would. And I think there’s a huge division in or culture where there doesn’t need to be. I think it’s time for people to integrate into the new media since that’s where people give their attention. So if farmers could enter into the media and become less of strangers to America that would be great.”
The class of consumers has spoken… and there were enough of us who listened. Next step? Digital media ladies and gentleman. Until then… bring on the next battle of “Farm Girls vs. The Public” because we’re all ready, and we’re excited.

Learn to Listen

(Originally Published January 17, 2014)

I went into class yesterday with a mission.. to put the myths brought forward by evil media to rest. But while watching the second half of Food Inc., I realized that I wasn’t angry anymore… I was nervous. The palm sweating and heart racing before a big rival basketball game nervous. (The large coffee I was drinking on an empty stomach probably wasn’t helping either).

Why? Good question. I went into this class overly prepared. I mean, I had resources out the wazoo explaining the “Myths vs. Facts” of the movie, UDSA and FDA rules and regulations and all other bizarre and bogus things I wanted to clear out of my classmates minds. Everything was laid out and ready to face the class and tell them “this is my story.” When it came time for discussion, I was the first to comment. I felt my face starting to flush and my temperature sky rocketing. But when I started talking, there was only one line that I wanted everyone to hear:

“When you watch this film, I don’t want you all leaving with this in your mind as an accurate picture of agriculture. This isn’t how we are spending our lives and careers trying to feed you.”

That’s when I saw a classmate rolling his eyes before blurting out and interrupting me:

“But you’re a farmer so you’re just letting your emotions make you bias.”

Before I could even respond, our professor put up her hand and cut him off with (what seemed like) disgust. After his outburst and about three more minutes of discussion, class was over. Right away our professor came over to where Kelley, Mary (fellow farm born and raised classmates) and I were sitting to say thank you. With a genuine smile she explained to us how she liked the discussion points we were bringing up. It was that moment I realized that this woman and I may not agree on much, I respected the hell out of her.

We discussed that it seemed like the class was split half and half. Some thought farmers were being attacked while others thought it was big corporations. Because we ran out of time in class, no one was able to get into a deep discussion. However, us three farm girls were given a task by our professor. It is now our job to create discussion points and concerns that we have for our classmates. Our professor is then going to take what we want to know and create a response survey. Together, we came up with a three step plan:

  1. Have students take response survey
  2. Base the class discussion around the survey questions
  3. Have students retake response survey

Then what? Oh I’ll tell you what’s next… my most epic blog yet. **Fireworks and sparklers going off in the background** I cannot WAIT to dive into the different results this discussion may yield in the survey. Even if the results don’t swing the way I hope they do, it’s still  going to open a window into the minds of my fellow classmates and peers. Maybe keeping my mouth closed and just listening to what these students have to say will help me start understanding their thought process and reasoning will help me find the right approach to communicating with them and other young adults I have to study and work with.

Despite the outcome, this is a huge step… actually leap in the right direction. A professor has opened her mind and lecture for us to express our passion, promoting the positives of the agricultural industry. This one is definitely a win for farmers!

Food Inc: A blessing in disguise

(Originally Published January 14, 2013)

Sometimes in life, you just want to tell people…

“I respect your opinion. But you know what? Your opinion is horse shit.”

Unfortunately, that’s not acceptable in today’s society (nor should it be acceptable, ever, despite how good that may feel). It’s also a weee bit rude, no matter how high their pile of shit is. Therefore, you’ve got to find a way to disagree in a more professional way that gets people to listen to what you have to say. My latest struggle? Food Inc. What is Food Inc.? If your views on agriculture are anything like me, it’s you sitting down to enjoy a movie when the popcorn bowl ends up smashing the TV screen and your blood is boiling enough to cook enough spaghetti noodles for a third world country.

OK, so here’s the thing. I’m a girl who’s been raised on a farm and grown up while being surrounded by family, friends and fellow members of society dedicated to portraying a positive image of the world of agriculture. We are communicating the difference that we, farmers of all sorts, are trying to make. Where does your food come from? US! And we want to you to see that!! So when my ERM 210 (Environmental Resource Management) Professor starts off our first class with the film Food Inc., here are the words my classmates and I are greeted with:

“Now our food is coming from enormous assembly lines where the animals and the workers are being abused. And the food has become much more dangerous in ways that are being deliberately hidden from us … This isn’t just about what we’re eating. This is about what we’re allowed to say, what we’re allowed to know.”

WAIT. NO. REALLY?! Busted, you’ve caught us red handed. That’s EXACTLY what our goal is! To keep eeeeeverything we do a big fat secret. Behind those closed barn doors we’re kicking our chickens, mocking cows who can’t get up with juicy Big Macs and chasing pigs around with a skid loader and pitch forks.

LOL. Come ON people! We are doing what we do because we LOVE what we do! This movie is absurd and just pure evil media. I get it… some things that are happening in that film make valid points. Preventing E. coli outbreaks and improving food safety are things we should never lose focus on. And, we need to treat our animals with the dedication, respect and care that it takes for them to prosper and provide a valuable food product. It’s sad to say that animals get abused every day.. there are just plain crappy people in this world. But what we’re seeing in this film is the minority in agriculture. The majority are people (like me) who, along with their families, have committed their lives, studies and careers on ridding the industry of those nasty and unwanted farms and filling those vacancies with men and women who want to feed a rapidly expanding population with safe and healthy food products. All while keeping the well being of the animals AND the public in mind.

I’m happy to say that I wasn’t alone in that classroom. There were others who had smoke coming out of their ears by the end of the class. When we heard this movie “accurately captures agriculture today,” that’s when the smoke started coming out of our ears. I asked two of my classmates, Kelley and Mary, what bothered them most about the film. This is how they responded:

The thing that upset me the most is that this video displays only bad cases of the industry such as the “old style” chicken houses. No wonder they are “old” and there are now new and improved ways. And then the comment in the paper we had to fill out that “we aren’t producing chickens, we are producing food.” No kidding…that’s why we have regulations that ensure that the animals are taken care of properly to ensure a quality product.” -Kelley

You tell ’em Kelley.. also, I don’t know how many times we have to say this but I’ll say it again since this was also brought up in the film.. THERE ARE NO ANTIBIOTICS OR HORMONES IN THE (CHICKEN) MEAT YOU ARE CONSUMING.

“But, honestly it wasn’t Food Inc. that surprised me the most. The fact that a professor, who has accomplished a PhD, could be so ignorant and believe everything that is shown on Food Inc. and believe that indeed is American agriculture is what shocks me.And yet what mortifies me is that she teaches hundreds of students a year, that don’t have our backgrounds and understanding, which allows them to walk away from the course believing the same thing that she does, which continues to further the gap between producer and consumer and allows those who have absolutely no understanding of production agriculture leave with a negative and FALSE image in their heads.” -Mary

But Mary, she’s a Doctor

These opinions are real, people. I’m shoving direct quotes at you. But what I’m REALLY trying to do is bring attention to the other side of reality. One classmate that I spoke with told me “I walked out of that classroom not wanting to eat meat ever again. That stuff can’t be all true right?” No sista, it ain’t. She wasn’t the only one who looked disgusted. Judging by the sighs, grunts, comments and facial expressions of my classmates, it looked like they all wanted a farmer’s head on a stick. But can we blame them? This movie makes “our kind” seem like cold, heartless soul-eating demons.

But as always, there’s a silver lining in all of this. Together, we could make something positive out of something as repulsive as Food Inc. It’s our time to battle back. For me personally, this lecture came as a blessing in disguise. Thanks to ERM 210 and Food Inc., there is finally a fire lit under lazy senior bum and it’s time for me to make a difference.. are you with me?

PS check out the links… they’re legit, or what our professor likes to say, “backing up our opinions with science.”

TRUE LIFE: Organic … A lifestyle, not a health choice

(Originally Published September 22, 2013)

The old Becca used to hear the word organic and just laugh in a person’s face and say “You’re stupid.” The new and improved Becca, however, has learned to step back and look at both sides of anything and everything agriculture…. including the organic industry.

Or maybe the new Becca is just better at hiding her eye rolls previously directed towards people buying into the “healthy” organic section at a grocery store… or maybe not.

Let’s take a walk through Wegmans, the best grocery store in the whole wide world. Why is it the best ever? BECAUSE I FINALLY FOUND HONEY CRISP APPLES. AT WEGMANS. But wait, hold the excitement because this chick missed the (what I like to think was) fine print on the sign… these Honey Crisp apples weren’t just any apples. They were ORGANIC Honey Crisp apples.

Even better huh? Sooo much better that when I was paying for my groceries the cashier was kind enough to say “Uhm, ma’am do you realize that these organic apples are going to cost you $13.98?”

After I brushed off the “ma’am” comment (I’m 21 years old… stop it) I realized that I was about to pay $13.98 for 6 apples…. in case you hate math like the rest of the entire human race, that’s $2.33 per apple. Unless there are fireworks that go off in the background and shirtless pool boys that fan me while I’m eating this apple, I’m gunna go ahead and say that price is bullshit.

But, some would argue with me that I’m paying that extra amount of money to be healthy. I didn’t pay for the “healthier” choice. I just paid for that organic “lifestyle” that people are confusing with some sort of health trend. What I don’t quite understand is where people got this whole “organic is healthier” concept.. SINCE WHEN?!

I’m open to anything and I love to hear other opinions and thoughts. But if you want me to buy into your case, there better be cold hard facts supporting it. Sure, some woman with way too much time and money on her perfectly manicured hands told you that buying that organic green pepper is going to change your life. But why is it healthier? Because it’s more expensive than the “regular” version? Organic products are expensive because of the added expenses along the supply chain, not because of and added “value.” If just once someone provided me with credible research and studies that organic is healthier, then I’d listen.

But until then, my money supports “regular” products. And in case anyone is wondering, those $2.33 Honey Crisp apples? BIG SURPRISE.. They taste like apples. No fireworks or marching band to follow a mouth watering experience. Just apples with an outrageous price tag that left this broke college student with an empty wallet and disappointed taste buds.

Bloggin out,

Am I Overreacting?

(Originally Published September 16, 2013)

Since arriving back at Penn State, I’ve had a number of friends asking me to go on a Panera Bread date. When I say no, people look at me like I have three heads. But wait, it gets better. When I go on and tell them I’m not eating there because of the disrespect they showed to farmers in a recent advertising campaign, I have been receiving quite the collection of reactions.

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Really? Is that a joke?”

“No offense, but that’s a stupid reason.”

panera ad*An example of the EZ Chicken campaign (trying to be “clever” in saying farmers are lazy)*

NO, it is not a joke and NO, it is not stupid. This is me being very, very serious. Panera Bread attacked and insulted an industry that I’m passionate about and everything I stand for. OF COURSE I’m going to react and retaliate! Not supporting their business is hardly drastic when compared to the EZ Chicken campaign they created .

Trust me, giving up Panera wasn’t easy for me. I have yet to find a Sunday cure as satisfying as a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup and an iced green tea. But just take a second and put yourself in my shoes….
You’re on a collegiate baseball team. Nike creates a series of ads and commercials that target baseball players as the “lazy athlete” and accuses you being ‘slackers’ when compared to other athletes, like football and soccer players. Would you still continue to purchase Nike products and apparel?
You’re a Penn State alumni. Penn State just released a series of articles that accused the past five years of graduates to be lazy and subpar to those graduating before them. Basically, you’re a bad example of the student that the University is trying to produce. So when Penn State calls you for an annual alumni donation, are you still going to give back?
You’re a young, single parent. Johnson & Johnson has been slandering unmarried and ‘young’ parents, saying that you are irresponsible  and unreliable to raise a child. Are you going to continue buying Johnson & Johnson products? If you only have even an ounce of self respect, you would be saying “see ya later” to such an offensive company.
Now remember, these were all hypothetical situations. Nike, Penn State and Johnson & Johnson have done NOTHING I mentioned above. Why? Because they have a brain and just plain common sense. I’m simply trying to put you in ‘my shoes.’
My refusal to eat at Panera Bread is my way of standing up for what I believe in. It’s only a small step, but a step nonetheless towards supporting the industry of agriculture.
LOL panera
Sit back and think for a moment. What are you passionate about? Someone attacks it. Not just someone, but a someone who either depends on you, or you depend on them to keep that passion chugging along. Like Panera Bread, who depends on farmers for ALL of their products, but still had the nerve to call them out for taking care of their sick animals and assuring that they are healthy. Because we’d all rather be eating sick animals right? Because Panera Bread can get their chickens from somewhere other than farmers, right? Riiiight…..
Bloggin out,