Sunday, December 30, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Jill's Question to Stonyfield: "What happens to the calves from your milk producers?"
Hello Jill,Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We’re always happy to get comments and questions from our yogurt lovers and are grateful when someone takes the time to let us know what they think of our Company and products.To answer your question regarding to what happens to the male calves when they are born, we buy our milk from two sources. The St. Albans Cooperative Creamery is a member owned cooperative of approximately 530 family farmers based in St. Albans, Vermont. They provide the milk and cream for our non-organic (conventional) products. We purchase our organic milk from dairy farmer members of the CROPP cooperative, a 190 member dairy cooperative based in Wisconsin, with farmer pools in Maine and Vermont from whom we receive our milk. Farms in the St. Albans cooperative usually sell off a bull calf as soon aspossible. Very few small family farmers keep bulls on their farms as they pose a safety danger to the workers and families. There are very few veal operations left in Vermont as they have gone out of business. The consolidation of the industry has closed the small local business down. Because of this, generally the bull calves and culled cows (due to illness,age, lack of production) are transported via truck out of state to a veal operation. All diary farmers would rather have a heifer calf than a bull calf so that they can grow their herd or sell it for a decent sum. No farmer is pleased to have a cow birth a bull. As long as people buy veal, there will be bull calves sent to veal operations – organic and non-organic.
Farms in the CROPP cooperative, their male calves do not end up in confinement veal operations. Veal producers rely on cheap, abundant sources of calves from the conventional dairy industry. Organically raised male calves have a much higher value than their conventional counterparts. Their farmers either raise the males as steers for the organic meat market or sell them to other organic farmers that specialize in beef. It makes sense for an organic farmer to pay a higher price for organically raised calves,since they will receive a higher price for the meat at the end of the process. Organic farmers cannot raise calves in confinement conditions, so you will not find white veal producers in their cooperative.We believe that family farmers in the U.S. and around the world hold the key to implementing sustainable agriculture is defines as that which is ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just, and humane. Sustainable practices include rotational grazing, integrated crop management, soil conservation practices and humane husbandry. Stonyfield Farm supports agricultural innovations which enhance the viability of family farmers—not those which put them more at risk. We believe that continued investment in converting to more organic products supports more sustainable agricultural practices. This does not mean we aregiving up on our conventional farmers. Instead, we are helping to move them to these more ecological and human practices. When we began making organic dairy products in 1995 there were 6 organic dairies in Vermont. Today there are 81 in Maine and Vermont. We know we are making a difference and feel good about that. Farmers are getting a decent financial return for their work and are able to stay small. Soil is being improved. And cows are being carefully monitored under the watchful eyes of organic stewards. Does that mean all organic farmers treat their cows as well as we’d liket hem treated? No. as in all professions, there are good farmers, and not so good farmers, conventional and organic. There is also a great deal of differing opinion about acceptable animal husbandry practices.
Sincerely,The folks at Stonyfield Farm
Friday, December 28, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
March 1 – Humdinger 7-mile Trail Run – Danville
April 1 – Red Mo Down River Kayak Race (observer)
April 27 – Savage Adventure Race
May 18 – Xterra King of the Hill, New Jersey
May 31 – Tour de Cure Metric Century (with Ricky!)
June 15 – Xterra East Regional Championship, Richmond VA
June 29 – Xterra Trimax - RB Winter State Park
July 13 – Xterra Rocky Gap MD
August 3 – Xterra Appalachia (Indiana) (?)
August 17 - Covered Bridge Metric Century (with Ricky!)
Sept 13 – BASH
Sept 21 – Cap City Adventure Race
October 7 – Wyalusing Triathlon (?)
October 19 – Chili Challenge (?)
November 16 – Horrible 100, Florida
When racing for Xterra series points with a goal of being the regional champ in mind, a championship race has to be in the mix because it offers that extra 25 points needed to reach the max of 250. For the East coast, that's the Richmond Virginia race. In 2005, I had the joys of winning that race, thus snagging the regional age group champ and it was a darn good feeling. The down-side of the Richmond race is a friggin RIVER SWIM. But getting past that, the bike and run make up for it tenfold. They have an incredible twisty, fun, no-climbing bike course on "Belle Island" in the middle of the James River in Richmond. And the run acutally takes you out in the river onto rocks, complete with a little rock "climbing" at a spot or two. Maybe Ricky can do a little WW kayaking in the James while I race...they have a kayak rodeo that same weekend as the race, so he can be entertained while we are there. Fun stuff.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Each year at the Xterra Worlds, the pros give free advice on racing and training Xterras. Looking back in my notes while contemplating what to do next year, I found my inspiration, Melanie McQuaid's suggestions on training for Xterras:
- It's all about the bike, train hard on the bike the majority of the time. The bike WILL win the race for you.
- Always, always, no matter how bad you feel, run after your bike ride. Even if its only 20 minutes, make sure you run after each and every ride.
- Xterras are not long races, so you don't need to do a lot of long endurance riding. (and from an Xterra coach, they recommend 1 3-hour ride a week in addition to your intervals and hard rides. I can handle that!)
- Even though swimming is the shortest part of the race, do work on decent form to get through it a bit quicker.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
So the schedule? Well, the Savage and Cap City Adventure races are definites -- they are the highlight of the races and are fun, fun fun. I wouldn't miss them and racing with Donna and Chrissy and gang for anything, except maybe some sort of natural disaster or accident. Now they are semi-short, and wouldn't require a ton of long hours. The Xterras are short too; again my longest ride wouldn't have to be more than 3-4 hours and I could easily squeeze in a swim after work (once the swim team gets out of the pool in the spring), coupled with a bike ride home. Runs are easy to do -- maybe I can handle those before I start work to save some evening time. On the other hand, the 50 milers require a BUNCH of saddle time -- maybe more than what i want to commit next year. Ricky needs to kayak and I wanna join him paddling too. Then, there's my want to getting back to my organic eating roots, which means organic gardening, which means more time in the garden and less time in the saddle. It means doing the compost pile again, making sure I get my umbrels planted for good guys to breed and grow and fight off the bad guys. Nothing like a little IPM in the garden. But all that DOES require a lot of time. And I'm not totally ready to give up training and biking. Soo...the ponderance continues. Costs are a factor. Kayaking with Rick is a factor. And organic gardening is a factor. And of course my goal of being as fit as possible by my 50th b-day is a factor too. That was my vow when I turned 40 and was fat and blubbery - be the fittest possible by age 50; and I'm 8.1 years there. I'm not jumping ship now! But if I garden I might...so there I just answered one of my questions; will tehre be a garden. I think I'll continue to support local farmers and Natural Acres. for a couple more years and keep training a bit. Later kids..
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Sunday, December 9, 2007
That was my quest for today, this rainy, icy, cold, couldn’t really do anything outside day since we really don’t have any snow and there really isn’t any decent snow within any normal driving distance. I decided to try a swim after about a two-year hiatus.
The hiatus was a result of a piss-poor swim in Lake Tahoe two years ago. Mostly due to my inexperience and the simple fact I really suck at swimming. I’m not a bilateral breather; thus, when the waves are hitting you in the face on the only side you breath from while swimming, you ain’t going to make it too far, now are you? Lake Tahoe was hungry that day, and it got me and about 20 other drowning rats. 3-foot swells in 55-degree waters coupled with poor swim-form had several of us screaming for the rescue boats. I struggled through one more Xterra after that, but pretty much gave it up since then. Lots of excuses…pool is never open, it’s not convenient when it IS open blah, blah, blah. But the bottom line is, I suck at swimming.
So here it is two years later. My budd, Chrissy, is an Xterra queen and she swims incredibly well. So she has a couple Xterras on her schedule in 2008, and there’s one that’s SO close to home in a place I absolutely love to ride, that I think I’m gonna attempt to suck it up one more time and race an Xterra. R.B. Winter is home to the Xterra Trimax held the end of June. And today was a trial run in the pool to see if I might be able to do it again. Maybe, just maybe with a little luck and learning to breath on BOTH sides, I can figure this swim thang out. Chrissy, I think I’ll join you the end of June for the Xterra Trimax. Maybe Rocky Gap too!
Thursday, December 6, 2007
John Robbins (ex-heir to the Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream fortune)
Tasked with the assignment at work of researching farm animal regulations as it relates to treatment of animals and government regulations to prevent bad farming practices and potential “exposure” of bad-boy farms who may have received state business $$$, I rekindled some sleeping opinions on food, animals, nutrition and lifestyle. The research led me to a book I purchased a few years back, but never read: The Food Revolution by John Robbins.
John is the heir to the Baskin Robbins’s fortune; but he chose to walk away from it at a young age, and focus his attention on the environment, which led him to vegetarianism and the study of “healthy” foods. (Yes, his dairy-product fortune family pretty much dis-owned him for many years when he proclaimed dairy is not good for you). He starts his book on health and well-being, how you can change your health simply by changing the foods you eat. Dr. Dean Ornish writes the forward and Mr. Robbins makes many references to Dr. Ornish’s highly successful, and scientifically documented reversal of heart disease through vegetarianism (Eat More, Weight Less). Mr. Robbins then talks a good bit on factory farms and treatment of the animals and of course, the slaughtering practices. There are numerous pages on drugs injected into the animals to prevent diseases caused by confinement, and how humans ingest those drugs and can become ill. Growth hormones injected into cows, beaks cut off chickens to prevent insanity pecking from not being able to move, growth hormones injected into poultry to make them so fat their legs break (ever wonder how Purdue really has such meaty breasts?). The list goes on and on. He then gets into the plant industry and genetically modified foods and how those too are developed in a lab and eventually passed onto humans; again causing ailments. Ever wonder why you may not feel as well as you should, or have allergies from seemingly nothing? Trace your food. A co-worker of mine has a daughter with a mild form of myalgia. She changed her food consumption to organic and started feeling better. Mr. Robbins sites myalgia as being directly linked to genetically modified soybeans, which are in 60% of all the soybean products, you buy. And of course he ends the book with hope for the future…how in recent years organic and vegetarianism has gained momentum with the biggest success being USDA certification of organic foods – a certification the organic community felt was a major win. 6 years later, we can truly trust the USDA organic certified label because the USDA does in fact check annually that the food producer is meeting those specs and certifications. Chickens must get light and roam free for at least 4 hours a day; only a certain number of birds can be in cage together (they can move!); organic cows can only be fed organic grass and have no growth hormones or other drugs; and food cannot be grown with any pesticides or herbicides. The book is extremely informative for those that aren’t aware of these things, and re-emphasizes many facts for those that are currently vegetarian or organic. It’s a worthwhile read.
Oh, and the results of my research on treatment of farm animals? The United States feds AND state government pretty much exempt all “normal” farming practices and farm animals from any Animal Cruelty laws. They can stuff as many beakless chickens as they want in a cage; but the farm CAN be sited for neglect if dead birds are found in those cages. So my dear friends, the only answer is to avoid any meat not labeled “organic” and certified USDA organic. It’s the only answer. Yes, it’s a bit more pricey, but we have to pay the price so more is produced; thus eventually bringing the prices down. They’ve already dropped considerably in the past 3 years. Buy only free range, cage-free eggs and only organic milk. Better yet, skip the animal products altogether and go green. That’s the true answer.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
These folks hold some good races and they are CHEAP! So I may do more of their races next year: www.rivertownrace.com
March - Humdinger Trail Run - 7.1 miles in Danville
April - Savage Adventure Race - Marsh Creek State Park, PA
May - 75 Mile road bike race in Montour County - Tour de Montour
May(?) - 50 mile RB Winter Mountain Bike Race (need to see what the cost will be...the 75 mile road bike race is only $30 buck!)
June - tour de Cure road bike metric century (ricky's doin it with me!)
June - 50 mile STOOPID 50 in State college (need to see what it'll cost)
July - Maybe the Wilderness 101???
August - covered Bridge metric Century (Ricky's doing it too!)
Sept - RCST BASH
Sept - Capital City Adventure Race
October - IRONCROSS. Missed it too much last year.
October - Chili Challenge Adventure Race - Danville.
November - Horrisble 100, florida