Definition: Drought

Drought– a period of dryness especially when prolonged; specifically: one that causes extensive damage to crops or prevents their successful growth. 

If there was one word to describe the Midwestern summer of 2012, it’s drought. Everywhere I drive in Missouri the corn is dried to a crisp.

These soybean plants near St. Charles, Mo., looked alright from afar, but up close were  d-r-y.

Missouri is under a state of emergency with “97 of 114” counties in severe drought. Unfortunately that includes my home county, and St. Charles county (the beans above).

Check out how the drought is impacting other states with the U.S. drought monitor.

The crops aren’t the only thing that’s dry. Think about your lawn or other growing fields of grass. Cows don’t have anything to graze on. So farmers (including my family) are selling cattle to make up for crop they have lost to the extreme heat and minimal rain.

Harvest Public Media says so many farmers are selling cattle that some media outlets are declaring this a “Cowpocalypse” (which should actually be an Agri-Word now that I think about it). “The largest ever-drop in livestock herds.”

Luckily, crop insurance might pad that financial loss for farms. However, farms like mine might be lucky enough to break even.

And as the green grass diminishes, the market prices for these crops are increasing.

How large of a boost in prices?

According to Successful Farming, if crops are considered in the severe drought category: corn prices will reach: $ 7.50/bushel. Soybean prices: $17.25/bushel. Whoa. Talk about sky-high prices.

Not a great year for crop and livestock farmers. It’s not even a good year to run barefoot in the green, green (ok, brown and crunchy) grass.

Why should non-farm folk care? Food prices are going to be significantly higher in 2013.

Therefore, this drought has an impact on us all. No rain will save the crops this year. All we can do is hope for the best, and remain optimistic. But hey, isn’t that what farming and agriculture is all about?

Food Feature Friday: Gyro

Gyro- a meat sandwich consisting of tomatoes, onion, tzatziki sauce-all wrapped in pita bread. 

Gyros are a greek dish, served in restaurants and kitchens worldwide. Until a few weeks ago, this farm girl had never heard of such a thing.

For lunch one day, I ventured to Anthoninos, an Italian restaurant located on the Hill in St. Louis. My lunch companions quickly ordered Gyro sandwiches and hummus. I am a little embarrassed to admit I am a pretty picky eater. So the Gyro sandwich and hummus were out of my list of choices. I wasn’t in the mood for the typical pizza or pasta (my favorites-and Anthonios has AWESOME pizza), but who said I couldn’t eat just the Gyro meat? So, I tried a salad with Gyro meat. Slightly different from the sandwich contents, basic Gyro meat is beef, pork and lamb. Of those options, I chose lamb for my salad.

The texture of the meat and sweet taste blew my mind. Growing up on my farm, we ate a lot of beef, pork and chicken. Lamb was a foreign concept. Luckily it is no longer. I couldn’t get enough of my salad. It might have been the best leafy goodness I have consumed in a long time. In minutes, I had eaten all on my plate.

That’s why I had to share this word. Mind you, I haven’t actually ate the sandwich. But the meat is where it’s at as far as I am concerned. Definitely Agri-Word worthy. Will I be brave enough to try the Gyro next?

I will have to think about that one. Happy Friday everyone!

May is Beef Month

Burgers, Brats and even a nice steak would be a great addition to any meal this May, because May is National Beef Month.This is a time when Beef producers take an extra minute to talk to folks about the healthy benefits of eating beef.

Now, when it comes to eating meat, I really love pork and chicken. However, days like today, when it is really warm outside and grilling is underway, I crave a burger or steak.

Naturally, I took advantage of the Missouri Legacy Beef booth on MU’s campus for a grilled burger. It hit the spot! It also gave me energy to be productive with my school work.

I looked it up online today, and cattlemen say beef provides ZIP to fuel our bodies.

Zinc

Iron

Protein

No wonder why I was so energized! There are a lot of vitamins in a serving of beef. Now if it could only energize me through another week of school…

Definition: Organic

Organic
Relating to, yielding, dealing in, or involving the use of food produced with the use of feed or fertilizer of plant or animal origin without employment of chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics, or pesticides.
Organic is a word on a lot of minds right now when buying food. Do you eat organic or know how to tell if your food is 100%?

Follow the conversations on Twitter.

Twitter says it’s planting time

I’m not talking about the garden I had in my last post. This kind of garden is bigger. And it’s being talked about by farmers country-wide on Twitter.

Coming from an agriculture background it’s fun to watch the agriculture world and social media collide during this nation-wide event. To follow the Twitter action, check out the #plant12 hashtag as pictured above.

Gardening

Due to the warm weather, defining garden seems necessary. Webster has three ways to define the word. 

Garden plot of ground where herbs, fruits, flowers, or vegetables are cultivated: A rich well-cultivated region, and a container planted with usually a variety of small plants.

I was in North Missouri this week and I played around the farm. The farm is doing so well for an early spring. In fact, it’s been so nice that my mother took time Saturday to work in her garden. This is no ordinary, small garden. When my mother gardens, she goes to town.

Here is what she starts with every year. Do you see all of the weeds growing?

After she plants what she wants in the garden, she waits for it to grow. By mid-summer the garden is filled with wildflowers and some produce. There is some thyme, lavender and mint herbs, too.

Having a garden like this takes a lot of work. While I was growing up, my mother strived worked in her garden (my sibling and I too) all summer pulling weeds, watering flowers and cleaning out the garden pond.

Despite all of the work, this garden is my mother’s love and passion. She laid the brick patio from bricks she found in an old farm house up the road. We gathered at least 100 stones from the side of the road for the pathway you see, and she re-painted an old farm outhouse for her potting shed.

To be honest, I was never a fan of working in the garden, but as I get older I really appreciate all of the hard work that goes into having that area to grow food and flowers.

Have you noticed how gardens are becoming more popular these days? Folks garden for many reasons. Some do it to learn how their food is grown and some people garden just because it’s relaxing. People like to talk about their gardens, too. One Montana farm gal shares her experiences gardening in a blog.

There are also many different kinds of gardens. There are big gardens and little gardens (I even consider crop farming a form of large scale gardening). Gardens for food or just wildflowers. Gardens that use natural fertilizer or store-bought. Round-up or non. The possibilities are endless.

Do you garden? If so, what do you grow? Agri-Word would like you to share pictures of your garden or field during planting time and a little story.

Ag Undefined = A Million Definitions

Defining words is extremely valuable. Especially in agriculture.

In this industry words are complex, cultivating, powerful, exciting, frustrating and sometimes even life-changing. If someone doesn’t understand a word or phrase, how can it be used properly?

That’s partly why I began this Agri-Word blog. To define words people may or may not be able to define themselves. I took a look at my short list, and thought it would be a good thing to talk about the reasoning behind defining words in agriculture.

First, lets get slimy. The last word defined on Agri-Word was pink slime. The word’s existence and definition grew fast-and with a damaging reputation to boot for agriculture.

How ABC News smeared a stellar company with ‘pink slime.’

Gainor considers pink slime an influencing word for beef and modern agriculture. The way people defined the pink-looking substance could have a bad turn-out for beef consumption.

Aside from this word, I think agriculture has learned some lessons in the past five years about discussing processes and basic terms used in the industry. They need to talk to people and let them know what goes on in agriculture. When people don’t know what something is, it makes a food or another product seem scary and it blows up. It’s all about defining words and understanding those definitions.

Agriculture has wronged the public-however, not intentionally-of knowledge of certain food production in the past. Heck, I grew up on a farm and had never heard of the pink filler. But, it’s time to have those conversations with the public, because that’s how someone can gain a stronger understanding of a process or word.

Is there one definition for a pink slime? Not in this case. The word itself seems like it has one million definitions. Well, maybe not one million, but at least a few. That’s where Agri-Word comes in.

If not Agri-Word, someone has to get the story straight. It’s time to start defining words. Will you?

Got Slime?

Pink Slime. 

Pink Slime depicted online and via Facebook.

That’s the next food issue based question that’s on everyone’s mind who eats beef and has read or watched national news within the last week.

Pink slime sounds disgusting doesn’t it? Who would want to buy such a meat at the supermarket? I don’t think anyone would want to buy something that sounds gross-but don’t you know what’s in your food?

When creating this blog, pink slime definitely wasn’t in my book of words to define, but I think it’s definitely worth the time.

Here are a few definitions I have found online:

Pink Slime– Term Wiki: “Beef filler produced from discarded beef scraps and trimmings treated with ammonium hydroxide and then ground into a pinkish form that looks something like hamburger meat.”

  • Other Wiki Definition- “A meat byproduct where otherwise unusable cuts are mixed with ammonium hydroxide in a centrifuge to produce food for humans.”
  • The Big Apple Blog: “Lean beef trimmings” is the official name of a product by Beef Products Inc. of ground-up connective tissue and beef scraps.”

I took a look at some stories today, and here are two I found from the ABC Network. The first addresses the issue-through a reporter’s point of view:

I have been taught it is a reporter’s job is to be the eyes and ears of the public. It is important reporters address concerns and educate the public on issues like politics, culture and yes, even food when the agriculture industry doesn’t want to answer questions.

Here is a follow up with the ABC Network who talks about the Ag industries’ semi lack of response to this issue.

Pink slime has its own hashtag on Twitter and there is a Facebook page called, “Stop Pink Slime.” This is a HUGE issue in terms of agriculture.

 

Sure, there is conversation going on in #Agchat and #PinkSlime that is trying to combat this news, but why didn’t the USDA do some responding last week when the issue arose (aside from the fact that it was National Ag Week)?

What do you think: is it fair agriculture doesn’t have a response for this? Do you think it’s the grocery buyer’s fault for not knowing what is in their food? Should people be concerned about this?

Agvocate: Part 2

Thanks to a recent comment, I have had an opportunity to explore more about the origin of this week’s word: Agvocate.

Created by Ohio farmer, Mike Haley and two colleagues, the word is defined as this:

“…A combination of agriculture and advocacy.  The inherent active nature of the word has led many farmers and others in ag to make it a favorite for many in the #AgChat community and spread it to other channels and personal conversations. Agvocacy is not about targeting any selected group, such as media or elected officials – it’s representative of ag proactively telling our story.”

Mike has a blog post in which he wrote about being an agvocate or an agtivist. He talks about the differences between the two.

“When agvocating, it’s important to be proactive and listen to others concerns. It involves connecting with those outside of agriculture that are curious about today’s farmers and ranchers.”

“Agtivism…has a more narrow goal to educate everyone about agriculture. It may not include interacting with consumers every day, but is geared toward setting the record straight quickly when they see misrepresentations about agriculture.”

If you follow #Agchat or any farmers on Twitter/Facebook can you tell the difference?

Read Mike’s blog to learn more.