Monday, January 26, 2015

The first inductee of the Bar Leaner Hall of Fame.

It all starts now in Minot, Northern Pulse Growers Convention. What is your favorite pulse crop?

Grab the bull by the horns

As printed Jan 26, 2015 High Plains Journal

By Trent Loos | 0 comments

For as much as I hate to even utter the name "Chipotle," let alone spell it out in print, I feel compelled to tell you about what I feel is a good news story that has just developed.

The always deceitful marketers at Chipotle Mexican Grill have once again attempted, and for the most part gotten away with, yet another hijacked public relations campaign. However, when the dust settles on this one, I believe the farmer is going to emerge as the winner against this corporate behemoth.

It appears every newspaper ran a story last week about Chipotle pulling pork from one-third of its 1,700-plus stores because one of their pork suppliers did not pass an animal welfare audit. That is hardly the truth and only a very small portion of the "whole story."

When I first read the article in The Wall Street Journal, I could not believe that a reputable news organization would run such a non-story. I had serious doubts about the validity of Chipotle even having a single store without pork carnitas so I went to my friends on Facebook and asked them to check their local stores to see if it was true.

Within 24 hours I had reports on my Facebook page from numerous states, and it appeared at least a third of the stores that were visited had signs up saying "Sorry, no pig meat."

Don't be critical of my cynicism regarding the lies perpetuated by the marketing arm of this organization. For its 20th anniversary Chipotle claimed its Twitter account had been hacked and was posting tweets from "out in left field" only later to admit it had staged the whole thing to gain Twitter followers. Unfortunately, it worked.

So then I got phone calls from reporters at Bloomberg News and The Wall Street Journal wanting my take on the Chipotle situation. That sent me digging because I wanted to make sure there was actually a farm it had rejected. It took me less than three hours before I was able to speak to the pig farmer who was involved.

Here is the bad part of the story: I promised not to name him, and it is unfortunate because the world needs to hear from him, not just me, what I am about to tell you.

Chipotle does have a set of parameters in place that it requires of its suppliers. Those requirements include bedding for finishing pigs and access to outdoors. The accused pig farmer finally told Chipotle they would no longer be able to provide those two requirements to because it wasn't in the best interest of the pigs. Despite their efforts to comply with the Chipotle standards, these producers felt it was best for their pigs to be in totally controlled environment. Despite subzero temperatures or 100 degree heat waves, the pig in a confined, completely climate controlled environment will be healthiest.

Despite the farmer being the expert in the care and welfare of his animals, Chipotle told him it would find another supplier if he didn't meet company requirements. The pig farmer was fine with that; however, apparently Chipotle was harboring some ill will toward the lost supplier. Chipotle decided to use the incident to garner some free publicity by suggesting the producer failed an audit, which he did not, and now customers wouldn't be able to get their carnitas. The implication was that Chipotle was taking the high road, albeit at the expense of the customer, just to prove that it was taking care of the animals. What a joke!

I find this to be a bit of fresh air that finally the farmer is standing up for what is best in animal care instead of caving to food marketers whose only care is selling another burrito. Honestly, the bottom line here is that a food company is placing demands on pork producers that are unrealistic and impossible to meet. To me, Chipotle has a choice to make: Listen to the real experts in animal welfare or stop selling pork.

I am not exactly sure how long it will take for the dust to settle on this issue because I continue to see news outlets printing the Chipotle marketing ploy that is masked as a farmer smear "only we care about animals" campaign, but I truly believe this is a great start toward getting the real experts in animal welfare to grab the bull by the horns and do what is right for the good of both the animals and consumers.

Editor's note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.LoosTales.com, or email Trent at trentloos@gmail.com.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Why Don’t People Trust Science? by Kim Bremmer

Why Don't People Trust Science?

People involved in agriculture ask themselves this question every day because the future of farming depends on the answer more than ever before. Advancements in science and technology allow farmers to continually improve their operations to do what they do best; improve the care for their animals and land to produce more with less.  Each facet of agriculture has an unparalleled success story that every single American should celebrate and be grateful for before closing their eyes tonight. This all seems like such an easy concept to grasp for those of us who get to work on farms every day. The success of farmers has literally allowed people the time to chase their own dreams instead of having to grow their own food every day. Unfortunately, it also has allowed the average person to lose touch of the reality of farming. Their closest interaction is through Google, Farmville and the Bachelor.

So why don't people trust science?  It's easy...Traditional Education Stinks ...

I think the problem can be traced to our traditional education system. We have given up independent school districts and local control for grants and federal and state funding. I truly believe that if we allowed our great teachers to actually teach, we wouldn't be in this everyday battle of defending science.

As we continue to "teach to the test", follow a strict syllabus, and teach our children to memorize and learn to parrot instead of think, we are on a slippery slope of anti-intellectualism. Yes, folks, we are getting dumbed down. We provide our children with an education that often diminishes and underestimates them. Critical thinking, confidence from independent activity, and independent growth are rarely fostered. I have always been a fan of Montessori education and it was never more apparent to me than when I had one child in public school and my youngest one at a Montessori school.

It was a new Montessori school just beginning with a 3-5 year-old program. If you don't know about Montessori schools, I encourage you to read about them and visit one. The best book I ever read on the topic was "Montessori Madness!

A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori Education, by Trevor Eissler. Long story short: my 4 year-old and 4th grader were doing the same math... which was convenient as a Mom who was helping with homework, but so sad at the same time.  Now I am not saying my local public school is bad – they were just following the rules. When I brought this to their attention, they simply said we don't do that multiplication in the 4th grade curriculum. No one does. It is obvious the rules are bad, the system is broken, and we don't allow our teachers flexibility to do their jobs. 

Busy work does not equal learning, and certainly not at the level that I expect. The roots of the Montessori education method lie in the belief that children want to learn and do so more effectively independently with hands on activities. Traditional education is the opposite and is geared toward the assumption that children avoid learning and must be taught with the motivation of rewards or punishments. Everyone on the same page, at the same time, learning to memorize the same thing, to progress through the syllabus. You have to see it to believe it, but concentrated learning in an orderly environment in a Montessori classroom is truly something to marvel at and worth your time to observe. We need to get to a place of critical thinking and problem solving in classrooms instead of memorizing. And I believe all good teachers today would absolutely LOVE to do this if they could.

Agriculture should take note.  Our failing education system today is a result of regulation on so many levels.  We are on the same path if we continue to allow decisions to be made for our farms by people who have never actually been there and done that.  One of my greatest fears is that my grandchildren someday may be hungry because a highly educated group of loud self-proclaimed experts and elitists regulated too many of the great farmers and ranchers in our country out of business, simply because they don't trust science.

Kim Bremmer is passionate about the people and their accomplishments for improving human life through agriculture. Trained as a ruminant nutritionist she is now feeding the minds of those who do not understand what the farming provides for them.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

This is my idea of a perfect "office day" Lindsi along side too.

Not humored by opening session of Jan 22, 2015 Food Tank Summit a bunch of hypocrites drinking pesticides while bashing them.


​As Danielle Nierenberg opens the morning session she encourages all to grab their cup of coffee and return to their seats.

The first session entitled Recognizing Workers in the Food System turns into more of a bashing of pesticide use in farming than a discussion about food workers.

The hypocrisy in the whole thing is the panel and audience are drinking coffee as the science clearly shows that caffeine is a pesticide.

Link to excellent research project explaining the whole it in great detail.

So I ask Food Tank people which is it. Do you condemn or endorse pesticide use to improve human health and the planet?

Trent Loos 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Choose a better path

By Trent Loos | 0 comments

It has now been 15 years since I jumped into the trenches to fight on behalf of all agriculture producers and, quite frankly, consumers as well.

You see, I believe even more strongly today than I did then that a domestic supply of food is a means of national security. From Day One, particularly in the fight against the animal rights community, the battle has been to combat the emotion with science. Science does not stink! Science paves the path for the best food system possible if we allow it. It is science and technology that have helped us make the giant leaps in productivity that have brought us this far.

Link the entire column in the High Plains Journal