There’s More to Pizza Than the Tosser

Dewey's pizza STL

On Monday I noticed it was #NationalPizzaDay, after seeing the hashtag on Twitter, naturally I felt like I HAD to have pizza. St Louis has a unique style of pizza that is somewhat growing on me. It is as thin as … Continue reading

What About Our Rights?

Here in the United States we are pretty fortunate. We have so many rights and freedoms that people in other countries do not have. One of those that is special is the right to own property. If you own property to an extent you can do as you please (with some exceptions). However there are some events that have transpired recently that has caused concern as the rights of property owners have been endangered or taken away. Recently there are two counties in Oregon that were in the news, Josephine and Jackson counties are adjacent to each other in southwestern Oregon. They both have passed bans on the planting of genetically engineered crops by popular vote in the last few weeks. Jackson county has around 200,000 residents and their website says that “Industries that show steady growth in Jackson County include wine, film, and farming—pointing to how Jackson County is distinguished as a place where entrepreneurship thrives.” I do not see how passing a GMO ban allows farming or entrepreneurship to thrive, but alas that is what they claim. Both of these counties have a lot of agricultural production and are large producers of sugar beets. Sugar beets is one of the eight crops in the U.S. that are approved GM crops. There are two major concerns I see from this ban. First of all it is interesting that in Jackson County only 52% of those registered to vote actually voted. 33% of the registered voters voted yes for the ban. That 33% made a decision for the majority. Folks, this goes to show the importance of voting, that 33% may have been the only people in the county who wanted GMO’s banned, but they got their way. Secondly, this ban takes away the rights of the citizens. Farmers can no longer make decisions on the types of crops they will grow on their OWN property. Both organic and conventional farmers have lost the choice they once had as to the type of production method they would choose. Shouldn’t all farmers have the right to farm how they want? Farming is a business, a business that is in the business of feeding people. If legislation like this continues to be passed we will not only lessen the amount of food we produce, but it takes away the rights of US farmers to make production decisions. GMO issue? Just a ban? It appears to be a limitation on rights. Another battle that is being fought across by farmers and landowners across the country is with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and their definition of “navigable waters.” “Navigable waters” currently means water such as rivers, streams and lakes (which makes sense-you can actually navigate them), they are used for business or transportation. Recently, the EPA has been working on The Waters of the United States Initiative and proposing changes to this definition. Are you ready for this? The EPA is proposing that puddles, ponds, ditches, ephemerals and isolated wetlands fall under the Clean Water Act. When I first heard about this maybe a year or two ago that this was being considered I literally laughed out loud. puddle This would expand the authority of the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The EPA and the Army Corps have the authority over the “navigable waters,” and if this were to come about it would make it extremely difficult to farm and be competitive and profitable. Let’s say it rains a couple of inches and a puddle forms in my field. If I were to go out and spray my soybeans or till the soil to prepare for planting this would be considered a “discharge” to those so-called “navigable waters,” (aka that puddle). Activities that are considered a “discharge” cannot legally go forward without the required permit. If this legislation was to pass the EPA will have the ability to approve and deny a discharge permits. If denied, this would greatly restrict a farmer’s ability to operate their farm. If the permit was approved, the farmer would then need to provide paperwork and meet strict requirements. If you violate the law? Violations would fall as penalties of unlawful “discharges” which could cost you up to $37,500 per violation PER DAY. If this were to pass this would be a huge blow to the US Farm Economy and even to anyone who owns property. That mud puddle your children play in is considered navigable. I know our government is often said to be “by the people, for the people,” but sometime you really have to look a little deeper at issues to see what the motives really are. If this legislation was instated by the EPA, it would hurt farmers and their ability to produce food which means food prices go up for everyone. Just something to think about. (If you would like to exercise your right as citizen to contact the EPA about The Waters of the United States Initiative, please do and tell them to #DitchTheRule you can take action here on the American Farm Bureau’s website.

UPDATE: October 7, 2014

We are now in a public comment period with the EPA. Anyone can go online by clicking here and provide comments to the EPA as to why you are for/against this proposed legislation. I would HIGHLY encourage you to let them know your thoughts on the issue. If you are a homeowner this is something you should be concerned about.

Here are a couple of stories on the proposed rule.

New York Times

See Maps Showing How Far Their Reach Would Go In Your State

That’s Enough- “Let It Go” Parody by Missouri Farm Bureau

Tell EPA to “Ditch the Rule” Video

Auburn Ag Students Believe in Work, Hard Work

In a previous post I explained Auburn University’s creed that George Petrie authored that is a set of principles and ideals that members of the Auburn Family are to have.Probably my favorite lines of the creed is:

“I believe that this is a practical world and that I can count only on what I earn. Therefore, I believe in work, hard work.”

Growing up on a farm and in a Christian home (Colossians 3:23) my brothers and I were always taught to work hard. I am actually not sure if it was necessarily taught, but it was definitely expected and I’m thankful for it.

Sadly many in my generation have never learned to work which can be frustrating when you have to work with these people. However this past week I have been encouraged by some outstanding young people I have had the privilege to work alongside. 

If you follow me on any other social media platform you may have seen my posts and Tweets about Auburn’s Ag Week. This week we in the College of Agriculture looked for ways to bring awareness to agriculture and the way it provides for us. 

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Monday we started with a lecture/panel discussion called “Feed Me the Truth About My Food”, we had Tea and Tie-Dye on the concourses where we handed out Milo’s tea (an Alabama food product), information about Alabama agriculture and allowed students to tie-dye Peace, Love and Ag t-shirts. Wednesday we had the annual Ag Hill Picnic which included a special guest this year, Clyde the Camel for Hump Day. This event always brings people from all over campus and this year with Clyde many folks from other colleges stopped by Ag Hill to have their picture taken. 

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Thursday we had Breakfast on the Green where College of Ag students served an “Alabama Grown Breakfast” to students as they got off the transits for class. We served Mary B’s Biscuits, Conecuh Sausage and eggs from the university’s poultry farm. Booths were set up by each of the College of Agriculture’s clubs and they each shared a ag fact with students. Thursday night we had a social event for College of Ag students that was competition style called Ag Island, a lot of fun for all. Friday we had students from two local Boys and Girl’s clubs that came to learn about agriculture at get “Ag-tive Day.” Saturday was a day for friends, family, alumni, and prospective students as we had Ag in the Park, which unfortunately did not go as planned due to weather. 

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We had A LOT of events going on this week, it has probably been one of the busiest weeks I have had while being at Auburn. The week went great, we were fortunate to have good weather (minus today) and we reached many students across campus and hopefully challenged them to think a little more about where their food comes form. 

It would not have been nearly as successful of a week without some OUTSTANDING help. Like I mentioned earlier many people in my age group do not know how to work, but that cannot be said about most of the students in the College of Agriculture. I am involved in various organizations and activities on campus and I have never seen good work ethics like I have this week. 

We had an abundance of volunteers and not only were they willing to volunteer, but they looked for additional ways to help while at the events, some were not even singed up to help. When events were over people went to work taking down and cleaning up, they did not have to be told minus a few directions about where certain things needed to go. There was not people standing around and talking while a few people worked, it was great. 

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Thursday night especially I had to ask for help several times during our Ag Island competition, there was no complaining or grumbling, but willing helpers. A few competitors even stayed late to help set up for the next day’s activities. I was rushed to make it from an event to class on Friday, parked in a questionable spot and got stuck. My brother had went home for the weekend and embarrassed I called a friend/classmate at 9:00pm and he was so kind to come and get my truck out of the mud. I have no idea what we has doing on Friday night, but he was so sweet to come right then and help  me. 

I say all this to say I have been blown away this week by our students in the College of Ag. I have helped with a lot of events over the course of my short life and I usually frustrated by people’s lack of work ethic. I’m not saying there aren’t other kids at Auburn that know how to work, or that there are no other people my age who know how to work, but I am saying we’ve got some great ones over on what we call Ag Hill. I don’t know why they are that way, it can be a number of things; upbringing, faith, growing up working in a farm/rural setting, living The Creed, or other reasons, but all I know is I am so thankful for their help this week and the fun times had and just to know so many great agriculture students I’ll hopefully be working alongside in my career as we work to feed the world.

Taking Time in 2014

At the end of each year we look back and every year it seems hard to believe that another year has passed, this year has been no different. This morning after I woke up I grabbed my iPad and flipped through pictures from this year and read some of my old blog posts.

This has been an interesting year to say the least.

The biggest thing that happened in my year is that I moved to South Dakota for an internship with Monsanto for 3 months. Moving to South Dakota, somewhere where I knew very few people, learning a business I wasn’t extremely familiar with, and driving 60 miles to church and the grocery store was definitely a new experience, but a great one. I learned a lot about myself, my faith, and the Midwest and its people. My love and knowledge of agriculture and the people that grow our food was increased. Through this I was able to make some great acquaintances and got to enjoy a different part of our beautiful country.

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 In 2013 I also planted my first two crops! This was huge for me. I had always wanted to be a farmer, when my dad stopped farming back in 2006 I didn’t think it would ever happen. This year it did! I planted a crop of winter wheat which I harvested July 1 and then planted a crop of soybeans behind the wheat which I harvested November 30th. I was fortunate that I had pretty good and I didn’t end the year in the hole, which to a farmer is typically the sign of a good year. Anna Leigh Peek

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 A surprise for year was that my Auburn Tigers did well. In case you haven’t heard we are actually playing for a national championship on January 6 (which will be my second adventure of the upcoming year). After going 3-9 last year, my expectations were not very high, ANYTHING would beat last year’s performance. I got to witness two Auburn games that will be talked about from now to eternity, the Georgia and Alabama games. After the Alabama game got to rush the field, which was something I’d wanted to do during my time as a student.

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I traveled to Texas A&M, Arkansas and Tennessee this year for ballgames. Traveling to games is always fun, I usually know people at the school so its great to reconnect and see their traditions, campuses and try their local eats.

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Midnight Yell Practice at Texas A&M was cool to experience with fellow College of Agriculture students

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Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium is the third largest college stadium in the country

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Through my invovlement in FFA and 4-H I have friends at many schools across the country and getting to visit with these friends is always such a treat. John I met through FFA and he is a Tennessee alum. Anna I met through 4-H and she is now a Texas A&M alum.

This year I was also able to see my favorite band, Mumford and Son in Atlanta. After seeing them I think I could go the rest of my life without seeing another one. Yes, they were THAT good.

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 As 2014 is all but here there are a few things I am going to work to take time for in the coming year.

1) To Say Thank You- For everything and anything. I have had so many people who have helped me this year and been an encouragement to me especially when I was in South Dakota and as I am trying to figure out what’s next after college. Between now and May I am going to need to thank a lot of people who have been instrumental in me making it through college.

2) To Exercise/Sleep- The last few months I have made a conscious effort to sleep and exercise more and what a difference it has made. Making time for it is key though. I hope to continue making time for sleep and exercise in the coming year.

3) Enjoy Nature- One of the things I enjoyed so much in South Dakota was the scenery and the natural beauty that I saw on a daily basis. I took time to enjoy it (after all there was nothing else much to do), now that I am back in my element in Auburn I haven’t taken the time to enjoy God’s creation as much as I should have.

4) Be Holy- Brother Greg Gravitt made a point during a Bible study a few weeks ago that really hit home. “Nothing in life matters. If He is with us, THAT is what matters.” So in the coming year as I work to finish school and decide where to go after graduation it will be easy to stress and potentially forget what is important. After all we are told to “Seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). I have no idea where I will be on December 31, 2014 which can be scary, but I’m not too worried about it. By making sure to remember what is important this year I will be taken care of:  “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” – Romans 8:28

Best wishes in the year ahead. Thanks for reading in 2013. I don’t know where I’ll be next year, but I will always be Anna Leigh from Alabama (ALfromAL).

Anna Leigh Peek

Soybeans: What are they used for?

This year after harvesting my wheat crop in July I planted soybeans behind it.

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One of my soybean fields in late August in North Alabama.

Soybeans are quite common in the United States, especially in the corn belt, but in recent years many farmers in the Southeast have began to put a large percentage of their acreage in soybeans.

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Soybeans are typically harvested October-November

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Soybeans are harvested by a machine called a combine

Soybeans originated in eastern Asia and is still part of the food in many cultures. Have you ever had edamane? You were eating soybeans.

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A record soybean crop was planted this year in the United States totaling 77.728 million acres, keep in mind an acre is about the size of a football field. All these soybeans do not go to Asian restaurants, in fact few do. Soybeans are mainly grown for their oil.

I don’t know if you have every paid much attention at the grocery store, but there are a lot of different kinds of oil you can buy to cook with.

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Some of the most popular are vegetable, canola, and olive. Depending upon the grocery store you visit you may find others like sunflower, safflower, peanut, corn, and even walnut oils. Each type of oil has its on flash point. The “flash point” is the temperature at which the oil ignites. The smoke point is the temperature at which the oil begins to smoke. It begins to burn at this point and it can be a fire hazard.

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Vegetable oil is from soybeans. Soybean oil  was re-labeled when “all vegetable” shortenings in the 1960s which replaced lard and beef tallow-based shortenings. This continued when certain oils were perceived as healthy in the 1970s, and were promoted in advertisements and labeling. According to the US Soybean Board soybean oil is by far the most predominant oil of the food industry due to its versatility in foods.  More than 80% of cooking oil in commercial applications is soybean oil.

Other food products soybeans are used in are:

Baked Goods

Baked Goods

Non-dairy creamers

Non-dairy creamers

Salad Dressings

Salad Dressings

Soy Milk

Soy Milk

Whipped Toppings

Whipped Toppings

Margarines

Margarines

BBQ Sauces

BBQ Sauces

Other products that soybeans are used for that do not involve food are:

Cosmetics

Cosmetics

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Diesel Fuel

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Animal Feeds- Especially poultry feed here in Alabama

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Inks- both in ink pens and ink used in magazines and newspapers

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Anti-biotics and other pharmaceuticals

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Paints

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Plywood

These little beans may not seem like much, but they are the second largest crop in the United States behind corn and are found in many products we use everyday.

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Mark Phillips: Student and Farmer

Mark Phillips

Mark Phillips is a classmate of mine at Auburn. Currently we have Ag Marketing together. Some days it gets time for class and fellow classmate Garrett Dixon will jokingly ask “Where’s Mark? Did he drop the class?” 

If Mark is late or rarely happens to not make it to class we usually know where he is. In the field. DSC_0834

Mark is a senior at Auburn studying agronomy, but his ambition is to one day be a full-time farmer. He didn’t grow up living on a farm, but his grandparents and uncle farm and he worked on their operation from an early age. When he came to Auburn, Mark knew he wanted to farm, but wanted to go ahead and get a degree.

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During his time at Auburn he has worked for a local farmer. So every afternoon when classes are over for Mark he heads to the farm for an afternoon of work. During planting and harvest seasons this means some long days because after he leaves the field in the evenings he still has homework to do.

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“I love it” says Mark “some days they have to almost drag me off the tractor.”

Most students that major in some form of agriculture do not aspire to be farmers. However I am thankful for those like Mark who want to. I cannot think of a more noble profession than to feed people and care for animals. It is so encouraging to know there are people out there like Mark that are passionate about farming, especially at such a young age.

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The 86th National FFA Convention Is Underway!

The 86th National FFA Convention Is Underway!

So today kicked off the 86th FFA Convention in Louisville Kentucky. This is my fifth convention. I went to convention first in 2008 when I was serving as a state FFA officer for Alabama. I loved it so much I … Continue reading