lol! Almost had you there, didn’t I?
lol! Almost had you there, didn’t I?
I’ve read articles that tell you to NEVER tell people your goals. I’ve also read articles that say you should tell EVERYONE your goals. So, I’m kinda confused as to what to do. However, I believe that by telling people your goals, you’re held accountable to those goals. Setting goals and telling people about those goals gives you both an expectation as to what you’re going to do. Of course, the chance of reaching those goals is greatly improved by laying out a plan of how you are going to accomplish them. But, if you’ve ever planned a party or even a marriage proposal, you probably know that plans sometimes don’t work out as expected. Former President and General, Dwight D. Eisenhower had some pretty factual thoughts on laying out plans, “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Basically, plans often fall apart because of new circumstances that we don’t take into account, but plans are important in helping us set a direction.
For the direction of Farm Traveler, I have a clear direction I want the podcast and the brand to go. And to further go towards that direction, I’m planning on 2020 being a big year. I have two simple, yet challenging, goals for Farm Traveler:
The podcast is the bread and butter of Farm Traveler. It’s so fun to interview people and learn more about where our food comes from. I plan on continuing to produce podcast episodes as well as making more Ag 101 episodes. So definitely look for more podcast episodes in 2020. We will be searching for more guests, so if you or if you know someone that should come on the show, send us an email (email@example.com)!
We all have different learning modalities, whether that is auditory, kinesthetic (hands-on), or visually. There is no doubt that videos are super popular now thanks to Facebook and YouTube. People love watching how to cook, fix something, or even seeing some epic fail videos. This year, I plan to start working on a pilot episode of a Farm Traveler video series. The premise is visiting farms and ranches and going hands on with agriculture. HOPEFULLY, that pilot will lead to monthly episodes of Farm Traveler videos on places like Facebook, YouTube, etc.
I need your help: Keep Farm Traveler accountable! I believe most of us truly want to learn where our food comes from. We want to see the faces behind our food and see how they do it and why. I want to share those stories and educate people on the importance and scale of the agriculture industry. Help keep us accountable by making sure we follow through on these goals. Just ask, “Hey! Where are the episodes?!” or “When are you starting the series?!” This engagement will help light the fire if it happens to get burnt out along the way.
I can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store. And I can’t wait to bring you along the way.
Thanks for an AMAZING 2019. We had over 23,000 downloads this year with the podcast, which isn’t bad at all for a first year podcast. Maybe we can break 100,000 in 2020.
I will continue to keep you posted in the new year. And don’t forget to share Farm Traveler will all your friends and family.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!
Ever think the grass is greener on the other side? Yeah, me too. Especially when it comes to other podcasts.
A few days ago, my wife and I went to a wedding rehearsal dinner and tried to mingle with some of the guests. The first person we talked with just so happened to be a podcast creator. What are the odds?! Sure, more people are turning to podcasts to get various messages out there, but how crazy is it that it’s the first person you meet at a rehearsal dinner had a successful podcast!?
We quickly talked numbers and about our messages and audience. Austin was a host of the Captains Collective, a long forum interview podcast dedicated to learning from captains, and other leaders in the fishing industry. He stated that they’ve had around 50,000 downloads and have just gotten signed with a podcast network and various sponsors. How cool is that?! A new podcast that’s really gaining traction and getting a cool message out there.
As cool as it was to hear from a fellow podcaster, I certainly started to get a little envious. They have 50,000 downloads to our modest 2,000. They have over 600 followers on their Instagram page, to our small amount of around 270. Okay, I was more than a little envious. I was very much envious.
But after a good little motivational talk from Allie, the wife, and adjusting back to reality, I realized our growth has been pretty good here at the Farm Traveler Podcast. After recording around 27 episodes as of this post (19 of which are live now), I’ve learned a ton from some awesome people who have some pretty cool lines of work. Dairy farmers in the UK, vegetable farmers around the United States, and I’ve even been able to interview several long time friends who work in the industry.
Although the message of food production hasn’t reached as many people as I would like just yet, it has found a pretty cool audience. Below you will see some pretty neat stats about the show like countries and cities where people have listened to the podcast.
(The below stats are for our last 5 episodes.)
UK, Australia, Denmark, California, and Washington, just to name a few?! Our little podcast is slowly finding an audience around the country and around the world! How cool is that?! I can not believe it. We have spent exactly $0 on marketing and we already achieved a great audience. So all I can say, is THANK YOU. Thank you for listening. Thank you for following our little show. Thank you for telling your friends and sharing our posts.
I hope our show continues to grow because the stories we share need to get out there. People need to learn about the work that farmers do and the part we can all play in food sustainability.
I hope you’ve learned a thing or two, I certainly have. I’ve most recently learned to be content with where you are. And no matter the size of the audience, be grateful for them. Metrics shouldn’t matter. The conversations are the things that matter.
Thanks for listening to our show. We’ve got some other great episodes on the way and I can’t for you to hear them!
Piece, love, and chicken grease.
If you’re a lover of history, you’ve probably heard of the name, Nostradamus. Nostradamus was a 16th-century French philosopher that is most famous for making scary accurate predictions about the future. Some of those predictions include Napoleon, the Fire of London, the French Revolution, and even the JFK assassination. For kicks, giggles, and as a good example, allow me to put on my Nostradamus Prediction Hat.
Be it foretold that soon will come a day where the farmland becometh scarce. Long gone will be the days of vast fields of crops. In their wake will be warehouses as tall as the sky, filled with metal frames and metal robots. However, these spaces will not only be filled with metal but also with greenery. Greenery from crops and plants and money along this metal landscape.
Ok, off with that hat.
As cities grow and more land is developed for houses, shopping centers, and amusement parks, farmland will slowly become a rare commodity. Especially near large cities where fewer and fewer acres will be devoted to growing crops. A shift is currently happening that is well ahead of the curb and is supplying urban areas with fresh produce that is locally grown. That shift is warehouse farms. These facilities are either new or old factory buildings, shipping containers, or unused space that is converted to an indoor urban farm. These farms are built to use vertical space efficiently in order to grow as much as possible. Most grow their produce using hydroponic systems that save 70% more water than regular crops and LED lights that give off the light waves that are specifically needed for plant growth. Being indoors, crops aren’t affected by outside weather or pests and can grow year round no matter where the farm is located.
Take the video below for example. In it, Bloomberg shares the story of an urban farmer and her role in creating the future of agriculture. The growing process is just as scientific as growing regular crops and sometimes even more so. The upfront costs are high, but once established, the steady year-round profits are well worth the initial investment.
There will always be a place for traditional farms and traditional agriculture. Even if one day we are 3D printing steaks from home, I guarantee there will always be a market for regular beef or regular crops that are grown out in nature. But in order for agriculture to continue into the future, it has to evolve with technology.
So what do you think? Are you in a city that has some operations like this? Or do you live in a rural community and don’t want to see cities encroach on your land? Personally, I think even rural communities can and should have operations like the one above.
Now all I’ve got to do is see if Nostradamus said anything about agriculture. And maybe even if he said anything about the decline of Justin Bieber.
Thanks and see you next time.
The Farm Traveler Podcast is now live!
We are so excited to bring you interviews with farmers, ranchers, extension agents, teachers, and countless other people involved in the agriculture industry. We hope this podcast not only better informs consumers but that it also gives individuals in the ag industry a chance to share their knowledge as well as their experiences.
You can even listen to the podcasts on our website on the Podcasts page and follow the link to the podcast player.
Each week we will bring you a new episode, rotating between production agriculturalists one week and people working in the ag industry in supporting roles the next week. Just a few examples of upcoming episodes: vegetable farmers in South Florida, extension agents from Texas and Maryland, dairy farmers, hop farmers, honey producers, and more!
Thank you for joining us on this venture. If you enjoy the podcast, please subscribe and rate the podcast and of course, share it! Or if you’d like to be on an episode, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for stopping by!
I’ve heard that British food isn’t all that great. Well, after having visited England during a last trip with the wife, I can happily report that British food is pretty darn tasty. Sorry Ireland, I can’t vouch for you though.
We were in London for four days. We ate at a Michelin Star restaurant, several hole-in-the-wall establishments, and a bunch of little bits from other restaurants. Not once did we have a bad meal. Perhaps my favorite was a gourmet hotdog restaurant called “Bubbledogs” where I had a hotdog with BBQ brisket and coleslaw on top. We even ventured to a famous market called “Borough Market” and it was a site to see.
We love going to farmers markets and I hope you do too. It’s a great way to not only support local agriculture and meet farmers behind your food, but it’s also a great way to eat some delicious and fresh food. In Borough Market, we saw cheesemakers, vegetable growers, butchers, sausage makers, fisherman, and the list goes on.
All around the market were signs displaying “Buy Local”, “Locally Grown”, etc. It was the first time I have ever seen the buy local movement outside the United States. It’s such a cool feeling to know that consumers in a totally different country are taking it upon themselves to buy locally grown food and support those local farmers. Although some of those farms are outside of London, they were still all British owned and operated businesses. The money those consumers spend on their food items will go directly to those farmers; not to processors, distributors, or retailers. Those farmers will get a much better share of the dollar than they would by traditional means.
Moral of the story is to buy local and support local farmers. I’m now going to do my best to find local farms markets and buy local produce as much as I can. And I encourage you to do the same. It’s a trend that’s catching on all over the world and once we should all get behind.
Oh, in Dublin we tried haggis. Not great…but also not bad. 4/10. The Guinness was much better.
A few weeks ago we decided to dabble with the idea of starting a Farm Traveler podcast. There’s got to be a million podcasts out there right? So why start another one? But the more we thought about it, the more practical it seemed. I sat down and scrolled through my Facebook friends list and the Farm Traveler Instagram page and messaged as many people as I could that might be willing to be on the show. I was hopeful but also doubtful that anyone would say yes. Much to my surprise, we’ve got a boatload of guests who were willing and eager to be on the show! After three weeks of planning, we already have 10 episodes finished and another 5 set for the next two weeks. How crazy is that?! So far we’ve covered cheese making, the olive industry in Texas, and Ag Ed programs in Georgia, just to name a few!
Now the point of this podcast is two-fold:
We all have a story to tell. Farmers especially have countless stories of success, failure, and loss that are often overlooked. I want to bring those stories to light so we can see who they really are and learn what we can do to better support American Agriculture. I also think it’s best for consumers to learn about food production straight from the source and not a soccer-mom blog, a reality star doctor, or a friend they know that once stepped foot on a farm in middle school and claims they know everything about agriculture. Let’s learn straight from the people in the Ag industry that are doing their part in bringing you the safest, most abundant food supply in the world.
On April 6th, the Farm Traveler Podcast will officially launch on iTunes and Spotify. Simply search on those platforms for ‘Farm Traveler Podcast’ or check our website. On launch day, you will be able to listen to our first three episodes with the first being a detailed account of why we are doing the podcast and what you can expect over the course of the series. We have interviewed vegetable producers, dairy farmers, cheese makers, Ag Ed professors, extension agents, and people working for a wide variety of companies in the ag industry. Every week we will bring you a new episode in hopes of learning more about the ag industry and the people in it.
Stayed tuned to Farm Traveler for news and updates on the podcast. Each week we will post who our guest is and what topics we will be discussing. Now if you could…Tell EVERYONE you know about this podcast! This isn’t a typical podcast, this is important! Get the word out so we can crash Apple Podcasts because we have so much traffic for the podcast. Seriously…if this happens I promise I’ll buy everyone a Chick-fil-A gift card. No lie.
Thanks for stopping by and we can’t wait for you to listen to the Farm Traveler Podcast.
A recent podcast interview with a dairy farmer from Tennessee brought up a very interesting topic that I’ve totally forgotten about: robotic milking.
Imagine a future where farmers no longer have to spend hour after hour milking cows, sometimes up to for times a day. Imagine a future where a cow can go and get milked whenever she felt like it and as often as she needed. That future might not be that far off. As a matter of fact, that future is now.
Currently, there are several types of robotic milking machines that take human labor almost entirely out of the equation. Let’s go through exactly how this process works.
Robot milking machines allow cows the convenience to get milked whenever they need. Once trained on where to go, a cow can enter the robot milker on her own and a dispenser drops down which allows the cow to eat while she’s getting milked. A robotic arm then scans for the cows utter, cleans off the teats, and then attaches the milking unit to begin collecting milk. Once done, the cow exits the machine and the milking unit is cleaned for the next cow. The process continues whenever a cow feels like she needs to get milked. Convenience for the cow and convenience for the farmer, a win/win.
The robot milker also helps keep track of vital data of each cow as they are milked. Each cow is fitted with a collar that has a sensor which is picked up by the robot milker. It is able to track the amount of milk produced, times milked, and other data related to the health of the cow. This helps farmers learn about the milk production cycle for each cow as well as the ability to monitor the milk quality.
Most of us know that dairy farming is by no means a super lucrative business, as many dairy farms across the U.S. are going under due to the ever-plummeting price of milk. While this robot milker is quite costly, it does save labor costs as well as freeing up time for dairy farmers to accomplish other tasks around the farm.
As the ag industry continues to advance in means to save labor and time, these robotic milking machines will continue to grow in popularity. However, I’m not sure if robotic milking has caught on to the almond milk industry. I’ve heard that almond teats are almost too small to find.
That’s all for today. Thanks for stopping by.
Two of my favorite things are agriculture and video games (and please don’t mention the later to my wife). Agriculture is a topic I grew fond of back in high school and have stuck with it ever since. It’s a subject I’m very passionate about and am determined to better inform people about the industry that impacts them every single day. Video games got my attention at an early age when I got my first console, a Play Station 1. Countless weekends and sleepovers were spent playing racing games and even Halo once my friend Max got his first Xbox in middle school. A few months ago I found quite possibly the best combination of agriculture and video games. And that is Stardew Valley.
I won’t get into the specifics of how video games are made, but usually, they incorporate hundreds of employees at multimillion-dollar companies. This game, however, was made by one guy. Eric Barone wrote the story as well as the code for the game, designed quests, animations, all the artwork, soundtrack, and every other feature in the game. This is something pretty rare in the gaming community, especially given the detail in this game. His attention to detail has resulted in a cult following for this game. I’ve been enjoying it for quite some time and as someone who loves agriculture, the farming aspects of the game are very accurate. Which furthermore highlights Eric’s dedication to his craft.
Stardew Valley is a beautiful farming simulator game where you take over your grandfather’s farm. Once you arrive, you get to grow whatever you choose on your quaint little farm in the town of Stardew Valley. The game includes seasons, holiday events, weather, crafting, and a plethora of other features that you can get lost in. Only specific crops growing in particular seasons, you can over water or under water your crops, crows and other critters can kill some of your plants, and you can use fertilizers to help create bigger and better crops. You can even raise farm animals like cows, goats, chickens, and pigs. If you don’t milk the cows or goats every day they get grumpy, much like they do in real life!
This game has been a treat to play and is extremely relaxing after a busy day. So, if you love agriculture, want a pleasant game to play every now and then, and have a spare $7, be sure to buy Stardew Valley on PC, Xbox, or on your iPhone.
Thanks for checking this article out and stay tuned for more.
As we refocus on Farm Traveler this year, a possible avenue we might venture down is a podcast. Specifically, a podcast focused on interviewing farmers, ranchers, and anyone directly involved in the agriculture industry and hearing their stories. Stories of success and stories of failure. We hope to gain a better understanding of these individuals roles in agriculture, hardships they have faced, and what drives them. We hope to help give you a glimpse of the people behind our food industry.
This is where we need your help. If you or someone you might know might be interested, please contact us at email@example.com. We are looking for anyone involved in the indsutry agriculture, no matter if its past or present experience. Feel free to pass on to anyone and everyone!
More to come soon!
In a world with ever-increasing food choices for consumers, the names of those food items are starting to become a real issue. An example being milk and it’s non-dairy milk varieties.
We can talk about the differences between dairy and non-dairy milk in a future article. For now, let’s debate whether or not milk not from cows should be labeled as ‘milk’.
Milk is defined as an opaque white fluid rich in fat and protein, created by female mammals for the nourishment of their young. Now obviously, almonds, rice, soy, coconut, and the like aren’t from mammals. But they can be made into (or like coconuts contain) a fat and protein-rich white liquid. Dairy milk is about 87% water, 5% lactose, 3% fat, 3% protein, and about 1% vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, B1, C, D. Of course, this varies on the species of cow (or goat, or camel, etc), and the type of milk (whole, 2%, skim, etc).
Almond milk, we will use Silk Almond as an example, is “ALMONDMILK (FILTERED WATER, ALMONDS), CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF VITAMIN & MINERAL BLEND (CALCIUM CARBONATE, VITAMIN E ACETATE, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, VITAMIN D2), SEA SALT, NATURAL FLAVOR, LOCUST BEAN GUM, GELLAN GUM, ASCORBIC ACID (TO PROTECT FRESHNESS)” (1). But it is hard to come across any information as to the exact percentages of those ingredients. Addintally, some lawsuits involving other almond milk companies, Blue Diamond, in particular, say that the almond milk only contains less 2% of actual almond milk. This milk and other forms of alternative milk are great for people who have lactose allergies (like yours truly), vegan consumers, etc. While the taste and digestion factors are the key reasons behind consumer choice, some supporters claim non-dairy milk as better for the environment.
Supporters of alternative forms of milk claim that dairy milk has a harmful effect on the environment while almond milk and the like use significantly fewer resources. A 2016 study found some evidence that might
“Based on our research, cow milk generates nearly 10 times more greenhouse gases per liter than almond milk does. However, almond milk production uses approximately 17 times more water than cow milk production does per liter. When comparing by daily nutritional values, almond milk still uses more water than does cow’s milk, and cow’s milk emits more greenhouse gases than almond milk, so it is difficult to make a clearcut decision as to which is more sustainable to consume. (2)”
So both have their fair share of impact on the environment, which almost any crop can have. Animal welfare is also a key component of dairy milk. I can assure you, dairy farmers care for their cows. Dairy farming is not a get-rich-quick industry, many dairy operations have been closing over the past few years due to extremely low profits. Dairy farmers know that any cow that isn’t cared for will not produce quality milk. They care for those animals deeply and ensure they are producing the freshest, highest quality milk.
In the future, we will cover milk production as well as animal welfare issues, but for now, let’s put our thinking cap on milk vs. non-dairy milk.
All that being said, food labels matter. Should only dairy milk be labeled milk? Or can non-dairy milk share that title? Let us know your thoughts and we will keep this discussion going.
Thanks for stopping by
2 – Jacqueline Ho, Ingrid Maradiaga, Jamika Martin, Huyen Nguyen, Linh Trinh (2016). Almond Milk vs. Cow Milk – Life Cycle Assessment.
Like most people from Calhoun County, FL, my grandpa had a farm that took up quite a chunk of my childhood. My grandpa’s farm was about 50 acres, half of which was covered with timber and the rest divided up into ponds for his hybrid bass and catfish operations. Rumor was that during the highpoint of the hybrid bass business, the Queen of England ate some of his fish, a pretty neat accomplishment for a guy from rural Blountstown. The best part about that farm was that it was right behind our house and just a quick trail ride away. I spent a significant amount of time there growing up. I can remember shooting my first gun, catching my first fish, watching my dad and grandpa catch and clean catfish and probably my favorite thing: fetching tools for them to fix the tractor. All of which happened in the shadow of a great big pole barn.
That pole barn housed tools and random farm equipment and basically anything my grandpa bought. One shelf would house about five hammers and countless old coffee cans full of nails, while the next would have several rusty metal and wooden pipes from our church’s retired pipe organ. Papa has also worked at a hardware store his whole life. He has hundreds of tools and equipment from hardware shows he has gone to over the years. I can even remember when Papa installed a new light inside that was about the size of a UFO. When finally turned on, it would light up the whole barn like a football field. I also can’t tell you how many times my dad and I, and probably (definitely) Papa, have hit our heads on random boards in that barn that were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
As of October 11th, 2018, that barn is more. Where it once stood, stands a mountain of tools, pipe organ parts, cans of nails, and other knick-knacks tangled with the frame of wooden poles and sheet metal. Even those five hammers can be accounted for.
The first trip back to the farm with my dad and grandpa was a surreal experience. Realizing that the home of so many childhood memories – a monument to my dad and grandpa’s hard work on the farm – was gone was extremely saddening. Those feelings of sadness and loss were quickly put to bed after seeing my dad and grandpa assess the damage. Both men of little complaint, they drew up a plan of what to do with the barn and all the equipment that had been thrown around. Both my dad and grandpa were extremely fortunate and suffered very little damage to their homes compared with their neighbors throughout Blountstown. Both realized the stuff in the barn could easily be replaced and that the people that mattered, were alive and well and had much to be thankful for.
The memories made in that barn with my dad, grandpa and family will last my whole life. The stuff will be replaced, but those memories will never be replaced, nor extinguished.
Hurricane Micheal, a category 5 hurricane, made landfall three months ago on North Florida. (Officially a cat. 4, but only 2 mph off from a cat. 5 and dealing damage of a cat. 5, therefore we are going to say it was a cat. 5. If you disagree, you clearly haven’t been here.) This storm hit almost every city that was a part of my childhood: Blountstown, Panama City, Mexico Beach, Apalachicola, St. George Island, and Marianna just to name a few. In those towns are people that are near and dear to my heart. Some of those people have lost a little. Some of those people have lost a great deal. And yet, all of those people are thankful. Thankful to be alive. Thankful they are safe and their family is safe. Thankful for the first responders from across the country. Thankful for workers making repairs on their homes. Thankful, dare I say it, for insurance companies and government assistance programs.
Above all, thankful to be safe.
It’s a strange thing to see power trucks, first responders, and the National Guard in your rearview mirror and know that they are headed to where you’re headed: Home. It’s something I hope you never experience, but if you have experienced it you know exactly what those chill bumps feel like. It’s also a strange thing to feel thankful for working traffic lights or for the sound of a Salvation Army food truck driving through your neighborhood handing out meals as you work on repairing house after house.
This storm has brought so much sadness and so much loss. But it has also brought so much love. It’s brought neighbors and communities closer together. Some faith has been shaken and some faith has stood fast. I won’t talk to you about whether or not God let this happen. Instead, let me show you how I’ve seen God work in the aftermath of this catastrophe:
How about our neighbor, an elderly man from Alabama, have someone from his hometown that he has never met show up with a camper loaded up with supplies and tell him it’s his until his house is repaired.
Friends and family, some we haven’t talked to in years, call us out of the blue to check on us and offer assistance.
Linemen from Illinois, California, Ohio, Texas, and many others spending weeks away from their own families so that they can restore power to people who will never get a chance to thank them. While home in Blountstown, I went with my dad to check out our church. In there, he showed me that almost every available room in the church was full of cots for linemen who were staying there and helping restore power. I’ll have you know that those linemen restored power a solid month before it was estimated to return (and that was with 98% of Calhoun County residents being without power after the storm).
The policemen, firefighters, EMT’s and other first responders from across the state and South East coming here to keep us safe and bring us supplies.
We volunteered with our church to deliver meals, only to find neighbors who won’t even begin to complain about their collapsed roof and instead point you to a family in more need.
Seeing a family that lost everything and they immediately ask about you and how you are.
Friends and church groups gathering small armies to fix homes and repair lives.
Volunteers that cook thousands of meals to feed citizens, first responders, linemen, workers, and anyone in need of a hot meal.
A friend, with a brand new Mustang, that shoved a full-size generator into his passenger seat to deliver to his parents.
A puppy, that sometimes was an inconvenience, brought so much love and joy in times that were desperately needed.
And lastly, battery-powered AM/FM radios.
While my dad stayed in Blountstown without power for almost 3 weeks, he never asked for anything. I tried and tried to get him to tell me what he needed: Gas, food, snacks, water, but he had plenty. After almost two weeks, he finally broke and said, “You know, if you could find a small, battery-powered FM radio, that would be great. I’d love to finally be able to listen to something.” That night, my wife and I traveled to 3 stores looking for a small radio but had no luck in finding one. The next morning I left for Blountstown and made one last-ditch effort to find one at the last store I could think of, CVS. I prayed and prayed as I walked in that there would be just some sort of battery-powered radio. The good Lord was listening because there was one radio left. I never thought a small radio would bring me to tears, but never say never, right? My dad was so thankful for that radio. He immediately tuned it to Dr. Shane on 92.5 WPAP so he could listen to updates after the storm.
That radio made me feel like everything is going to be alright. That the only thing we can focus on after so much devastation is by helping our loved ones and building back our homes. Be thankful for your family. Be thankful for your neighbors. Be thankful for what you have. Be thankful for that roof over your head. Be thankful for that family barn. And be thankful for that radio.
There is still much to be done in areas affected by Hurricane Michael. There are still families that are homeless or going from rental to rental while their homes are repaired. There are still houses destroyed and insulation can still be seen on almost every street. But a spirit of fortitude has been revealed in North Floridians over the past few months. And with it, a determination to fix what is broken. Every day, our circumstances get a bit better. I recently saw a Facebook post that said something along the lines of: “When a crisis occurs, you find out who are runners, hiders, or fighters.” I’m glad to say that North Florida is filled with fighters who are determined to pick up the pieces.
Lastly, a hashtag. I’ve always thought hashtags were stupid and cheesy. But of course, this hurricane put things into perspective. A hashtag became a rallying cry that brought people from all walks of life together. It brought people that lost their homes together. It made a community closer. And now it is a hashtag to forever live by.
2019 is here and with it, a new opportunity to focus on what’s important. This year, we are going to put more focus and more thought into Farm Traveler. That means more articles, more videos, and more content. All for the purpose of teaching more and more people about their food and about the agriculture industry.
This year prepare for:
More Farm Traveler videos
More engaging social media posts
Thanks for staying with us and prepare for a great 2019!
IMPORTANT NOTE: The article states that organic farms do not user fertilizers. While I’m not sure about Swedish organic farms, most if not all US-based organic farms do actually use fertilizers. However, to be classified as an organic farm, those fertilizers (and their pesticides) must be naturally occurring. What those farmers might use is cow manure, bone meal, compost, etc. While those fertilizers do bost good yields for home gardens or smaller organic farms, this article is focused on largescale productions.
Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden discovered some pretty interesting data in terms of organic farming and its impact on the environment. To conventional farmers and consumers who are aware of the false claims from organic supporters, this data is pretty darn great to see (and something a lot of people have been aware of for a while).
Due to organic farming having to use more land than conventional farming, it’s yields are far lower per hectare (100 acres). Conventional farming uses fertilizers, natural or synthetic depending on the farm ad crop, while organic farming uses little to no fertilizers to help increase yields. The purpose of fertilizers is to help provide plants with additional nutrients that might be lacking from the soil. This boost in nutrients helps the crops grow quicker and usually much healthier. If certain nutrients are lacking, varying fertilizers can be applied and give the crops the correct amount of each nutrient required for that plant. Because organic farms do not use fertilizers, their crops rely solely on the nutrients in the soil and get little soil amendment during their growing cycle. What some organic farms might do is crop rotation or growing various crops throughout the season in hopes of naturally replenishing nutrients in the soil. For example, let’s say Corn requires a lot of Nitrogen to grow while giving off Phosphorus back into the soil and Soybeans give off Nitrogen and require lots of Nitrogen to grow. Organic farmers would grow one crop after the other due to the nutrient requirements being a bit different from one another and each crop can naturally replenish the soil with nutrients before the next crop is planted. While is process is beneficial for the soil, it pales in comparison to the amounts of nutrients fertilizers can add to the soil.
The article does bring up an interesting topic about beef and that is its sustainability. As we have discussed in an earlier video on Farm Traveler, beef is not a very sustainable form of agriculture. Beef cattle are very poor in terms of converting feed to meat, it takes 6 pounds of feed for the cow to gain 1 pound of meat. In terms of water, beef cattle require roughly 1,799 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef (while pork requires 576 gallons of water per pound). While this stinks, because beef is absolutely delicious, it’s something the ag industry must address.
However, with organic beef, most of the cattle grass feed instead of raised with feed. This process requires more land area and usually a longer time span for that cow to gain the required weight before processing. And note, both are still are going to require a vast amount of water during its lifespan.
No one knows yet. But we are all working towards that future. Organic farming is not the future, be sure to tell your organic friends we said that and watch them squirm. More sustainable conventional farming is most likely going to be the future of agriculture with an increased focus on better use of natural resources, fertilizers, pesticides, GMOs, etc. Science has gotten us this farm and it will continue to shape our future and the future of Ag.
So moral of the story: Save yourself from the organic lettuce and buy the cheaper, conventional lettuce next time you go to the grocery store. Your wallet and the planet with thank you.
To get started with the wealth of bee knowledge that is about to commence, let’s begin with some interesting bee facts. Bees are broken down into three types: queen bee, workers, and drones. Worker bees are undeveloped female bees that live for around 40 days and do all of the work in the hive such as collect honey and care for the larvae. In those 40 days, worker bees will only gather about 1/10 of a teaspoon of honey. It takes about 556 worker bees to produce a pound of honey. Drones are male bees that only mate with the queen bee and then either die or are forced out of the hive. And lastly, the queen bee is the only developed female bee in the hive and can produce 2000 eggs per day and can live anywhere from 1 to 5 years.
Like you already know, bees collect nectar from plants. As the nectar digests in their stomach, the “honey gut” as some call it, certain enzymes are added that turn the nectar into honey. The bees then regurgitate the honey and transfer it to another bee. This transfer happens about two to three times until the final worker bee deposits the honey into their honeycombs. Once that honeycomb is full of honey, a human worker removes it from the hive and this begins the production process. The honeycombs are then put into a machine and spun at high speeds which force the honey out. Once the honey is collected it is then heated to a high temperature which melts out the crystals. This temperature also causes any bee remnants, dirt, or pollen to rise to the surface of the honey where it is removed. The honey is then heated again and strained and finally poured into bottles ready to be shelved.
Issues in the Honey Industry
Honey Adulteration is an issue you might not have heard of before. Some countries, China being one of the most guilty, will add large amounts of syrup (usually from rice or other grains) and mix that with natural honey to create a honey-like product that they are able to sell at cheap prices. This honey can pass most quality control tests and can even pose dangers to consumers. In the past, China has sold billions of dollars worth of honey to the United States at below market value, which creates a huge price competition with US honey producers that they are unable to compete with.
In recent years bee populations have continued to dwindle, all while the demand for honey has steadily risen. Bees face a number of issues in their environments such as climate change, loss of habitat, disease spread, and chemical exposure. Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, has become a prominent issue facing beekeepers. The decline in bee populations has gotten so bad, some industry leaders have begun researching drone technology to create pollinating drones. Check out NPR Article on these ‘Bee Drones’.
Another issue is hive theft. During the winter, some beekeepers transport their hives to farms in warmer climates where their bees are able to pollinate plants on that farmland. The bees are able to pollinate plants in the area, stock up on their honey, and the beekeeper gets a nice paycheck from the farmer. It’s usually a win/win/win. However, some beekeepers have experienced numerous cases of theft, California in particular. Almond production is high in California due to increased demands in almond milk, almond flour, and other almondy products. A few years ago, $800,000 worth of beehives were stolen from California farms that were housing those visiting bees. As if beekeepers didn’t have enough to worry about, now they have to protect their bees from criminals looking to steal their way into the industry.
Buzz Local, Buy Local
Honey is a sweet treat we all love and use in numerous ways. Continue to enjoy it as much as you can and support your local bees and beekeepers by buying local honey when and where you can. Small mom and pop honey shops are all around this country and are a great way to support local business and a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth.
How Products are Made: Honey
Canadian Honey Council