Stardew Valley. A perfect farming game?

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.

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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.

-Trevor

 

 

 

 

 

Farm Traveler Podcast

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 farmtravelerseries@gmail.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!

Should non-milk be labeled ‘milk’?

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

Sources

1 – https://silk.com/products/unsweetened-almondmilk

2 – Jacqueline Ho, Ingrid Maradiaga, Jamika Martin, Huyen Nguyen, Linh Trinh (2016). Almond Milk vs. Cow Milk – Life Cycle Assessment.

 

 

 

 

New Year, New Focus

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:

Weekly articles

More Farm Traveler videos

More engaging social media posts

ETC!

Thanks for staying with us and prepare for a great 2019!

Raw Meat vs Cooked Meat

 

Hello and welcome to Farm Traveler where we’re not at a farm again, this is obviously a kitchen, but we will get to a farm one day.  I promise!

Today I’ve got some beef with you…literally.  We have some beef, pork, chicken and fish…well fish in the form of sushi.  So maybe you’ve wondered by you can eat some meats, like fish and beef raw or even just under cooked while other meats like pork and chicken need to be cooked thoroughly.  A lot of this has to do with how the item has been processed, stored and even cooked, ensuring that all the bacteria has been killed so you don’t get sick. But, if by chance you do get sick, most food borne illnesses are due to improper cooking techniques and not bad meats.  

Fish is relatively healthy to eat raw, so long that it has been frozen at some point before being consumed.  The freezing process kills off most bacteria, leaving it safe to eat, much like when you cook fish. That means technically gas station sushi should be ok to eat as long as it was frozen after being processed, but who really wants to take that chance?

Chicken and Pork are very different in that they need to be cooked thoroughly in order to kill off any bacteria, like salmonella and e.coli, that might be on the surface of the meat.  Chicken also has a less dense flesh then pork and even beef, which allows bacteria to travel deep into the flesh, all the more reason to make sure your chicken isn’t pink on the inside.  Cooking chicken to its ideal temperature of 165 degree F ensures all bacteria, both inside and on the surface, have been killed off, just like Han Solo in the Force Awakens.

Beef is a very dense meat, which doesn’t allow bacteria to penetrate the flesh.  But any bacteria that might be found on the surface can be killed off with a quick sear.  That’s why it’s totally okay to eat a rare steak.

Now, if you’ve ever cooked beef or almost any red meat, you may have noticed a red liquid before and even after you cook it.  Most people say ‘Oh, it’s just blood’ which is incorrect. When an animal is processed, all the blood is removed as quickly as possible to help ensure the freshness of the meat.  That red liquid is actually a mixture of water and myoglobin, with myoglobin being a protein found in the muscle. When meat is frozen, the water inside expands and then turns into ice crystals, those ice crystals then rupture the muscle cells.  When thawed out, that water is released from the cell and carry’s some myoglobin with it. The same thing happens with chicken but the liquid is less red due to smaller amounts of myoglobin. So next time your Uncle Phil says he likes his steak still bloody, call him out!

Now you know why some meats can be eaten raw, while others need to be cooked thoroughly in order to avoid getting a food borne illness.  And remember that keeping your cooking surfaces and your hands clean also helps prevent spreading any bacteria.

Thanks for joining us and please be sure to share this video and check out farm traveler at the links below.  Now, you’ll excuse me, dinner isn’t going to cook itself!

A Pro GMO documentary?

Podcasts are a new addiction of mine.  Driving to work or going on a long road trip can be much more entertaining while listening to Mike Rowe’s “The way I heard it” or even The Nerdist Podcasts.  One such podcast that came with a pleasant surprise was an episode of StarTalk Radio with Neil deGrasse Tyson (your personal astrophysicist) and his take on a documentary called, Food Evolution.  In the podcast, Neil chats with the documentary director as well as a food scientist on many issues surrounding GMOs.  And surprisingly, they all spoke very highly of the science behind GMOs.  I will be sure to drop a link to the podcast below, be sure to give it a listen the next time you run errands around town.

Some key points made by the podcast:

  • The term “Genetically Modified Organism” encompasses much more than plant varieties developed in a laboratory.
  • Scientific consensus is that GMOs pose no threat to health – instead focus should be on sustainable agriculture practices.
  • GMO’s have helped save populations in lower developed countries whose food supply is their main source of income.  An example being Uganda and their banana blight.
  • Technically Organic Produce can include GMO varieties.

Be sure to check out the StarTalk Radio Podcast mentioned above  – StarTalk Radio Podcast – https://www.startalkradio.net/show/understanding-gmos-future-food/

 

The documentary seems to cover many issues surrounding GMOs: Are GMOs harmful? Are they ruining the planet? Is organic produce healthier than GMOs?  Check out a trailer below!

Food Evolution Trailer

The trailer looks great, right?  Besides the person who stated, “I trust social media before I do doctors, the FDA, ….”  Please, never be as naive as her.  Do your research and only trust credible sources, aka NOT your social media feed.  If you are trusting your “followers” more than you trust a doctor, you may need to log off for a while and reevaluate your life choices.   

I haven’t had a chance to watch the documentary yet but certainly plan to.  Be on the look out for an article on it in the coming weeks.  It looks like a well developed film!

 

Still not convinced?  Agree or disagree with anything you heard?  Let us know, we look forward to continuing this discussion with you!

 

Thanks for stopping by!  See you next time.

-T