Buzzard's Beat

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Goodbye Little Trailer on the Prairie

Life has been happening at breakneck speed in our little slice of Heaven. As a blogger I have failed you, dear readers, by not updating y'all regarding our life changes, issues updates or even pictures of my adorable dog. I apologize.

So I shall start at the beginning, because where else could I start? Here's what's going down with our family and if you make it through this update there is a 101 in 1001 checklist at the bottom.

The trailer house on the prairie
Bye bye Little Trailer on the Prairie - you've been good to us!
1. We're moving.

Yep - after living in Manhattan for almost a decade we are moving to southeast Kansas to the county where I was born and raised. We are in the final stages of purchasing a small ranch property there and are moving tomorrow. As in, 24 hours from now. Unfortunately, we haven't closed yet on the house so we are living with my dad for a few weeks until the house is ready. Brings back memories of summer breaks from college...

2. The Ninja is almost a PhD. He is wrapping up his doctoral dissertation which he will defend in early September. He has accepted a position with a swine technology and nutrition company and will start shortly after his dissertation. Real world, here he comes!

3. For some time now, this blog has addressed more than just agriculture, K-State and rodeo and it's really weighed on me because I haven't felt like I have been adhering to my rules for blogging or giving my goals any justice. However, I realize that blogging is about life and life is made up of more than advocacy - as it turns out, people like to know what is going on in our personal lives! So, going forward, I will continue to post about marriage, agriculture, rodeo, K-State, running, livestock and other topics I find interesting. In fact, in the next few months I'll even have real life ranch updates. The difference between now and the past is not the content, it's how I feel about my content. I am going to stop being ashamed of talking about the ins and outs of my life that aren't agriculture related. I may even change the blog logo and header, who knows!

And now for the 101 in 1001 update, as promised. These days are just flying by and I am needing to jump on it and get some more things accomplished!

To date, I have completed 30 goals and my challenge ends on October 26, 2016. So not halfway done but I also have a lot of goals that are in progress (21 to be exact) so I am confident I can get that number much higher. A few of the goals I have completed since the last update are below.

- Run 3 - half marathons (yes, you read that correctly) 1 - Glass City Half Marathon 4/27/14; 2 - Sioux Falls Half Marathon 9/7/14 (PR! 1:59:02); 3 - Garmin Wickedly Fast Half Marathon 4/18/15 (2:04:05); 4 - Bill Snyder Highway Half 5/23/15 (2:18:01)
I had no idea that I would complete this goal within a year! But am so glad I did - I feel great!
- Learn basic sewing machine skills
- Make a set of curtains using the sewing machine

I made my dad some curtains so that our dogs can't look in the window and give me sad eyes while we are living at his house.
- Travel internationally - Belize 2015
And we are on track to keep this one going because we are going to spend the month of December abroad!
- Organize and clean office so that it's functional for two people
 Just in time for us to leave, ha!

So there you have it - a mini life update on Buzzard and the Ninja. Anyone have any foolproof packing tips to share with me? I loathe packing, especially kitchen items and things that don't have a specific category!

Oh, and just for good measure, here's a picture of my adorable dog.

Cricket, an adorable border collie
Vicious Cricket
Until next time,~ Buzzard ~

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Chipotle: Where Guac and Hypocrisy Cost You Extra

Maybe it’s the crushing heat we’re experiencing here in Kansas that has me so easily annoyed but upon reading the latest stupidity-driven marketing decision from Chipotle, I felt I needed to bring the blog out of dormancy and share my two dollars (two cents won’t cut it this time).

Chipotle restaurant storefront
Evil-looking, no?
Photo courtesy: Chance Hunley
A lot of my close friends and family will joke with me occasionally and say, "Hey let's go to Chipotle for lunch!" They do this because a) they know Chipotle’s marketing and business practices make my blood boil b) they like to see me get riled up c) they know very few people who despise Chipotle as much as I do and d) they are in agreement that the burrito giant is off its rocker when it comes to marketing and how it sources product.

If you need further reminding of why I despise this restaurant, you can add “hypocrisy runs rampant” to the long list of reasons I haven't eaten there since 2007.

If I were an American pig producer, I’d be ticked – I mean, I’m ticked already and I don’t even have a stake in this game. You may remember way back in January of this year, Chipotle said that carnitas would not be offered in all stores because one of their suppliers wasn’t adhering to the company’s holier-than-thou animal welfare standards. They made it out to be a pork “shortage.”

Do you know what those standards actually say? Let me tell you. Chipotle wanted a farmer, who had been raising pigs for 30 years, to cut a hole in the side of his barn so that the pigs inside could go outside in the snow and single digit temperatures. There are several reasons that pigs are raised indoors, which I’ve discussed before. They don’t have fur coats, they aren’t very hardy – they will get sick and die, or get eaten by a coyote. Raising pigs inside is safer and better for their wellbeing. Additionally, Chipotle has a “never-ever” policy on antibiotic use which gives a farmer two options, essentially. If a pig is sick the farmer can give the animal antibiotics and wait for the proper withdrawal time before sending the animal to slaughter, which ensures that no antibiotics enter the food supply (thousands upon thousands of responsible pig farmers do this to ensure safe pork products every day). In doing so and raising their animals humanely by providing health care, they are removing their animals from Chipotle’s supply chain. However, they can choose not to treat the animal and sell a sick pig (if it lives through the disease) to Chipotle for a supposed premium. You don’t need an advanced degree in animal science to realize that it’s whacko to deny health treatment to a sick animal. I wouldn’t do that to my dog or horses and I damn sure wouldn’t do it to an animal that I hope to be selling or would be using to feed my family.
A weanling piglet raised indoors
This pig, like so many others, is raised indoors to protect it from the elements and predators.
The thing with antibiotics is that they are a necessary tool that farmers need to help their animals in fighting off nasty bacteria. There are many times throughout a pig’s life that they are more susceptible to disease such as when a few groups of pigs that have never been around each other start buddying up. Think of it as kindergarten for piglets – all those little piggies hanging out on the monkey bars, sharing each other’s boogers and coughing on their hooves. Another example is if the weather turns nasty or chilly and some pigs get the swine equivalent of a sinus infection. These ailments call for treatment and it’s downright cruel to deny treatment to a sick animal.

Chipotle doesn’t care. Use antibiotics and those pigs can’t be marketed through their supply chain. To hell with animal welfare, they have to keep those $10/1000 calorie burritos pumping out the door.

So now that you have an idea of the bizarre thought process behind Chipotle’s animal welfare standards, let me get back to the hypocrite part.

Because there was a “shortage” of pork here in the U.S. (Lie. No shortage of responsibly raised pork or beef in the U.S.) good ole Chip jumped the pond and started sourcing pork from Karro Food, a U.K. based company. And guess what?

Karro Food is allowed to use antibiotics in the event of illness in the swine herd.

When asked why the restaurant tyrant decided to let Karro Food, a foreign company, use antibiotics on sick animals but refused to extend that same standard to American producers, this is what Chipotle replied with:

“Our decision to source pork from this new supplier does not mean that Chipotle’s animal welfare protocols are changing at this time. While we prefer to buy pork raised entirely without antibiotics, we are proud to be serving pork from Karro because the responsible way Karro uses antibiotics is consistent with their extremely high animal welfare standards.”
Chipotle also did a nice job of explaining how antibiotics are used responsibly by farmers, but apparently only on U.K. pork farms. Too bad they couldn’t just allow all farmers this necessary technology instead of continually weaving a web of consumer misinformation. They stated:

“This does not mean that antibiotics are present in the meat. All animals treated with antibiotics (both in Europe and the U.S.) must undergo a withdrawal period before they are slaughtered, which means that meat from a pig treated with antibiotics will not contain antibiotic residue, just like meat from an animal that was never given antibiotics.”
This befuddles me. I have no idea why they would actually move to use reasonable science messages to defend antibiotics use in one country but not in another, when both are comparable in their animal welfare protocols. Hey Chipotle, here’s a #TruthBomb, pull your nose down out of the air long enough to take a look around fly-over country and you’ll find that American farmers use antibiotics responsibly too.

I honestly don’t even know how to explain how I feel about this. Even more so, I cannot fathom what it must be like to be so unabashedly hypocritical. My best guess is that Chipotle needs a large supplier and Karro can accommodate their needs; however, Karro isn’t willing to back down from responsible antibiotic use because they have a good handle on common sense.

So there you go – another slap to the American farmer’s face from an unhealthy burrito kingpin. The good news is that people are starting to wake up to the vicious scheming of Chipotle. If you have spare time, read a few of these recent links.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to be a loyal patron of Qdoba. It’s more fun to pronounce and the food isn’t soured with the taste of guilt and farmer’s tears.

Until next time,

**Point of clarification: This post is not me saying that organic or natural pork production is wrong, cruel or unnecessary. This post is about Chipotle's BLATANT hypocrisy regarding their double standards for pork production between U.S. and U.K. producers. Agriculture needs all kinds of people and all kinds of production; there is room for everyone. I have mentioned in comments below that instead of convention aland organic getting up in arms against each other, we need to link arms and fight against these animal rights extremists and anti-technology advocates. If you have further comments regarding organic/natural and conventional, feel free to contact me (email is on About Me page). As always, civil discourse is appropriate and I appreciate your comments and feedback.

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