Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How do you take your milk? Preferably liquified and non-cumbustible

One thing I love about my job is that I learn new things all the time. Sometimes I learn lots of new things in a day.

Here's my latest gem of knowledge: Milk explodes.

Who knew?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Waiting for final word on COOL

So what does the new country-of-origin labeling law mean for food processors? Well, that's still a little hard to say, as the following video from the Idaho Farm Bureau illustrates.

One way to know what's in food is to watch it being made, or make it yourself. Here's a little video story by Cookson Beecher on making apple juice in Washington.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A mention from the Old Gray Lady's cyber offspring

Capital Press coverage of the presidential candidates' farm policies, in a story written by California Editor Hank Shaw, was mentioned and linked in this blog posted on the New York Times website.

It's nice to know that someone east of the Rockies makes note that there is agriculture west of the Great Divide.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mixing business and football

I attended the Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation's Fall Harvest Dinner on Saturday, but I have to admit, it was a little difficult to pull myself away from my truck in the parking lot and walk in to the Linn County Fair and Expo Center.

It's not that I didn't want to go in or support this great cause, but the Oregon State-University of Washington football game was still in the first half. Come to think of it, it was awfully hard to leave the house, where I had the game on the TV, to get into the truck in the first place. But I at least knew I could hear the game on the radio.

My resolve to walk into the Expo Center was strengthened by seeing so many Oregon State Beaver bumper and window stickers on the other rigs in the parking lot. I knew someone would be getting score updates.

What I didn't know, is that the best source of information would be the biggest man on the OSU campus. OSU President Ed Ray and his wife were in attendance at the event and Ray's Blackberry kept him up to date on developments in Husky Stadium.

Ray was gracious enough to let me interrupt his dinner for one update and thoughtful enough to share the final score with event organizers so it could be announced to the assembled crowd, which was heavily laced with OSU alums and fans. So while the alumni of Oregon State — sometimes known as Moo U or the Cow College and Corvallis is sometimes called Corn Valley (in spite of the dearth of corn there) — got to support a great cause in teaching young people about the importance of agriculture in classrooms around Oregon, we also got to follow our beloved Beavers too.

Karie Hoffman of Molalla, Ore., Walks through the crowd at the Oregon Ag in the Classroom Fall Harvest Dinner carrying a tricycle decked out in Oregon State colors and logos. Hoffman, a member of the Oregon State University Collegiate FFA, was assisting with an auction of items to benefit the Ag in the Classroom Foundation. Capital Press photo by Gary L. West

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Not many complaints at Brownsville, California Feed Store.

A funny thing happened when I was driving the Capital Press van this week in Brownsville, California. The Whitehorse Ranch & Feed Store makes sure you get a chuckle even before you get up their driveway. As a result, customers are sure to arrive in a good mood.

Customers are encouraged to leave their complaints with a local rancher even before you arrive at the feed store.

The good news is proprietor Alan Austin says the Whitehorse Ranch & Feed Store now carries the Capital Press.

Now every rancher that pulls up the driveway of Whitehorse Feed Store can get his or her own copy.

(You might want to leave a copy for our friend here though.)

Monday, October 06, 2008

You're not supposed to milk that

The tainted milk scandal just keeps getting deeper and dirtier. The Economist has a column examining farmers' favorite topics — input costs and quality control. Why exactly would Chinese dairymen put a toxic plastic ingredient in milk?

But something fishy seems to be going on here. For one thing, melamine is not all that easy to dissolve into milk. For another, there’s been a worldwide shortage of melamine for some time now. Its price has shot up to more than $1,750 per tonne from $1,100 a few years ago.

So why use an expensive industrial chemical that’s in short supply to dilute a dirt cheap product like milk? The answer can only be that either some flaw rendered the melamine industrially worthless, or it wasn’t melamine at all.

You're heard that soylent green is made of people? The (anonymous) columnist suggests that Chinese milk products are made of something else that cows produce:
Urea may be not as rich in nitrogen, but it’s certainly a whole lot cheaper (around $650 per tonne). Sprayed into the milk at the temperature used to create a powdered product for baby food and confectionery, enough of the urea would be converted into melamine to show up in tests.

If that’s the case, where does the urea come from? Is it really fertiliser—or something else cattle produce in prodigious quantities? Perhaps that’s why the Chinese authorities are suddenly so keen to blame more hygienic melamine for all their woes.

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