Friday, August 26, 2011

Pure Ignorance

Did anyone catch Nightline the other night?  The guests were the Bates family from Tennessee.  They have 18 kids and are still working on more!  They're a wonderful family with great kids and they're (obviously) open to life!

At one point they were chatting about the mother, Kelly, having had a couple of recent miscarriages and how the doctor had put her on progesterone during her next pregnancy in the hopes of saving the baby. I was appalled and taken aback by the interviewer's next question.  She asked, "If you don't believe in birth control to avoid a pregnancy, why is it OK to take medicine to help a pregnancy along?" jaw dropped at this point.  I jumped my DVR backwards several times to make sure I heard it correctly.  Is this just complete ignorance by the liberal media or was she trying to get a point across?  I'm not sure if she truly could not see the difference here, or if she was trying to "educate" us right-wing religious freaks out here in the audience.  It almost seemed like she was looking for a "gotcha" moment.  Either way, it was not only insulting to Kelly, but it was an apples-to-oranges comparison!

Naturally, Kelly answered the question more than gracefully and explained that it's completely different to do something artificial to avoid creating a life, than it is to use means to sustain a life that already exists.  Brilliant!  And, might I add...DUH.

Anyone else happen to catch that?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


So proud this guy is from the state in which I'm a pro-life activist (sarcasm).  I'm so speechless I can't even do a proper analysis of this statement.  Remember, VP Biden is supposedly Catholic (I've seen him at mass and other events several times) and here he is supporting China's one-child policy.  I only hope this was another of his stupid gaffes and not something he really believes and thinks is a good idea to implement here.  Just...speechless.

**UPDATE: At least his brainless comments aren't going unnoticed.  Romney and Perry have responded. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Not to beat a dead horse,'s my post on food production

**Disclaimer: This post is not directed at one person or group of people in particular.  It is meant to address some words and phrases I've seen thrown around on many different mediums by many different people.  I'm sure most people have their minds made up on this issue, but I feel obligated to present a side that you may not hear in the pop culture.

There's been a lot of blog and facebook dialogue going on since Mary's post last week on nutrition.  I'll leave the science to the professional, but there are three specific issues that have jumped out at me in particular.  Those three issues are: 1) that poor and underprivileged people are too stupid or don't have the resources to make healthy eating decisions; 2) the demonization of corn and soy; and 3) the demonization of factory farming (which I’ll touch on here briefly, but intend to write a whole separate post about).

I'll start with #1, not only because it’s numerically obvious, but also because it's the easiest to tackle.  First of all, I grow tired of this "blame the fast food industry" mentality.  Does anyone think that poor people really and truly don't know that a bag of apples at the grocery store is healthier than a Big Mac?  It's not a matter of being uneducated.  I watch the Biggest Loser.  Those people didn't get on campus out of pure ignorance.  Most of them are obese due to deep-seated emotional, self-confidence, and self-control issues.  Sure, not everyone understands the ins-and-outs of nutrition like Mary does, but that's why she's a professional!  But there is also a lot of common sense that factors into eating healthy.

So why do some people continue to eat unhealthy fast foods?  Chalk much of it up to personal responsibility, please!  There's no government conspiracy at work here.  In fact, I'd argue the government is trying to overregulate us in the opposite direction with all the overreaching they do with trans-fats, salt, menu labeling, and such.  But I digress....  I'll add that even fast food restaurants are catching on to consumer demand for healthier options!  You can get a salad at almost any fast food chain.  They even have options for apples, oranges, yogurt, and bottled water!  So even if you do need to eat at a fast food restaurant, you have choices.  Anyone who argues otherwise is just making excuses.

Since I’ve started eating healthy, I’ve been utterly shocked and pleasantly surprised at the options available to us in 2011.  There are healthy swaps for almost every food out there!  There are dozens of free online nutrition journals available with recipes, fitness tips, and calorie counters.  Don't know how to cook?  I was at the library with Jack recently.  The internet is free at the library.  Cookbooks and cooking magazines abound.  They hold classes and workshops.  Mine even has a brochure noting all of the area's farmers markets.  There's so much information there, it's almost overwhelming (in a good way)!

Then I got home and checked out our local Cooperative Extension office.  I noticed there is an extension agent for a Food & Nutrition Education Program.  So I looked for more information and found this plethora of information from my alma mater.  Especially check out the topics they teach and the participant comments.  If this isn't the perfect opportunity for the underprivileged to learn about nutrition, I don't know what else to tell you!  It's 2011.  Most “poor” people even have cell phones they can use to call their local extension office.

So if poor people aren't making healthy decisions, I have to believe it's because they choose not to, whether out of apathy or laziness.  Either way, it's none of my business.  I mean, if someone asks me for information, I'll certainly give it to them!  I've helped my own brother lose 56 lbs by showing him how to make better and healthier choices!  And I loved every minute of it!  But short of more government regulation (enough already!), I'm not sure what some of you are proposing we do to get people to make better choices.

So…that was a tad longer than expected.  Sorry!  Now on to #2.  Corn and soy.  I've heard a little bit about how evil soy is because it affects the thyroid.  I'm also aware that soy possesses a specific allergen that affects about 10% of the population.  Mary addressed this really well in the comment thread of her post.  But I'll just add that, while I'm sure soy does affect certain people adversely, many other foods do too!  That doesn't mean soy is harmful all-around!  If it were, I would think there would be a major thyroid epidemic in Asia.

And as for corn.  It's hard for me to believe that humanity survived beyond the early settlers in this country, since corn is pretty much the only crop they grew back then. 

"But corn and soy are different now!  They're genetically modified," you say (this is the only other reason I can think that corn and soy are demonized, besides the whole subsidies issue, which I'll get to later).  Why, yes, they are.  The world's population is also exponentially larger than it was back then.  We've evolved past the days of backyard gardens and we need to feed the masses now.  We also need to export to third-world countries, and we do that extremely well in America!  It's something I'm very proud of our food production industry for continuing to innovate!

Biotechnology or GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) has been invaluable to America's food production in the last decade.  There is a lot of outcry about GMOs, mostly stemming from political agendas overseas and environmental activists.  But the ironic part about this outcry is that GMOs have enabled us to create more pest-resistant crops, which means fewer pesticides and chemicals being used on our food!  There have been no significant health or environmental issues associated with using GMOs.  I’ve seen some stories about animals dying after eating fields of GMO crops, etc, but literally ZERO of those stories have happened in the U.S.  They all happen in countries that have little or no regulations, so who knows what these animals are really eating.  In fact, the GMOs in the U.S. must meet very high safety standards prior to commercialization.

In fact, another ironic twist on the environmental argument is that GMO actually helps to protect natural wildlife habitats.  When we can yield more crops from existing acreage, we eliminate the need to infringe upon wildlife habitats with more acreage to produce lower-yield crops.

From the National Corn Growers’ Association’s Agriculture Biotechnology Reference Guide:

"Biotechnology (GMO) allows farmers around the world to help feed a growing population. It helps increase yields while decreasing the need for inputs such as water and fertilizer. It provides improved pest control methods that are more compatible with the environment, including drastic reductions in the need for pesticides.  And it helps to produce more with less – less land use, less labor and less risk of total crop loss, a key issue in many parts of the world."

  "With a world population projected to top 8 billion people by 2030, farmers need to produce enough food to feed an additional 2 billion people. In fact, according to the United Nations Population Fund, farmers will need to produce about 75 percent more food per acre by 2020 to meet the anticipated demand.  Biotechnology increases crop yield, lessens the negative effects on the environment and decreases stress placed on existing cultivated land.

   A recent report from the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy (NCFAP) summarized the results from 40 case studies of 27 biotech crops. Agricultural biotechnology increased yields by 14 billion lbs., improved farm income by $2.5 billion and reduced pesticide use by 163 million lbs."

Not only do GMOs cut down on the need for pesticides, but they also actually produce better-tasting and more nutrient-rich crops.  Some GMO crops have already been created to contain 35-45% more protein, a soy allergen has been nearly eliminated (see quote below), and even more health benefits from GMOs are currently being explored.

In addition, GMO corn is lower in mycotoxins, which is a toxin that kills horses and pigs and is a probable carcinogen in humans.

Some quotes from the experts:

“The responsible genetic modification of plants is neither new nor dangerous. The addition of new or different genes into an organism by recombinant DNA techniques does not inherently pose new or heightened risks relative to the modification of organisms by more traditional methods, and the relative safety of marketed products is further ensured by current regulations intended to safeguard the food supply.”
Statement by 20 Nobel Prize Winners and 3,200 international scientists, 2003

  “This is probably the first time a dominant human allergen has been knocked out of a major food  crop using biotechnology.”Elliot M. Herman, USDA plant pathologist, on a 2003 report that the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service is one step closer to removing the allergen in soybeans that impact 6-8% of children and 1-2% of adults.

  “If imports like these [biotechnology crops] are regulated unnecessarily, the real losers will be the developing nations. Instead of reaping the benefits of decades of discovery and research, people from Africa and Southeast Asia will remain prisoners of outdated technology. Their countries could suffer greatly for years to come. It is crucial that they reject the propaganda of extremist groups before it is too late.”Former President Jimmy Carter in The NY Times, August 26, 1998 (and you know I must really mean it when I quote Jimmy Carter)

Bottom line, there's a market for GMO and a market for non-GMO.  Crop biotechnology is highly regulated and overseen by the proper authorities, so no, there's no "Frankenfood" going on (sure there are some rogue growers out there who do their own genetic modification w/out regulation, but those growers are not approved by the USDA or FDA).  And again, it must meet very strict health and safety standards to be able to enter the food supply.  Be very careful about what you read.  Most of the anti-GMO information is a bunch of speculation about what might happen decades down the road.

But without GMO, many countries would greatly suffer, and the scare tactics are just that - tactics.  Do you want people to starve tomorrow, or do you want people to eat tomorrow on the very off chance that they’ll be affected 20-30 years from now?  Much of the outcry from oversears is just geo-politics, not what’s in the best interest of starving people.  GMO has brought us so far in food production and it IS a GOOD THING.  (And I’ll be more than happy to provide any more info for anyone who is interested.)

Getting on to #3 – factory farming.  I’m actually going to do a whole separate post on this because there are SO many lies and myths out there regarding this industry.  My sister actually works in this industry and is going to do a guest post on it for me.  But let me just dispel a couple of the major myths quickly with some bullet points:

  1.     Please remember – farmers are not running petting zoos.  They’re running businesses.  So yes, animals are kept in tight quarters as opposed to frolicking in a meadow.  Think of it like a field: You wouldn’t just throw some seeds out in the dirt like you throw a baseball, you plant them tediously in rows because they’re easy to tend and harvest.  To farmers, livestock is like a crop.  They have to raise them tediously and efficiently.
  2.      In fact, my family often jokes that the pigs have it better than we do!  When the power goes out, we get a phone call and there’s an elaborate security system that ensures the pigs are able to be fed and stay cool/warm when the power goes out.  Meanwhile we’re all sitting there freezing in the ice storm!
  3.      Regarding grain-fed animals – yes, livestock is MEANT to eat grains!  If they weren’t, they wouldn’t eat it!  Pretty simple.  It’s not like we’re feeding livestock broken glass and acid.
  4.      Yes, farmers are trying to turn a profit!  No secret there.  This IS a job, after all…not a hobby.  I’ll contend that unlike my husband’s law job, farming is much more than a job, it’s a way of life.  But it IS still a business that puts food on the table. 
  5.      But just because farmers need to make money doesn’t mean they’ll go to any extreme for the almighty dollar.  Farms are highly regulated, and when those rules are broken, there are extreme consequences.  Do you really think that in the age of animal rights and gov’t regulation, that farms would be exempt from these??  Seriously.
  6.      Sure there are some bad practices out there, but that’s true for any industry.  Is it perfect?  No!  But what human institution is??  Not even the Catholic Church!
  7.      Please don’t watch Food, Inc. and think it’s without an agenda.
  8.      Without factory farming, please provide a solution on how to feed 7 billion people.  Please!

Finally (honestly), I’ll very briefly touch on the elephant in the room – farm subsidies.  I’m generally against farm subsidies.  I’m generally against any subsidies.  I don’t believe it’s the government’s job to save the family farm.  I believe it’s up to the free market that any industry survive or cease to exist.  But farm subsidies do not determine the price of food.  The market determines the price of food.  And the price of food determines subsidies.  Corn and soy appear in a lot of our food not because the government subsidizes them.  They appear in our food because they grow well on our land, they’re cost and land efficient, they’re high yield, and they’re versatile.  And I still can’t understand why that’s so terrible!  Again – I’d love to know – how would YOU feed 7 billion people?

I’m sure that some of you will easily dismiss some of my facts here, just due to my sources, but I tried to provide some not-so-obvious sources as well.  And as usual, my main source was my dad.  He’s not only my dad, but he’s owned and operated a corn, soy, and livestock farm for over 40 years, he’s won numerous awards for outstanding farming practices, and he’s the chairman of the Indiana House of Representatives Agriculture Committee.  I can only hope that’s enough street cred for ya!

**Disclaimer 2- I wholeheartedly believe in a family's right to choose to eat organic, free-range, foods, or even processed and fast foods!  Do what's best for your family!  But please don't demonize the alternatives with half-truths and pseudo-science.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The fake opt-out

OSV has a great article with more information on the fake opt-out of the mandatory insurance coverage of contraception ruling by fake-Catholic, Kathleen Sebelius.  It's a great read.  Know this stuff in case anyone tries to tell you that the Catholic Church is exempt from this nonsense.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ha! I wasn't the only one with bible school issues!

Remember this?  The left-wing politicization of my son's "bible school"?  Well I guess I'm not the only one who had issues with it.  Now I knew that the curriculum they used was protestant in nature, because I've seen the same exact program advertised in front of local Presbyterian and Methodist churches.  But I felt like they did a pretty good job last year of "Catholicizing" it.  But, as you can see in my post and the one I linked to, all they did a good job of this year was "lefticizing" it.

I know the summer's almost over, but if any of you have children signed up for Pandamania bible school at your church, get your money back NOW!!!