Making Hay
Week of February 1st, 2004 | The weather was snowing .

Marking my hogs to sell.

Marking my hogs to sell.

As I write this journal entry, it is snowing outside. On Monday, we received about 6 inches of snow. Since then, the weather has been very cold and more snow fell. At night, with wind chill, the temperatures were about 30 degrees below zero. Even during the day, it failed to reach zero on Friday. This cold weather makes you want to stay indoors. It also makes you want to eat, while watching TV or lounging around, because it's too cold to go outdoors. The people in our country would be in better physical condition if they took better care in selecting what they are eating.

An approximate 300,000 deaths in the United States are currently associated with overweight and obesity each year. In America, 64% adults and 15% youth are overweight or obese. An estimate of 200 billion dollars is lost each year in America due to medical expenses from overweight and obesity.

Did you know that the young people in America have an elevated rate of broken bones as compared to just 10 years ago? The rate of this kind of injury is up 56%. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota have completed this study. Young people are drinking more soda refreshments and not as much milk. According to research, milk is a good source of calcium. The acids in soft drinks consume calcium. It is very important to drink milk- it builds strong bones. It's important to know where your milk comes from, as well as, how healthy it is for you.

Some suggestions for healthy beverages are: ice water, bottled spring or sparkling water- regular or flavored with no sugar, 100% fruit or vegetable juices- avoid large-size bottles, skim or 1% milk, coffee and flavored coffees- regular and decaffeinated, tea- regular and herb teas- hot or cold, and coffee/tea creamers of skim milk or 1% milk or fat-free half & half.

Some healthy snacks are fresh fruits- cut up and offered with low-fat yogurt dip, raw vegetables- cut up and offered with fat-free or low-fat dressing or salsa dip, pretzels- served with sweet mustard dip, tortilla chips- baked and offered with salsa dip, popcorn- lower fat (5g fat or less/serving), whole grain crackers- (5g fat or less/serving), and angel food cake with fruit topping. Avoid excess amounts of candy, high fat content sweets and desserts, fried foods, potato chips, and other junk food!

Breakfast is the most important meal of your day. It should be fresh fruits, flavored non-fat or fat-free yogurt, bagels- 3-1/2 inch diameter or less-serve with low fat cream cheese or jam or jelly, muffins- small or mini (5g fat or less/muffin), fruit bread (5g fat or less/1 oz slice), and granola bars- low-fat (5g fat or less/bar). Dad eats bacon, eggs, pancakes, a generally hearty breakfast 6 days a week, but he can work like a horse! He can burn that fat off. Exercise is good for you, too.

It's important to eat a balanced diet. Many families are busy working all day, and the evening meal, many times, comes out of the box. A lot of prepackaged products may not necessarily be very nutritious. We are very fortunate to have our own garden produce and meat. Mom is a very good cook and prepares our food for the table, keeping in mind, the guidelines of the food pyramid. Sure, we have dessert and other yummy stuff at times, but we eat small portions and in moderation. Scientists have proven that organic products are not only healthy for you, but they can last longer.

Dad was touring California as part of a food system project that was supported by the Kellogg Foundation, a few years ago. This group visited some strawberry farms. He found out that conventional farms spend about $1300 an acre to apply chemicals on that crop. This crop is sold worldwide. Would you want to eat strawberries with all those chemicals applied to the soil? He also visited grape vineyards where insecticides were applied from the air. Studies showed the high number of paraplegic or deformed babies born in the area that resulted from these contaminants. (Many employees in the fields are women.)

When selecting healthy foods, you should ask the seller where it comes from. Knowing who handled and how your food was handled is a major part in eating correct foods. Organic foods are healthy because you know that there are no chemicals in it. I know that some people are not able to purchase organic foods in their area, but there are alternatives when selecting healthy foods, such as local food, natural raised food, etc. We have a health food store about 40 miles from our farm. We grow a lot of our own food and also purchase from direct marketers. Some of the area grocers are carrying more organic and natural foods, as well as local grown foods, in their markets. This is great! Just remember, read the label and ask questions, so you know where your food is coming from.

You may find a lot more information about eating healthy by using the Internet. I got my information from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

I sold my five pigs on Sunday, February 1st. This is the first time I have sold livestock that I actually owned. I purchased them for a FFA project, and did a feed trial on them for our family feed business. I had a lot of fun raising them. I housed them in a pen in our barn and it was my job to care for them twice a day after I bought them from Dad. We had the firm that manufactures the vitamin and minerals for our feed business guide us in determining the amounts of grain, protein, vitamins, and minerals added to each ration. Then Dad and I weighed my pigs every two weeks to learn about their gain and feed conversion (feed into pork). I am in the process of collecting all of my records and typing my report for the FFA Project and for the Organic Valley Pork Pool producers.

Farm Fact: Food for consumers is just as important to us as food for our livestock. Proper livestock feed makes good quality pork for the consumer.

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