Thursday, March 25, 2010

Miracle Baby

Miracle baby Addy, she is half the age of Claire, but about a quarter of the size.

My March For Babies page
In April, I am joining some friends for a March for Babies that fundraises for March of Dimes. I never knew what that organization did until our friends' baby came 15 weeks early. Baby Addy was born at only 13 ounces, and is truly a miracle. She is the smallest baby to ever be delivered and thrive at Bay Area Hospital, the same place Claire was born. She is remarkable. To hear her story, and if you'd like to donate to support care for babies born prematurely in the future, please visit my page.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Food, Inc., truly the omnivore's dilemma

Last night I had the crazy idea to watch Food, Inc. before going to bed. Disturbing movie. Yet important. And it left me convicted that as a Christian called to stewardship (of what we have, but also our choices to consume), we have a lot of room for improvement in the food arena. We are more disconnected with what we eat than I would like, so as a small step of change, I am looking into local sustainable farms from whom we can get meat and eggs. The movie was horrifying/repulsive, when showing what factory farms look like, and I don't want our money going toward the "cheapest deal" at that expense. I am as guilty as the next person of not buying the more ethical choice... So I've been doing some reading/calling today to see how we might change. I found this article on Eat If you don't have the stomach to watch animal cruelty (even though you're supporting it with your dollars), perhaps this article will be as convicting/inspiring for you as it was for me about the benefits of buying differently.

Grass-Fed Basics
by Jo Robinson

Back to Pasture. Since the late 1990s, a growing number of ranchers have stopped sending their
animals to the feedlots to be fattened on grain, soy and other supplements. Instead, they are
keeping their animals home on the range where they forage on pasture, their native diet. These
new-age ranchers do not treat their livestock with hormones or feed them growth-promoting
additives. As a result, the animals grow at a natural pace. For these reasons and more, grass-fed
animals live low-stress lives and are so healthy there is no reason to treat them with antibiotics or
other drugs.

More Nutritious. A major benefit of raising animals on pasture is that their products are healthier
for you. For example, compared with feedlot meat, meat from grass-fed beef, bison, lamb and
goats has less total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories. It also has more vitamin E, beta-
carotene, vitamin C, and a number of health-promoting fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and
“conjugated linoleic acid,” or CLA.

The Art and Science of Grassfarming. Raising animals on pasture requires more knowledge and
skill than sending them to a feedlot. For example, in order for grass-fed beef to be succulent and
tender, the cattle need to forage on high-quality grasses and legumes, especially in the months
prior to slaughter. Providing this nutritious and natural diet requires healthy soil and careful pasture
management so that the plants are maintained at an optimal stage of growth. Because high-quality
pasture is the key to high-quality animal products, many pasture-based ranchers refer to
themselves as "grassfarmers" rather than “ranchers.” They raise great grass; the animals do all the

Factory Farming. Raising animals on pasture is dramatically different from the status quo.
Virtually all the meat, eggs, and dairy products that you find in the supermarket come from animals
raised in confinement in large facilities called CAFOs or “Confined Animal Feeding Operations.”
These highly mechanized operations provide a year-round supply of food at a reasonable price.
Although the food is cheap and convenient, there is growing recognition that factory farming
creates a host of problems, including:
• Animal stress and abuse
• Air, land, and water pollution
• The unnecessary use of hormones, antibiotics, and other drugs
• Low-paid, stressful farm work
• The loss of small family farms
• Food with less nutritional value.

Unnatural Diets. Animals raised in factory farms are given diets designed to boost their
productivity and lower costs. The main ingredients are genetically modified grain and soy that are
kept at artificially low prices by government subsidies. To further cut costs, the feed may also
contain “by-product feedstuff” such as municipal garbage, stale pastry, chicken feathers, and
candy. Until 1997, U.S. cattle were also being fed meat that had been trimmed from other cattle, in
effect turning herbivores into carnivores. This unnatural practice is believed to be the underlying
cause of BSE or “mad cow disease.”

Animal Stress. A high-grain diet can cause physical problems for ruminants—cud-chewing
animals such as cattle, dairy cows, goats, bison, and sheep. Ruminants are designed to eat fibrous
grasses, plants, and shrubs—not starchy, low-fiber grain. When they are switched from pasture to
grain, they can become afflicted with a number of disorders, including a common but painful
condition called “subacute acidosis.” Cattle with subacute acidosis kick at their bellies, go off their
feed, and eat dirt. To prevent more serious and sometimes fatal reactions, the animals are given
chemical additives along with a constant, low-level dose of antibiotics. Some of these antibiotics
are the same ones used in human medicine. When medications are overused in the feedlots,
bacteria become resistant to them. When people become infected with these new, disease-
resistant bacteria, there are fewer medications available to treat them.

Caged Pigs, Chickens, Ducks and Geese. Most of the nation’s chickens, turkeys, and pigs are
also being raised in confinement. Typically, they suffer an even worse fate than the grazing
animals. Tightly packed into cages, sheds, or pens, they cannot practice their normal behaviors,
such as rooting, grazing, and roosting. Laying hens are crowded into cages that are so small that
there is not enough room for all of the birds to sit down at one time. An added insult is that they
cannot escape the stench of their own manure. Meat and eggs from these animals are lower in a
number of key vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.

Environmental Degradation. When animals are raised in feedlots or cages, they deposit large
amounts of manure in a small amount of space. The manure must be collected and transported
away from the area, an expensive proposition. To cut costs, it is dumped as close to the feedlot as
possible. As a result, the surrounding soil is overloaded with nutrients, which can cause ground
and water pollution. When animals are raised outdoors on pasture, their manure is spread over a
wide area of land, making it a welcome source of organic fertilizer, not a “waste management

The Healthiest Choice. When you choose to eat meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals
raised on pasture, you are improving the welfare of the animals, helping to put an end to
environmental degradation, helping small-scale ranchers and farmers make a living from the
land, helping to sustain rural communities, and giving your family the healthiest possible food. It’s a
win-win-win-win situation.
© 2007 by Jo Robinson

To learn more details about the benefits of choosing products from pastured animals, read Pasture
Perfect by Jo Robinson or explore her website,

Friday, March 5, 2010

My brother is so lucky!

Look where he gets to live, coach and play baseball this spring! Straight from scuba-diving and playing baseball in paradise, I mean Australia, to this scene out of my dreams.

A river, Austrian Alps and a quaint town besides... trying to scheme a way that we could go visit him, I love Austria. He is so lucky.

Thoughts on Being Clean

I thought this was a good one-
March 5, 2010
Isaiah 1:16-20

Our lives are bombarded with images and admonitions for cleanliness. Choose the laundry detergent that "gets the dirt out," use the new "scrubbing bubbles." Floor cleaners, air fresheners, hand sanitizers. But these pleas are not new. Remember, "clean your room," "wash your mouth out with soap, "you can be poor but you can be clean," "cleanliness is next to godliness." Some Christian religious traditions are replete with images of "washed in the blood," "cleansed from sin" We all know of the great flood, baptism. There are images of fire cleansing impurities, of water washing away evil. New beginnings. The mechanism may vary, but the image remains.

There is a danger in taking these sayings to mean we must cleanse ourselves, to become worthy. We believe that evil, injustice, bad thoughts, expressions, dirt, germs - all that might hurt us, can be removed with the "cleansing" agent of choice. Isaiah directs the people to cleanse themselves, remove evil, and become white as snow. Learn good, seek justice, correct oppression, defend orphans, and plead for those who have no one else. But we have already received the one great gift. So are our poor efforts at cleanliness necessary to ensure our acceptance by God, or are they gifted to us by grace through faith, to become instead a reflection of our faith? In truth, there is but one agent that can cleanse us adequately - His work has already been done. Our task is to accept with gratitude, to believe, and then to go forth rejoicing. In preparation for Easter, let us remember.

Baptized in water, sealed by the Spirit
Cleansed by the blood of Christ, our King
Heirs of salvation, trusting the promise,
Faithfully now God's praises we sing.

Roberta Dohse