A Sunday in Ithaca

Ithaca, New York is home to Cornell University which I will be calling home for the next two and a half days. Why? Because for the fall I will be spending my time as a Marketing Associate for the HungerU Tour visiting 16 college campuses along the east coast engaging with students in discussion about the world’s hunger crisis. You may have already known this. But did you know that I really actually have enjoyed the just over 24 hours I have been in Ithaca? Our first visit will be with the students at Cornell University tomorrow, and my teammates and I are excited to get started!

Today, we have the day off, so we decided to get a taste of Ithaca. We were not disappointed in what we found. First, we walked from our hotel to the local farmers market, which in my mind I was comparing to the farmers market in San Luis Obispo on Thursday nights. There weren’t any farmers there I know, like the Dairy Goddess, but I was personally amazed at the organization of the market.

On our way there we even spotted this ice chest accepting food donations in someone’s front yard. Have you seen a food donation system like this before in your area? We think it as great, easy way to help feed the hungry.

Food HubThen, about 25 minutes later, we arrived at the market. We knew so, because of this sign!

Me with Farmer's Market sign

I wore my Red Meat Mafia shirt today representing farmers and ranchers country wide at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market! Want a shirt like it? Check them out!

The market is held every weekend for certain times of the year. I was surprised by the infrastructure surrounding the market, as it was more of a covered permanent structure that vendors could set up their unique items to sell. One interesting aspect of this particular market that I appreciated was the fact that all of the vendors not only had to live within 30 miles of Ithaca, but the products they were selling also had to be grown within 30 miles of Ithaca. That sounds like a pure local movement to me. And it seems to be working for the farmers market vendors and visitors in Ithaca.

Farmer's Market barnSoon, we came to not only love the atmosphere of Ithaca’s Farmers Market, but we were soon falling in love with Ithaca. The sense of community the market and the people there brought to us was incredible. The flower vendor had beautiful flowers and arrangements. The honey vendor sold whole pieces of honey comb. The maple vendor had my favorite maple sugar candies AND maple cotton candy (YUM!). The glass blower has a gorgeous selection of fall decorations like pumpkins and squash he made himself out of blown glass. We were given free squirrel shaped dog biscuits by the organic dog treat vendor. The hammock vendor was in the process of weaving another hammock to sell. The cheese vendor let us sample a few pieces. The lady who we purchased Ithaca Farmers Market t-shirts from was extremely interested in HungerU and what we were doing at Cornell. The photography vendor had spectacular shots in print. The Daring Drake Farms lady let us taste something I had never seen before. Husk cherries. They look like a smaller tomatillo, but have a taste similar to that of a pineapple.

Husk Cherry

I love this picture, because I loved the intricacy of the shell on the cherry.

The apple cider vendor shared with us his U Pick farm, which we might visit before we leave, because my teammate LOVES apples and apple cider! I had a hot cup myself today, and it tasted delicious. Overall, the market was a great first choice to getting a feel for the local life of Ithaca. But it doesn’t end there. For lunch, we went to a place called Mate Factory which was below the Dairy House Co. When we stepped inside it was like we had entered a mythical scene of Snow White. I half expected Grumpy, Sleepy, and Happy to waltz by any moment! There were wooden furniture, leafy accents, and a homey feeling paired with “forest music”, as my teammate called it. What a lunch! Not only was it delicious too, but we spoke with our waiter about important issues like hunger. He was on board.

Home DairyLastly, before we wrapped up the day visiting local oddities and took our exhibit to campus, we stopped by the park near our hotel where the Ithaca College Orchestra was performing. It was a great experience which we thoroughly enjoyed. I’d say there were about 200 people in the park, at least, giving us a true sense of community that is Ithaca, NY.

Concert in the parkOver the next two days, my teammates and I are excited to meet the students, faculty, and staff at Cornell University to engage in discussion about the world’s hunger crisis. If you’re interested in following along with this journey, please like HungerU on Facebook and follow @HungerUTour on Twitter. For more information, you can also visit http://www.hungeru.com to learn about the program, an initiative of Farmers Feeding the World and the Farm Journal Foundation. I’m excited to share this journey with you!

Thank you for your support!
~Mal the Beef Gal

Advertisements

9/11/13 in New York

On a day like today, where most everyone in America can reflect on some part of the day twelve years ago today when tragedy struck America and changed the hearts of many Americans, it makes me thankful to, in fact, be an American. It amazes me how something so horrible can revive the fellowship of people, cooperation, camaraderie, compassion, sympathy, care, and strength of the people. I’ve witnessed that many times today through the stories and memories you have shared on social media today.

On a day like today, it is interesting to be in the state of New York.

While today I haven’t had regular contact with the “outside world,” per say, my heart feels heavy for the men and women who were the heroes, the survivors, and the lost of September 11, 2001. I watched a short documentary called “Boatlift:  an untold tale of 9/11 resilience”. (Thank you Katie Pinke for sharing) One of the men in the documentary said something that resonated within my heart. He said, “I believe everybody has a little hero in them. You gotta look in. And it’s in there. It’ll come out. If need be.”

The reason I didn’t have any normal contact with the outside world today was because I was in the first day of a training program for my new job that will help me find the hero in everyone. Today I am outside of Ithaca, NY learning how to be a mobile marketing associate for the fall HungerU tour. Together, my two teammates and I, will travel from New York to Florida engaging in conversations with college students at 16 different college campuses about global hunger awareness and what we can do to find a solution. We are spreading the message that it will take all of us to be the solution to hunger, and farmers and ranchers and the advanced technology they have available to them can be part of the solution.

HungerU Swag

Here is the HungerU swag I received today. I can’t wait to read these books to learn more about the effects of hunger.

Today we learned more about the HungerU mission and who we will be working with. We got to see our exhibit trailer, learn about talking points, and visit with our director and tour lead about our roles as mobile marketing associates. We also heard from our new friends at Charleston|Orwig about how we can be a part of the HungerU social media platforms. Over all it was a great first day.

 

However, the meaning behind today, the eleventh of September, stood in the back of my mind. I didn’t want to go the day without making some mention of how my heart reflected on today, as I, too, have a memory. My story goes like this:

I was just arriving to school entering the classroom, when my friend Chelsea turned to me and said, “Did you hear the Golden Gate bridge burned down?” With much shock, I was confused for a while, but then we spent the morning watching the news about the planes that had crashed into the Twin Towers in New York, as my teacher let us in on a bit of scary history that would change the world forever. Today, I am thankful to be able to make each day a new adventure, as some of us are not so lucky anymore.

My mantra for the next 9 weeks as I am away from my family and loved ones:  find the hero in everyone.

How will you be the hero of hunger? I’ll have more and more ways to help you discover that looking forward.

Love and peace to you all.

~Mal the Beef Gal

Twitter Party Hangover Cure

I think I have a hangover, and I’m in need of a cure. Don’t worry. It’s not your typical hangover that you’d usually get from indulging in a little too much of the drank, but another kind. The kind of hangover that has your nerves on sensory overload, your brain buzzing with excitement, and your heart beating a million miles an hour! I got my hangover from a party alright, but it wasn’t your average party. It was the #EZBeef Twitter Party, and this beef-loving California girl is amped up!

Now for my confession. You may or may not already know this, but I get drunk on beef. There, I said it. No, there’s no chemical component in my favorite protein that gets my liver working overtime or my nerve endings misfiring. This kind of drunk is almost the equivalent to to how a little kid might act when they’ve eaten a little too much sugar or when a dog gets really, really excited about a new toy. Simply put:  I just LOVE beef and sharing my beef story!

I love it so much that tonight I tweeted my little heart out by participating in the #EZBeef Twitter party! Were you there? If not, you missed another thrilling moment in the history of the American National CattleWomen. Less than twenty minutes into the Twitter party #EZBeef was in the number one trending position on Twitter. Let’s put this into perspective. Basically, of all the hashtags being tweeted on Twitter by Twitter’s over half a billion users, #EZBeef was being used the most. It was awesome! Now can you see why I’m so excited?

I’m such a nerd, that at one point during the beginning of the party I decided to check the trending stats on Twitter to see if we were on the list. To my great surprise, we were not only on the list, we were number one!

EZBeef Trending #1I realize I may have to back up a moment. Are you familiar with Twitter parties? If not, let me lay it all out for you piece by piece. First you must have a host. The American National CattleWomen works with Mommy Bloggers on Twitter to host our Twitter parties about our favorite protein:  BEEF. Then, we ask the Beef Checkoff if they will sponsor our parties. Because of the fantastic outcome of these chats on Twitter they have graciously said yes! We are VERY thankful for the Beef Checkoff! Next, we come up with a topic and a hashtag. Our last Twitter party (where we were the 2nd top trender on Twitter) was #BeefSizzles, a chat about grilling with beef. See?

Beef SizzlesThis time we chose a theme appropriate for a pivotal point in some folks’ lives right now:  back to school. We chose the hashtag #EZBeef to talk about quick and easy cooking-with-beef tips for the back to school season. Clearly, it was a hit! If you want to participate and enter for a chance to win prizes, yes that’s right I said prizes, then you can RSVP with the party host. This time we were very thankful for @ResourcefulMom, Amy Lupold Bair, for hosting us! Finally, once the party starts, the host asks questions and the participants can chime in and share their answers!

Here are some of the things I shared in my answers tonight! Did you know that BeefItsWhatsforDinner.com has basically everything you’d ever want to know about cooking with beef? There are yummy recipes, tips and tricks for choosing the right cut at the meat case, cooking methods and their secrets, and even reasons why beef is good for your health!

I dare you to get lost in all the beefy goodness! I do sometimes.

But remember about my hangover from all this excitement? The cure I’ve come up with may be opposite from how you would typically nurse yourself back to health after a night of partying too hard. The way I see it, I’ve got to keep the party I participated in going! After all, there is so many cool beefy things to share with folks! Like how sometimes trying something new, like peanut butter on a burger, may blow your tastebuds out of the water! Or how a safe and savory 160 degrees F is the optimal internal temperature for ground beef.

There will be more beef Twitter parties to come, but in the mean time, I’ll keep sharing my beef story with the folks who crave it. But what’s the better news? They crave yours too! We all have our own beef stories to share and fabulous resources available to us to help answer questions!

The challenge:  How will you keep this party going?

Put your party pants on, and join me in sharing the beef story. Because we can party ’til the cows come home!

~Mal the Beef Gal

I Go Nuts Over Beef!

Of course it is no secret to you that Mal the Beef Gal is crazy over beef! But this time I’m not talking certifiably nuts over my favorite animal protein. I’m talking PEAnuts. On top of, and underneath, a ground beef patty grilled to perfection at a “safe and savory 160 degrees F“.

Now, get that look off your face for just a second, and keep an open mind, because it is DELICIOUS! I know how you’re feeling. I thought the same things, because I’m the queen of picky eating. They say your taste buds change every 7 years or so, so I guess it’s about right that at the age of 22 I would stumble upon a whacky combination like this one and love it! (21 divided by 7 is 3, plus a little extra for the additional year is about the cowgirl math I’m used to!)

I first encountered this unlikely concoction of mixing peanut butter with beef at The Cherry Cricket in Denver when I went there for the Cattle Industry Summer Conference a couple of weeks ago. Check out their website, too, because it’s way modern and cool! It’s the kind of thing my graphic design professor in college was trying to figure out how to make himself, because he couldn’t find any ‘how to’ tutorials on YouTube. Way to go Cherry Cricket! You may have seen this hole in the wall bar on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate.

Well, I’ll tell you one thing:  this peanut butter bacon burger tantalized my taste buds, alright. I was fearful and nervous and really hesitant at first. But after the first bite, I wished there was MORE peanut butter surrounding my all beef patty.

After raving about it for a while, my parents made stuffed burgers last night, so I asked my mom if she had some peanut butter. Suspiciously, she handed me the jar of Jif. She’s a choosey mom. 😉

I could barely snap a picture before I dug in.

PB BurgerOne word:  YUM!

Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t how Mal the Beef Gal will be eating her burgers all the time as I recognize everything in moderation is a good thing. And this may not exactly be the perfect definition of a well balanced meal with beef that I’m always advocating. But I do know that it will be a treat I’ll remember for every once in a while when my spirits might need a pick me up.

Are you nuts over beef, like me? Then you’ll definitely want to visit beefitswhatsfordinner.com to check out a whole slew of fabulous recipes for my favorite animal protein:  BEEF! Speaking of what rhymes with slew…any guesses? With the fall fast approaching and the summer grilling months leaving us shortly, be on the look out for great stew recipes to keep you warm and cozy at dinner time!

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten that you ended up loving? Please share!

Over and out~

Mal the Beef Gal

Fixing Your FOMO

“Hi, I’m Malorie, and I am a cattlewoman with FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).”
“Hiiiiii, Malorie.”

However, the American National CattleWomen help me fix my FOMO. I’m beyond excited to serve the American National CattleWomen as one of two of their first interns ever for the summer conference next week! CattleWomen rock my socks!

603035_653392071342214_312051460_nToday I’m writing to share with you the consequences of suffering from FOMO in correlation with the 2013 American National CattleWomen (ANCW) Summer Conference next week. The bottom line:  if you are a cattlewoman attending the meetings in Denver next week, there are a few things you won’t want to miss out on. To be sure your FOMO symptoms are squelched for the week, I’ll outline several can’t-miss activities here for you!

But first, choose which category you best fall into:

1. I’m an American National CattleWomen member attending the summer conference, and I don’t want to miss a thing!

2. I’m a member of my state cattlewoman organization, but I fear I’m missing out on what the American National CattleWomen have to offer me, and I want to learn more!

3. I’m a woman interested in learning about what cattlewomen are and what they do, and I fear I’m missing out on all the fun they have while doing great things for the beef cattle community, and I want to be a part of it!

Do you know your FOMO? Read on to squash it like a bug!

Dealing with your FOMO:

First thing’s first– Can’t wait to see you in Denver next week! Have you already chosen what meetings you’re going to attend? If not, check out the conference schedule to see what we cattlewomen have on the agenda!

Second– here are some items on the schedule that jumped out at me. Here’s hoping they jump out at you too!

Tuesday, August 6 at 1:30 p.m. join your fellow cattlewomen in the Agate room to kick off the conference with the Welcome/Kickoff session! Then, at 2:30 p.m. get up, stretch your legs, and meet back in the same place at 2:45 p.m. for the Beef Promotion Focus Session. As cattlewomen, our main goal is to educate consumers about the delicious and nutritious product that we raise, so let’s engage in conversation about it during this session. See? Getting more and more excited, aren’t you? We’re pushing back your FOMO little by little! Deep breath, and charge on, ladies!

Later that afternoon, committee meetings start at 4:30 p.m. There are lots to choose from and more throughout the week’s meetings too! If you’re on a committee, be sure to find your appropriate location, but if you’re interested in learning, it’s important to note, that all meetings are of an open forum style. That means you can join in if you’d like. There’s usually a place for listeners who aren’t serving as committee members set up in the room. They are a prime spot for lots of note taking! Get your pens and pencils, or iPads, ready, set, go!

Wednesday, August 7, you’re in for a treat! Did you know CattleWomen do yoga? It’s more like Bendable Bovine style, rather than Downward Dog positions, but seriously. How cool! Be sure to pack your best yoga outfits (I’ll be bringing my I Heart Beef T-shirt) for this peaceful time to help us find our centers and keep eliminating our FOMO. Meet at 7 a.m. in the Granite room to bust out your best beef yoga moves! You’ll have a short break to change into your real clothes for the day (too bad we can’t utilize the whole day to find our inner peace) and then it’s back to another focus session and then more committee meetings. I told you you’d have lots to choose from. I hope your FOMO is shrinkin’! You can find me helping with the National Beef Ambassador Program committee meeting in Capital Ballroom 3 at 9:15 a.m. Are you familiar with the NBAP? It’s where Mal the Beef Gal was born, so naturally I follow by saying:  Don’t miss out!

Next comes Thursday, August 8, and it starts at 7 a.m. with the CattleWomen Fun Run! Have you noticed a pattern yet? Not only are cattlewomen great at what they do, but we also have a lot of fun doing it! Energize your full day of meetings with the fun run. Of course, you don’t have to run the whole time, but it’s our way of waking our brains up for the exciting day ahead! Meet in the hotel lobby for this fun activity. This is the day the silent auction starts, as well. You’ll have twelve hours, and four more on Friday, to scope out the awesome items and make your bids. A little birdie told you that I’m making an I Heart Beef jewelry set on behalf of the Nebraska CattleWomen for this auction, too. Mal the Beef Gal makes jewelry too as Dream Big Designs by Malorie. Did you know? Well now you won’t miss out on that either! Our FOMO is nearly gone! Thursday gets more fun though, because it’s also workshop day! The Advocacy/Beef Story Workshop is going to be one of my favorite items on the schedule, because I get to emcee it! If you attend this workshop you’ll get to hear from Dr. Jude Capper. Trust me when I say, you won’t want to miss it! But, have no fear (of missing out), you can choose two workshops to attend out of the three (Farm and Ranch Financial Management, Embracing the Woman Within, and Advocacy/Beef Story), because there are two time slots:  9:30-11 a.m. and 2:30-4 p.m.

Friday, August 9, you’ll have more time to make sure you have the final bid on the items you want in the silent auction, but then it’s time to mosey on home. If you do end up winning the bid on your item(s), it’s highly encouraged you pick them up by 3 p.m.

And just like that, it seems like the week will just fly by. Oh wait. It will. This, my friends, is why you won’t want to miss out on the exciting activities at summer conference!

In conclusion, did we solve your FOMO? Do you have a better plan for next week? If you’re not attending, does this review make you want to attend next time? Does it make you want to become a member if you aren’t? I hope so!

Last but not least, I forgot to include another category in my “which category do you fall into” section.

4. I’m a man with a wife/girlfriend who a. is an ANCW member and is going to the summer conference without me. b. is an ANCW member and is bringing me along for the fun at summer conference. c. is not an ANCW member, but is a state cattlewomen member and I will now tell her about the fun she could be having while getting the job done. d. is not a cattlewomen member, but should be, because she is missing out!

If you fall into category 4, please visit www.beefUSA.org for more information about how you can become involved in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, because the cattlemen rock too!

I would apologize for the long winded-ness of this blog, but I’m not going to, because there’s so much good stuff to share! And that’s the name of the game:  Sharing our beef story. If you’ve read this far, chances are you’re probably attending the ANCW Summer Conference, so I’ll see you there! And if you’re not, I appreciate you reading along ’til the end!

Check back for more beefy fun as I share with you my intern experience for the best people on the planet- the men and women of the cattle community!

See you in the Mile High City,

Mal the Beef Gal

Not Grandma’s BINGO Party

I love listening to livestock judges speak. I was on the livestock judging team when I was in high school and sometimes it’s appropriate to call a set of reasons beautiful. The way the words roll off the tongue and how they sound perfectly pieced together really matter, and it takes a lot of practice to get them to sound so effortless. If you’ve had the chance to attend a livestock show, maybe you know what I mean. If you haven’t, I encourage you to find out!

Wednesday evening I went back to a place that I love, a place I was dang near literally born into, and a place I called my summer home for many, many of my childhood years:  the Alameda County Fair. The past two years I had been unable to attend because of my summer internships, but I was pleased to find the fair just as it was when I was last able to attend, three years ago when I earned the highly coveted title of 2010 Alameda County Fair Champion FFA Market Hog with my barrow, Alejandro.

154216_181871245162049_171124072903433_739776_1398952_n

This is me and Alejandro when we crossed the auction block in 2010.

A few years back, my county fair decided to create a ‘Champion Night’, which is what I attended Wednesday. This is a night where all breed champions from various species would enter the ring to be flaunted in front of the judge one last time for a chance to earn the filet mignon of live animal placings: the Supreme Champion title. Exhibitors get their goats, lambs, hogs, and steers looking their absolute best by giving them baths, combing their hair, and then parading them around in the show ring. This is their last chance to show off what their plenty of hard working hours have amounted to over the past several months.

The level of competition varies from fair to fair, but at the Alameda County Fair, one could call the eagerness to achieve a team effort. You can find exhibitors helping their fellow 4-H and FFA members all week long, but when the gate to the ring is open, it’s every animal for their self, hoping to achieve greatness.

On Wednesday night, the cattle judge summed up the comradery of the parents, leaders, friends, family, and community members surrounding the show ring perfectly. His reaction to the cheering and clapping for the winners as well as each and every young person in the ring was to say this once he got back on the microphone:

“The only time I’ve seen this much enthusiasm is at Grandma’s BINGO party!”

Well, sir, this indeed isn’t Grandma’s BINGO party. This is a junior livestock show. A place that teaches young people the responsibility of caring for an animal, budgeting their hard earned money, organizing travel experiences, practicing ethics, and developing passion and drive that accomplishing hard work provides a positive outcome, no matter the end decision. The cattle judge that evening put all this into words like I had never heard it before but in a way that I really, really liked.

So the next time you’re able to attend a junior livestock show at your county fair, I encourage you to help applaud the hard work of the young people and their animals they have presented before you. However, you just might want to keep the urge to yell BINGO! under control.

If you are interested and able to attend the 2013 Alameda County Fair Junior Livestock Auction, check out their website for more information! The auction begins Sunday at 8:30 a.m. with rabbits and chickens with hogs to immediately follow, then a delicious BBQ lunch break, with steers and lambs to follow.

Sin-steer-ly,

Mal the Beef Gal

The Grand Finale

How is it that nearly 16 years ago my mother reluctantly left my kindergarten classroom window after my teacher had told her she could go home and stop peering in at me and assured her I would be safe?

How is it that nearly 10 years ago I showed my first hogs of the 16 I would ultimately show and sell at the Alameda County Fair?

How is it that nearly 8 years ago I was a Freshman in high school with the world ahead of me not really knowing where my journey would take me?

How is it that these past 4 years at Cal Poly have zoomed by faster than a speeding bullet in the wild west?

All of these questions and more have been coming to mind over the past few weeks. Why?

This time next Sunday, Father’s Day, I will be changing my tassel and tossing my grad cap in the air (just a little toss) to celebrate the completion of my higher education.

Grad Cap

My friends and I have been sharing with each other the full wave of emotions that have come over us for the past couple of weeks. I’m convinced that graduating college is like going through the five stages of grief. I’ll explain my theory briefly to you ~ with added humor.

Denial:  (college student Fall quarter of senior year) “Oh I have nine more months left in this place! That’s sooooo long! Graduation won’t come that fast! I’ll just ignore it and enjoy my time left.”

Anger:  (college student three quarters before graduation when submitting grad approval) “What do you mean I have to graduate from Cal Poly? How dare you make me leave San Luis Obispo! That’s not fair!”

Bargaining:  (college student in last quarter) “Well, maybe if I fail this class, I won’t be able to graduate! Maybe I’ll pick up a minor! Or double major! Yea, that’s it! I’ll pick up another major! Four more years here I come!”

Depression:  (college student after realizing the bargaining stage didn’t work out) “Aw man. Cal Poly sent me this ‘contract’. Now I have to graduate. I’m sad. I don’t want to leave my friends and the place I have made my home. Ugh!”

Acceptance:  (college student during finals of last quarter) “Ok, I can do this! Opportunities are looking up! I’m in the job hunt/I already have a job lined up! Maybe the ‘real world’ isn’t so bad after all!”

Did you experience these feelings when you graduated from college? Are you a soon-to-be grad like me and are confused by the mixed emotions you’re feeling when the “G word” comes up?

After spending a lot of time reflecting on the past four years, I realized each year taught me something new. I learned LOTS of things in college, but these stood out to me:

Freshman year:  Personal space is valuable, but better spent with people who make you happy. The world is full of people to meet, places to see, and things to do! It’s best to dive in feet first to make your journey as valuable as it can be!

Sophomore year:  Adventure is out there. Grab life by the horns and make something of it! Set goals, achieve them, and do great things! Everything is possible with a great support system behind you every step of the way!

Junior year:  Accept challenges to thicken your skin and allow you to grow as a person. Step back and look at the big picture when you get wrapped up in the details. Keep a forward motion and your eyes on the prize.

Senior year:  Embrace uncertainty and go with the flow. It’s better to keep an open mind than a closed one and an open heart for those that value you. Never give up, be afraid, or look back; only to reflect on something that can help in the future. Momentum will take over and you’ll get trampled if you don’t keep up. So keep your chin up, reach for the stars, and see the sunshine in everyone. You will enjoy life for this!

As I look back over the past four years of college, I’d like to thank everyone who helped make this one heck of a ride, and congrats to my fellow grads! We did it! I’m excited to continue writing the book that is my life. This past chapter is a cliff hanger, so I’m excited to see how the next chapter begins!

How have you dealt with a cliff hanger in your life, but picked up writing an exciting new chapter?

Cheers!

~Mal the Beef Gal

Beefless Bullies Strike Ag Students

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

We’ve all heard this saying and may have even used it as a small child when our peers teased us and said mean things about us. It’s a phrase that basically means that words cannot hurt a person physically and one that can help children cope with bullying.

Sometimes this phrase even helps adults. However, it is very difficult to let the positivity of this sing-songy phrase outweigh the negativity of a statement of bullying.

Occasionally, the “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all” guidelines are broken; however, yesterday, bullying went farther than the average name calling, four-eyes references, and yo’ mama jokes of a typical child bully in Elk Grove, California.

Agriculture students at Elk Grove High School encountered quite a surprise over social media channels yesterday when vegan students began to bully them over social media sites, like Instagram, by posting pictures of dead livestock and animals being processed accompanied with not-so-nice words.

Some vegan students at Elk Grove High School pointed angry words toward agriculture students at their high school and said things like the agriculture program “leads to the slaughtering of animals.”

If you would like, you can read more about the incident yourself in these articles below:

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-vegans-bullying-agriculture-students-20130507,0,1360162.story

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/05/07/vegan-students-at-calif-high-school-accused-bullying-agriculture-students/

After reading these articles, I feel myself being catapulted back into the immature stages of high school, where peer pressure got the best of some students. This type of teenage bullying can be classified as cyber bullying; however, when  outside vegan groups became quickly involved calling meat eaters “carcass crunchers” and reportedly passing out flyers on campus, the situation may have encompassed emotional and verbal bullying too.

In summary, I believe that it doesn’t matter whose side you are on in this situation.The freedom of choosing what to eat is a beautiful thing, but there is a hard line crossed when a person is bullied for making a certain choice another opposes.

The bottom line is that bullying is NOT the answer.

I am proud to note, however, that the agriculture students are standing up for themselves, taking this experience with a grain of salt. In an article from Fox40, an Elk Grove High School agriculture student said,

I don’t think it’s fair for people to be saying that, because they don’t understand the work we put into all these animals. And it’s something we voluntarily do.

Not so coincidentally, Elk Grove FFA’s mission statement is:  FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.

Speaking from personal experience as a former member of my high school FFA agricultural program, these agricultural students are actively practicing these points and more.

Herein lies the golden nugget of this story:  agriculture education and awareness is most important for the underlying reason of this story. These vegan bullies have chosen not to eat animal products–a decision derived on their own or because of the influence of another person, be it their parent, friend, or role model. Yet, they may, in fact, be practicing veganism for all the wrong reasons.

Here is an opportunity for the Elk Grove High School agriculture students, and agriculture students all over the country:  I challenge the agriculture students to stand up and be the bigger people, which they have begun doing already through their responses shown in the news coverage. To progress this in a positive direction, can you invite the vegan students onto the school farm to see and learn how the animals are cared for and what they are there for in the first place? Can you answer their questions about animal agriculture, and initiate meaningful conversation?

The answer is yes, and the time is now.

While I realize this may or may not produce success, I say this just for the sake of the chance that both the meat eater and vegan students may learn something, and it will be worth it in the end. If it is not, then hopefully the two parties can agree to disagree and go their separate ways. But, unfortunately in this case, that may never happen.

Again, we come to the familiar, and uncomfortable, situation of vegans versus meat eaters. Who drew the line? Who will cross it? Agriculture students at Elk Grove High School hold the eraser which has the potential to eliminate a small portion of the divide. Can they hold the pencil strongly and work to erase misconceptions and develop relationships instead of writing them and tearing them down?

These are thoughts to contemplate on your own plate.

Has the topic of non meat eater v. meat eater bullying come up at schools near you? If so, how was the problem resolved?

Respectfully,
~Mal the Beef Gal

Mending Fences

Just a bit over 24 hours ago I sat down at my desk to write an opinion piece to publish on this blog.

So much has happened since then.

There was no way I could have ever imagined the reach that it would receive over the course of just one day. For that I have some people to thank.

First, I say thank you Carrie Underwood for your response.

She said “I’ve actually never worked with PETA.”

Carrie Denounces Association with PETA

Thank you to Amy for tweeting to her suggesting that she read my post and the over 10,000 people who shared this blog on Facebook! Together we made a ripple. Thank you for using my words in the process. Also, I must give a huge thank you to Trent Loos for helping to share this story via the radio waves! Thank you to the over 110,000 people who read my words, as well. I am also grateful to those who have helped initiate a conversation today. Now that the door is open, I hope it can progress to implement future success, conversation, and cooperation. Also, thank you to those folks on Twitter who engaged in conversation. I greatly appreciate your eagerness of wanting to set the facts straight. Thank you for allowing us to do that together.

Most often, and unfortunately, it takes a misconception to be announced in such a way that it can (and should) be reversed. Carrie Underwood did just that today.

But, there is more room for debunking these common misconceptions. Can we try to keep the conversation going in order to explore these things?

Here is a letter to Carrie that includes more questions that the folks in animal agriculture are curious about knowing the answers to from Carrie herself.

Carrie,

As you can see, my initial blog post hit a pulse in the agriculture community.

If you would, please let me help you clear up some misconceptions that folks in the greater agriculture community have about you. Let’s clear them up fair and square, that way we can continue this dialogue together. I want to help you gain more support from the community that you grew up in. Would you mind answering these questions?

  • Have you ever donated money to PETA?
  • Have you ever received financial endorsement from PETA?
  • Have you ever donated money to HSUS?
  • Have you ever received financial endorsement from HSUS?
    (There are things out there on the internet that suggest a relationship between you and HSUS/PETA. Help us understand once and for all.)

If you are curious about the skepticism that animal agriculture has with HSUS, I encourage you to explore their funding statistics. According to their tax return in 2009, only about .8% of the HSUS budget actually went toward shelter grants. You can see where I learned that here. A portion of the rest is spent on lobbying efforts with intentions of eroding the foundation of animal agriculture on which people like you and I were raised.

  • Did you give PETA permission to use your name and image in their “Fur-Free and Fabulous! campaign or any other PETA campaigns? If you did not, we can work to correct that.
  • Will you tell us more about your ‘no-kill’ shelter in Checotah, OK that was brought up in discussion today? We would like to learn more from you.
  • Would you be interested in touring a farm or ranch in the U.S.? We sure can locate farmers and ranchers, and even universities, who will be happy to host you if you are willing to learn more from them.

Here’s an idea:  Would you be willing to work with farmers and ranchers on animal care initiatives in the future and possibly help champion farmers and ranchers who take animal care very seriously, instead of donating money to HSUS?

Now that the gate is open, so to speak, can we mend the broken fences between you and animal agriculturists together?

 

Thank you to those who have followed, liked, and commented on this blog. I look forward to more civil conversations in the future with which we will learn new things from each other and become more actively engaged in seeking success.

Here’s to continuing the dialogue.

Thank you all.

Respectfully,

Mal the Beef Gal

My Beef with Carrie Underwood

I invite you to explore the follow up blog I wrote to this one titled, “Mending Fences” in order to move the dialogue forward with Carrie Underwood about misconceptions animal agriculture has about her. On Tuesday, April 23, 2013 Carrie replied to this blog in a tweet stating, “I’ve actually never worked with PETA.” Please consider that when reading or sharing this blog.

**This blog is entirely comprised of the opinion of Mal the Beef Gal on a personal blog. Note that this blog post went “viral” over the course of a 24 hour time period due to the reaction of the readers with no intent or expectation of such an impact from the writer of this blog. This blog was intended to relay a point about the misconceptions of Carrie Underwood and her relationship with animal activist groups in order to help initiate a conversation to possibly clear them up to regain the support of animal agriculture for Carrie. Please keep these things in mind when reading and/or commenting on this blog and the next blog titled, “Mending Fences”.**

I simply can’t take it anymore. Just like the next girl raised in rural America, I’m a fan of country music. In fact, it was probably safe to say back in her early days, I was Carrie Underwood’s biggest fan. I had traveled to two of her concerts, made a personalized I ❤ Carrie Underwood T-shirt, traveled through Checotah, OK, and had every one of her songs memorized.

Well, that was then. This is now.

Soon after becoming the California Beef Ambassador in 2009 I quickly learned of my mistake as a star-struck CU fan. I was no longer so amazed when I discovered the true agenda behind my fellow country girl.

Carrie’s misinformed about some things, and that blonde hair doesn’t even fool me.

But she’s so pretty, you might say. She has an excellent voice, you might add. Yes, but what is between her beautiful blonde locks ain’t quite workin’ right, in my opinion.

In 2010 when I became a National Beef Ambassador I had convinced myself that one of my main missions as a Beef Ambassador would be to reverse Carrie’s confusion and misconception of American animal agriculturists and undo her alliance with anti-animal agriculture groups like PETA. It didn’t quite work then, so here’s my beef with Carrie now:

1. First, I learned she’s a vegan. Wait, what? She grew up on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma, and she’s as country as they come, according to her genre of choice. Yet, my friend Amanda led a walk out of her concert at the National FFA Convention a few years back because of her alliance with PETA, an animal activist group with hopes of eliminating what the National FFA strives to promote.

2. She is a PETA celebrity. How does that work? Wasn’t she on the Got Milk? ads? How’d that cow’s milk get on your lip, Carrie?

Are you starting to get the picture?

carrieunderwood_milkad_e

3. Last, but certainly not least, she is simply confused about the most recent bill that has the animal agriculture community’s attention in Tennessee and states across the nation.

I’m taking a stand. While I fully realize that flipping the station when a Carrie Underwood song comes on the radio won’t even make a small ripple for the cause, I am standing solid in my attempt to raise awareness, not my voice.

Again, this is a very touchy subject among my fellow agriculture community members. If you weren’t able to, take a read of my previous blog which focuses on how raising awareness and building communication credibility is most important rather than singly raising your voice.

My previous blog also explains a bit about AB 343 in CA, which is similar to the bill that Carrie is opposing in TN. Here’s my thoughts briefly:

  • A bill that supports the prevention of animal mistreatment should be accepted by all- the animal rights activists; who say they care for the animals, the farmer and rancher; who really do care for the animals and are on the front lines of animal mistreatment prevention, and the consumer; who can trust that the product they are receiving in the grocery stores and restaurants was cared for properly throughout its useful life.
  • Here’s a little bit of my opinion, uncut, raw, and right from my brain flat out- if animal rights activist groups like PETA truly care for the animals then their opposition stance on these bills begs the question:  Why wouldn’t they want videos of livestock mistreatment reported so the action can be stopped immediately? Here is my logical answer:  because in 24-48 hours, the time that most of these bills are requiring the videos to be turned in, the undercover PETA members who captured innocent footage won’t have time to edit their masterpieces into false, horrifically terrifying, gut-wrenching nightmares that in the end would work toward their real mission:  eliminating animal agriculture from the United States all together. Hmmm. Do you know the answer to my question? $

In conclusion, Carrie, you’re a little “Twisted”. I think you would be “Blown Away” if you took the time to ask your questions to real farmers and ranchers (maybe even your family), because you “Ain’t in Checotah” anymore. You would be “Forever Changed” if you took a tour of a harvest facility. I’ve toured one and they are very sanitary-it’s the law! “I Know You Won’t”, but do me a favor and stop saying “I Told You So” until you get your facts straight. It makes me sad that “No one Ever Told You” the truth about how your credibility diminishes by advocating for PETA, when you grew up on a farm. I guess you still need “Lessons Learned”, and I ain’t no “Quitter”. Just “Remind Me” why you stand behind a group who aims to eliminate your family’s lifestyle and mine and I’ll “Undo It”~ everything that I’ve said about you. “Whenever you Remember” just give me a shout. Until then, “Who are You”?

~Mal the Beef Gal