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By: Anna Kaverman Mercer Landmark

I hope that this blog post finds all in good spirits, a warm place and that everyone has finally been plowed out after the nasty winter storm. For me all I can say is Brrrrr!!! And TGIF!  

Other than the normal who’s going where, what’s going on and you will never believe what my kids/ husband did, occasionally I do find a post on Facebook that proves to be of value. Yes social networking is sometimes useful. If you watched last night’s Greys Anatomy that talked about twitter you will know what I mean. Anyways…I have to thank a friend of mine from Ohio State for posting this link on his Facebook page because I found it to very interesting, especially because animal agriculture in a near and dear to my heart and many of yours. Thank you Stan Ernst.

On Tuesday February 1st, Stan posted a link on his facebook page to a blog that was written by Mike and Pam Haley one of his former students at Ohio State. I will add that Mike is also a former acquaintance of mine from Ohio State as well.  In response to Oprah’s one week vegan challenge to her staff and the audience, the Haley’s have invited Oprah to visit their West Salem, Ohio farm. I am not a big Oprah fan, never have been, but Stan said it best when he said “Now even that may make me watch daytime TV”.

I hate to just copy and paste someone’s blog into a blog, but if I try to summarize I think the article will lose something. In any case below is the blog post that can be found on www.haley-farms.com. Haley Farms can also be found on facebook. Please do not hesitate to share what you think with the Haley’s. I am sure they would love to hear from anyone on what they think about this controversial topic.

Oprah’s One-Week Challenge

Posted on February 1, 2011 by Mike Haley

Today I did something I usually abstain from; I actually took time out of my day and sat down to watch The Oprah Winfrey Show.  Why? Because she was talking about a topic that I care about, animal agriculture and the welfare of animals on farms.  Of most importance, I wanted to see what her guest said about modern agriculture. Those guests included Michael Pollan, author of “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and Kelly Freston, a vegan au thor and spiritual advisor.  During her show Oprah issued a challenge to her staff and audience to go vegan for one week.

After watching the show I considered taking Oprah up on her challenge.  How hard could it be?  I have gone for a week before without eating steak, and I also like salad! So, I began by doing the logical thing and Googling “what does it take to be vegan?”  Of course the answer is that a vegan must reject the commodity status of animals and the use of animal products for any purpose.

In essence to fulfill Oprah’s challenge I began to make a list of things I would have to sacrifice for the week.  I began with the logical answers of steak, chicken and milk.  Then I started thinking about the definition of a vegan, I would have to give up all animal products, so I broadened my list to include gelatin, lanolin, rennet, whey, casein, beeswax, stearic acid, and broccoli.

So I know what you are thinking, “why can’t a vegan eat broccoli?”  Well as I made out my list I noted stearic acid was a byproduct of animals, a byproduct that makes tires.  Tires are used by the farmer that grows the broccoli, by the truck driver that delivers it to the grocer, and would require that I walk to the store in…. I guess bare feet as even rubber shoes have animal products in them.   So in essence I could grow the broccoli in my garden using organic methods and fertilizing it with manure; oh wait that is an animal product as well.

So as much as I wanted to take Oprah up on her vegan challenge I am just not positive I have it in me.  I will also congratulate any vegans out there that are able to find a way to live a vegan lifestyle, yes there are individuals that do and it is no small task.

For me, I will continue to be satisfied knowing that me and the other farmers that raise my food do so in an ethical manner, caring for their animals to make sure that they live a healthy and content life.  If you question the level of care that farmers provide their animals I encourage you to find a farmer and ask him your questions directly because despite popular belief, farmers know more about what they do every day on their farm than Google does.

In fact, that’s my one-week challenge for Oprah. If anyone has a chance to get this to her, here’s my challenge and invitation to help her succeed:

Oprah,

We’d like you to spend a week seeing what happens on farms, asking those farm families the questions you want answered. My wife Pam and I would be glad to help make arrangements with friends here in Ohio and across the US. In fact, we would welcome you starting your tour here at our farm.  If you come in the next few months, we’ll be able to show you calving. We can show you how we work to provide good nutrition and how we work with partners to take beef to the table. If you’d like to start a bit later in the spring, we could show you planting, etc.

Looking forward to your visit. Respectfully, Mike Haley

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