Aug 252017
 

Written on 8/25/17

On Tuesday I made sausage at Dick’s Meat Packing in New Lex, OH. My day started on BWH of course though. Constantine gave me a box of supplies containing what I would need to take make sausage and some basic instructions.

After making sure I had the box of supplies and boxes for the finished product to go into, I set out for New Lex.

Shortly after arriving, I greeted Rex and Diane and started getting aquatinted with the meat processing room. There were many machines around the room. The machines we used in the sausage making process were a sausage stuffer, a meat grinder, a meat mixer, a bag neck sealer, and a scale. The machine I used most was the sausage stuffer, which Rex taught me how to use.

In total we packed 152 and a half sausages that day.

After packing all my equipment up, I helped load up the AO truck with a delivery bound for ACEnet and set off. After unloading the product at ACEnet I took inventory of all our Athens’ customers and headed back to BWH.

Thinking about the day, I enjoyed learning how to make sausage and getting a firsthand experience of some of the processes and the people that are behind the meat product production and distribution activities that I have experienced with AO. Now I just have to get a tour of the farms where AO sources its meat, and I will have a view from farm to plate.

  13 Responses to “8/22/17 – Sausage Making at Dick’s Packing Plant”

  1. Kj: I enjoyed the narrative and feel it provided me with a glimpse of the intern’s experience on a particular day.

    I particularly appreciate the mention of the “quality of life” performance measures.
    It is also great to read that the intern is interested in getting a tour of the farms however I think there is much more that will need to be explored and considered before he would have a good view of the farm to plate process.

    • Hi kj, what are some concepts or topics that you think could be explored and considered to help develop a good vision of the farm to plate process?

  2. Hi Paul,

    I wish I would have provided more positive feedback regarding your “farm to plate” considerations.

    It is important for everyone to have a better understanding of what it takes to get food from the farm to their plate.

    And, it is crucial we go further; we all need to understand what is involved if we want to help keep the food system healthy and sustainable.

    Thank you for bringing the topic up in your log!

    It seems a worthy topic to devote some brain energy and time to explore, but you should check with Constantine about it given your already full course load.

    However, revisiting this topic certainly tweaks my curiosity and interests given my operations her on the hill. It is also connected to our Broadwell Hill lettuce growing experiment and related conversations.

    To me, the jargon “farm to plate” doesn’t capture the nature of the full cycle, system approach vision, just part of it.

    Yes, there are many people who need to understand that food doesn’t just magically appear on their plates, on the grocery store shelves; there is a ‘farm to plate’ movement but the flow involves much more.

    And, I bet you, if you think about it, you are in a good position to develop a comprehensive picture given your work with Athens’ Own.

    And, of course, your experiences with the Broadwell Hill vermicomposting operations, “Mamaka’s Boutique Wormery”, should give you another good perspective about the “plate to farm” components.

    The food has to be conserved, shared and then the excess has to get back to the farm animals, soil, etc. Are you familiar with the US EPA food scraps and organics hierarchy?

    What about people’s decisions related to the production of green house gas emissions, increased carbon, increased temperatures, etc.? How do these factors influence our food supply?

    What about water, air, transportation?

    Isn’t ‘farm to plate’ just a catchy marketing phrase to describe a very complex and highly dynamic system?

    As the phrase came to mind, with a possible goal to grasp the vision, did the Holistic Management approach, the decision-making framework come to mind?

    Is the “farm to plate” concept a component of your custom Athens’ Own educational opportunity at this time?

    Have you investigated the Athens’ Own food economy, food security system?

    I remember a chart that Constantine created long ago on this topic. It would be fun to pull it out of the library if we move forward with this topic exploration. And, there is also a good chance that other interns have brought the topic up in their logs.

    I get excited about such projects and think they are very worthy but, again, it comes down to time management, priorities, etc. If you truly want to get a good view of ‘farm to plate’ as it pertains to Athens’ Own it may involve much more than just a tour of the farm.

    But, that’s just my opinion. I don’t know if my approach, ‘learning process’, ‘project development, ‘management process’ represents an approach that may help you on your journey but I figure I should share a glimpse of it just in case such things may be new to you; just in case it may be helpful.

    Anyways, the first thing I did was google “farm to plate”. I’ve heard the phrase thrown around for years in various arenas so I was curious and inspired to do a cruise. It looks like Vermont has a well developed program and may provide you with some additional insights related to such a vision.

    But, such background investigation still doesn’t tell me how you were introduced to the concept, how you define it, what it means to you, what you’ve heard, etc.

    So, if we are going to have a conversation about ‘farm to plate’, I need to know how you define it and what points along the circle you want to focus on to develop your vision.

    I could pull up my sleeves, dive into the topic and provide you with my perspective. I would give it thought, do some more investigation to up-date myself on current thought out there. I would dedicate a page in my travel notebook to “farm to plate” and just start throwing down thoughts, ideas, words, tasks, equipment, collaborative partners, stakeholders, decision-makers, etc. No particular order, no organization, just concepts/topics to organize later around the food security full cycle circle.

    You are in a good position to develop your vision given your Athens’ Own perspective. As you may know, Athens’ Own is specialized in the food economy, the food security sector.

    And, you are now immersed in Athens’ Own and are aware of some of the diverse collaborative partners that help make the whole system work. We are not capturing ‘the whole’ if we don’t include them.

    On any given step in the process, I would draw a line out to other bubbles; a connecting conduit to other individuals, collaborative entities, stakeholders, decision-makers, etc.
    (I believe there are similar exercises in the Holistic Management workbook 🙂

    What does the “whole” of the food economy look like?
    Can you list all the components?
    Can you draw a full cycle system image with extensions to capture the whole?

    Even if Constantine, Athens’ Own isn’t looking for a revised, up-dated version of its food economy system … what are the big, primary concepts/topics that come to your mind, what would you put on your list?

    You said:
    – “… processes and the people … meat product production and distribution activities…”.
    – “…just have to get a tour of the farms where AO sources its meat, and I will have a view from farm to plate.”

    Hmmm… you may indeed have a view from farm to plate … but how clear is your view, how deep?
    Will your view also reflect our view (Constantine/Athens’ Own, Kathy/bWh)?

    Seems like a great exploratory investigation that will help us deepen shared perspective, understanding, and improve group process. But, it is a topic that could take up a huge amount of time … which none of us have right now.

    Here are some questions that popped into my brain, things to consider. Please do not gobble up Athens’ Own or bWh time if you are inclined to dive into these waters; at least not unless Constantine directs you to do so.

    How do we choose where to put our investments of time, energy, and other resources?
    Is decision-making a part of your ‘farm to plate’ view?
    What system are we working to strengthen? What is involved with that system?
    Does the ‘farm to plate’ jargon adequately capture the whole system at play?

    Isn’t it important to avoid jargon, or at least define it, reference a link, etc., if one chooses to use jargon?

    “Farm to Plate” – how does that jargon and the way others interpret it differ from what you have learned about Athens’ Own approach to strengthening the food economy, the activities designed to ensure food security on an open-ended time frame?

    You chose to focus on the beef system but the Athens’ Own system, as you know, includes other products that also tell their own story.

    But, it’s good to focus in on one ‘manageable unit’ at a time, but imperative to not lose sight of the whole under management while doing so. Holistic Management provides a great foundation for such an approach.

    Anyways, based on your log entry statement, I would create a bullet-ed list something like the following and start filling in various aspects in the system, e.g. stakeholders, decision-makers, activities, etc.

    Remember, to be sustainable the system must address social, economic and environmental components.

    Here is a format with some thoughts based upon what you have already identified; how would you further develop it? What would your chart look like?

    – Meat Product
    — which meat product?

    – Farm?
    — animal feed
    — soil
    — water
    — manure management
    — animal treatment
    — method of slaughter
    what else

    -Production

    what else

    –Distribution

    what else

    what else?

    As mentioned earlier, for the sake of clarity: I am not putting this exercise on our Broadwell Hill (bWh) project/assignment management list. In other words, I am not issuing a SMART request. 🙂

    It’s a great topic though!

    Perhaps Constantine has some thoughts and direction to share.

  3. hmmm…. so tempted to provide you with a list of the webpages that I visited recently.
    Have you visited any websites on this topic recently?

    We need one to provide a foundation under the jargon “farm to plate” or what is also referred to as “farm to table”.

    How about wiki ?: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farm-to-table
    FYI: I agree with what is presented in the section on criticism

    I also searched for ‘farm to plate Athens county Ohio” and turned up numerous local collaborative partners who are capitalizing on the concept in their marketing materials.

    There are many phrases that come to mind when I think about our local interpretations and applications in this area. And, building a solid foundation with thorough understanding of this so called “farm to table” movement is important if one wants to better understand Athens’ Own and how it fits into the local picture.

    Should more of an emphasis be made on the ‘farm to table’ aspects in our marketing materials? Is a third person distributor an important part of the system? What are some of the short-comings in our local system?

    How about on the state level?
    Ohio Farm Bureau Federation – 2017 policy statement: https://ofbf.org/app/uploads/2012/03/2017-OFBF-Policy-Book.pdf

    Ohio Proud – http://ohioproud.org/

    Is there anything in our area, in our state that even comes close to the Vermont approach?

    I would not even consider my view to be complete and up-dated without cruising their site more thoroughly- http://www.vtfarmtoplate.com/plan/

    So again, you’ve started the conversation and perhaps there is a good case to be made for investing time, energy in the development of your view of the Athens’ Own Farm to Plate process but again, it would take a whole lot more than just a visit to a farm.

    Filling in your experience with farm tours would certainly be a good thing but please don’t think that is all that would be needed to get a view of the Athens’ Own Farm to Plate processes.

    Thank you.

    • I concur. Well stated.

      • Constantine, thank you for the feedback.

        Do you have any guidance, direction to give regarding Paul’s interest in the ‘farm to plate’ topic?

        In other words, do you want him to further expand on his thoughts now or just let it simmer on the stove (so to speak) while he continues to learn via other topics, experiences?

        • Good questions Kathy.

          Paul, do you think it would be developmentally helpful to build your own categorized bulleted list similar to Kathy’s formatted list above, one that builds on what she had already laid out? This is something that you could do amidst your daily activity, jotting them in your notebook as you make connections. They could then be added to this thread at a time that is more convenient for you.

          Your additions would not need to be limited to first tier, but could also include secondary, tertiary, and so on ripple affect connectivity.

          • Thank you Constantine.
            I shall speak with Paul about this during our meeting this morning.

          • Constantine,

            I agree with what you said about developing my understanding by augmenting the outline Kathy provided with further thoughts and connections.

            Kathy, again, thanks for all the resources you put into research and guidance.

    • Hi Kathy,

      When I used the phrase “farm to plate” I was not trying to reference any larger movements. I was trying to come up with a catchy way of saying that I would like to tour the farms where AO sources beef, not imply that I would have a full understanding of the system by visiting a farm. I think it would have been helpful for me to be more objective in my writing, and I will be more careful to consider the responsibility of word choice and possible unintended consequences in the future.

      On “farm to table” , I have heard of the “farm to table” movement and have a limited understanding of it. I think it would be beneficial for me to broaden my understanding of concept and its possible shortcomings.

      Thank you for all of your inputs. I will use the resources you provided, and look for more, in my research of the topic.

  4. Hi Kathy,

    When I used the phrase “farm to plate” I was not trying to reference any larger movements. I was trying to come up with a catchy way of saying that I would like to tour the farms where AO sources beef, not imply that I would have a full understanding of the system by visiting a farm. I think it would have been helpful for me to be more objective in my writing, and I will be more careful to consider the responsibility of word choice and possible unintended consequences in the future.

    On “farm to table” , I have heard of the “farm to table” movement and have a limited understanding of it. I think it would be beneficial for me to broaden my understanding of concept and its possible shortcomings.

    Thank you for all of your inputs. I will use the resources you provided, and look for more, in my research of the topic.

  5. Hi Paul,
    It is a very interesting and important movement.
    I apologize for any assumptions and triggers that may have prompted my writing in such a way; I did not mean it to come off as critical or in anyway personal.
    It is a very interesting topic and one that I think deserves further exploration on the part of many.
    Thank you for your interest.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.