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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
My name is Katie Stockstill-Sawyer and my husband, Derek, and I own and operate a farm and livestock operation in Central Kansas.
The Double Standard
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About this blog
By Katie Stockstill Sawyer
My name is Katie Stockstill-Sawyer and my husband, Derek, and I own and operate a farm and livestock operation in Central Kansas. I married into the farming world in December 2010 and have spent every minute learning all that I can about farming and ...
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New to the Farm
My name is Katie Stockstill-Sawyer and my husband, Derek, and I own and operate a farm and livestock operation in Central Kansas. I married into the farming world in December 2010 and have spent every minute learning all that I can about farming and the rural lifestyle. I work in town as the marketing and communications manager for a commercial construction company, mobile occupational services company and safety consulting and training firm. In the hours outside the office, I help on the farm in any way I can – and sometimes that means just staying out of the way. This blog tracks my experiences as I learn what a life on the farm really means. I wouldn’t change this lifestyle for the world. Farmers and ranchers are some of the hardest working individuals in the world and they do what they do 365 days a year to ensure everyone has access to a safe, healthy and affordable food supply. If you want to learn more about agriculture or our operation, please don’t hesitate to contact me on this blog or at katie.sawyer@sawyerlandandcattle.com. I would love to show you around.
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By Katie Stockstill-Sawyer
Dec. 13, 2012 5:25 p.m.



The Kansas City Star, earlier this week, published a series of article focusing on the beef industry and practices it has adopted to improve the quality of beef it is producing.

The Wichita Eagle and The Hutchinson News both ran excerpts from The Star’s three-day series. The Hutchinson News published one of the articles focusing on the tenderization process that is used in some processing plants. The article wanted to connect the tenderization process to a heightened risk of E. coli in beef. Data shows the number of people sickened by E. coli in the past few years has declined significantly. It has also not been banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But industry whistle blowers, in an attempt to end the practice, want to connect the tenderization process to human illness and death. It’s a long shot that they shamelessly make with a backup of fact or proof.

The article was, ironically, published above an article and picture of a little girl that ingested a feather after playing with a feather pillow and consequently suffered a painful infection in her cheek. Ironic? I think so.

After reading the article about the girl swallowing a feather, no one would jump to the conclusion that all feather pillows should be banned because they lead to injury. That would be absurd. Instead, I believe many readers, like myself, look to the parents to better supervise their child and remove harmful objects from her reach. People can point to tenderization and claim harm but no one would point to a pillow and consider it dangerous when used correctly. It’s a double standard that is often attached to agriculture and it’s the result of people pointing fingers instead of learning the real facts about the food they enjoy.

Agriculture has received more than it’s share of the negative spotlight in the past few years. People have no problem pointing fingers at farmers and ranchers for adopting technology and practices that has allowed them to produce more food with less land, water and a minimized economic impact. Basically people want their 99-cent cheeseburgers but criticize modern feeding practices that allow cattle to gain weight at a faster rate and produce a leaner cut of beef.  The media’s newest criticism of the beef industry’s tenderization process is baseless and without scientific proof. What can be proven is the fact that today’s beef is safer, more affordable and more plentiful than ever.

There is no way to completely remove E. coli from beef. Proper cooking and handling techniques can all but guarantee, however, that the beef is safe for consumption. It’s the same rule of thought that applies to eggs and any other type of animal protein.

There is a certain level of responsibility that comes with having children just like there is a level of responsibility placed upon all consumers to handle and prepare their food according to directions. The tenderization process does not pose harm to humans and neither do pillows. Meat needs to be properly prepared and pillows should be kept out of toddler’s mouths. It’s that simple.

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