With each new Spring awakening, nostalgia hits me. I am struck by that wistful longing for the home farm and the activity that surrounds the preparation process for planting season. That’s the funny thing about nostalgia…the difficulties, exhaustion, broken equipment, and weather frustrations are very vague memories. The clarity of the season is highlighted by the sensory recollections that remain with me today…

"The smell of freshly tilled earth"

"The sight of a vividly greening countryside"

"The sounds of nature combined with the tools of modern agriculture"

"The taste of cold iced tea at day’s end"

"The feel of vibrating horsepower through a steering wheel"

"The feeling of being a part of nature’s life cycle"

I think most of us farm "transplants" remember fondly the lifestyle and farm activities…activities which may not have seemed quite so enjoyable at the time.

Speaking of nostalgia, I received a bit more recently while enjoying my early morning, pre-run routine of stretching and listening to the latest news. One of the feature news stories was on My- Pyramid, the United States Department of Agriculture’s modernized version of the food pyramid which provides the basic guidelines on healthy and nutritional eating habits for individuals (see related details on this page).

The news story featured a sound bite from the USDA regarding the attributes of MyPyramid. For some reason, the radio station felt compelled to run an anti-MyPyramid sound bite as well. I can’t even remember the message of the opposing view to the upgraded Food Pyramid…only the name of the group responsible for the anti-sound bite: The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

That’s when the nostalgia "hammered" me right in the gut…I remember that group.

In the early 1990’s, while Manager of the Adams County Farm Bureau, I first ran across the name of this group and I wrote about them…here are some of the "low lights" from the "Downwind" archives:

From the 1992 Adams County Farm Bureau Agri-Newsletter:

A few weeks ago, a group known as Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine held a news conference to kick off a new lobbying campaign – a campaign designed to eliminate meat and dairy products from American’s diet. The Committee is asking that the Agriculture Department change the food groups it recommends that people eat daily from meat, dairy, veggies, fruits and bread to a diet consisting of fruit, grains and cereals, vegetables and legumes.

My first feeling when I read this was "blah" – I could not imaging any meal more boring and tasteless than rice cakes, cooked carrots, butternut squash, wheat germ, dried figs and oatmeal. My second feeling was irritation bordering on anger. This feeling stemmed from the fact that:

Meat and Dairy products are my favorite food groups.

I don’t necessarily follow the concept that doctors know all – they only know as much as they have learned, experiences and studied.

The history of mankind has been built around meat and dairy diets and if my Sunday School memory serves me correctly, people in the Old Testament (Old Days) seemed to have lived to be 200 years, 300 years, 400 years and more on the same diet.

Names of associations are sometimes misleading.

It was fact "D" that started my thinking that perhaps a little research was in order – maybe I could find a little of that odoriferous substance. All it took was one little phone call to the Illinois Farm Bureau and I discovered the following:

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine included approximately 3,000 physicians and 50,000 supporting members nationwide.

The American Medical Association, the nation’s major medical association, does not consider the group a "physician organization" because its membership is less than 10% physicians, representing only a fraction of the nation’s doctors.

The American Medical Association has linked the group to People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

The group was funded in 1985 by Neal Barnard, a clinical psychiatrist at George Washington University who according to the AMA, serves on PETA’s board of directors. He is also believed to be their chief medical advisor.

Now, fast-forward 13 years and nothing has changed*…

The President of the group is still Neal Barnard, a non-practicing psychiatrist and chief medical advisor.

The name remains totally misleading with their agenda being animal rights and less than 5% of members being actual physicians.

Funding comes from the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals amongst other groups.

And most disturbing, the media, somehow, gives them a voice and credibility.

In addition, they’ve fought:

Animals in Medical Education and Research

Dissection in the classroom

Meat and Dairy in the diet

The Atkins Diet

Tyson Foods

People making donations to American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, American Red Cross, and several other groups.

*Information from the Center for Consumer Freedom, www.consumerfreedom.com

I do not understand why the media uses an animal rights group with a radical agenda to decry something as simple and basic as the Food Pyramid (I actually think that the media has gotten lazy). The majority of "Moms" in the world, for years, have been speaking MyPyramid" language to kids…

"finish your peas…vegetables are packed with vitamins"

"drink your milk…you need strong bones"

"eat your meat…a body needs protein"

"put 8 of the cookies back…you should have eaten more peas"

"go outside and run off some of that energy"

Perhaps the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine would have been less likely to criticize Mom’s Pyramid. Silly me…that’s not true. Animals first, people last (even Mom’s) seems to be the motto.


It is time to lighten the mood a bit. With a County Farm Bureau in a highly urban area, I am often asked questions which help me realize the need for our Farm Bureau to continue raising the agricultural IQ of the 8 million residents of Cook County. Jokes are usually funny if they have elements of truth to them so I’m reprinting an oldie but goodie for your reading pleasure.

A life-long city man, tired of the rat race, decided he was going to give up the city life, move to the country, and become a chicken farmer. He bought a nice, used chicken farm and moved in. As it turned out, his next-door neighbor was also a chicken farmer. The neighbor came for a visit one day and said, "Chicken farming isn’t easy. Tell you what. To help you get started, I’ll give you 100 chickens." The new chicken farmer was thrilled. Two weeks later the neighbor dropped by to see how things were going. The new farmer said "not too well. All 100 chickens died." The neighbor said, "Oh, I can’t believe that. I’ve never had any trouble with my chickens. I’ll give you 100 more." Another two weeks went by and the neighbor stopped by again. The New farmer said, "You’re not going to believe this, but the second 100 chickens died too." Astounded, the neighbor asked, "What went wrong?" The new farmer said, "Well, I’m not sure whether I’m planting them too deep or too close together."

Please call me at the office if you need a further explanations or for a demonstration! (to prevent animal rights protests, it is necessary for me to explain that this also is a joke…now cats on the other hand?)