This past week I participated in a great webinar hosted by the National Pork Board. We discussed how the Pork Board researches animal welfare, pork and consumer safety. We also discussed the new and innovative ways the board has marketed their products to consumers.

Basically, the webinar made me very, very hungry.

Once my stomach quit growling, we got to the meat of the webinar, no pun intended. I learned a lot about pork production from the farm, to the factory, to my plate.

I am a forestry major in the agriculture department at Louisiana State University, so I do get exposed to the traditional sides of agriculture more than the average college student, but this webinar was a #PorkForDummies guide where I learned about pork production and consumption, which I would like to share with you.

In my opinion, piggies are cute but gross, they like mud and live outside….but they are delicious.

Pork production has doubled over the last 50 year in the United States, but compared with 50 years ago the farmers are using less land and water. Not only has the industry become more efficient, they have also become better producers for the public.



Picture From: FoodForward

The pork industry created the “We Care” initiative, which established ethical principles to show the consumers that they are a trustworthy industry. The ethical principles include food safety, animal well-being, the environment, public health, employee care and community quality. For more information on their ethical principles, you can click here which brings you to what I like to call the “We Care” #PorkForDummies guide.

So they have these principles, but we still hear a lot of negatives about the pork industry in the media. We always hear about salmonella scares, antibiotic and hormone usage, and the general mistreatment of the animals. What is the truth?

In the webinar, the pork board showed statistics from the FDA where raw pork had a 1% Salmonella contamination rate. The Pork Check-off, a program under the National Pork Board’s umbrella, mandates research for potential problems such as foodborne pathogens and disease transmission. To me, this is great! They are using industry funds for the protection of their own industry. They are providing the correct resources to the consumer to understand the truth.

Another “problem” people have is the use of antibiotics and hormones. When I get sick my favorite words to hear from my doctor are “I am going to write you a prescription for an antibiotic…” (In my head I am rejoicing). I assume piggies do not like getting sick either, so I am ok with antibiotics within the industry. If you want to know the technical side of the argument, and the industry’s views on animal health you can click here. And the hormone argument can be squashed with the fact that no hormones can be used because they are not legal in the United States.

The #PorkForDummies version of the facts is that happy and healthy piggy’s equals happy and safe food for people to eat.

If you are still not sure that you want to eat pork, just look at all the yummy pictures on Pinterest and Facebook, that the National Pork Board’s marketing program (Pork. Be inspired.) has created.




Picture From: Pork. Be inspired.


The Pork. Be inspired. team has created helpful tips to understand the cuts of meat, how to cook them, and their values.

Their website is a #PorkForDummies how to guide on anything and everything pork. From store to pan to plate to fridge, it is all there. For instance, did you know that pork should be cooked at 145° F with a 3 minute rest? No? Well,I didn’t either.

I love the recipes for tailgating, and as an LSU fan, we do a lot of that.



Picture From: Facebook Pork. Be inspired.

 Pork. Be inspired. has created a friendly site that teaches consumers how to create anything with pork.

So, now that you know all the #PorkForDummies facts, be inspired and create something delicious with pork today. 


Dishwasher Cooking?

Creating meals in the dishwasher has become a new fad worldwide. The dishwasher’s warm waters cook your food until it is tender and moist. How does it work you may ask? Let us take a look at a time tested recipe, the dishwasher salmon. I found “Bob Blumer’s Dishwasher Salmon Recipe” on realsimple.com. You place your seasoned salmon on greased foil. Fold the edges and make an airtight packet. Place your packet on the top rack and run your dishwasher on its normal setting. Abra Cadbra! You have cooked salmon.

Many say the salmon that comes out of the dishwasher is delicious; some say it is even better than cooking it on the oven or on the stove top.  I am not convinced that it is worth the effort. I could stick the same packet in the oven and my fish would get cooked, and potentially turn out the same way. Here I also ensure that my food is being prepared correctly and it will not get contaminated.

We all know that when we cook our food we are heating it up and killing all the pathogens that may be present. Every food item has its own preferable end food temperature. This is the temperature that ensures pathogens present will be eliminated. Ben Miller, in his article about dishwasher cooking in Food Safety News, sited Ben Chapman who is a food specialist at North Carolina State University. Chapman stated most dishwashers would have to reach their maximum temperatures to cook most foods and remove all pathogens. This makes me wonder, are dishwashers like ovens? My oven, like many others, has hot spots and cool spots because of its age. Does a dishwasher’s temperature reduce over time? If so, than many foods would still have pathogens when ingested.

Not only do leading specialist consider the practice of dishwasher cooking a little “sketchy”, but so do dishwasher industry leaders. Miller’s article quoted representative from GE and Whirlpool, both saying they do not recommended using their products to cook foods. I feel like one day there will be a warning on dishwasher: DO NOT USE THIS TO COOK FOOD. Society sometimes wonders why these safety warnings are found on products, and I believe we may have just found one of the reasons why.  

For more information on dishwasher cooking you can referance the links below. 




Keeping the Traditions Alive

Every year in the spring hundreds of students from the southern states get together and compete in traditional forestry events at the Southern Forestry Conclave. Events such as crosscut, bow saw, wildlife identification and dendrology are competitions to the participants but in the past were a way of life.

For the past two years I, along with my partner Maggie, have competed in Jill and Jill Crosscut. It is such a rush when you have your entire team screaming in your ears “Geaux Geaux!” This past year we finished in fifth place because our saw popped out. Even with this set back we still beat out a lot of other teams.

This year we are starting to practice earlier, so that in our senior year we can win! Many do not understand why we compete in these activities. My best friend laughs every time she has to explain where I go, but it is for a specific reason. In today’s society we do not need to hand saw a long, we do not need to climb a tree to fell it and we do not need to float logs down a river. We compete in conclave to keep all of the traditions alive. As you watch all of the participants compete you can catch a glimpse into the past. You see what a different life was like. You see what your field was like. It shows us the evolution of our industry. Other fields do not have this history and we have to do our part in sharing ours to keep the traditions alive.


(Maggie and I competing in crosscut, Spring 2013)


(Two men using a crosscut saw. www.fhwa.dot.gov )



Louisiana Forestry

Louisiana Forestry

When I tell people that I am majoring in Forestry many look at me and say “Oh, that’s different!” Yea, it is, especially for a girl. I am one of two girls who are majoring in Forestry at Louisiana State University and I love it. I often get asked: What do you do? What is Forestry? (and my personal favorite)Will you be a park ranger? So today I will be answering these questions and more.
As a Forestry major I take a lot of different classes to make my knowledge well rounded for any future job I may take. The picture shown is from my Hardwood Silviculture class, that I am taking this semester. This class focuses on hardwood stands and how we can manage them. In this picture we are using the Baker-Broadfoot method of analyzing soils to see how a specific type of tree species will grow on this site. Some of the other classes I have taken include: Fire Protection and Use, where we learned how to perform a prescribed burn, and Timber Harvesting, where we looked into all sides of the timber harvesting industry. Taking such classes has helped me to understand what I enjoy, and more importantly what future job(s) I would enjoy.
Forestry is the number one agricultural crop in Louisiana. In 2010, forestry was responsible for 57% of the total value of plant commodities. Combining plant and animal commodities, it is responsible for 31% of the value. Forest covers 14 million acres of Louisiana’s public and private lands (2011 Louisiana Forestry Association). Some of the forest is used purely as “crop” lands but some are used for other purposes. Forests provide habitat for wildlife, recreational opportunities and some have ecosystem benefits that cannot be measured.
And my favorite (or most despised question), will you be a park ranger? The answer to that question is HECK NO! Because no one looks good in an all green ranger uniform.