Blind Pig and the Acorn

Blind Pig and the Acorn: 

Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins

October 16, 2017


This time of the year I always start getting a taste for pumpkin recipes. A couple weeks ago, one of my favorite girls and me whipped up some Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins. I've had the recipe for ages. Years ago I cut it out of a Country Living magazine. Although the muffins are a little fussier to make than regular muffins they are so worth the extra effort. 

According to the magazine the recipe is a specialty of Second Creek Farm Bed and Breakfast in Owensville, Missouri. 

Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins - from Country Living


  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 2½ cup sugar (divided-see recipe)
  • 2½ cup flour (divided-see recipe)
  • ¼ cup pecans
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 2½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • 1¼ cup packed pumpkin
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
Muffin Pics.jpg


Pre-heat oven to 375°.  Lightly coat two 12-cup standard muffin tins with oil and set aside or use paper liners.

Mix the cream cheese, 1 egg, and 3 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Toss 5 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 cup flour, pecans, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Combine the rest of the sugar, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and remaining cinnamon in a large bowl.

Lightly beat the rest of the eggs, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla together in a medium bowl.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, pour the pumpkin mixture into the well, and mix with a fork just until moistened.

Evenly divide half of the batter among the muffin cups. Place two teaspoonfuls of cream cheese filling in the center of each cup and fill with the remaining batter.

Sprinkle some of the pecan mixture over the top of each muffin and bake until golden and a tester, inserted into the muffin center, comes out clean -- 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Finished Muffin.jpg


The muffins are best right out of the oven, but they're not bad even a day later...if they last that long!


p.s. Be sure to jump over and watch Sow True Seed's video

BONUS Prizes for Campaign Backers are being awarded.
Sow True Seed needs help reaching their goal. As they close in on the 7 Day countdown, they still have some distance to go to reach their all-or-nothing funding target. They have some great rewards to say thank you for your pledge, but to keep things fun in the final week, they're going to be randomly selecting backers to win some bonus prizes. They'll be doing at least three bonus prize drawings, the first one at 8pm on Monday Oct 16th, so pledge today for your best chance of winning a bonus prize.

Bonus prizes will include artwork, seed books, seeds and more!

Check out this link/video and see if you can give Sow True Seed a hand. They do a tremendous job of ensuring our seeds continue for the future generations. They especially focus on the heirloom seeds that have been passed down for generations in Appalachia. And if all that wasn't enough-you already know they support the Blind Pig and The Acorn by sponsoring my garden and my garden reporter @ large projects. If you decide to donate to their cause-you can get some pretty cool things in return-so check it out. 

‘The Eateries of Madison County, North Carolina’

D.G. Martin

Origional publication August 14, 2017

Some people fall in love with bridges, as in the late Robert James Waller’s “The Bridges of Madison County,” the best-selling romance novel from 1992.

Others, like me, fall in love with eateries. So here goes with “The Eateries of Madison County, North Carolina” and some information about three restaurants that could be included in a follow up volume to my book, “North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries: A Traveler’s Guide to Local Restaurants, Diners, and Barbecue Joints.” 

I found these Madison County eateries while attending the Laughing Heart Literary Festival at the iconic Laughing Heart Lodge in Hot Springs.

Smoky Mountain Diner in Hot Springs

Terry Roberts’ people have lived in Madison County for generations, and his debut novel, “A Short Time to Stay Here,” is set in Hot Springs during the First World War when German interns were housed in the old resort hotel.

Roberts waxes eloquently about the Smoky Mountain Diner, family-owned for years, he says. “Once when we were eating there during the Christmas season,” he remembers, “the staff emptied out of the restaurant suddenly. They were leaving to man the diner’s float in the Hot Springs Christmas parade. On the way out, they told everybody to put the money on the counter when they finished eating.”

Roberts says the diner serves the "best pie in Madison County.”

Appalachian Trail hikers meet up with locals and tourists at the diner to feast on mountain-sized dishes like the Hungry Hiker double-decker Black Angus beef sandwich.

Owner Genia Hayes Peterson, her daughter Casey, Casey’s husband, William Franklin, the main cook, and their son Zach keep the restaurant open seven days a week and on holidays. They have the help of staff members like Cindy Wood, who has been working there for 19 years.

After eating take in the wonderful downtown Hot Springs where you can see tired trail hikers passing through. Stop at Gentry Hardware and if you have time, visit Hot Springs Resort where the springs that made the town famous are still steaming. Bring your bathing suit.

Zuma Coffee in Marshall

Although Terry Roberts recommends Zuma’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner, he likes it best on Thursday evenings when mountain music reigns. He heard a rumor that well-heeled music fans would pay up to $1,000 per season for a front-row table on Thursday nights. Don’t let that scare you away. The rest of the time Zuma’s is primarily a coffee shop. But its “Zuma Food Menu” headlines “Creative, Healthy, Comfort Food.” That is shorthand for “It’s a great place to get a sandwich.”


Because the old courthouse is right across the street, Roberts says a good place to sit is outside in front of Zuma’s “to enjoy the action and drama on court day.”

Most of the time there is a parade of tourists, locals, and farmers in overalls who pass by and often come inside to enjoy treats from the coffee bar, cookies and sweets, and a good sandwich meal.

After eating, walk down Main Street. Still Mayberry-like, it is quickly becoming a trendy Asheville suburb with shops and more upscale restaurants. Go inside the courthouse and you will be reminded of the trial scene in the movie “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Momma’s Kitchen in Marshall

Since 1987, Momma’s Kitchen has been the proud domain of its owner, Sherry Robinson. She tells how her husband, James, sawed down trees and milled the lumber he used to build the restaurant’s building. Those rough natural wood planks help create a cozy atmosphere and make for an intimate place to enjoy its country cooking. On the day I visited, patrons raved about the fried squash and juicy hamburgers.


D.G. is a Davidson College graduate, retired attorney and a long time friend of the Haire (Editor) family. DG knows a good thing when he sees it Bon Appetite!

D.G. is a Davidson College graduate, retired attorney and a long time friend of the Haire (Editor) family. DG knows a good thing when he sees it Bon Appetite!

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. Preview the upcoming program on Preview the upcoming program on UNC-TV’s North Carolina digital channel(Spectrum #1276) on Fridays at 8 p.m.


Many people's Appalachian accents grow stronger when talking with mountain family.

Many people's Appalachian accents grow stronger when talking with mountain family.

by Mark Lynn Ferguson

Original publication: June 29,2016

Appalachian accents are like no other. A mash-up of influences—British Isles, German, African dialects, probably some Native American—all mixed together and baked in our secluded hills for a couple centuries.

Some say that the resulting sound is more like Elizabethan English than the contemporary accent in England. I’m not sure how to confirm that without a time machine, but I do know that the minute Appalachian natives leave the mountains, that accent sets them apart.

You know how it goes. A friend from, say, New Jersey is deaf to his own thick intonation but doesn’t hesitate to reference the Beverly Hillbillies or Deliverance when poking fun at yours. Some folks call it vocal imperialism. I just call it mean.

But it works. Countless mountain people are ashamed of the sound of their own voices, some going so far as beating the accent into submission with diction classes.

This pitiful pattern set today’s guest blogger Chelyen Davis to thinking. A Southwest Virginia native who lives in Richmond, she sees “code switching” among Appalachian folks all the time. That’s when someone switches dialects depending on the circumstances.

Chelyen, who also writes on her own blog Homesick Appalachian, asks an important question—now that we’re constantly exposed to people from other regions, is code-switching just a fact of life or are we losing a key piece of our mountain heritage?

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Be sure to leave a comment below.

*NPR recently started an interesting conversation on Twitter by asking if public radio voices are “too white” and if those white-sounding public radio voices are limiting the audience, shutting out people who don’t necessarily choose to listen to people who don’t sound like them.

The discussion grew out of an African-American professor and hip-hop artist who did some radio work and noticed that he talked differently for radio, and was considering why. From what I could tell from the Twitter discussion, folks of other ethnicities weighed in, and then people started talking about how public radio voice isn’t just white, it’s a sort of standard, non-accented white. You don’t often hear regional accents on NPR, no matter what race the speaker is.

That’s an interesting and valuable conversation to have, and it gets into all kinds of issues — race, ethnicity, regional dialects, the value placed on how we talk, how we sound, the words we choose, how others judge us by all that, etc. An interesting comment on that is here.

But it got me thinking off on a specific related tangent — Appalachian code-switching. This probably would apply to any strong regional accent (hi, Boston), but Appalachian accents are my own experience.

I don’t think everyone in Appalachia (or the south, or another region with a strong accent) code-switches. Not everyone needs to. My uncles and cousins mostly still live in the small communities where they grew up, and I doubt they talk any differently at work on the strip job than they do at home. They might change their words a bit when they go to, say, the doctor’s office in Bristol or Johnson City. But largely, their lives are lived around people who talk the way they do.

But I grew up hearing my parents code-switch because they left those communities. They were both the first in their (large) families to go to college, and we lived in a town — still in Appalachia, but outside the more isolated, small communities where they both grew up. You could hear my mother’s voice change when she called her parents on the phone. To neighbors where we lived, it was your basic “Hi, how are you?” To her own parents, it was “Howdydo. Howre you’uns a-doin?”

She still does that when she calls her dad or brothers, or when we visit them. And so do I. It seems you only need to code-switch when you leave. (Or become a radio/tv host.)

I am an adopter of accents. I think there’s actually a word for that but I don’t know it — I unconsciously mimic the accent of the person I’m talking to, if I talk to them for long enough and if their accent is distinctive enough. I don’t mean to, and they aren’t necessarily flattered by it, and I don’t always do it strongly. I first noticed it when I spent a month in England in college.

But my own accent is softly Southwest Virginian. I’ve lived away a good long while, so it’s not as strong as, say, some of my cousins’ accents. And probably it never was, because we lived in town and my parents went to college and I grew up watching public TV and, as I noted in a previous post, I was the kind of kid who thought “ain’t” wasn’t a proper word. But it’s there. People here, away from the mountains, sometimes comment on it or ask where I’m from. It’s a great way to find fellow mountain folks here — we can hear each other talk, and believe me if I hear an accent that sounds like it’s from Southwest Virginia, I’m going to ask that person where they’re from.

My sister’s accent has mostly faded, but mine hasn’t. I think I’m just prone to an accent. Also, I lived back home for a couple of years after college, so maybe it sort of “set” then. It gets stronger if I’ve had a glass or two of wine, and it gets stronger when someone asks about it. It knows when it’s being talked about, and it likes to show off.

I have a professional job, but I rarely consciously talk differently than I would, say, at a party or at home. The primary exception has been at public events — say if I’m on a speaking panel — or the occasional times when I’ve been a guest on a radio show (public radio, at that!). I think the accent tightens up a bit then, tries to behave itself. I probably make some different word choices than my colloquial speaking voice, although I know I’ve said “might could” on the radio.

My writing changes some, too. I’m rereading this post and it sounds awfully formal. If you and I were sitting down and just chatting about this, I would probably say things a bit differently.

But that’s all code-switching, I suppose, to an extent. I also know I talk differently when I call home to Mom, and even more so when I call my grandfather. I talk differently when I visit my parents’ families. My boyfriend tells me I talk differently when I come back from a visit home. So I code-switch both ways, to a lesser accent and to a stronger one.

And I’m glad. I’d rather switch than talk blandly all the time. I don’t want to lose my accent, my word choices, the colorfulness of Appalachian ways of talking. I’d be fine with that accent getting stronger. I know many people outside the mountains assume someone with a strong mountain accent is a dumb hick, but I figure that’s their problem, not mine. I love using terms like “might could/should/would” — and it is so handy, perfectly describing that point between “I could go to the party” and “I only MIGHT could go to the party.” I love having that vocal connection to home, to a place and a culture and a history.

My boss once told me he had heard a theory that we talk like where we want to be. I miss home, so I love talking like people back home. People who are glad to get out of the mountains (and there are some such misguided souls) probably welcome the disappearance of their accents, consciously work to shed them. The boss had come from a poor, flat farming area in North Carolina. He didn’t seem to much miss it, and he didn’t talk like his roots either.

I’m not a linguist. I assume there are studies and papers and research and opinions out there about this subject, about Appalachians shedding their accents in the flatlands. I know there are many papers and studies and ruminations about the broader issues of the homogenization of language, the pernicious effects of TV (and radio!) on making us all sound the same, the value judgments placed on word choices and on speaking “proper” English, and all that.

But I love accents and words that change by region. Perhaps because I value them so highly for my own sense of culture and place, I’m all for everyone else having their own too. Why should we all talk the same? Language should be colorful. So while I love public radio, I hope it doesn’t Henry Higgins us all, stamping out accents and strange pronunciations and weird words.

Front Porch Blog: Duke Energy wants to raise your power bill

If utility regulators approve Duke Energy’s requested rate hike, customers in North Carolina could pay hundreds more each year for electricity.

If utility regulators approve Duke Energy’s requested rate hike, customers in North Carolina could pay hundreds more each year for electricity.

If utility regulators approve Duke Energy’s requested rate hike, customers in North Carolina could pay hundreds more each year for electricity.

Duke Energy is at it again.

The company that brought us the Dan River coal ash spill is asking the North Carolina Utilities Commission for approval to raise rates for its residential customers in North Carolina by more than 16 percent. 

But the company already brings in billions in profits every year, and much of that is extracted from ratepayers who have no say in who they pay to power their homes. One of the largest electric utilities in the country, Duke Energy has a monopoly on electricity sales in North Carolina.

The requested rate hikes will cover the required cleanup of coal ash at sites across the state, sunk costs into a nuclear plant in South Carolina that is unlikely to be completed and the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline — a $5 billion project that could lead the company’s to increase our bills again in the future.

Instead of raising our rates to make amends for the Clean Water Act crimes exposed in the aftermath of the Dan River spill, the company should foot the bill to responsibly clean up and process the toxic coal ash at every site rather than pushing the “cap in place” method and leaving ash in the largest impoundments in the state. It should also move forward with providing a source of clean water for the hundreds of families who have relied on bottled water for more than 800 days.

To make matters worse, Duke Energy executives want to nearly double the “fixed charge” — the amount you pay just to be connected to the grid — from $11.13 to $19.50. This change would disproportionately impact the folks who use the least power. Overall, the rate hike would have an outsized impact on low-wage workers, seniors on fixed incomes and communities of color.

A Duke Energy radio ad that recently hit the airwaves touts the company’s steps toward a “smarter energy future” such as investing in solar and responsibly cleaning up coal ash to ensure energy costs are affordable. 

But, as has been the case, what the company says it different than what it does. And North Carolinians are taking notice and joining together at five announced hearings in September and October and others that will come later in 2017 or early 2018.

A diverse coalition including environmental organizations, economic and racial justice groups, and directly impacted communities are ready to show that North Carolinians are opposed to Duke’s rate hike request. Because we’re already paying a price for Duke Energy’s mess: toxic pollution in our waterways and drinking water that is threatening our health and well-being. It’s time for Duke to be held accountable.


Nick Wood

Nick, a native of North Carolina and our N.C. Field Organizer, is a licensed attorney with a J.D. from the UNC School of Law. He has worked in the environmental movement as a community organizer since 2013, focusing on coal ash, green jobs, fracking and climate justice.

Blind Pig and the Acorn: Have You Ever Been To Suit?


A Place Named Suit written by John Parris

You can't buy a suit in Suit. Nobody sells them and nobody makes them. "Maybe in the old days," said O.C. Payne. "But not any more. If a man wants a suit he has to go up to Murphy."

The 71-year-old former postmaster of Suit shook his head. "And you can save yourself a trip across the ridge," he added. "You won't find any vests in Vests." He paused. A grin spread across his weathered, whiskered face. A twinkle came into his eyes and he chuckled. 

"I remember once," he said, "they sent a new postal inspector into these parts. He rode in here from Vests and the first thing he asked me was: "Where's Pants? I've found Suit and Vests." He laughed fit to be tied. 

"And the drummers that came around were always making jokes about Suit and Vests. Nothing to take offense about. Just good natured joking.

We used to have a lot of post offices with unusual names in this section of Cherokee County. Ones like Guy and Bear Paw and Ogreeta and Letitia and Hothouse. But for names to set a man's curiosity on edge you can't beat Suit and Vests.

It beats all how many folks come in here wanting to know why Suit is Suit and Vests is Vests. They expect some colorful or outlandish tale of how they got their names. I reckon that's why you're here. Well, I'll tell you. But don't expect anything to do with a suit or a vest.

Suit was named after Johnston Suits. He got the post office established here. He was the first postmaster of Suit. That was in 1886. 

A family by name of Vests got a post office established across the ridge from here and the government gave it their name.

That's all there is to it. Sort of disappointing, isn't it? I reckon if the folks around here were given to making up tales, Suit and Vests would really be on the map. They are, of course, but I mean like they were famous for something unusual. 

Funny thing, since the Suit post office was established it's had 21 postmasters. I took it over in 1928. Served until I retired in 1955. That's 27 years.

Before that I was postmaster over at Birch. That's on Beech Creek where I was born. Started out over there in 1915. All together I put in 39 years in the postal service. 

At Birch and here I had a store and had the post office in the store. In those days the postmaster wasn't paid a salary. He was paid only on the number of cancellations.

Between the store and the post office I managed to make out. Raised a family of eight children. And now me and the wife are retired. Got out of the store business last November."

He paused a moment and looked down across the road to the little store where the usual loafers were sitting on the porch talking. 

"Henry Truett runs the store and the post office," he said. "He's a might fine boy. I still spend a lot of time down there. That is when I'm not seeing to my fox hounds. I go fox hunting about twice a week. Winter and summer. It's got to come and awful snow to keep me home. Been fox hunting since I was 10 years old. It's the greatest sport in the world. And I've got five of the finest fox hounds you ever listened to. They're Walkers. The music they make is really something."

As he talked the sun spun golden mists over the land. 

"You know, I've never been in but five states. Never have traveled far from home. I don't regret it either. I'm happy in these old hills."

He paused, looked over at his wife and smiled. "Suit," he said, "suits me just fine."


Granny hails from down in the Suit area of Cherokee County. I can remember folks calling the area Suit was I was young, and maybe some folks still do, but I don't hear it anymore myself. 

I know the moniker of Suit was still in common use in 1977 because it was listed on an old phone book I found. You can see it here

Henry Truett mentioned in the article as being a mighty fine boy was Granny's uncle. Funny to read of him being a boy when for my entire life he was an old man. Although I didn't get to see him often I always loved him. I never seen Uncle Henry that he didn't have a smile on his face and a song on his lips. 


Green Spun: What Education is For


Dr. Rachel Bridgers, 

September 06, 2017

This very day, as Hurricane Irma rages toward Puerto Rico and Florida, victims of Hurricane Harvey are still picking up the pieces of their lives. We are in the age of superstorms and natural disasters. We are in the age of ecological overshoot, a term used to describe all the environmental problems standing at our door. Eight out of ten of our major ecosystems are in decline, and we are in the midst of the sixth great mass extinction of species. All of this is the result of human activities. The environmental crisis we face today threatens all life on earth. 

 How did we get here? One suggestion is that education is the chief architect of social change, and it has not led us toward the ethical treatment of the earth and her inhabitants. David Orr, professor and scholar at Oberlin College, writes that our curriculum is so disjointed and fragmented that students cannot see the whole picture. Instead they specialize in particulars and, as a result, get a fragmented view of the world. 

True learning aims toward wholeness. This holistic approach is an important step in our re-shaping and in the transformation of the education system. Seeing what ecologist Gregory Bateson calls the ‘patterns that connect’ is fundamental to nature but also learning. Everything is connected to everything else, and without this sense of totality we will continue this downward ecological spiral, species extinction, and the untold suffering of global populations. 

Orr suggests that our contemporary culture is based on a few myths.

Myth 1: With enough knowledge and technology we can control the planet. This idea that technology will save us reflects another common misconception-- that all technology is good technology or somehow socially beneficial. This ethic assumes that as technology progresses, we also progress morally, ethically, and socially, which is not the case. 

Myth 2: Human goodness is increasing with knowledge. The systematic destruction of our natural resources – mountain top removal for instance – is the work of some very smart people. Their intelligence does not make them inherently good, or give them an ethical compass. 

Myth 3: The purpose of education is for upward mobility and success. This has not served the planet well. Educators and philosophers since Plato have recognized that the real purpose of learning is that we use knowledge for good in and of the world. The banking crisis is an example of individuals climbing the ladder of success at the expense of many.

How do we educate for the 21st century? Take students outside to learn about the rivers and streams, the trees and the birds. Most children know ten corporate logos and never learn to identify any of the native trees, birds and animals that live in their backyards. What we learn is as important as how we learn. 

Orr also reminds us that all education is environmental education. We are animals of a kind, living in an ecosystem, and every subject and every lesson relates to our place in the nature of things. In the southern highlands, kids are likely to spend their free time running around outside, fishing in the rivers, and hiking the trails. Students at Western Carolina University and the college campuses in the area are often taking advantage of the outdoors and kayaking the rivers and caving with friends. Some students also complain that they stay inside all day, and rarely get outside to learn. Science classes will sometimes go outside to study rivers and streams, fauna and flora, but more often than not, the humanities and arts are kept inside. 

If we are not teaching students how the environment is central to everything we are and do together, we are doing them a great disservice. As Hurricanes reach our shores and displace so many, we are called upon to remember that what we learn has real implications for the communities in which we live and the people we know. Real learning happens when students see the effect their knowledge has on their communities and in the world. This is what education is for. 

Blind Pig and the Acorn: Corncob Jelly



Corncob Jelly - Mountain Cooking by John Parris 1978


Elizabeth Edwards, who operates a business with a strictly mountain flavor, has discovered a delectable use for the lowly corncob. She's come up with corncob jelly.

"I got the idea from a story I ran across last fall," Mrs. Edwards explained one day last week. "It was about a man remembering a visit to an old-time country fair. He mentioned that he had tasted corncob jelly. I decided I would give it a try."

She had to start with only the idea. She didn't have a recipe. But being a master hand at the art of canning and preserving, she set out to do a bit of experimenting in her kitchen.

"I had my husband get me a bushel of fresh corncobs," she said. "They were white corncobs. I boiled them, poured off the juice. Then I worked the juice up into a jelly. It was clear, almost pure white, but tasty. I figured it ought to have some color, so next I tried it with red corncobs. They worked out best."

She tried it on some of her friends without telling them what it was, and they went wild about it.

"It has a taste similar to apple jelly," Mrs. Edwards explained. "But a little more delicate. Those who tasted it wanted to know what kind of apples I used. When I told them it was made out of corncobs they wouldn't believe me."


I've never even tasted corncob jelly. I've seen it at few fairs and festivals. And a quick google will turn up all kinds of recipes for corncob jelly. It doesn't sound all that appealing to me, but as I said I've seen it around and about enough to know there must be quite a few folks who like it. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be performing Saturday September 9, 2017 @ 11:45 a.m. at the Cherokee Indian Festival in Marble, NC and on Friday September 22, 2017 @ 7:00 p.m. at the Historic Courthouse in Blairsville, GA. 

GREEN SPUN: What kind of farm is this?

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Ghandi’s statement has never seemed more relevant or timely than now when the horrors of factory farming are coming into public consciousness. People have been aware of these problems since the late Peter Singer’s book, Animal Liberation, was published in the 1970s. Since then factory farms have become much larger in order to meet increased demand. At the same time the animal rights movement and the dissemination of horrific imagery has also grown, from chickens in cramped cages, to one-week old calves locked in solitary confinement (their mothers are milked by machines). 

    From an early age we are sold the image of an idyllic farm - Old MacDonald with his happy animals on a grassy knoll. For many people, living and working on a family farm is an honorable way of life. The difference now is that the majority of our food is not coming from a family farm, but a factory farm, at great cost to the environment, to animals, and to our own health. 

    Modern industrial farms or factory farms are called Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) by the industry itself. A CAFO is defined by a facility concentrating large numbers of animals in confined small spaces in an area without vegetation. Typically there can be a 100,000 or more confined animals in a single large CAFO, depending on the species. There are roughly 300,000 facilities in the US today.

    Stacy Gibson, who writes about the ethics of raising livestock, tells us that CAFO’s came about after World War II as part of the widespread industrialization of agriculture in America. This industrialization of farming was considered a part of the ‘progress’ movement and a positive gain in the economy. But what has been an attempt to provide low cost meat to the masses has become what Charles Patterson describes as the Eternal Treblinka (in his book of the same name). Gibson notes that CAFO’s are responsible for the deaths of 50-60 billion farm animals (mostly chickens, pigs and cows) annually. The plight of these animals – living in cramped cages all their lives, without time outside, companionship or any quality of life - has been compared to death camps and to human slavery (see the book: The Dreaded Comparison by Marjorie Spiegell). The lives of these animals are indeed nasty, brutish and short.

    Some people choose not to support CAFO’s and will buy animal products only if the treatment of the animals is labeled humane. There is a growing market for humane, organic and free-range animal products, particularly free-range eggs and hormone free chicken. Humane means that animals were not raised in cages. They are pasture raised and grass fed. You can have hormone free chicken that never touches the ground outside its cage. Hormone free only implies that the animal was not given antibiotics.

    Animals in CAFO’s are injected with antibiotics regularly, necessary in cramped living quarters where most will become sick, and pesticides and manure containing pathogens are used regularly for their feed. Humans who consume these animal products are being exposed to antibiotic resistant bacteria, heart disease and cancer. The World Watch Institute reports CAFO’s are also the breeding grounds for deadly virus’ such as Bird Flu, and Influenza, among others. They predict that a factory farm born illness is probable within the next twenty years and will potentially cause millions of deaths.

    The big business of factory farms have other detrimental and life threatening side effects, besides the threat to our health, and the ethical treatment of animals. From an environmental perspective, this industry is largely responsible for destroying finite fresh water reserves, using up vast amounts of arable land for feed (60% of all arable land in the US), destroying biodiversity in various ways, and creating immense land and air pollution due to the vast amounts of animal waste that often seeps into groundwater and contaminates rivers and aquifers. The environmental impact of CAFO’s on the environment is greater than all other industries combined and has been shown to destroy the livability of rural areas where they are located. Communities in the eastern part of NC (a big area for Hog CAFO’s) are suffering a growing mass of health problems, decreased quality of life and mental stress because of this industry. Economically, CAFO’s have been noted to bring the prices of animal products down, but is it worth it in the end? Not only do local and small farmers lose their ability to compete, but we are also putting the health and well being of everyone at risk. 

    The United Nations 2006 landmark report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, demonstrates that the meat industry is the biggest driver of anthropogenic (human centered) climate change, contributing to 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions. That is more carbon than the whole transportation sector combined. A study by the World Watch Institute claims the amount is closer to 51% if we consider the transportation of animals. Numbers like these indicate is that environmental integrity and animal welfare are deeply interwoven. 

    Industrial animal agriculture is harming the planet and also our humanity. While there are little to no CAFO’s in the southern highlands, Eastern North Carolina is one of the biggest producers of pork. When you buy meat at the grocery store, you are very likely buying a factory farmed animal product. An option, for those who want meat, is to look frequent your farmers market; it is likely that you can rest assured the animal was treated humanely. Making changes for the environment, for our health and for animals is more critical than ever before. Ghandi’s prescriptive statement “how we treat our animals reflects how we treat each other” is a step in the right direction. 

Dr. Rachel Bridgers, Assistant Editor

BLIND PIG and the ACORN: The Easiest Summer Salad

Summer 2017

Summer 2017

Come summer, you can count on Granny having a simple salad of cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes in her frig or on the table if you're sitting down to eat. 

A few years back I asked Granny who taught her to make the summertime salad. 

There were eleven children in Granny's family and nine lived to adulthood. Granny was the third youngest of the family. By the time she came along some of her older siblings had moved out, married, and had children of their own.

Granny used to spend the summer with her sister Dorothy in Gastonia. She babysat her nephews and helped out around the house. 

Dorothy served the simple salad for supper almost every day. Granny said she just loved it-so she asked her sister where she learned to make it? Dorothy surprised her by saying "Why mother made that for us all the time when we were little. Don't she make it for you and the rest of the bunch at home?"

For whatever reason, their mother Gazzie had quit making the salad by the time Granny came along, but thanks to Dorothy the simple recipe survived and was passed along so that I might enjoy it my whole entire life. And since Chitter made the salad for our supper the other night the recipe will go on to another generation of this family. 

To make Granny's Easy Summer Salad:

  • dice up an onion-some cucumbers-and tomatoes

  • toss them all in a bowl

  • salt to taste and put it in the frig for a couple of hours.

A few years back when I mentioned Granny's simple salad here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn more than a few readers had their own versions of the salad.