SOCIAL MEDIA

9.29.2015

Ireland Day 2: Glaslough

It has been soooo long since I posted about our first day and soooooo long since I got back from Ireland. But better late than never, right! I left off when we got off the plane on Monday morning, May 11th in Dublin.

It took a little while to get through customs. The lady asked us how long we were staying and what we were doing there, stamped our passports, and then we were officially in Ireland! We waited outside customs for a few girls who were on different flights. While we were waiting, some of us grabbed a snack/breakfast from the little store. The cashier called me "love" and I think it was then and there that I fell for that country! An Adam Levine song was playing which struck me as funny. I guess I never thought about how dominant the American music industry is and how our artists are pretty much known worldwide.

When the other girls got off their plane, we trekked across the airport parking lot to our bus. It was a lovely day, bright and sunny and I got a little warm in the sweatshirt I was wearing. We got on the bus and driving on the left side of the road was really strange. The whole driving situation over there was pretty scary. You couldn't pay me to drive in Ireland. If you think Americans are bad drivers, you haven't seen Europeans. Everyone had a Ford which was pretty cool, too. We were heading to County Monaghan to the estate we were staying at for the first two nights... or so we thought!

We drove through a couple city blocks, residential-type areas. The houses were adorable, Notting Hill-esque apartments (a little less colorful, though!). We pulled up to a gate that I thought for a second the bus might not fit through. There was a large parking lot in front of a gorgeous, old building and there were people walking horses a little bit away from that. The sign on one building read "Army Equitation School!" The Irish Army has an equitation school, founded in 1926, with the goal to promote Ireland and the Irish horse through participation in International competitions. The soldiers that ride are all officers that have been through Cadet School. The horses are all Irish-bred and are most often named after places in Ireland. They are either bought, leased, or donated to the Equitation School. We got a tour from Lieutenant David Power and also spoke to another officer. They were easy on the eyes, and those accents probably just added to it!

An adorable little Irish duplex in a suburb of Dublin



One of the Irish Army Equitation School's horses
Lt. David Power and his show jumping horse. The picture doesn't do him justice (; The horses are stabled in the old infirmary barracks.


After our tour, we hit the highway to Glaslough! We stopped at a grocery store called Tesco and it was pretty cool. I bought a hair dryer and a pay-as-you-go cell phone straight out of 2005!

The drive there was beautiful and scenic and I tried so hard to stay awake to see everything. Jet lag, however, got the best of me. The exhaustion made me feel bus-sick and sleeping was just way too tempting. The few times I woke up, I snapped some pictures. I really wish I had gotten more, though.




We were running super late to Castle Leslie, so right when we pulled up, we jumped off the bus and ran to change into our riding clothes! We were assigned horses and they were already tacked up for us, so we mounted up and took a little riding evaluation. I was very self-conscious because I hadn't been on a horse in a long time before that, but it all came back pretty easily. I rode a little pony who was possibly part Haflinger, named Tigger, and boy was he named for a reason! Can you say 'bouncy?!' He was precious and once our evaluation was done, we headed out for a hack around the estate. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. A pair of riding pants and a light sweatshirt was so comfortable and it was sunny and just lovely. We rode through the woods, cantered up a hill, and then walked/trotted our way around their lake and down paths. Our guide pointed out Northern Ireland across a field. I didn't take my phone on the ride, unfortunately. I definitely could have and most certainly should have - the scenery was insanely gorgeous.

My riding group after our hack across the Irish countryside!
Tigger and I!




After riding we popped into the tea room and had scones with jam and cream and Irish tea. I honestly felt like a princess! We then drove up to our cottages that we were staying in. They were probably two blocks up the road from the entrance to the estate. We walked in and it was just incredible - they were so quaint and cozy! I don't have a picture of my room, but there is a picture of another girl's room. They were all different, but had very much the same feel. There was wifi, so I could text my mom that we had arrived at Castle Leslie. I got a shower/bath before dinner. We had a gorgeous claw foot tub but I couldn't quite figure out the best way to wash. There was no shower curtain so I effectively soaked the bathroom floor. I didn't particularly want to sit down in the tub (I'm so weird about that kind of thing) so an awkward shower it was. The tub was super deep and I almost slipped trying to get out of it. If I had the ability to Clorox it (germophobe problems) and some bubble bath it would have been amazing.


Y'all haven't lived until you've had these scones...
We headed to dinner shortly after. We walked to the estate through the little town of Glaslough and it was so cute. There was one pub in town (The Olde Bar), a pizza place, and a few really cute houses. Dinner was at the restaurant in the estate. They had a select menu for us. We had soup and this amazing bread followed by sandwiches of many different varieties and sherbert for dessert. Most of us ordered some type of drink and it was so fun passing them around and trying a bunch of different stuff! I got a Bulmers hard cider and that's pretty much what I drank the rest of the time I was there. It was delicious! I was kind of afraid to try the Guinness because dark beer and I usually don't get along, but I took a sip of someone else's and I was sold!




We headed back to the cottages shortly after and pretty much went right to bed. Jet lag is no joke, y'all!

That brings me to the end of Day 2 in Glaslough! I will definitely have a Day 3 post up before another 3 months passes, ha!

Ireland Day 1

9.16.2015

Why I Don't Eat Chipotle

I love food. I really love Mexican/Southwest style food. Bring on the burritos, guacamole, and tortilla chips. I'm also a pretty basic (I might as well just own it) sorority girl. "This girl must love Chipotle," you're probably thinking to yourself. Or rather, since you more than likely read the title of this post, you are probably thinking, "Why doesn't this girl like Chipotle?! She totally fits in the Chipotle-demographic!" The reason I don't eat Chipotle boils down to this: as much as I love the type of food served there, I love agriculture more.

You have probably heard of the controversies surrounding Chipotle's advertisement and strong views on agriculture. They released the ad below in 2013, and have since released others justifying their views on the products they serve.



The video is centered around the horrors of "factory farming." One term I despise is "factory farming." Agriculture is a business, it earns money, but no other industry has to be as individualized and scrutinized as agriculture. Factory farming is defined as "a system of rearing livestock using intensive methods, by which poultry, pigs, or cattle are confined indoors under strictly controlled conditions." The way animals are raised is for their benefit. Sure, chickens and pigs may be raised in houses, but chickens and pigs raised outdoors suffer from temperature-related stress and disease due to lack of biosecurity measures. The connotation of "factory" indicates machinery, robots, automatic production. While agriculture may be a highly technological field, nothing about production agriculture is automatic. Nothing about it is robotic or monotonous or cookie cutter. Crops die, animals die, things happen. Cars in the Chevrolet factory don't get sick. They are stamped out over and over again, cut from the same die. No two cows are the same. There is so much more that goes into raising animals or crops than punching out products. Nutrition, soil science, reproductive physiology, environmental regulations, monetary benefit for both producers and consumers. Farmers are the furthest thing from factory workers. They care about their animals and everything they do is for the well-being of the animal. If they didn't, they wouldn't make any money!

In late 2014, Chipotle suspended their first pork producer for failing to meet their animal welfare standards. They choose not to buy pork from conventional hog farms, or farms where pigs are raised indoors. They have began a relationship with a UK pork supplier that raises their pigs "naturally," or outdoors, with a number of other standards. Because of their pork supplier issues, carnitas are not available in many US locations, including here in North Carolina. Chipotle has a graphic on their website indicating pork production practices compared between industry standards, Chipotle pork from the US, and Chipotle pork from the UK. A few things caught my eye when reviewing this information. 

Chipotle requires their pigs to be raised outdoors or in deeply bedded barns. The graphic indicates that standard is required by Chipotle, but is not an industry standard. Pigs are extremely sensitive to heat. They don't sweat and have relatively small lungs. Average daily gain, or the amount of weight a pig gains per day, begins to decrease around 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Research has shown that an average humidity of 30% coupled with temperatures higher than 82 degrees Fahrenheit will significantly affect the intestinal health and performance of grower/finisher pigs. This threshold is even lower for breeding herds. That climate is regularly reached on an average North Carolina day from April through September. NC is the number 2 producer of pork in the US, so it is safe to assume that some of Chipotle's pork may come from NC. Based on those temperature standards for swine health, keeping pigs outside in NC can be detrimental to their well-being. 

The chart indicates that the use of antibiotics to treat illness is an industry standard. Of course it is. They allow antibiotic treatment of disease in their UK pork only when necessary, but not in their US pork. Huh?! Why do they not allow US farmers to treat their sick animals? If your child was sick, you would take him or her to the doctor and get medication. Why does Chipotle not allow that for their US-raised hogs? File that under "things that don't make sense."

Finally, Chipotle lies about their stance on GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. A GMO is a plant that has been genetically changed to be produced more efficiently or otherwise have a trait that it did not previously have. One major example is Bt-corn. Bt-corn is corn that expresses some genes found in a naturally occurring soil bacterium. That bacterium produces some proteins that are toxic to the European corn borer, a pest that ravages corn crops. Bt-corn is safe for human consumption. Lots of livestock are fed corn, that of which is likely Bt-corn since 93% of corn in the US in 2014 was genetically modified. Soy is also GMed. Chipotle has decided not to use GMO ingredients in their food. Fine, every company has a choice in what they choose to use in their products. However, the issue comes in Chipotle claiming that all their products are GMO-free. They indicate here that the meat and dairy they serve may have come from animals who ingested genetically modified feeds. Also, a question I'd like to as Chipotle is, "Is your cheese GMO-free?" Over 90% of cheese in the US is made with a genetically modified enzyme that acts as a coagulant. They contradict themselves in various places on the GMO front. We have a free enterprise system here in America. If a company wants to do something or hold certain beliefs, that is perfectly fine with me! However, I can't get behind a company that lies to their consumers about the products they are being served. 

Ag literacy is a major issue in today's society. Very few people understand where their food comes from or agriculture in general. If a company wants to be an advocate for organic, grass-fed farming, fine by me. Chipotle, however, is spreading the ignorance that many ag students and professionals are fighting against everyday. Personally, my values about agriculture outweigh any restaurant, no matter how good the food might be.