Archives for June 2014

3 Basic Things U.S. Consumers Take for Granted about Meat

I know I am preaching to the choir, but sometimes we all need to stop and say thank you. It is my turn to do that.

I have just returned from two weeks in Uganda. My trip spanned three different areas: Kampala, Uganda’s capital and only metropolitan area; Lira, a medium-size city 200 miles north and a bit east of Kampala; and the very desolate villages of Northern Uganda where there is no electricity, plumbing or asphalt roads, just extremely bumpy dirt roads with huge ruts carved by the recent rainy season.

My trip afforded me the opportunity to visit a couple of grocery stores in the capital city and witness how meat is sold in a mid-size town and in villages. In the remote areas, meat is a treat that’s saved for celebratory events and special holidays. The preparations for such a meal harken back to the early 20th century in the United States, when young boys were taught the art of catching, slaughtering and handing over meat to the women of the community for cooking.

So what did I miss about home while I was there? Lots of things (like a hot shower!), but given my profession, I found myself often thinking about what the U.S. meat industry is very good at:

  1. Safety – I don’t question the safety of the meat I buy at a grocery store or order at a restaurant. The industry’s track record has proven that I don’t need to worry about the protein on my plate.
  2. Variety – I appreciate very much that I can eat only what I choose to and don’t have to figure out how to consume an entire animal when I want to eat some protein.
  3. Taste – Thanks to the reliability of electricity and refrigeration, we can enjoy meat prepared to bring out its best taste, not cooked to a very high temperature for a very long time just to make it safe to eat.

My trip provided me with the opportunity to eat a variety of proteins: beef, pork, lots of chicken, some goat and even a few termites. One thing the Ugandans know better than the average American is where their meat comes from. Even in Kampala it was not unusual to see live chickens hanging upside down from bodas (small motorcycles) on their way to become someone’s dinner. At one point I was walking and had to scoot out of the way of cattle that were meandering unattended past me!

So as I re-enter life here in the states, I want to pause and count my blessings for all the hard workers in our meat supply chain – the farmers and ranchers, the packing plant line workers and the supermarket stockers – for the work they do that allows me to enjoy the best meat in the world!

I think I will go have a steak – medium doneness please!

See more photos of Danette’s Ugandan adventure!


Mastering the Art of Work and Life

Do you have those awful nightmares where everything is going wrong that could possibly go wrong at your job? I’m here to let you know, you aren’t alone. Just recently I had a dream I filled out all of my timesheets incorrectly and woke up in a cold sweat. Luckily for us, there is an easy fix to this anxiety: managing a healthy work-life balance.

The concept of a work-life balance has been a popular topic recently. Time  and Harvard Business Review have published articles on it in the last three months. Huffington Post has a tag on relevant articles dedicated to this topic, author Nigel Marsh presented a TED Talk about balancing work and life, even WebMD provides tips for a better work-life balance. So if this topic is so popular right now, then why do so many people still struggle to achieve this balance?

Here are my tips for successfully maintaining a work-life balance:

  1. Don’t take work home with you. This one may seem obvious, but it’s important. You need to create a separation between work and home. If the line between the two is blurry, then you are more likely to still be thinking about work long after the office doors close for the day. If you are part of the growing trend of people who work at home, designate a specific room or area of your house as your work space and don’t let your work leave those confines.
  2. Power down. Technology is great. It allows us to be connected 24/7 and has made a lot of things easier in the business world.  But being plugged in all of the time can keep you from focusing on the things important to you outside of work. I’m guilty of checking my work email way too frequently on the weekends, which typically leads to thinking about what I need to get accomplished during the upcoming week and keeps me from enjoying my down time.
  3. Do that thing you’ve been meaning to do. Go on a hike. Ride a tandem bicycle with your friends. Heck, take a bubble bath. Sometimes we get so caught up being busy we don’t take time to do things we enjoy. Personally, to help with this I’ve created a list of things I want to do or places nearby I want to visit, including museums, hiking trails and parks. By doing this, I get the satisfaction of doing something new for myself and I get to cross things off of a list – which helps me feel productive.
  4. Schedule down time. Okay, so you tried to follow steps 1-3, but you still can’t seem to pull yourself away from work. I understand, you’re just that important! Your time is a commodity and everyone wants a piece of you. Your calendar is booked with more meetings than the president of the United States. Try this: schedule down time in your calendar. No, you aren’t allowed to double book this time or cancel it. This may be difficult initially, but taking time for yourself can be very beneficial to achieving a nice work-life balance.

Now you may be asking yourself, “Why is having a balanced work-life so important?” You may enjoy being busy, staying focused and working hard, and that’s perfectly fine. However, focusing your attention on life outside of work will allow you to seek inspiration elsewhere and get your creative juices flowing. You will be more energized and focused on the task at hand when you walk in to your job, allowing you to work more efficiently.