Feed the Birds!

Wintertime can be tough on every species. In mid-Atlantic, northern and mid-Western regions of the United States, and throughout northern Europe, temperatures during the winter months drop significantly, and vegetation and food sources become more scarce. While many animals have inherent methods and can successfully adapt to seasonal changes, it really doesn’t hurt to provide an extra food source, particularly when it constitutes an invitation to activity and natural beauty for your winter garden.

I’m particularly fond of watching birds, and keep a feeder up pretty much year round. In the US, where I live, there are several worthwhile bird species that bring abundant color, song and quaint behavior to my backyard. I’ve seen song sparrows, house sparrows, brown wrens, tufted titmice, goldfinches, chickadees, juncos, American robins, blue jays, Eastern bluebirds, beautiful, red cardinals, towhees, flickers, woodpeckers, nuthatches, and thrushes. Not all of these are seed-eating birds, but many frequent my feeder.

In winter, feeding activity takes on a heightened level of energy. It’s not a frenzy, exactly, but birds of varying species congregate with more focus and intensity. Some become bullish and try to dominate the feeder, but demand often forces them to back down, and give way to the hungry crowd. It can be so entertaining to watch from inside.

While I am no expert, I did find some good tips here and there for winter bird feeding. I consider feeding the birds a gesture of conservancy, and am happy to encourage your enthusiasm for this easy, beneficial hobby. First, feeders that have a cover of some sort to protect perches and trays are preferable, especially in inclement weather.

Second, it is important to find a good location for your winter feeder; a spot that is sheltered from wind, and relatively near protective cover (such as a hedge or trees) in the event of predators is ideal. Another important consideration about location is the proximity to your house and windows; you want the feeder close enough to be able to watch your feathered guests easily from inside, but also far enough away from windows to prevent them from crashing into the glass. I’ve read that a distance of five feet or less is ideal.

Third, it is important to keep your feeder clean. Moisture can build up in seed that stands in your feeder, and consequently build mold. So change your seed with relative frequency, clean your feeder when you fill it, and be sure that the feeder is dry when you do so.

Online you can find a variety of delightful bird feeders for use year round. There are covered feeders suitable for winter seed, and there are open tray feeders for spring and summer use. Each is artfully designed to add an element of refinement and artistry to your garden, and each reflects craftsmanship excellence. And for birds that don’t eat seed, you can find some wonderful suet feeders, which are particularly beneficial in the winter. (Suet, by the way, is fat from meat, and you can usually get this for free from your local butcher or grocer’s meat department.)

All feeders are made in America, and any would make a lovely gift.

Enjoy creating a winter haven for the birds…and enjoy their beauty in your winter landscape!

Hunger and Poverty in America: The Myth Of Meritocracy

In respect to hunger & poverty in America, the U.S. people believe in a myth. The real myth is NOT that hunger and poverty don’t exist within America. Albeit, the prevalence of poverty hunger in America is largely downplayed and ignored by the collective American opinion. Regardless, no one can deny the staggering statistics. In the United States, 38.2 million people – including 14 million children – live in households that experience hunger or the risk of hunger. 3.9 percent of U.S. households experience hunger. 8.0 percent of U.S. households are at risk of hunger. Though often ignored, the facts are blatant.

The real myth in America is the myth of meritocracy – the myth that the poor are just lazy and stupid. Most Americans seem to believe that the poor in America deserve poverty. These people believe the United States is a meritocracy, in which wealth and status is determined by merit. These people believe that the wealthy in the United States have earned their wealth through intelligence and hard work. And accordingly, these people believe that laziness and stupidity cause poverty.

The prevalence of this myth shocks some people, who wonder how over 14 million U.S. children could deserve poverty. Children. The non-meritocratic reality is obvious to most anyone who has worked or knows someone who has worked two or even three jobs and barely earns enough to survive. Indeed, many intelligent hard-working American families struggle to feed, house, and clothe themselves.

It seems that the belief in the myth of meritocracy isn’t based on logic or empirical evidence. Rather, it seems the belief in meritocracy is based on desire and cognitive dissonance. Not to say that the majority of non-poor Americans directly want to believe that 38.2 million American people are lazy and stupid. Rather, the majority of non-poor Americans want to believe that they, the non-poor, have earned their wealth and status. The majority of non-poor Americans choose to reject the notion that poverty is unfairly determined by non-meritocratic forces, because they don’t want to accept that their own wealth is equally unfair. The majority of non-poor Americans don’t want to admit that the majority of the poor Americans are unlucky, because that would entail that the majority of non-poor Americans are just lucky. Understandably, Americans want to feel like they are deserving, decent citizens living in a fair meritocracy. They don’t want to feel guilty, lucky or responsible to the poor.

Unfortunately, this pretentiousness and arrogance alone cannot explain the prevalence of the myth of meritocracy, because not only do non-poor Americans believe in the myth of meritocracy, but also poor Americans believe in it! While arrogance and a desire to feel proud could explained the non-poor Americans belief in the myth of meritocracy, it can’t explain why poor Americans believe in this myth. Just like non-poor Americans, poor Americans believe that they are inferior and deserve to be poor. Poor Americans literally have – both collectively and individually – an inferiority complex. Additionally, working-class and middle-class Americans never question their own status in relation to the upper-class. Indeed, working-class Americans don’t avoid poverty with actual wealth, but rather with credit-lines. Their houses, cars, and clothes are all financed with borrowed money. The majority of non-poor working-class Americans are literally on the brink of poverty. Generally, their apparent wealth is just an illusion.

To understand the prevalence of the myth of meritocracy, one must understand the socioeconomic structure of the United States. The true wealth in the United States is in the hands of a few. The top 1% in the United States have more wealth than the lower 95%. Generally speaking, the upper-class doesn’t work or produce. Generally speaking, this upper-class is unproductive and uncreative. Instead of being workers or managers, the upper-class make money by share-holding and banking. Money controls everything, so the richest of the rich don’t need to work. Indeed, the government-sponsored dollar is mightier than the sword.

It’s not in the interest of the richest and most powerful, the true owners of America, to have a rebellious working-class. The powers that be all have a stake in the continuance of the non-meritocratic oligarchy. So, right from the start in the government-run schools, students are taught to believe in the myth of meritocracy. The schools literally teach students blind nationalist patriotism. The entire social system, namely schools, indoctrinate the people to believe that America is completely fair and meritocratic. Any evidence that contradicts the myth of meritocracy is omitted from the courses, whether historical or contemporary. Indeed, even women-oppressing Indian-killing slave-owners are made out to be American heroes.

A very small minority of non-working unproductive people truly run America, and indeed most of the world. A very small minority of people have all the wealth and power. Simple Machiavellian philosophy says that those who benefit from the current social order will do whatever they can to keep that order in place. Simple Machiavellian philosophy says that those whom change would adversely affect will furiously try to stop change. It is no surprise that the very small minority of wealthy and powerful leaders want to keep the current social order; they’re living the good life. Wealth without work.

The main way to keep the masses of people from uprising is by tricking the masses with the myth of meritocracy. Convince the lower and working classes that classism is based on merit, and they’ll keep going to their jobs. Even as more children starve and middle-class debts increase, they’ll keep going to their jobs. So long as the working-classes and lower-classes have an inferiority complex, they’ll keep working. They’ll be depressed, stressed, and hungry, but they’ll keep working. Nothing changes, and those few people with a stake in the oligarchy prevail. The prevalence of the myth of meritocracy guarantees the prevalence of the oligarchy.

And, as long as the oligarchy prevails and nothing changes, 14 million American children go to bed hungry every night. And, 16,000 children die everyday.

Animal Feed Additives Market – An Overview

Animal Feed additives (AFA) are the materials of nutritional value that are fed to animals. It acts as vitamins for farm animals that get insufficient nutrients from regular meals. The global market for AFA is growing tremendously owing to the growing demand for meat and related products over the past few years. Asia Pacific is expected to lead the global AFA Industry attributed by more number of farm animals in this region. Major contributors in the Asian market include emerging economies such as India and China. Europe is expected to remain at second place after Asia Pacific in terms of revenue generation. India, China, and Brazil contributed around 23% share in 2011 in the global market. This share is expected to rise to 39% by 2018.

Increasing demand for protein rich meat and dairy products, industrialization in meat production, rising rate of meat consumption, outbreak of livestock diseases, and growing awareness about meat safety and quality are some important factors driving the growth of the AFA market.

Regulatory structure and increasing cost of raw materials are some major challenges restraining the growth of this industry. However, rising cost of natural feed products is creating some opportunities for the AFA. Restriction on the use of some harmful feed additives and environmental concerns are also creating opportunities for the use of AFA. Most manufacturers of feed industry are engaged in improving production processes to develop the products at lower cost and increase the production capacity.

The global AFA market is categorized into two major categories:

· Nutritional feed additives

· Non-nutritional feed additives

Amino acids, minerals, and vitamins fall under the category of nutritional feed additives while hormones, antibiotics, enzymes, prebiotics and probiotics, immunomodulators, and feed acidifiers fall under the non-nutritional feed additives category. Nutritional feed additives provide essential nutrients in appropriate proportion. This helps in improving the muscle mass at a quicker rate and gain lean meat. Non-nutritional feed additives helps in improving immunity, strengthens the digestive system of animals and aids in reproduction and reducing phosphate content in livestock waste. North America is leading the amino acids market as there is huge demand for consumption of chicken and beef in the region. Asia and Europe are the largest consumers of chicken.

Leading manufacturers in the AFA market are focusing on expansion of business across regions and are setting up new plants for increasing the production capacity and product lines. Most companies are engaged in mergers and acquisitions to penetrate the untapped markets of Latin America and Asia Pacific.

Some of the major players in the global AFA market include Addcon Group GmBH, BASF SE, Chr. Hansen, Danisco A/S, Evonik Industries AG, Kemin Industries, Novozymes, and DSM among others.