Food and drink: Oh, the joys of farming 

A glimpse behind the curtain of that hamburger on your plate

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"Then there's weed control, cane burning, irrigation requirements and soils - it goes on and on, and that's just for raspberries."

And that's just deciding which varieties of canes to grow. You've also got to figure out how you'll pick your berries and what kinds of containers you'll need in the fields and what kinds you'll need for market if you're selling them yourself. Paper that biodegrades? Corn-based containers that don't? Clear ones from recyclable plastic?

How will you store the berries? How will you transport them? And what are your farmer-neighbours planting that might impact your chances of selling your precious crop, provided it doesn't get hit by the aforementioned pests, too much rain or not enough?

Here's another twist. What happens if you went into something like blueberries four or five years ago, so your crop isn't commercially productive yet and now the market is tanking because we consumers are gobbling up all the blueberries we can, plus B.C. only has processing capacity for 125 million pounds of blueberries a year - and there's almost 200 million pounds in the pipeline? What do you do with that?

Besides the challenging complexities of it all, a couple of other things struck me at the Pacific Agricultural Show. One was the numbers and kinds of chemicals, and I use the term loosely, that follow our food from farm to fork.

Not that I know anything about dairy farming, but I was flabbergasted to learn that you might opt to feed your calves "milk replacer" instead of cows' milk. Kind of like baby formula only for animals. It's better than milk, the salesman promised. Besides, why would you want to feed your calf milk at 70 cents a litre, when you can feed it milk replacer at 44 cents a litre? Why indeed?

If you're raising livestock, a chemical stall deodorizer will neutralize ammonia, keep odors and flies down and, if the ads are accurate, save 50 per cent on bedding costs.

There's T-Klor-XX to hose down your truck or reefer van if you're hauling food (450 ppm free chlorine) and Hortiklor to keep your berry processing equipment clean - no manual scrubbing. If you're into chickens, you can get DuPont Liquid Tray & Egg wash ("highly caustic and chlorinated for efficient soil removal") or DuPont 904 (don't use it with the tray & egg wash).

There's estroPLan to regulate the reproductive cycle of your cattle, which is "key to your business growth," and Calf-Lyte if your calves get diarrhea. Some of the hormonal products boast that you'll have zero milk or meat withdrawal, meaning you don't have to wait after administering them to milk or butcher your animals.

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