Lower Fox River Basin

The Lower Fox River Basin is located in the northeastern part of the state which includes Brown, Calumet, Outagamie, and Winnebago counties. The rivers basin empties 6,349 square miles of water northeast to the Bay of Green Bay which then empties into Lake Michigan, which is surrounded by large industrial, commercial, agricultural, and urban areas. This creates many nonpoint sources that greatly affect the water quality.

The Fox River Appleton Watershed holds 39 square miles of land that include the city of Appleton. Much of the land contains glacial deposits as a result from the WI Ice Age that happened over 10,000 years ago. The soil is rich with remains of limestone. The land’s natural habitat once had prairie, oak, savanna, and maple-basswood forests. Much has changed over the years because of human practices, the forests have lost density and agriculture has decreased. In the 1600’s Europeans used the Fox River for fur trading, fishing, crop maintenance, and transportation. People began to settle in Green Bay and then along the river where a large timber industry began, which led to larger industries and urbanization.Within the last century an extremely large amount of raw waste was running into the river. In 1931 Green Bay formed a Metropolitan Sewage District and its first sewage treatment plant. The Federal Clean Water Act began in 1972 to help limit pollution. WI then created its own Pollution Discharge Elimination System, which required businesses to reduce their organic waste that runs into the river.Now the water is known as a warm river with impaired water conditions. There are advisories of fish consumption since 1976 because of PCB’s that settled along the riverbed.  Various programs that cost millions of dollars are working together to restore the Fox River. NCR Corp. and Sonoco- U.S. Mills spent about $30 million on a project that removed 130,000 cubic yards of PCB-contaminated sediment.

Within the watershed lies 100.87 acres of the Fox River Lock Channel-Appleton, it is located within the Fox River and the Plum and Kankapot Creeks. Agriculture takes up most of the watershed use with a high of 64.15% while residential use is 12.56% and forests use is 7.92%. The watershed has a “high” level of groundwater and streams.

There have been many monitoring projects within the Fox River Lock Channel-Appleton. After looking at the most recent reported data in July of 2002, I discovered that out of the water collected 80% was sand, 71% silt, and 21% clay. There were also reports of 129000.0 UG/G dry of organic total carbon, 93.0 UG/G dry of PCB 1242, while many additional results were reported to have been insufficient sample, reports approximate. Much of this data was received by gathering physical, chemical, and biological data from the habitat. There are 6 point (known) flows of discharge into the river. The Appleton City, Heart of the Valley Sewerage District, Anchor Foods, Foremost Farms USA, and Thilmany International Paper are all known discharges. The Fox River Watershed may now be selected as a “priority”  by the WI Nonpoint Source Pollution Abatement Program. There are also plans under way by the WI Administrative Code NR 121 to help protect the water quality. There have been a variety of grants offered to restore the different areas of the Fox River watershed. The most recent proposed project is to hire a County Aquatic Invasives Coordinator. These projects encourage improvements of the Fox River Basin and its habitat in the future.

Lower Fox River Basin – WDNR.

Non-GMO Month

Non-GMO Month was created by the Non-GMO Project to educate communities about consumption of genetically modified organisms. The upcoming Non-GMO Month is a way to encourage community events and participation in your area. To learn more you can follow the direct link below.
Non-GMO Month

Our Environment- US EPA

This is a very informative link to the EPA’s energy consumption site in Wisconsin. Here you can learn what sites are emitting pollutants such as mercury, etc. You can also track your air, water, and land quality. Based on a 2008 Energy Production vs. Consumption Graph, our state consumed the least amount of nuclear gases compared to other energy sources.

OurEnvironment | US EPA.

Meat Tour

I have been determined to discover where meat comes from before the grocery store. This led me to a meat market called Black Earth Meats that offers one on one handling during the butchering process. Many of their products come from local farms across southern WI that raise the animals with the highest quality and humane treatment.

It was early morning when I began to drive west of Madison. Slaughters occur 2 days a week, I hoped to go only 1 of the 2 days to see the whole process. I was welcomed by a friendly staff that provided me a hair net and a white coat.

Quickly I followed the plant manager behind the meat market, where there was packaged tenderloin and other select meats ready for sale, past the cutting room and then farther down the hallway beyond 2 doors. As I walked through a foot bath and another large door, I entered the slaughter room. There were four butchers, each individually and skillfully eviscerating  the animals. There appeared to be blood everywhere. I was asked if I wanted to see the actual “kill.” I replied, “yes.” I slowly made my way past an exsanguinated pig which led me to a narrow, boxed off section that held one pig.There were 1/2 a dozen pigs lined up inside an even narrower, steel isle 15′ away. Screams and squeals from the pigs chorused loudly through out the room. I was asked if I was ready and watching, I was. There was a man in the box area preparing for the “kill.”  The pig was stunned in the neck by an electric current and then once more under his leg. His heart rate slowed down, color faded from his face as a pale white set in, tongue hanging out and then collapsed to the cement. The stunned pig was silent.

Then the pig was dragged just a few feet to a hanger where it was hoisted up to hang upside down by its hooves. It was then exsanguinated, by the use of a pointed knife that was inserted behind the jaw and below the neck bone. This then severed the jugular vein, carotid artery, and trachea. Blood then flowed freely, pouring into a large barrel. The carcass was then removed,  and placed on a hook for a USDA Inspector to examine for signs of disease or pathological illness that would cause the carcass to be unwholesome for human consumption. The inspector also has to complete other health regulations before, during, and after the slaughter. For more information about USDA inspection you can learn more at the Food Safety & Inspection Service website.

During this time the slaughtering staff was often using watering hoses to remove blood and sanitize the carcass. The pig was laid down on a steel table to have its hooves removed by trimming the main tendon and then removing the hoof. Its genitals were cut and placed in a steel bin for the inspector to examine. Two hooks were then placed through the pigs hind legs to be hung to complete the process. It was eviscerated by removing the intestines, kidneys, stomach, and liver for inspection.

Once the pig was raised high it was cut in half by the use of a hand chainsaw. It was then rinsed with water to remove any remaining bacteria. Weighed. Then transported from a hanging shaft into a large walk in cooler to help with the process of cutting and deboning. Before leaving the “kill” room I noticed a large banner with these words, “WE HONOR THESE ANIMALS, FOR BY THEIR DEATH WE GAIN LIFE.”

After seeing the slaughtering process, I moved to view the cutting and deboning room. There was  a larger amount of staff, they were listening to music and enjoying conversation with each other. A group of three were individually cutting an already cooled pig while others were processing beef, packaging, and cleaning. One man said the cutting room is their graduation from the kill room.

Image taken from the web of what our beef looks like in the grocery store, following the slaughter/cutting process

Overall, I saw what I wanted to see. Many workers at the meat market asked what school I was from and why I was there. I said, “I want to know where the meat I eat comes from, where it is before looking nicely packaged at the grocery store.” I often heard the reply, “people think their meat comes from the grocery store, THIS is where it starts.” I am thankful I was able to receive a tour of Black Earth Meats, they encourage people to visit. I discovered a link, by experience, to where the meat comes from before the grocery store or farmers markets. This summarizes the slaughtering process at only one meat market. The food chain is one giant wheel that holds various beliefs among different cultures.


National Organic Program

I have been questioning what an organic product is according to the USDA.

Products labeled “100 percent organic” must
contain (excluding water and salt) only organically
produced ingredients and processing aids.
Products labeled “organic” must contain at least 95% organically produced ingredients (excluding
water and salt). The link below will take you directly to the organic labeling & marketing information.
National Organic Program