Posted on January 4, 2017
As this thinly-priced farm year and deeply bitter election year glides toward its inevitable end, readers continue to pack my email inbox with sugar-coated compliments and napalm-encased invective.
Sometimes this polar divide is showcased by comments on the same column and, sometimes, these warmly complimentary/on-fire angry emails even arrive the same day. This past summer, however, […]
Posted on August 3, 2016
Recently, my pastor, a former U.S. Army chaplain, noted that the only thing with a higher rank than a chaplain on any Army helicopter is the mail. “I could bump a general off a flight—not that I ever did—but the mail flies before either of us,” he related.
That makes perfect sense; no amount of striped, […]
Posted on September 30, 2015
Faithful readers of this weekly effort may recall my darling, but dangerous Uncle Honey. He was my hometown’s quiet, easy-going milkman who retired to the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth to break, bend or beat up any plant, animal or machine unlucky enough to be nearby when Honey “helped” my father.
It wasn’t intentional; […]
Posted on September 9, 2015
Rare is the day any newspaper is printed without a mistake. All strive for perfection; few ever achieve it.
Newspapers, of course, don’t make mistakes; newspaper reporters and editors make mistakes. Last week, one of those reporters was me.
In a column outlining the newly reinstated lawsuit challenging how the National Pork Board paid the National Pork […]
Posted on August 4, 2015
“I just read your column,” noted an Illinois critic of an early May piece that outlined a proposed, multi-billion dollar merger between the key players in the prepared foods sector.
“I have just one question,” the emailer went on, “what makes you an expert in the Sysco attempt to buy US Foods?”
Ah, blessed readers; they are […]
Posted on March 23, 2015
As winter’s icy hands again strangle most of the country, I toss another log in the stove and grab the stack of old newspapers, aging magazines, and new books that has grown tall during winter travels.
The newspapers take little time. No trick to reading a two-weeks-old daily newspaper: headline… headline… recycling bin. The magazines are […]
Posted on January 8, 2015
The email got the point as quickly as a working hammer gets to a nail: “Alan—You have got to be kidding me—production agriculture ‘embrace’ the EPA clean water regulations?” it asked not really seeking an answer.
The question was sent in reaction to a mid-September column that urged farmers and ranchers to work with the Obama […]
Posted on December 23, 2014
Originally published in 1994, “Howard’s Priceless Gift of Simple Giving” continues to be the most requested, most reprinted Farm and Food File column. The column inspired The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey which will be published by The University of Illinois Press in May 2015.
The Christmas tree was a scrub cedar hacked from the edge of the woods that […]
Posted on July 16, 2014
At the end of every fiscal year, June 30, and the end of every calendar year, December 31, readers claim this space to offer their views of my views.
Take Mike C. from Texas who, after I wrote a spring column on how climate change will affect food production in 2050, sent a parody of a […]
Posted on December 31, 2013
There are two file folders in the lower, right drawer of my desk. One is labeled “Mail,” the other “Another Satisfied Customer.”
The former is filled with complimentary or question-asking reader mail. The latter holds mail that’s more acidic than affectionate, more hammering than humorous.
Like an email from “Gil” in response to an October column on […]