Rural America

Fix Rural Broadband’s Leaky, Creaky Net

Moving just six miles from a small central Illinois farm town to an even smaller, rural enclave in 2005 took the lovely Catherine and me from a drafty, big house on a leafy, wide street to a tighter, smaller house in a leafy, wide woods. Fabulous.
On the flip side, however, somewhere during that short move […]

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Welcome Greenie Weenie Wally

Walmart, the elephant of American food retailing, announced April 10 that it plans to bring its clout, cash and vegetable crispers to the American pea patch this year and bigfoot its way into the still-growing U.S. organic grocery business.
The news sent Wall Street motor mouths into overdrive. Walmart’s entrance into organic grocery retailing, they breathlessly […]

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Just the Facts Ma’am

As this space has often noted, facts, figures, and data are as essential to journalism as verbs, nouns, and dangling participles. In fact, journalism without facts is a cup of tea without tea.
We also understand that erudite farm and food conversationalists—like you, for instance—are often on the prowl for convincing evidence and fresh facts to […]

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Big Ag and Big Data

Everyday, according to the coconut milk-drinking nerds in Silicon Valley, the world generates 2.5 quintillion bytes of electronic data.
Yes, 2.5 quintillion. Think two, comma, five and then 17 zeroes.
If a picture helps, picture this: If you placed that data on iPads equipped with a 32-gigabyte memory, you would need 57.5 billion iPads to hold it.
Then […]

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Fields of gold

On a sparkling fall day a week before the first FarmAid concert at the University of Illinois, I drove the back roads to Champaign to pick up two press passes for the lovely Catherine and me. It was mid-September, 1985, and the brown corn and yellowing soybeans rattled and rippled in a soothing breeze.
Later, while […]

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The last supper

The weekly newspaper from my hometown bring news that the small, rural Catholic church near the big southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth will close its doors next year, a casualty, according to its distant bosses, of too few priests and too many parishes.
It’s a judgment day that many of the old timers mostly […]

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