Posted on September 18, 2014
Farmers and ranchers have a well-deserved reputation for straight talk. Saying what you mean and meaning what you say, after all, were essential elements in the handshake deals that were the hallmark of rural business for generations.
They still are.
Now, however, some folks outside the nation’s fields and fences are working overtime to wash—and, in many […]
Posted on August 20, 2014
As the calendar turns to August, Congress turns to recess.
What, our federal legislators haven’t earned a five-week furlough after 90 or so days of sweaty inaction since January?
In preparation for their stopovers in fly-over country, farmers, ranchers, and foodies should read “Packing Political Punch in Rural America,” a six-part online series, on, literally, the lay […]
Posted on August 11, 2014
If most American followed commodity prices as blindly as they follow the Kardashians, the national dinner menu might well feature bushels of cheaper-by-the-day grains and teaspoons of record-priced pork, beef, poultry and fish.
Call it the revenge of the vegan or (with apologies to author Michael Pollan) the carnivore’s dilemma, but 2014 is fast becoming a […]
Posted on August 11, 2014
You’d think that a state constitution eight times longer than the U.S. Constitution might cover every right, act or idea any of its citizens might need, do or ponder.
Not so in the Show Me State, Missouri, where on Tues., Aug. 5, voters will decide if they should add a “right to farm” amendment to its […]
Posted on July 2, 2014
There’s no more comforting sound to awaken to than a soft June rain falling on a shingled roof. The patter of the light rain whispers sweet, two-word poems like “Maybe slowly” and “Rising delayed.”
On the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth, a rainy June day was a treat almost as great as homemade ice […]
Posted on June 17, 2014
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 […]
Posted on May 13, 2014
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 […]
Posted on May 5, 2014
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 […]
Posted on December 1, 2013
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.
Posted on October 13, 2013
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 […]