Posted on July 6, 2020
If you’ve ever butchered anything from a rabbit to a hog—and butchered is the right word, not the bleached “harvested”—you know there will be blood. Butchering, after all, is a bloody business.
While 95 percent of Americans are carnivores, it’s a safe bet that nearly 99.9 percent of them haven’t thought much about where […]
Posted on June 10, 2020
While Tyson Foods says it’s “feeding you like family,” we recently learned that it and the rest of America’s Big Meat members sometimes need a war-like White House declaration just to cut a fat hog.
More striking than the order itself was its effect: it didn’t work.
A week after President Donald J. Trump ordered […]
Posted on May 27, 2020
Before we take the next unsteady step into a very different future, let’s make sure it’s a step up the ladder and not a step off the plank.
How? We can start with disciplined decision making: Use proven facts, lean on practical experience, and focus like a laser on what is safe and smart.
Posted on April 30, 2020
There’s a brittle beauty to this year’s spring. Amid the swaying daffodils, cotton clouds, and already roaring tractors and dust-shaking planters hides a deadly virus with a special fondness for those of us in rural America.
In fact, rural America is perfectly primed for Covid-19, according to any epidemiologist worth their student loans. The virus […]
Posted on April 30, 2020
Coronavirus, a farmer in a recent news story noted, “is the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
It may feel that way now but, honestly, that back-breaking straw hit the camel decades ago when the nation’s top agricultural, academic, and political leaders embraced dollar-driven efficiency over safety-centered resiliency as the overarching goal of American farm policy.
Posted on April 17, 2020
Despite overwhelming evidence from literally every corner of the world, a farmer friend recently related to me that three—not one, not two, but three—rural acquaintances had assured him that “this whole virus thing is just a big hoax to bring down Trump.”
If so, worldwide there’s more than 25,000 graves, over a half million […]
Posted on April 8, 2020
My father wasn’t stoic. Instead, his temperament was one of acceptance. He simply accepted the fact that he wasn’t in complete control of most things on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth.
Sure, he was boss over everything in sight: hundreds of acres, 100 dairy cows, five farmhand sons, three hired men, and his unpredictable, […]
Posted on March 13, 2020
Geography isn’t static. Rivers change course, mountains erode, and islands disappear under rising seas.
The geography of farming and food changes, too. For example, 180 years ago my home county was the castor bean and castor oil capital of the U.S. Both titles, however, slipped into irrelevance as a new resource, crude oil, rose […]
Posted on March 4, 2020
Despite the presidential caucus debacle Iowa hosted Monday, Feb. 3, the too old, too-white, and too-rural (at least to pundits who drop by every Leap Year) Hawkeye State still finished its awful week with an act of political courage rarely seen in U.S. agriculture today.
On Feb. 7, the Des Moines Register published a clear, sharp […]
Posted on February 27, 2020
The onset of a deep chest cold recently pushed me to wander the aisles of rural America’s drug store, Dollar General, for any cure that might halt the hacking. Three days and three placebos later, my hack weakened to a wheeze. Time, and the lovely Catherine’s chicken soup, did the trick.
Had I been […]