Rural vs. City: The Running Score

26 02 2011

Now that I find myself in the big city of Urbana, IL I have discovered there are a lot of things I took for granted throughout my rural childhood. Like the fact that you can have a bonfire anytime, anywhere of any size… without the police showing up. Do city people roast marshmallows in their fireplaces and over stoves? I simply wouldn’t even know! But seriously.

And what about pets? Our family had every kind of pet imaginable: snakes, toads, snapping turtles, mice, pygmy hedgehogs, pigeons, button quail, doves, deer, turkeys, a peacock, snails, etc. But the one thing we never had: a pot bellied pig.

And the thing is, in the city I guess you can’t own barn animals. This I learned from an episode of Animal Cops on Animal planet… when they confiscated a woman’s baby pot bellied pig. In the end, I can see where having roosters would annoy the neighbors (I can hear our neighbor’s from half a mile away!).

And how about the whole well water deal? My brother just opened up a bottle of “Spring Water” and seriously considered dumping it out in favor or good ol’ country well water. I have considered packing a suitcase of well water to bring with me if I ever study abroad. But here I am in the big city with chlorinated water.

Now one would think cities would be preferred in winter weather with better snow removal for their larger populations. But that just isn’t so! I would take my snowed-in driveway I could easily fish-tail my way out of than this: 

Yes, that is my car embedded in snow with an ice consistency. Yes, it took longer to dig my car out of that than to pull my car out of a snow drift with my Dad’s tractor. So farms win again.

Except in ice storms. If a farm loses power your only communication with the outside world was through a land line non-cordless phone. Remember what those look like?

A traditional land line phone for the home or office.

An even bigger annoyance than not being able to pace around your house while you chat up a friend: you loose your access to water. Therefore, a rural family must anticipate such a problem and fill various pitchers, gallon jugs, and even the bathtub with water. Yes, I did say bathtub because a lot of families, including mine, function perfectly well with only one bathroom with one bathtub. Another issue with the loss of water: going to the bathroom. There is the wait and flush later method or the use your water preserve method where you manually flush the toilet with said water.

So these are just a few of my farm vs. city observations. In case you were keeping track the running score is: Rural 4, City 1.

But you don’t have to take my word for it (phrase from Reading Rainbow, a popular television show of my youth): comment if you can think of any other pros/cons for either side or have a different opinion. I’d love to hear from you!





Roundup Ready [Insert Name of Crop Here]

3 02 2011

The Roundup ready revolution is here… agriculturalists are all well aware of the miracles roundup can provide. First with soybeans now alfalfa, corn, cotton, spring canola, sugarbeets and winter canola. However the phrase “We have the technology” doesn’t mean we can use the technology. Lower courts had actually prohibited Roundup alfalfa to be sold without further study which was appealed by the Supreme Court. Many feared that alfalfa regulations (such as dictating where it could and could not be planted) would be a precedent for other GM crops. 

Well, the fat lady finally sang and Roundup Ready Alfalfa growers enjoyed their front row seats. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that Roundup Ready Alfalfa may be planted without restriction. “After conducting a thorough and transparent examination of alfalfa through a multi-alternative environmental impact statement (EIS) and several public comment opportunities, APHIS has determined that Roundup Ready alfalfa is as safe as traditionally bred alfalfa,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “All of the alfalfa production stakeholders involved in this issue have stressed their willingness to work together to find solutions. We greatly appreciate and value the work they’ve done so far and will continue to provide support to the wide variety of sectors that make American agriculture successful.”

However, many seem upset that the show is finally over. One article states, “USDA has become a rogue agency in its regulation of biotech crops and its decision to appease the few companies who seek to benefit from this technology comes despite increasing evidence that GE alfalfa will threaten the rights of American farmers and consumers, as well as damage the environment.”  It goes on to say, “To win these critical and difficult battles, the entire organic community, and our allies in the conventional food and farming community, will have to work together.” Apparently those in favor of organic foods are the Allies and biotechnology is the Axis Powers… I didn’t know that trying to feed the world was a crime.

And another states, “This creates a perplexing situation when the market calls for a supply of crops free of genetic engineering. The organic standards prohibit the use of genetic engineering, and consumers will not tolerate the accidental presence of genetic engineered materials in organic products yet GE crops continue to proliferate unchecked,” said Christine Bushway, executive director and CEO of the Organic Trade Association in a statement. If anything the high prices of organic foods is the crime. Regardless, I’m not sure why organic is such an issue when people don’t necessarily eat alfalfa (who really eats alfalfa sprouts anyways). I don’t know any organic cows or rabbits who are overly concerned about organic verse GM crops.

Finally, and most importantly, I feel that farmers have the right to grow whatever they wish on their own property. It is each individual’s responsibility to preserve the integrity of their fields in the best way we see fit. Part of that responsibility is detasseling and other measures to preserve that integrity. Regulations are not the answer to this issue. The important issue is food safety and that was established.

Please leave comments, concerns, corrections, or opinions.





EPA seeks to regulate… dust??

19 01 2011

We are all becoming accustomed to more and more regulations imposed by the government. Some make perfect sense (like no texting and driving, ever.), some are logical but annoying (like no talking on a cell phone in school zones or construction zones), and some are just plain stupid (like in Champaign, IL-home of UofI-one may not pee in his neighbor’s mouth….wondering how that got implemented??).

As ridiculous as that last one was, I can at least see (barely) how one could plea that the act was not aggression and may have slipped through some political loophole… and at least it is trying to prevent an unpleasant situation. But what about dust? It doesn’t exactly top my list of legislation priorities… In fact, one may wonder why it would be placed onto any priority list at all. The EPA feels differently and wants to enforce stricter dust regulations, including fines.

To me, dust is an unavoidable part of life. If its in your home, sure, take care of it… get a swiffer and a feather duster… it its outside, I’m afraid we are all just going to have to deal with it. Am I the only one who gets excited about dust devils? Do we really want to deprive future generations of them?!

But in all seriousness, this is an unnecessary and burdensome regulation. Dust occurs when children play baseball/softball, when cattle run across a dry field, when farmers harvest… the implications could be endless, that is if anyone could take such ridiculous legislation serious. And believe it or not, a number of senators are on the side of production agriculturalists (and little leaguers!).

So I guess I am left with the feeling that if dust can regulated, what will they regulate next… and should I  be worried about how much more ridiculous it will be? Because let’s be honest, it probably will be.

The best memory is that which forgets nothing, but injuries. Write kindness in marble and write injuries in the dust” (Persian Parable). I guess Persian Americans will have to find some other substance to use…. However, I find I am already struggling not to write about this injury to agriculture.

[Share your own comments/concerns bellow!]








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