Saturday, December 06, 2008

Walking through the fields on a beautiful day

One evening while scouting the fields, I could not resist recording the sunset and the sounds of the birds and insects. The month of August was unusually wet, giving an added boost to the soybeans while flowering and setting pods. Though the highway was nearly a half mile away, the sounds of the traffic was as if they were within a hundred yards, even though you cannot see the road from my vantage point.

It's days like this that brings joy to the soul. Peaceful, contemplative and energizing the spirit.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Link between farm subsidies and obesity...tenuous at best

Noted New York Times writer and author, Michael Pollan, among others, suggests there is a strong link between obesity in the general population and farm subsidies.

A recent study by John C. Beghin and Helen H. Jensen, Iowa State economics professors, concludes the connection is very weak, at best. The study found that the farm value of the sweetened food items is very small (below 5%). Also, countries with different or no commodity programs experience similar increases in consumption of added sweeteners.

Their conclusion was that "the current link between the US consumption of caloric sweeteners and farm policy is tenuous, although historically the link was stronger." For the full text of the report, click on the link here:

Another link for another publication, Effects of Agricultural Policies on Human Nutrition and Obesity, click here:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

In the interest of a broader discourse

The privilege of living in a democracy is the freedom to express one's ideas without fear of political, economic or military retribution. It's every American citizen's constitutional right.

Within this marketplace of ideas, we have the freedom to think for ourselves, to study ideas other than our own, to analyze them with a critical mindset, not so much as to find fault with these ideas, but to give them an opportunity to present their case in front of a jury of peers.

In the interest of furthering such discourse among those who visit this blog, I've added a new link to an excellent site, The Expatriate's Kitchen. The author, not only offers ideas on how to secure and prepare great tasting and healthy food, her writing style is entertaining and a comfortable, yet thought provoking read.

Though I may disagree with her on some issues relating to agriculture, the environment and politics, that does not mean we don't have something in common. Each maintains a garden that produces food for our respective families. Our garden in Kansas produces tomatoes, squash, beets, radishes, lettuce, onions, ornamental flowers, peppers, dill, mint and sage.

All too often, the greatest barrier between people is the fear of the unknown. I remember reading Winston Churchill's great speech, where he said, "The only thing we have to fear is, fear itself." In essence, even as bad and terrible as the Nazis were, fear had greater control over the British nation than anything else.

Fear is a great motivator and used effectively by those who desire to bring about a major change that often results in harmful consequences for the majority of people. In a democracy such as ours, we should not allow that to happen.

Rather than give in to our fears about what we have been told or led to believe as the truth, we have an obligation to ourselves and to our future generations to discover the truth, to dispel the myth that invites fear into our lives, even if it means asking uncomfortable questions or listening to differing opinions.

Even if we find ourselves at an impasse where we agree to disagree on certain issues, at least we have reduced the darkness of fear to a more manageable factor. We've gained new insights into what motivates other people. We understand their role as citizens, whether they live in large cities, small towns or in the countryside.

So, let the discourse continue.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

For less than a cup of free trade coffee

Lets put the cost of food security and safety into proper perspective. A cup of free trade coffee generally costs more than regular coffee. Whatever that price is, it exceeds the cost of supporting the entire farm program, on a per capita per day basis.

Assuming this cup of free trade coffee costs $4.50, one might think it is a bargain, depending on where this was purchased. Now, switch gears and think about the entire American agricultural industry and the Farm Bill that has been hotly debated in both houses and now is threatened by a Presidential veto.

About 0.25% of every $100 paid by the taxpayer, or 25 cents, goes to support the farm program, including subsidies, conservation programs, research, etc. That's about 9 cents per person per day.

Without a doubt, farm programs are a bargain, especially when considering what this 9 cents does for the American consumer. It ensures that the infrastructure of a diversified family farm based agriculture will survive. It provides a modest safety net when weather wreaks havoc on the crops and livestock. It pays producers when prices move to disastrously low levels. When droughts come as they are prone to do in semi-arid climates, they help farmers through these times with direct payments so they can pay their bills and survive until the next harvest comes. It assures the American consumer that there will always be enough food to serve on the plate.

9 cents per person per day.....who would even pick up 9 pennies from the sidewalk and think they found real wealth? Even when compared to a cup of regular coffee, it's not even a contest.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Renewed endeavor to write about important matters

Anything worth having comes at a price. Relationships with long-time friends is worth the price. This short video is a small reflection of my time with some former highschool classmates while watching OU play in the Big 12 championship game a few years back.

As they say, "when in Rome", I support OU, especially when my friend from Oklahoma calls up and offers a ride and admission (14 rows up from the ground) to an important game at Arrowhead stadium in Kansas City. But hey, I'm a transplanted, born in Texas, raised in Oklahoma, living in Kansas fan who supports any friend's favorite team, especially when I am the guest.

Our small highschool class of '68 has always had fun together, planning reunions that other classes even ask to attend. But that's the way we were as kids, too. Nothing exclusive or elitist, just "come on by and let's have some fun."