I’m digging agriculture

Published 10:24 am Saturday, September 21, 2013

Last Friday evening I attended a party where the beverages and food were in abundance, thanks to my socially conscientious friends, Gary and Justin. They’re the hosts with the most. Aside from providing a good time, their other purpose was to raise money for the Southeastern Food Bank, but there was no pressure to donate. Note to self: Write a check for the cause this weekend. Some guests even brought sacks of groceries that could be taken to the community pantry.

Everyone apparently had a good time enjoying the chow as well as each other’s company. Most of the guests I already knew from previous get-togethers or different social circles. One of those people is my friend Judy, who unwittingly became the inspiration for this week’s entry.

Sometime around my third or fourth gin and tonic – OK, maybe the fourth or fifth drink, but they were small cups – she urged me to make my columns “earthy.”

With her own endearing enthusiasm, Judy said they should be the kind that people read and say, “That’s right!”

You’ve likely experienced a similar feeling on reading a book, a magazine, or most preferably an article or column in this humble newspaper. The subject is close to your heart, or not, but what’s written startles and inspires. That’s when the writer’s done his job.

I was still quite alert when she made her suggestion. While mulling it over, the idea came to mind of marrying her words with a personal recent experience.

Just a couple of days before the wingding, I got up with the neighborhood rooster’s pre-dawn crowing and drove to Courtland for the tour of field variety crops. This wasn’t difficult because I was genuinely looking forward to this preview of organic coming attractions.

First, I was reminded of something learned a couple of days before the tour. The corn that people see as they speed by fields is converted into grain for livestock, such as swine. This variety will never drip with butter while sitting on the dinner plate.

Previously, I had been puzzled by those local crops looking dried-up of late. How can this be when we’ve had so much rain? Even other people in the know have said they’re looking forward to a great harvest.

Making the time to take a closer look early last week, I saw many healthy-looking ears ripe for the plucking. Duh! I instantly felt a need for a dunce cap. All was made clear just by looking closer.

Sorghum, also a feed grain, was another genuine revelation. In spite of having reported on the crop earlier this year, I had never actually seen it with my own eyes. Truly fascinating.

Something else that impressed me on the tour was the depth of knowledge shown by the farmers, research scientists, extension agents and even seed agents/producers who participated. They were rattling off crop varieties, diseases and figures without blinking. Sometimes all I could do was listen and hope osmosis would occur in order for me to write an intelligible story.

So what nitty-gritty statement comes from all this? Likely you’ve seen this even on bumper stickers:

No farmers. No food.

Although my aforementioned hosts bought the groceries and prepared the grub, they first had to have the raw materials. Although these were bought at stores, that’s not their point of origin.

People such as Richard Kitchen, Jason Francis, Dr. Maria Balota, Chris Drake, Janet Spencer and Ray Davis and his sons already know that to be true on a daily basis.

Do you?