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November 29, 2015

Just Thankful For Food

Facebook Memories gets me every time!  That app that lists your posts from that day from previous years.  An article I wrote for Indiana Prairie Farmer popped up on my memories as I was still full and recovering from a huge Thanksgiving meal the other day.
As I was sitting there with my laptop on my comfy couch, full from so much food there would be leftovers for days I was once again reminded not everyone was as fortunate a me.  While my house was a disaster, laundry knee deep and evening feeding of the livestock still had to be done these were all fortunate problems to have and I would be doing them with a full stomach.
I have listened to my oldest talk about packing meals in Washington, D.C., with FFA. She said it made her feel good inside and appreciate what she had.
"Putting together those meals was actually putting in my time and effort, seeing the process and the end product," she said.
I take food for granted every single day!  I've said often "I'm starving", sometimes even after I say it I chastise myself because it's truly not a phrase that should be uttered lightly.
When the opportunity came for me to help pack meals, I signed up. What was supposed to be a day of me giving back ended in me taking some things away from the experience.
As a Mom and a person who has never wanted for food, it made me think. I was going to go home, take my shoes off, sit in a comfortable chair after a long day and then contemplate what we were having for supper.  
It was that easy.
I would pull some cut of pork or beef out of my fully stocked freezer. I would open a cabinet and grab something for a side and honestly, I might even feel a bit inconvenienced that I had to cook at all that evening. To be even more honest, if I didn't feel like cooking at all, it would have been no big deal to head in town to a restaurant.
Not everyone has those choices or those conveniences. Eating a meal is a no-brainer for me. That isn't true for everyone – what an eye-opening experience. Some people think non-stop about how to properly feed their children; others wonder if they can feed their children at all that day.
People want to go on and on about food – eating local, organic, non-GMO, gluten free, cage-free, free-range, grass fed – it's all a luxury we take for granted. All of the 'buzz words' and marketing labels are a luxury! 
The people getting these meals just want food.
They don't care if it was raised within a five-mile radius of their home, if it's organic, if it's labeled non-GMO or if it contains only dairy products from happy cows.
We, most of us reading this, are lucky – this probably isn't an issue for you. But even for those of us who hunger is not an issue, we need to stop and think about it.
Science and technology have to be a part of food. It may not have to be a part of your food but to feed everyone in this growing world, it has to play a role.
Choose what you want for your family but be sure you are allowing other that same choice and one that they can afford with their food dollars.

If you ever get the opportunity to work with Kids Against Hunger I highly encourage it.  Two of my 3 kids have packed meals for them and my youngest will have his turn as soon as the opportunity is available.  Kids Against Hunger is a nonprofit food aid organization with the goal to reduce the number of starving children in the U.S. and throughout the world. Millions of highly nutritious, life-saving meals for hungry children and their families in the U.S. and developing countries are packaged and distributed annually.
While Kids Against Hunger is a global program, the day that I participated the meals stayed in Indiana.  In 2013 this program fed enough Indiana children to fill Lucas Oil Stadium. Sixty-five thousand Indiana children received a nutritious meal they might not have received otherwise.

November 7, 2015

Farmer Directions

With harvest wrapped up and my share of the hog work somewhat under control I decided to hit the road!  I wanted to see my oldest at Iowa State so I loaded up the boy, left Chris in charge of the homestead and pointed the truck west!
In our road trips I have learned we aren't your normal tourists and what we designate as landmarks during our journey sometimes makes people Google it to figure out exactly where we are. Who knew that not everyone uses Kinze Manufacturing as landmark?
Here's how we find our way to the middle of Iowa:
Jump on 74 West and put the hammer down. Once you see the first billboard for The Beef House you get a craving for a good steak. Now you know you are close to the Illinois-Indiana state line. The fields start to open up, and you better have your radio tuned to 99.1 FM WIXY classic country. This combination lets you know you are on the right track.
Once you hit the Illinois state line you take a deep sigh. At this point, things start out positive with comments like, "isn't it pretty?" or "can you imagine working in fields this big?"
This remark - and being about half way across the state of Illinois - will turn to the realization, "the grass (or corn in this case) is always greener on the other side of the fence (or state line in this case)."
If you hear the ever-popular remark, "If my ancestors' wagon wheels would have just lasted a week longer we might be farming here instead of in Indiana," that signifies that you are almost three-quarters of the way across Illinois.
You know you are really on the right track when every mile or so someone in the truck points out a new piece of John Deere equipment being hauled the opposite direction. As long you are catching glimpses of large John Deere dealerships, Pioneer and Dekalb seed plants, you're good to go!
We take note of the Illinois-Iowa border but our true landmark is the world's largest truck stop. It doesn't matter who you are – it piques your interest. Admit it!
Keep your truck pointed west and when you see the stack of grain carts and the folding planter you will know you have reached the next landmark – Kinze Manufacturing. Watching the planter fold fascinates kids and farmers of all ages!
Just east of Des Moines be sure to look off to your right for the combine graveyard, now on my bucket list to visit! Des Moines and the turn off onto 30N lets you know you are only miles from ISU!
It was a great trip and one of my favorites to drive - I love a good road trip!

PS We attended ISU's Homecoming game against the Texas Longhorns and ISU WON - now trying to convince Chris I need to be at every home game!!