Katie Pinke / Agweek Publisher
With farm fields surrounding us in rural Cass County I was seated at table five at the fifth annual Banquet in a Field at Peterson Farms Seed this past week. The only person I knew at the table was Randy Melvin, a farmer from the Buffalo, N.D., area. I was there as a volunteer with CommonGround North Dakota, the host of the event and an organization I've been a part of since 2012.
This past week, I was given the opportunity to be the opening keynote speaker at the Women in Agriculture in Arizona conference in Tucson, Ariz. As is often the case, I speak about my life experiences and the lessons I've learned along the way that have developed my character and career. As a single mom in my early 20s, I wanted to be on the farm with my parents. For one year, my parents let me live with them during a difficult transition. However, before I could move back to the farm for good my dad established four "rules":
The University of Wyoming's new slogan, "The world needs more cowboys," is drawing criticism for being sexist and racist. Here's my first reaction: Yes, the world needs more cowboys. If you don't agree, your idea of a cowboy is different than mine. It's acceptable to think differently, and we can agree to disagree. I'm worn out by being politically correct, but I understand I'm a white, middle-class, rooted in rural America female who has a different worldview than most. Therefore, I might be offended — or not — by things differently than you.
"How are you doing?" is a common daily question in the rural Upper Midwest culture I call home. It's like a greeting of hello. You hear it in our small towns, passing by in the grocery store or after church on Sunday. Most answers are "good" or "busy." And then we all go on about our days. We walk away not saying how we're really doing, whether it be full of positive news or a struggle we're facing.
A colleague said to me this week, "I have to pick up my children at daycare tonight and I'm always the last mom." I smiled and recalled writing a blog post several years ago about being the last mom. I dug it out and reread it after I dropped off my daughters for their last afternoon of basketball camp this past week. Their awards program was scheduled for 4 p.m. I explained to them I had a work meeting in West Fargo at 3 p.m. and it would take me 20 minutes to get to their camp in Moorhead, Minn. As they got out of the vehicle I said, "I might walk in at 4:05 p.m. or 4:10 p.m.
When there's national and global upheaval around us, it's human nature to start looking for something in our life we can control. While checking our bank account online, I noticed our monthly bill for landline telephone, internet, cable television and security cameras had gone through. It's our third highest monthly bill — and one I have the control to lower. But could I really cut back? Have you? Isn't it disturbing how much time and thought we can invest in a first-world problem?
WISHEK, N.D.—During a recent visit to California for my sister-in-law's wedding, a friend recommended we eat at The Slanted Door, a top-rated restaurant in San Francisco. We checked into our hotel and made our way to the restaurant after making a reservation using the Open Table app. Outside we waited for our table to be ready. Our daughter Elizabeth looked at the menu posted on a wall and asked, "Mom, grass-fed beef only? Is this really necessary?"
Do the food headlines insisting you should or shouldn't eat this or that make you feel guilty? When I read or hear such a claim I get uncomfortable — and frustrated. I know the U.S. has the safest, most regulated food system in the world. I know food choices are more diverse than ever for first-world countries. I know because I'm a farmer's daughter and I work in the agriculture industry.
This past week provided a stark reminder of the importance of social media and how it can be used as a tool for positivity and to build lasting relationships. More than 10 years ago, I started a blog from our rural area on the North Dakota prairie. I remember distinctly when a person who I didn't know commented on my blog. It opened me up to the World Wide Web awareness that not only my mom, grandma, sister and a few friends were reading my little blog.
North Dakota grows 32 percent of the nation's edible or dry beans and Minnesota contributes 9 percent. In your new role at Northarvest Bean Growers Association, what will you be focusing on and working to do for the dry bean industry? As the new director of domestic marketing and communication outreach, my main priority will be to increase the awareness and use of dry beans. I will be prioritizing current and new domestic markets for dry beans by strengthening consumer knowledge and effectively marketing their amazing health attributes, along with their many tasty uses.