Katie Pinke / Agweek Publisher
What do corn farmers and vegans have in common this week? They were both upset with commercials during the Super Bowl. Corn farmers are upset with Bud Light's "no corn syrup" ads, insinuating corn syrup in beer is a bad thing. Vegans and PETA didn't like Hyundai's "Elevator" car shopping ad referencing a vegan dinner party with a "beet loaf." I laughed out loud at the Hyundai ad. I reacted as an agriculturalist to the Bud Light ad and knew instantly corn farmers were going to be ticked and react.
What is North Dakota State University's largest student organization? Hint: It has nothing to do with football and instead is tied to NDSU's university roots of being an agricultural college and land grant university. With 300 student members, the largest NDSU student organization is the Saddle and Sirloin club. The imagery the name evokes may prove what you think wrong. You don't have to ride horses or even eat beef to belong. But really, why wouldn't you eat beef? That's a discussion for another day.
Are you against corporate farming? In 2016, 75 percent of North Dakotans voted against exempting dairy and swine operations from corporate ownership laws, instead sticking with the family farming law that's been intact since 1932. Eight other states — Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin — also have corporate farm laws on the books. North Dakota's law is the most restrictive and the only one that doesn't allow an exemption for livestock.
If you have kids, you know parenting is a learning experience. Life lessons often occur in the seemingly everyday moments. Recently, we had a teachable moment in our family. I asked our girls, ages 9 and 11, if I could share about it and they smiled and agreed. The girls competed in their first 4-H archery meet of the year this past weekend — and the younger sister beat the older sister. It wasn't even close. The older sister struggled and scored far below her personal best from last season. The younger sister exceeded her personal best from last season by 60 points.
Do you shop on Sunday mornings? I don’t. In fact, my home state of North Dakota is the only state with a law that doesn’t allow you to shop on Sunday mornings — nor does it allow business owners the choice to be open for businesses. Once the clock strikes noon, doors can open, but that’s only been allowed since 1991. Before then, the closed sign didn’t change on Sundays. Maybe it sounds idyllic to you because everyone goes to church on Sunday mornings. But that’s not reality.
It's a new year. Maybe you just joined a gym and are cutting calories — but I'm here to tell you it's time to bring back an old tradition that adds calories to your life, an art we've lost in this hectic culture. I say "old" ever so delicately because I turn the page from one decade to the next this week and enter my 40s. My mom reminded me of this tradition when she arrived in my kitchen at Christmas and said, "Katie, grab your pie cookbook for me, please." For a second, I panicked. Did I have the pie cookbook in my cabinet?
The words across the top of our fifth-grade daughter's word study and vocabulary worksheet said: "Being a Vegetarian." Normally, our girls put their school papers in the wire file folders hanging on our kitchen wall, but Elizabeth left this particular worksheet on the dining room table. She didn't mention anything about it, but she put the paper where I would find it right away when I came home. She didn't agree with it — and knew I wouldn't either. You can be a vegetarian. It's your choice. We teach that in our meat-eating home.
It's terribly stinky at our family Christmas Eve evening meal. Each year, the center platter dons a fish with a texture reminds me of Jell-O. Fish Jell-O for Christmas? It's technically lutefisk. Translated from Norwegian, lutefisk means lyefish, a dry cod that was soaked in a lye solution. The old, early ways of soaking dry cod in lye are gone, and I am told the quality of lutefisk is better than ever. Quality cod or not, I am making lutefisk, alongside a prime rib beef roast for my family's Christmas Eve dinner before we attend church.
The narrative of women in agriculture is often quieter and lesser told than of men. I've seen that change over the past 15 years of my career but there is still work to be done. I know of hundreds, women and men, who are working to change it for the better on many fronts. Women have always been in agriculture but not always independently, or right alongside their male partners and spouses, or leading. I know who many of these women are. I see them. I watch them live out their own stories.
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, 27 percent of Americans who purchase a real Christmas tree visit a tree farm to choose and cut their tree. Last season, Americans spent $27.4 million on fresh Christmas trees and paid an average of $75 per tree versus $21.1 million spent on fake trees, paying an average of $107 per tree.