The Edmond Sun

Features

October 12, 2012

American agriculture inspires awe, appreciation

EDMOND — For thousands of years, humans measured their survival chances by gauging nature’s bounty at harvest time. For the bulk of man’s time on this planet, his existence was precarious. There’s no way to number the people, the communities, the civilizations that disappeared simply because crops failed. From the moment mankind discovered the miracle of agriculture, he has realized that labor alone will not insure nature’s bounty. Yes, labor is required, but without the blessings of uncontrollable, outside nourishing powers, there is no guarantee.

This is on my mind this week as I’m traveling through vast expanses of farmland witnessing the incredible powerhouse of American agriculture. Thousands of hard-working men and women are breaking their backs racing the elements in an all-out sprint to gather the hay, wheat, corn, sunflowers, apples, sugar beets and a host of other crops while the weather holds.

Fields and country roads are thick with powerful machines able to bear the crushing harvest burdens that once bent and destroyed the bodies of men and women who had no choice but to do this work with their bare hands or primitive tools. Even after the sun sets, reapers and combines remain in the fields gathering crops with the help of electric lights.

Entire communities pour out of their homes, schools and businesses to join hands in this enormous seasonal endeavor that determines whether the community will prosper this year. Each year these communities miss the strong hands of those who labored so long in the past and now are gone. They watch with pride as their young men and women step up to take their place as co-laborers doing their part to contribute to the welfare of them all.

It is no exaggeration to say that these American farm workers are the mightiest workforce on Earth. I have seen the tiny plots of African and Middle Eastern land tended by every member of the family regardless of youth or age using the most primitive tools, irrigating by water hauled manually from river or well. These Third World farmers battle pests and elements every day clinging to the hope that there will be a harvest capable of providing enough nutrition to help keep the family alive.

While in this great country, millions of acres of farmland receive life-giving water delivered by irrigation systems that are wonders of modern engineering.

The ingenuity of American farmers has elevated agriculture to a powerhouse never imagined by our hard-working forefathers. Though an increasing quantity of our produce is now imported from abroad, there was a time when it was the American farmer, inventing, refining and broadcasting revolutionary agricultural machinery and techniques that fed the Americans and much of the world. The best farming practices employed around the globe today are patterned on innovations pioneered by American farmers.

A few days ago, in South Dakota, I parked beside a field of harvest-ready sunflowers and watched a gargantuan John Deere Harvester cut down the tall stalks, extract the seeds and send them in a great shower onto a transport vehicle driving alongside. I learned that our sunflower crop this year promises to be bountiful and things are going so well that the harvest may be weeks ahead of schedule. Everywhere in North and South Dakota, people were working hard, but spirits were high. There will be celebrations and rejoicing when this year’s harvest ends.

I am writing this column from a hotel room in Hayward, Wisconsin. I spent yesterday in the apple growing region of Minnesota where I planned to take part in the festivals celebrating their harvest. Spirits are not so high there. This year’s crop was hard hit by an early warm snap followed by a bitter freeze. Some Minnesota orchards suffered as much is a 70 percent loss. But it is one of the great qualities of the American farmer that they bear this year’s hardship with the certain knowledge that next year will be better.

Each time I have the opportunity to witness, first hand, the amazing marvel of American agriculture, I develop a greater appreciation for American farmers. We owe it to these people, these communities and ourselves to look at the labels on the products we buy. It’s not enough that they work hard and are blessed with bountiful crops if there is no market for their produce.

Without our support, the day may come when the wonder and blessing of American agriculture will be in the hands of foreign growers and corporations. With small efforts and minimal expenditures, we can patronize our family-owned American farms. Before we buy, let’s look at the labels. I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.

MIKE HINKLE is an Edmond resident and retired attorney.

1
Text Only
Features
  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crazy spring weather brings frantic pleas

    It was a bright and sunny Saturday morning. Tulips were blooming, squirrels were all a’skitter, my allergy-prone nose was running ninety-to-nothing, and workmen were in my yard leaning on rakes at $18 an hour. You might know I’d be anxious to remedy that! They were waiting to get started on spreading 60 bags of mulch, which I was belatedly on my way to reserve and pre-pay so they could pick it up and get started. Rush ... rush ... rush, and oh my aching back.

    April 19, 2014

  • Oklahoma History Center new home for Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame

    The Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame has a new home at the Oklahoma History Center. Created in 1999, the hall of fame, operated by the Oklahoma Military Heritage Foundation, has been housed the past several years at Oklahoma Christian University but there was no available space to display photographs and information on the inductees.

    April 18, 2014

  • pink.jpg Local children win Edmond Sun Easter coloring contest

    Two local children were named winners of The Edmond Sun’s Easter coloring contest. At left, Madsion Porter, 4, daughter of Tracy Porter, won a princess Easter basket, which included a tiara, tea set, stuffed bunny rabbit and chocolate rabbit. At right, BriAnna Harbaugh, 9, daughter of Leslie Haubaugh, won a Hello Kitty Easter basket, containing art supplies, a Hello Kitty stuffed animal and a chocolate bunny.  The families also received a three-month subscription to The Edmond Sun. For your own subscription to The Edmond Sun, visit edmondsun.com, call 341-2121, or visit 123 S. Broadway.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Annual Turkish art and food festival set for April 26-27

    Raindrop Foundation is a nonprofit cultural organization that seeks to promote friendship and understanding through shared understanding and community experiences. This free event is set for 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 26 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 27 at 4444 N. Classen Blvd., Oklahoma City.
    This year Raindrop Foundation will bring cultural entertainment and education to Oklahoma City area by presenting the Annual Turkish Art and Food Festival. The festival will feature Turkish folk dances, traditional music, water marbling art, whirling dervishes, calligraphy, traditional art of felting, China pieces as well as original arts and crafts for sale to the public.

    April 18, 2014

  • Health seminar focuses on Oklakhoma’s high suicide rate

    OU Outreach and Norman Regional Health System are offering a new health seminar titled “Circle of Care Methodology: Risk Assessment and Prevention of Suicide.” The seminar will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 24 at the Norman Regional Hospital Education Center. Suicide touches many people’s lives. This seminar focuses on the Circle of Care Methodology, which engages a holistic and mitigating approach to the issues and care that is required to address suicidal ideations, attempts, completions and the aftermath.
    The cost is $45 per person, and seating is limited. There will be free parking onsite for all seminar attendees. For more information, visit https://pace.ou.edu/en/programs/health-seminars/.

    April 18, 2014

  • Film documentary explores hunger in America

    The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma will host a screening of the 2012 documentary, “A Place at the Table,” at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Food Bank Volunteer Center, 3355 S. Purdue, Oklahoma City. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. The story documents the struggle of food insecure people in the United States.
    Author Joel Berg will be present as a featured guest. Guests also will have the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion about the issue of hunger in our communities. The screening is free, but seating is limited to 275 people. For more information, go online to www.okchurches.org.

    April 18, 2014

  • Nominations being accepted for Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame

    The Oklahoma Military Heritage Foundation is accepting nominations through June 1 for inductees into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame. Oklahoma veterans including Medal of Honor recipients have been being honored by the hall of fame since 1999. A banquet and ceremony honoring those selected this year for the hall of fame will be Nov. 8 at the Tower Hotel, formerly Marriott Hotel, at 3233 Northwest Expressway in Oklahoma City.
    Nominees can be living or deceased. Nomination forms can be obtained by writing to the Oklahoma Military Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 30658, Edmond, OK, 73003; or on the foundation’s website at www.okmhf.org.
     

    April 18, 2014

  • Annual wheelchair basketball tournament set

    OU Medicine will present the 6th Annual Wheelchair Basketball Tournament, benefiting the Greater Oklahoma Disabled Sports Association, April 24 at Oklahoma City University. Teams from OU Medicine administration, anesthesiology, neurosurgery, nursing, otolaryngology, surgery and urology, and a team from 180 Medical will compete in 10-minute exhibition basketball games against wheelchair athletes from GODSA. All participants will compete in wheelchairs.
    The free event will begin at 5:40 p.m. at OCU’s Freede Wellness Center, 2501 N. Blackwelder Ave. Fundraising activities including a silent auction, baked goods sale and more. Funds will help GODSA athletes purchase sports equipment and travel for national basketball tournaments. For more information, call 271-6900.

    April 18, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 18, 2014