Category Archives: Food & Farm

I have visited Vietnam, Darlin.

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Hi there. Remember me? Sorry I haven’t posted in forever and a day – life happens, and I get a D minus (see previous post re: D minus).

So – I had an incredibly exciting work opportunity to visit Vietnam. The people in this developing country are hungry. I mean really hungry, and they need protein. Protein is well conveyed in fish, and the folks there can grow fish (pangaseous catfish, tilapia, shrimp) in ponds. Fish eat… anyone? anyone? Ding ding ding! Soybean meal as a high-protein part of their rations. US soy has  high protein content and 8 essential amino acids, so there’s the connection.

These next few posts will be kind of in journal form, so bear with me.

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Big ole airplane for a mighty long flight.

Day One: flight from Nashville to Chicago is delayed 45 minutes. This is worrisome, because I booked Chicago to Hanoi (by way of Tokyo) separately from Nashville to Chicago. Sadly, American Airlines has a new rule and even though it is all on American, they couldn’t/wouldn’t combine my ticket nor check my bag from Nashville through to Hanoi.

Crisis averted, as I was able to arrive Chicago, claim my bag and re-check it through security and still meet my party in the Admiral’s Lounge.

Have boarded the plane, and – to my dismay – there are about ten children under 10 on my flight. My 13 hour flight. Ugh.

Fast forward 12 hours – I have surprised myself by sleeping. A lot. Time back home is 12:30 am and we have about an hour left in our flight. I politely declined a meal of eggs, gravy and potatoes (yuck!) and had lo mein noodles instead. I owe the rugrats an apology, as I’ve not heard a peep since boarding.

Our flight has been the longest I’ve been on to date – 13 hours. We crossed the Bering Sea and of course the International Date Line. The combined shading of the window and dimming of the cabin lights made for a lovely faux-night, and it’s hard to believe it’s 2:36 pm in Tokyo right now.

We have a few hours’ layover in Tokyo, then another 6-hour flight to reach Hanoi in northern Vietnam. We’ve been cruising between 36,000 and 40,000 feet at a speed of about 562 mph. Haven’t had to stop for fuel. Amazing.

 

This drives me NUTS, darlin!

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So. It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I am grocery shopping. DON’T YOU JUDGE ME! lol. I used to be such a planner, and now I am flying through life by the seat of my pants. I was cruising down the baking aisle and what to my wondering eyes should appear but this:

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Now, I realize that ‘Tis the Season for pecan pies, and yes, I live in Kentucky. I have it on very good authority that this is a bag of “puh-cahns” because a “pee-can” is what used to be under Granny’s bed at night so she didn’t have to go to the outhouse. See that little label up there in the top right corner? It says Non-GMO project Verified, and that chaps my bee-hind. (Not to be confused with “behind.”)

Why? Well, first off, food from biotech/genetically modified/GMO plants has been proven nutritionally equivalent to food from conventional plants, and second, THERE ARE NO GMO PUH-CAHNS. Not on the market. They don’t exist in your neighborhood Kroger,Walmart, or corner grocer. So why in the world would Fisher and many other companies that have products not even available as a biotech crop pay the money to have their stuff “Verified” as non-GMO?

Fear factor, my friends. It makes me so sad that people are afraid of their food, here in the US where we have the safest and most affordable food supply in the world. Don’t fear your food! There are no antibiotics in your ham/turkey/standing rib roast. There are no added hormones in the cheese you’ll use in your holiday meals, and there is no scientific evidence to support the outlandish claims that enjoying food with biotech ingredients is any more dangerous than enjoying those same dishes containing their non-biotech equivalents.

So as the holidays are upon us (and I don’t even have my naughty/nice list made yet!) please eat, drink and be merry. Don’t fear your food. And, IMHO, tofurky is for the birds. Remember, your Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts are brought to you by Granny’s recipes and America’s farmers.

Be Grateful, Not Hateful, Darlin’

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I swore to myself this was not going to be a political post, but I get a D minus on that effort. I think that anyone who doesn’t know there’s been great unrest and unkindness in our nation before, during and now after the 2016 Presidential Election, has to be living under a rock.

The good news is that Election Day is behind us, and Thanksgiving is upon us. I choose to be grateful instead of hateful. There are so many who are grieving about the election – what about those who are grieving the loss of a loved one? There are those who are clinging to the political power struggle – what about the folks who can’t pay their power bill? Some are screeching “not my president,” while those on the other side of the world can’t really grasp the concept that people in America have a say in who is the highest official in our government.

So I say be grateful, not hateful. I’m thinking bumper stickers, folks. It’s a great message. There are people in many parts of the world who have no food, no shelter, no clothing and no hope. If you woke up today, be grateful. If you took a shower with running water (hot is a bonus!), be grateful. If you stood in front of your closet deciding which clothes to wear, be grateful.

If you have food to eat, rest assured that the “white, uneducated, rural people” who got so much news coverage over the past few days will continue to produce food, feed, fuel and fiber for the world. I am grateful to be a part of such an intensely personal and noble endeavor.

As many of you know, I enjoy the work that is done by volunteer farm women under the umbrella of CommonGround. This program was originally developed so that farm women could start conversations with non-farm women and help consumers to better understand farming practices, answer questions, and share the things that we have in common.

I think it’s time that we all focus on finding common ground – places that we agree, places to start conversations – and go from there. And don’t forget to “be grateful, not hateful.” (I’m thinking that would make a really nice cross-stitched sampler…)

As the holidays are upon us, I encourage us all to embrace our traditions. Listen to Uncle Bob’s stories one more time – you never know when it’ll be the last time you hear them. If Granny’s turkey is dry, thank her effusively for going to so much trouble for the big family dinner. If your cousin comes in with brand-new vegan, anti-GMO, antibiotic-free ideas, be kind. And God bless us, every one.

 

So, about Siblings Day and sisters from another mister

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My newsfeed was flooded, as I am sure yours was, with photos of brothers and sisters on National Siblings Day. Some photos caused me to say “awwwwww” with utter sincerity, while others brought a quick snort and thoughts of “well, aren’t YOU just the pick of the litter?”

I posted the obligatory picture of my sister and me. She’s 11 years younger than I am, and I love her dearly. That got me thinking, though, about my other sisters. The ones I’ve chosen for myself.

We do that, you know. Women. We make families. We bring people together – we bond deeply with our girlfriends, and, as an extrovert, I tend to gather friends wherever I go. I have my friends from elementary school with whom I still enjoy dinner from time to time, I have my “book club” that now really only reads wine labels, and my “framily,” the girlfriends here in western Kentucky who I love so much.

Becoming an AGvocate in the Redneck Girl’s Dream Job has opened up a while new world of “sisters from another mister,” though, and social media helps us keep in touch. I can call up my favorite Baconista (and her Grams) in Kansas, send condolences and a hug across the miles to a sweet friend in Minnesota who just lost her mother, comment on the success of that FABULOUS young man in Wishek, North Dakota, and rejoice with every new arrival born to the mommies in my tribe. I’ve learned about life and love and loss and sugar beets and goats from a bunch of perspectives. I now have friends who run dairy operations, own feedlots, some who are piglet midwives and others who grow wine grapes. I’ve prayed for a turkey farmer friend when the avian influenza virus hit Iowa. I have an awesome friend who is the online engagement director for Monsanto!

The sisterhood is alive and well, ladies and gentlemen, and in keeping with National Siblings Day and my personal #Thankful365 campaign, I just wanted to take this opportunity to send a shout out to all of the ladies in the CommonGround and Ag sisterhood. We are alive and well… and we are family.

 

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, Darlin’

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Yes. Yes is it indeed February, so I’m not talking about Christmas. It was National Farm Machinery Show (NFMS) last week, and for a good ole redneck girl, THAT’S the most wonderful time of the year.

Have I mentioned lately that I love my job?? The NFMS is home to the National Championship Truck and Tractor Pulls, there are multiple places that sell BOOTS, and almost the whole shindig is filled with FARMERS. I mean, unless somebody starts handing out $100 bills, and my DH starts attending, it’s just not going to get much better than that for me.

So here I am, in the soy store.

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Yes, the soy store is A Thing. One of the most interesting parts of the RGDJ is educating people on all the things that are made from soy, or that have soy as an ingredient. One of the things we sell the most of during the Farm Show is soy candles. They come in a variety of colors and scents, and they’re very popular. Soy candles don’t leave all that black smoky residue that candles with a petroleum base do, and they burn evenly and cleanly, all the way to the bottom.

You can see “soy nuts” behind me, and they’re a big selling item, too. They’re really roasted soybeans, some with seasoning and others with candy coating, but the terminology changes when they are roasted for food, and they stop being called a bean and begin being called a nut… which is just crazy because they’re a legume. But I digress. Frequently.

SoySoft Lotions are a big seller at the NFMS, because that stuff WORKS. The lipids found in the soybeans and the essential fatty acids and lecithin are great for moisturizing  dry, cracked, chapped skin without any gloppy, frou-frou smell added.  Behind me you also see Kentucky Butt Rub, which contains soy. Before I came to work for the soybean board, this product was called “Rocking River Rub” or some such. Being a marketing person, I convinced the powers that be that we should re-label it “Kentucky Butt Rub,” and sales have picked right up. Amazing how many guys will come over to the booth when someone hollers “hey there, fellas, come on over here and let’s talk about a butt rub!”

Aside from the family reunion that Farm Show really is, one of my favorite events is “First Beer Watch.” While there is a great deal of bona fide business conducted here, this show is similar to Spring Break for some farmers. Although there are no Girls Gone Wild (that I know of), some guys think there’s just something about a cold beer for breakfast that goes hand-in-hand with farm show. I do not know if the fellas who succeeded in making “First Beer Watch” a success each day were just getting started, or if they were on a roll and hadn’t been to bed yet, but each day of the show, all of the soybean folks and many in the booths around us are locked into fierce competition to spot the First Beer of the day.

We’re not judging. It’s just a Thing that we must do.

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First Beer Boys often travel in packs… And this year they were slacking. The First Beer record for 2016 was 9:27 a.m., and that is NOT a time to beat. Last year, some overachiever rolled through with a cold one at 9:04… which is not too shabby, since the show opens at 9:00 a.m. My friend Freddell said something a few years back, and it really stuck with me. “You know, RaeRae, if you’re going to drink all day, you gotta start early,” and he’s right. He usually is.

So whether you’re shopping for equipment, strolling around with a cold “hop pop,” or just looking around, the NFMS is the place to be in February. And, as we have mentioned a time or two, nothing says Happy Valentine’s Day, Honey, like a basket of soy candles.

For the love of pie

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I am so sorry to be late on my post, Darlin, but have I told you lately how much I love the Redneck Girl’s Dream Job (RGDJ)? It’s a lot.

Last week, we hosted the 2016 Kentucky Commodity Conference in conjunction with corn and small grains. This year, for the first time, the Kentucky Soybean Association hosted a fundraising auction for our Political Action Committee (SoyPAC).

There were a number of items available for auction, including a shotgun, a drone, a trip, tractor lease for a year, and a whole lotta bourbon. We Kentuckians love our bourbon.

One item of interest to some farmer-leaders who serve on our board was the “pie in the face.” Yes, we three staffers decided we would let the winning bidder “pie” the staffer of their choice. Becky is expecting, and she is super-sweet anyway, so there was no way anyone would pie her. Debbie is the Executive Director, so I felt pretty confident that I was going to eat some whipped cream. And, sure enough, $100 or so later, this happened:

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which made this happen:

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NOT my best look.

But then, as I was in the restroom trying to unearth my face from the mountain of Redi-Whip, I heard Debbie calling me from the hall. “You get to pie Ryan!” she said with a smile. The Ryan in question is Bivens, the guy who gently smooshed the pie in my face in the top photo above.  And he was gentle. I mean, as gentle as a guy can be, when he’s trying to cram whipped cream up my nose and into my brain.

KSA President Mike Burchett is a true southern gentleman, and he bought the rights to “pie” a farmer-leader… and he gave his prize to ME! (I love that man)

And something bad happened inside my head. I had a golden opportunity, quite possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pie RYAN BIVENS! And… perhaps… I might have gotten a little overzealous. Maybe I snapped. I dunno. FullSizeRenderYa think? Do you see the velocity with which that fringe on my vest is flying?  Other photos indicate that I “may” have extended my arm all the way in order to wind up as much as possible.

The good news is that Past President Bivens is a really good sport. It cost the other board members an additional $100 to get his name on the list, but I for one believe it was totally worth it. A few days later, I swear I can still taste whipped cream and graham crackers. But the taste of a payback was sweeter, by far.

#Thankful365, Darlin!

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Ok, y’all. here we go. 2016 is a brand new, bright shiny year. I shied away from the year-end social media challenges that so many of my friends took part in. I just wasn’t feeling it. I’m not as dedicated as they are, not as clever… and a little lazy, I suppose.

Then, as I was sitting in church this morning, it hit me. Thankfulness. Not just 30 days of thankful, as so many people do during November. I am blessed beyond measure, and I know it. There are so many people hurting with broken hearts, broken marriages, broken dreams. I have friends who have lost loved ones, lost their jobs, lost their homes, lost beloved livestock, and one who recently lost her heart dog…

So I decided, right here on January 3, that I am going to post something for which I am thankful for every day of 2016. My friend and dog rescuer Ann Carter Farmer did the 100 Happy Days challenge last year, and she is still going strong. She posts on Facebook just about every day #anotherhappyday with a photo.

I’m not that dedicated, and I’m sure my posts will be all over the spectrum in content and on social media outlets. They probably won’t happen every day, but the commitment I have made to myself is to post about 365 things for which I am thankful before the ball drops to usher in 2017.  On InstaGram, I’m RaeWagoner. On FaceBook, Rae Charlton Wagoner, and on Twitter I am @raecwag, in case you want to follow along.

365 days is a lot of days and a lot of posts. I may not post every day – for instance, I am starting out two days behind. Those who know me are not surprised… so here we go!

#Thankful365 January 1: I am thankful that the biggest problem I have right now is that I am overweight. I am so blessed that my biggest concern  is not that of so many people all over the world who are wondering what their next meal will be or how/if they’re going be able to feed their children. I have TOO MUCH safe, affordable, fresh food. Wow. Let that sink in a minute.

#Thankful365 January 2: I am thankful that I am not yet morbidly obese. I need to drop about 30 pounds. That is much less than  many people have to contend with. I have two dear friends who lost 100 pounds each on Weight Watchers. I have another friend (who I met through my beloved RGDJ) who is surely closing in on a similar milestone. My gift-with-purchase daughter dropped about 50 in the past year. (SO proud of her!) 100 pounds is a lot. I mean, that’s a whole fifth grader, right?

#Thankful365 January 3: I am thankful that I have so may food choices, including healthy and low-calorie fresh fruits and veggies, like the vibrantly orange Cuties pictured below. I can access lean protein, fresh skim milk, and low-fat cheeses to enjoy as I work toward a healthier, happier Rae.

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So now I am caught up, and I have some ideas on what I may post tomorrow. And really, that’s the thing. To be ever-mindful of my blessings and to be thankful to the One who gave me those blessings.