Wednesday, March 26, 2014

When GMOs were Prize Winning, Not Picked On

I'm a day late. Yesterday was National Ag Day. Did you know that? I hope you did. Did you do anything to celebrate? Did you hear an ag story? Here's a funny one…Joe spent National Ag day scooping out his manure spreader by hand…not by choice.

We are so glamorous, right?

Anyway, in an interesting twist, yesterday was also Norman Borlaug's 100th birthday. Do you know who that guy is? I didn't until a few weeks ago, sadly (My dad, the former ag teacher is dying inside right now…sorry, Dad.). Well, among other things, he has been called the Father of the Green Revolution, agriculture's greatest spokesperson, and the man who saved a billion lives.

Pretty impressive, huh?

He also won the Nobel Peace Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Medal of Honor, and the Padma Vibhushan, which is India's highest civilian honor.

You know how and why he was so awesome?

Get ready to gasp:



While Cheerios, Whole Foods, and the like are anti-GMO, citing them as frankenfoods or "unnatural," Dr. Borlaug saved people from starvation with his wheat innovations, gave the gift of sight to thousands upon thousands of people with the Golden Rice he helped create, which included Vitamin A, which folks in the Far East were lacking, and thus going blind (you can read here for more of his story)

Sounds like a pretty amazing guy, huh?

I never took an ag class. I never got to know his story, other than what I have read recently, but I did have the pleasure of meeting his granddaughter, Julie Borlaug Larson at the Bayer Ag Issues Forum. She is continuing her grandfather's legacy at The Borlaug Institute at Texas A&M, continuing her grandfather's plight for innovation in agriculture to make the world a better place…

with GMOs.

I'm not a fan of blanket statements, but I feel like if you hate GMOs, but you like Norman Borlaug's ideals, you might have first world problems. Only. I guess if you hate blindness caused by the lack of Vitamin A, you may reconsider holding your anti-GMO sign at a protest at a supermarket.

When did GMOs go from being life saving, sight saving, innovative and prize winning to the picked on kid on the playground?

I would have loved to meet Norman Borlaug. Listening to the few excerpts from his speeches and interviews reveals that he was a man who didn't mince words, put up with guff, or, in a word, filter.

Kind of like me.

His granddaughter has a similar personality. She was an entertaining speaker, in that, I believe she was kind of ticked off that she had to continually defend GMOs. Her grandfather saved BILLIONS, granted the gift of sight, and revolutionized the fight on world hunger.

Shouldn't she be able to be proud of that, and not continually defend the cause?


Back to my question, "When did GMOs become picked on?"

When we received the gift of first world problems. My biggest issue today has been having to stir around my laundry on the "touch up cycle" because I was picking up my daughter from her preschool in my car that has a hands-free phone and a DVD player. I worried that our lunch wouldn't be hot enough for Joe who has spent the day prepping his pasture for spring in his comfy tractor.

Not once did I worry about whether I could see the road. Not once did I worry about whether or not I was going to be able to eat. Just whether or not my laundry would be fluffed, the DVD would come on at the "right spot" for my two year old, and whether the pocket sandwiches I made in my nice, convenient oven with all my ingredients from the grocery store, just miles away, would be as delicious as I hoped for, because I was hungry, but not really hungry (it was just lunch time).

Friends, we have to celebrate Norman Borlaug, but not in a party way. Honor him. Research his work. Understand WHY GMOs came into this world as major players and not pesky health compromisers. Please, consider your problems and then google world hunger, blindness, and disease.

You'll feel guilty about your first world problems at first, but will want to help others, and that makes you feel better in the end.

I guarantee it.

GMOs are not all bad. In fact, they aren't bad, and it's not because it helps us in our livelihood. GMOs, at their core, were developed to be LIFE SAVING.

Remember that.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Bawling in the Basement

Not so long ago, there was a birthday party. It was a warm spring day, and our little girl was turning four. We had about 30 people in our house, minus three at the time, as a calf was being born across the road, and not only was the calf struggling to keep his (or her…I can't remember) footing in the mucky spring ground, our truck was stuck. So, Joe, his dad, and his grandpa (who were both attending the party, but just "happened" to have muck boots in the trunks of their cars) were out there, pulling the truck out of the slime, and trying to warm up the calf.

As we watched this unfold, amidst kids playing with new presents and disposing of cake plates, my mother-in-law joked, "You know, Emily, you might have to have that calf in your bathtub."

What the WHAT?

No. Way.

You see, we have this house…one that we happen to live in, as people, and I am the type of person who struggles having a goldfish on my kitchen counter, let alone a calf.

In my pristine, white bathtub.

Fast forward five years, and our little girl is now nine, and we're still calving. However, this time, it's not muck we're fighting, but cold, and while our bathtub has never been christened by a calf (yet), our basement has.

Now, before you get all, "What the WHAT?" like I was, remember, we have this house…and although it's been remodeled, the basement of our 1871 farmhouse was NOT and will NEVER be a "fun basement" as my girls call their friends' basements. You know, the ones with pool tables, carpet and couches. Ours is one that before we remodeled, could only be reached through a trap door in my grandma's kitchen, which we promptly closed up and now can only access from the outside. It has a dirt floor, low ceiling, and smells kind of funny about 75% of the time. Think Silence of the Lambs, and you'll get the picture.

Despite the fact that this entity of our house will NEVER be inhabitable, I still am weirded out by the fact that as I type, there's the low, slow bawl of a calf in the basement.

However, not as weirded out as I used to be, so there's your personal victory for the day.

Regardless, it's not my comfort we're after here (I know. Shocker.). It's the calf's…because this is not the first little friend to be in our basement this week. We had a day earlier this week with FOUR calves rotating in the Hannibal Hotel (funny huh?). Each calf had a different story, but all were linked by the simple fact that even though we're in Illinois, it's ridiculously cold for March, and calves born in sub-zero temperatures need a warm place to get their life started out right.

This place just so happens to be around my Christmas decorations.

Fortunately, we watched the forecast, and there was a 50 degree day in the week's outlook, so I'm hopeful our hotel for cold calves will close up shop soon.

Until then, I will enjoy the sounds of our friend in the basement. That means he's still alive, thriving, and that's another personal victory for us.

That and keeping all animals out of my bathtub.

Small goals, people.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Halfway to College

Once upon a time, we had one child.

We lived in town.

We had an actual car, not a van to drive our little family around.

We were a family of three, starting nine years ago, March 2nd.

Anna Grace was born.

And now, here she is, nine years old, halfway to stepping out of here on her way to college.


Don't get me wrong, I am not sad that she's nine.
I guess.
I'm happy that she's growing up. Although she started in this world as the queen of the castle, lone grandchild on my side, singleton in our family, she didn't wear that title long. However, that never seemed to phase her, and instead, has helped her grow into a responsible, helpful, kind, loving and creative child. I have reflected upon this before.

This morning, however, when I heard Joe say that she's halfway to college, it made my heart stop. As I was getting ready for church this morning, I had to take a minute to get it together.

When did this happen?
How did she get so grown up?
Have I allowed her to be a kid?
In her nine years, have I made her grow up too fast, having baby after baby, expecting her to buckle her own seatbelt, hold the bag as I fumble with the little ones, walk alongside the stroller as I pushed the little ones?




However, before I begin to cry again, I feel like our decision to have more children, has not hindered our kids. In a kid ike Anna, who was already fiercely independent, our big family has given her the opportunity to be creative and independent, and this will serve her well, and already has (you should see her report cards!).

While she has had to grow up maybe more quickly than other nine year olds, her personality, determined independence and tender heart have been fostered by our big family.  She stands out in our family, and I credit her interesting personality to that. We have always allowed Anna to be who she wants to be, even though it seems to be the opposite of what I ever expected my first, sweet pink baby girl to be, and even opposite of even what her friends expect her to be (believe me…I heard the conversation on our way with three other girls to her birthday party!). But this doesn't bother her.

This is wisdom beyond her nine years.

I hope we can keep this part of her spirit for the next nine years. Wouldn't that make junior high glorious?

Anna makes me beam, puff up with pride, but, especially today, cry.. While those precious days with her in a stroller and us living in town seem like a lifetime ago, it also seems like just yesterday we were bringing her into our house in town. Will the next nine years blink by, too?

I'm afraid so, but I know that even though her birthday always makes me just a little teary, the days that she will make me smile and proud and excited will outnumber those that make me wistful.

Happy birthday, sweet Anna. May you never lose your spark (I'll call the yelling at your sisters in the background right now a spark…but just for today), your individuality (did I mention she received a stethoscope, bow and arrow and some Legos today??? Not your typical 9 year old girl gifts…), and your loving spirit. We are so, so proud.

Love you.
This morning, Legos and a bow, not for her hair!

My big girl, with her big girl hair do, the one she requested.

Upon completing the most annoying 300 piece puzzle. Success!

Junior Herdsman.