Katie Pinke / Forum News Service
With the convergence of Women’s History Month, International Women’s Day on March 8 and National Ag Day on March 14, I’m at the crossroads of many aspects of my life. Quite frankly, as a 40-year-old American woman in agriculture and business, I thought we’d be farther along with gender equality issues in 2019. I’m also a former athlete, coach and mom of three kids who all participate in an array of sports. A few weeks ago, I showed my daughters, ages 9 and 11, a Nike commercial I saw on Serena William’s Instagram account. Narrating the ad, Williams says:
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.
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 narrative of women in agriculture is often quieter and lesser told than that of men. I’ve seen that change over the past 15 years, 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.
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. I have both real and fake Christmas trees in our home and set out to learn more about Christmas tree farming this season by visiting Cupkie Christmas Village at Richville, Minn., situated in the heart of Otter Tail County.
I recently asked some "city" friends if they have a fake or real Christmas tree. Much to my surprise, the majority have fake Christmas trees. I then turned to social media and asked the same question on Twitter. My poll received 51 responses: 49 percent said they use "fake all the way," 27 percent said "real trees are for me," 12 percent set up both real and fake trees and 12 percent don't put up a Christmas tree.
I try to live with a thankful heart year-round, but since it's November and we'll soon be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., it's a good time for me to be extra mindful of gratitude. This is the first of four columns rooted in thankfulness for rural life. Our home is located 97 miles from a Starbucks. I've used this line for a decade, not because I'm a frequent Starbucks customer but because when our little family moved from south Fargo to rural North Dakota a decade ago I had to adapt to the contrast in conveniences and overall pace.
Do you remember your 7th birthday party? Iris Westman has seen 105 years pass since hers, but she shared with me in great detail her memories of the first birthday party she remembers, her 7th birthday. Iris — the oldest living North Dakotan — is my great-great aunt, a sister to my late great-grandfather. More than a relative, she was my childhood pen pal and grew into a mentor and a lifelong influence of kindness, generosity and grace.
Q: What is your role in agriculture today? We grow food for people. It's our responsibility to use production methods that ensure food is safe to eat, natural resources are conserved and not poisoned, animals are treated humanely, and we leave the earth in better shape than we found it. Q: How did you decide to raise bison and why?