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I want to discuss something very important today, something that connects to society and perception and cultural differences. Eh, who am I kidding? I'm writing about children's cartoons. I have two daughters, which means I end up watching a lot of cartoons. A lot of cartoons. So many cartoons that it makes me miss the days when cartoons were a right-after-school or Saturday-morning thing. But I digress.
I don't think it's incorrect to say that most people in this region are tired of winter weather. We're used to winter; we're not necessarily used to it lasting into April without a break. During my first job in journalism, I realized there was one sure-fire way to make sure I was writing something that would get read: by volunteering for the weather story. I don't know how it is in the rest of the world, but in North Dakota, weather drives almost everything. Conversation? Check. Travel? Check. Recreation? Check. Farm and ranch work? Double check.
Maybe it's because I have two chest freezers in my house filled mostly with beef raised practically in my front yard, but I feel a little out of the loop when it comes to talk of meat-substitute products, also referred to as "fake meat" or "meat analogue." But the terms have come up at a few events I have covered lately, showing that they are on the minds of some in the industry.
Are GMO crops less healthy than unmodified varieties? A group of Italian scientists decided to find out for themselves, conducting a meta-analysis of peer-reviewed studies on genetically engineered corn. The results, a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports says, show that the GMO varieties have definite advantages over their nonmodified brethren.
BISMARCK — The community of Redstone, Mont., in 2016 asked to join the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network. They wanted to use the weather organization's resources on fusarium head blight, explained Daryl Ritchison, the interim director of NDAWN. Ritchison told the crowd at the Farming and Ranching for the Bottom Line conference on Feb. 27 at Bismarck State College that he had a feeling then Redstone wouldn't be using the NDAWN information just for the wheat fungus research. Already Ritchison had a feeling 2017 would be dry.
Tell us about your roles in agriculture? I am an owner/operator of a farm and ranch in south central Montana. I am a fourth-generation farmer and work alongside my dad and husband. We raise wheat, corn, safflower, sunflower, malt barley, alfalfa and forage grains. My husband and I also have a small cow/calf operation. You are the Montana Grain Growers Association's first female president. What can be done to get more women comfortable in taking leadership roles in agriculture?
How healthy are the food choices in your community? It's not a question I'd given much thought prior to a couple weeks ago, when I posted a story on agweek.com about a study that looked at food purchases across the country. The study determined the least healthy food purchases, on average, were made in Musselshell County, Mont. The story in question equated food purchases in the county with the way people eat in the county and, thus, how healthy the people there are. I don't know whether that adds up in other places, but it's probably not fair in Musselshell County.
BISMARCK — In past Giving Hearts Days, the North Dakota FFA Foundation never brought in more than $23,000 in donations. That made it all the more exciting when donations piled up to $30,000 during the Feb. 8 event. State FFA Treasurer Hannah Gress says FFA officials and the state officer team received text messages throughout the day of the progress made in donations. While they had hoped for a good result, the final number eclipsed their expectations. "We weren't necessarily expecting that," she says.
A marriage of farming and agriculture makes for some interesting days. Valentine's Day in 2008 stands out to me, for a number of reasons. At that time, I was living in Bismarck, reporting on police and courts. While I don't remember what stories I wrote that day, I do remember I spent much of my day trying to follow up on a story from the previous week about 75 Chihuahuas living in a basement. It was a strange story that I would follow up on for almost a year — and it's the reason I now can spell Chihuahua without looking.
Journalism can be a tough gig. Even when we know that what we've written is important, it's tough to judge whether it makes a difference in the world. It's not unusual for something frivolous — a cat video, for instance — to capture the attention of millions while a well-written, deeply reported article goes largely unnoticed. And reporters receive more than their fair share of negative feedback. But every once in awhile, we get a reminder that what we're doing matters.