From Amber Waves of Grain to Honey Bunches of ??

August 31, 2010

Every time I see a cereal commercial I can’t help but get irritated by all those smiling faces who are “feeding America”. Factory workers are surrounded by machinery churning out over processed, sugary, distorted grains, expecting us to believe it is breakfast food. More insulting is they want us to believe all the additives, preservatives, and numerous forms of dextrose is a healthy way to start the day.

I know it is naïve of me to think that the average American gives a fig  about how and where our food is grown. I am amazed how many people think it magically appears on grocer’s shelves in convenient packages for us to buy at outrageous prices.  We ingest these highly suspect food products, and believe we are nourishing our bodies. Advertisers lead us to believe that food is manufactured by cheerful factory workers.

In the real world, every spring, thousands of farmers gamble their savings, spending hard-earned cash purchasing corn, sunflower, wheat, oat, flax, and rye seeds.  Additional money goes to gas, machinery parts and sometimes new equipment that needs replacement.  The output of capital to begin the growing season is enormous.

Each day begins with the first sliver of light, ending with farmers begging for a few extra minutes of daylight, long after the sun has set, to finish another round of plowing and planting.

Hopes and dreams of a good crop ride on plentiful rain to nourish the seedlings. Worry sets in when black clouds threaten hail instead of moisture. Will there be an infestation of black rot, grasshoppers, or other parasites dropping out of nowhere destroying crops?

As harvest draws near, swather sickle bar blades are sharpened, and chipped ones replaced. It fascinated me watching stalks of grain fall on to  the rotating canvas as they were cut, dropping  in neat, tidy, rows on the stubble, waiting for the sun to finish ripening heads of grain bursting at their seams.

Of all the dirty jobs on a farm, I would rate combining as the worst.  These behemoths separate the grain from the stalks and chaff. In years of bumper crops, trucks drove along side combines as grain augured directly into truck beds.  Lean years would mean watching and waiting for dad to wave me in when the hopper was full.

Teeming trucks of grain empty their load into granaries to be stored, and sold when stock market prices rise.  On rare occasion, prices were high during harvest, and dad would haul our return directly to the grain elevators where it was inspected for weed content, weight, size, and color of grain.

Amber Waves of Grain

Agrarian livelihoods depend on rain, quality of grain, stock market prices, political power plays, and economic and climate conditions in far-flung places around the globe.  These are little known facts to the average person.

Farmers do not clock in and out of a job.  Their jobs begin before dawn and end after sunset 7 days a week. Meals are eaten in the field under the shade of a tractor. Unrelenting intense heat and itchy grain dust are constant companions. Health hazards, including sun stroke, heat exhaustion, loss of hearing, and farmers lung are common. At the end of the day clothing, hair, and bodies are dusted before entering the house.

All this begs the question, what the —– happens to grain from field to table?  It takes a chemist to understand and interpret the ingredients on a box of corn flakes. It is a fact that breakfast cereals have almost no nutritional value due to over processing. Their extremely high sugar content, and additives have been highly suspected to be a health hazard. Most of it is fluff and no substance, selling at exorbitant prices. We are feeding our children large doses of sugar for breakfast which makes them noticeably hyper.  It is well-known that sugar has an adverse affect on our nervous systems.

Corporations, who process food,  do not have to gamble their money on seed, weather, political climate, and economic conditions.  They “manufacture food” that is nearly devoid of nutritional value, enhanced with addictive ingredients, and contains huge amounts of dextrose. Seems Honey Bunches of Oats might keep America undernourished and hyper.


7 thoughts on “From Amber Waves of Grain to Honey Bunches of ??

  1. Truth is truth! Yes, whole wheat is healthy and what’s in most breakfast cereals is a travesty. Thank you for illuminating the farmer’s work in producing precious grains. My husband and I eat nothing but whole grain wheat bread. I check the label. The first ingredient must be whole wheat flour, not enriched wheat flour. If people only realized the difference in nutrition, fiber, and wholesome taste, Post, General Mills, Kellogs, and the others would be out of business.

  2. This is a good reminder of how we take things for granted. Since we started our farm project I’ve met many career farmers and thats when you start to realize how fragile the whole system really is.

  3. This was an amazing journey of how food, good food is such hard work to grow and produce and how corporate America takes all the work for granted and changes what is good for us into empty calories. Sad.

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