The Planted Row: Practice safety during harvest rush

Farm Forum

I was scrolling through headlines this week, and I saw an article on Huffington Post entitled “Meat Eaters Should Have Been Listening to Vegetarians All Along.” So I read the article, and it says that wasted meat is particularly bad because more energy is used and more greenhouse gases are emitted in the production of meat. It also says that, according to the USDA, retailers and consumers wasted 13.4 billion pounds of meat in 2010. Consumers were responsible for the vast majority of that.

I have a couple thoughts about this information. The first is this: Eat the meat you buy. You won’t catch me letting a steak go bad (or half-eaten). I can’t imagine so much meat going to waste in this country. It’s time to thaw that beef, chicken, pork or lamb in your freezer, look up a new recipe online, and try it out. Take some sort of meat, add a few spices, apply heat, and it’s pretty hard to go wrong.

Vegetarians might want to consider the consequences to the world if everyone gave up meat. There’d be a huge protein deficit in our diet, requiring more plant-based proteins. Right now, there’s still a lot of carbon sequestered in grasslands used to raise livestock. That might be better for the environment than having grasslands plowed up to grow more plant-based protein.

To be fair, the article doesn’t actually call for readers to swear off meat entirely. Instead, it just calls for people to only purchase the amount of meat they intend to use and err on the side of less meat rather than more. However, with beef prices low right now, I know many producers will agree with my proposed solution: Simply eat more meat.

Harvest time

My mother and step-father visited me this week. I haven’t spent much time around my step-father because I had graduated high school by the time my mom remarried. He’s a bit older than her, and he spent his life as a farmer and a science teacher. So, it was nice to get a chance to chat with him over the course of a few days.

We got on the subject of harvest, and he told me about the first combine his family ever owned. It was pulled by a small tractor, powered by the PTO, and had a 36-inch (yes, you read that right) header. One day, he was helping his father adjust the combine while the PTO was engaged. He said the PTO came with a shield, but they had removed it because it made it difficult to hitch the combine to the tractor. On this day, his pants got caught in the PTO, and he said, “Before I could blink, I wasn’t wearing anything from the waist down but my belt and my belt loops.” I told him he was lucky to still have his leg. He replied he was lucky he was wearing old pants that already had holes in them so they ripped off easily.

Wheat harvest is underway in this part of the country, and though it’s doubtful your combine is powered by PTO, I just want to remind everyone to stay safe around their equipment in the rush of harvest. It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re tired.

On Tuesday, Aug. 2, we will publish our annual Harvest Edition of the Farm Forum. This is an extra edition of the paper, so it won’t have your usual columnists, and Alan Guebert’s column won’t be on the front page. Don’t worry, though. Guebert and the other columnists will be in their usual spots in next Friday’s paper.