30 Days with a Small Town Girl on a Big 10 Campus

I have decided to take a brave step and participate in the 30-Day Farm Blogging Challenge. This will definitely be a challenge for me as a brand new blogger and a crazy busy college student, but I am looking forward to taking it on!

For the month of November, I plan to pay special attention to my world here on campus. Being a freshman at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is definitely a bit different than life on a gravel road!

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I plan to give you a chance to see what it’s like to be a small town girl going to school at a Big 10 university. I want to compare how life is similar to and different from home. I hope to give you a glimpse of how I take what I learned from my small town, farming roots and apply it to college life. I’ll introduce you to some of the culture shock I’ve gone through in the last few months and I’ll show you some of the interesting things going on around campus. I will also let you peek into my classes as I blog about the things I’m learning about agriculture and how I apply agriculture in my non-ag classes.

I invite you to follow me as I take on this challenge of blogging everyday for a month! I greatly appreciate your support, input, encouragement, and comments! Wish me luck and here we go!

To Label or Not to Label? That is (one of) the Question(s).

To label or not to label? That is the question. More importantly, how could GMO labels impact America? GMO labeling has become a huge controversial issue in the U.S. recently. It is incredibly important to consumers and businesses alike.

But I have some other questions that few people have addressed: If GMO labeling does become mandatory, who gets to decide what this looks like? Will it be in size 10 font on the label on the back of the box? Or will it be stamped as a design on the front of 60%-70% of the packages in our grocery stores? And if it does get stamped on the front, what will the stamp look like?

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The Non-GMO Project’s seal of verification is very aesthetically pleasing to consumers with its green grass and colorful butterfly. It’s hard for consumers not to be attracted to this picture.

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But what would a “This product contains GMOs” label look like? Would there be a “no sign” around the “GMO” or a skull and crossbones under the words?

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Or would the “O” be a globe or the sun?

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How the word GMO is portrayed could impact consumer decisions. No logical human being is going to buy a food item with a skull and crossbones on the front of the packaging. However, bright, colorful, happy-looking packaging will draw consumers in.

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The point is, the label is all about point of view, perspective, and how the topic is portrayed. The American Farm Bureau is in favor of making GMO labeling mandatory. However, they want this legislation to go hand-in-hand with consumer education. As Jimmy Kimmel discovered, many consumers have no idea what GMOs are. The Farm Bureau wants to fix this problem so that when consumers see labels, they will actually understand what the labeling is saying.

Educating the public is no easy task since people are incredibly stubborn and GMOs seem to receive more negative media coverage than positive. And we all know that everything we see on TV or on the Internet is true! (Yeah, right…) There is so much conflicting information about GMOs today that consumers don’t know what to believe. Our culture tends to be very negative, untrusting, and maybe even a bit paranoid, which leads to consumers believing all the bad things they hear about GMOs and discrediting the multitude of studies that show they are safe.

This means it would take years and years to fully educate consumers on the true facts of GMOs so that they could make informed decision on their food choices. Until then, consumers will keep making decisions based on what they hear about GMOs and what they see. Positive GMO labels could potentially educate consumers as quickly as any method because they could be found all over grocery stores and everyone has to buy food. In theory, positive labels could increase the sale of GM products just as quickly and easily as it could decrease them.

At this point, I don’t think mandatory labels are a good idea. However, I can’t help but wonder: If the public was better educated and GMO labels were made from a positive perspective, could all parties in the issue accept mandatory labeling?

Home Sweet Home

“Home sweet Home…”

“There’s no place like Home…”

“Home is where the heart is…”

These common sayings make all of us think of a certain place.

For me, home is a farmstead on a gravel road. Home is spending my Saturdays in the fall driving the tractor, catching corn on the go, and listening to Illini football on the radio (no matter how painful).

The last 2 weekends, I have had the opportunity to drive the 3 hours home to help my parents with harvest. Driving out of Champaign-Urbana for the first time in almost 2 months was crazy! THE CORNFIELDS WERE BROWN! When I moved in on August 20, the fields were still green. Now most fields have at least been opened up and many have already been picked. For the daughter of a grain farmer, fall and harvest go hand-in-hand. I feel like I didn’t even realize it was fall. I was missing all the key signs of the fields turning brown and my dad pulling out the combine that tell me that the fall season is here.

I also didn’t realize how much I love this time of year and how much I would miss harvest. Seeing the first combine picking corn just outside of Urbana sparked the first twinge of homesickness that I’ve felt since leaving my middle-of-nowhere home. I wanted sooooo badly to hop in the tractor and help out.

And that’s exactly what happened when I got home. I opened the door to an empty house, but knew where to find people. Within 10 minutes of pulling in my driveway, I was in the tractor and on my way out to catch my first load of the year. There is nothing like the sights, sounds, and smells of harvest!

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My first harvest away from home has made me appreciate how wonderful it is and understand why it’s my dad’s favorite time of the year. I’m incredibly thankful for the bountiful harvest and for all the family, friends, and fun I got to enjoy while being home!