Seeing the Fruits of Labor Pay off in July

KimForColumnJuly 2, 2014

by Kim Ridel
Master Gardner Columnist

I spent a week back west with my family this past week and it was a wonderful get-a-way. On my first day there, we visited a public garden in downtown Las Vegas and within minutes I could feel my fingers, hands, and arms swelling. I couldn’t believe what my body was doing to me—I just kept thinking, “I’m a gardener, I can’t be allergic to this place!” I never did find out what my body was reacting to, though the swelling went down within a few hours after leaving the garden. Maybe it wasn’t the plants…perhaps I’m just allergic to Vegas.

I have enjoyed this past month with lots of strawberries, and I am now picking lots of raspberries and blackberries.  Read More

It’s Just Golden…Peer Pressure: A Human Quandary

Golden Column PhotoJune 25, 2014

by John Golden
NP Columnist

I can remember back when I was a young student in school, the teachers would often warn us of how dangerous and powerful peer pressure could be. I also remember how we were told that one day our friends would possibly try and push us into situations while repeating cliché phrases like “everybody is doing it” or “don’t be lame”. In every explanation, we were told that it would inevitably be another misguided sole pushing us down rocky paths.

There is no doubt that there have been certain moments scattered throughout my lifetime when I felt undeniable pressure to do something I knew was not smart or safe. But now, when I think back and reevaluate those same moments, I wonder how much of the pressure had come from other people and how much had actually come from the voice inside my own head.  Read More

Understanding Illinois: Eliminate Pensions for Elected Officials

NowlanJune 25, 2014

By Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

A recent Gallup poll found that a smaller percentage of Illinois residents have trust in their state government than in any other state.

Only 28 percent of Illinois residents evinced “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in their state government. Rhode Island was next lowest at 40 percent and in several states such as North Dakota and Wyoming three quarters of responded had trust in their governments.

Gallup cited corruption in the state as a factor in this lack of trust. Read More

Trust Me – It’s Organic

Bill Bailey, WIUJune 25, 2014

by William C Bailey
School of Agriculture Western Illinois University

Labels are important – not just for clothing – but also for music, electronic gear and literature. Labels also are import for the food and agriculture industries. Over the past 20 years, consumer spending on organic products has grown from $1 billion a year to almost $30 billion. So it is safe to assume the organic label is important to many consumers. Read More

From Big Screen To Computer Screen

By Gerald Tilley
Social Security District Manager in Decatur

It’s summertime, and that means it’s time for popcorn, snacks, and blockbuster movies on the silver screen. Have you noticed that many of the heroes in theaters this year seem to be of a certain age? In fact, some of them are old enough they could easily be getting Social Security retirement benefits even as they continue to work—saving the world or otherwise.

Read More

New Ideas About Food

Bill Bailey, WIUby William C Bailey
School of Agriculture Western Illinois University

An interesting confluence of events could affect your pocketbook the next time you go shopping. Because of strong international demand for dairy products, butter prices are near record levels with the retail price of butter nearly 50% higher than last year at this time. A similar situation holds for beef. Prices are near record levels, with rib eye prices nearly 10% higher than last year and hamburger prices almost 50% higher. And, as the beef industry attempts to re-build the national herd from its smallest size in 60 years, beef prices are expected to continue moving up. Further, a new twist has recently been added which turns a lot of our thinking about eating red meat and dairy products on its head, potentially increasing demand just as prices are near record levels.  Read More

Understanding Illinois: Make No Little Plans

NowlanBy Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

It is time to begin to turn things around in Illinois. I think some positive elements are coming into place. And I have the sketch of a plan to do so.

Plan is the operative word or, better, implementation of a plan is the operative phrase.

As I have said in this space before, Illinois doesn’t do any planning, or big picture thinking, at the state level. We haven’t done so for decades, all the while we have been slipping relative to the nation in economic terms. Read More

My Dad’s Last Words

SarahHudsonPierce, authorby Sarah Hudson Pierce

I knew so little about our daddy because he was so sick during most of my childhood up until he died at home in bed in our front room on March 19, 1958

Our dad, Roy Earnest Hudson, was born on September 23, 1895, in Bethany, Illinois. He still seems like such a mystery having died 56 years ago when I was only 10 years old

I felt rootless and drawn to delve into the old family trunk because I sensed that there was much to be learned about our genetic lineage. I was very productive after the age of 30, in 1978, while I located living long lost relatives with the aid of directory assistance and our old family trunk which was full of old family pictures, letters, and other memorabilia. Read More

A Minor Message for High School Graduates

keithJune 11, 2014

by Keith Stewart

You’ve donned an awkward gown, perhaps tossed an even more odd-shaped cap, and you’ve been given a piece of paper.

You’ve graduated high school.

And in keeping with the line of customary traditions, I bequeath upon you a bit more wisdom–that is in addition to whatever your parents, grandparents, teachers, valedictorian, salutatorian, and the rest of the world has already heaved upon you: if you must leave, do so without cursing the place in which you grew up. Read More

What’s in a Name?

Bill Bailey, WIUby William C. Bailey
School of Agriculture Western Illinois University

A recent column on quinoa prompted a reader to alert me to a similar grain, which is grown in Illinois, named amaranth. I did some research and learned a lot about amaranth, which has been in the food chain for a long time. It was important to the Aztecs and can today be purchased at our local grocery store, under the name “Bob’s Red Mill Organic Amaranth”. I also learned it is referred to, in some circles, as ‘pig weed’, since it apparently has been fed to pigs. Given the choice, I prefer the name amaranth to pig weed – it certainly seems to have considerably more commercial appeal. “Bob’s Red Mill Organic Pig Weed” doesn’t really do it for me.  Read More